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Friday, December 8, 2023
Dec. 8, 2023

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In Our View: Biden’s legislative roll places focus on policy

The Columbian

Nearly 19 months into the Biden presidency, at least one welcome change is noticeable from the previous regime: Americans have reason to talk about policy.

Like Joe Biden or not, agree with him or not, support him or not, there is reason to discuss legislative action rather than rants and chaos emanating from the White House.

On Wednesday, Biden signed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, expanding health care access and disability benefits for U.S. veterans suffering from toxic exposures while serving their country. Health effects from veterans exposed to “burn pits” while in Iraq was one of the primary motivations for the law. Notably, the bill initially was opposed by Senate Republicans, but public outrage helped turn the legislative tide.

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which already had been approved by the Senate. The bill likely will have little impact on inflation, but it is being hailed as the nation’s largest investment yet in fighting climate change. That legislation also is expected to reduce the national deficit by $300 billion over the next decade.

Meanwhile, Biden has signed the CHIPS Act, designed to bolster the United States’ ability to manufacture semiconductors. It passed with bipartisan support as lawmakers sought to mitigate China’s growing influence on the global economy.

On Friday, The Columbian reported on plans for a large expansion to the SEH America plant in Vancouver. Whether or not the CHIPS Act played a role in that decision, it signals that the United States is serious about high-tech manufacturing.

All of that follows gun legislation signed in June, which analysts say is the most significant change to gun laws in decades.

To be certain, there have been setbacks. Inflation remains at its highest level in decades, and record gas prices have gouged consumers for much of the summer before ebbing in recent weeks. The economy remains in an odd place; inflation is high but jobs are plentiful. The Federal Reserve has enacted rate hikes designed to temper rising prices, but critics worry that will result in a recession.

Those critics also have rightly panned the administration’s ever-changing approach to the Southern U.S. border, along with its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. And crime rates have been increasing throughout the nation.

From our state’s standpoint, one of Biden’s shortcomings has been a failure to roll back former President Donald Trump’s damaging trade war with China. Growing geopolitical concerns play a role in that trade policy, but farmers in Yakima County and Okanogan County are more concerned with selling apples than with saber-rattling from Beijing.

Still, the past couple weeks have provided a reminder of the benefits to having an experienced lawmaker in the White House. Rather than employing a dictatorial approach or claiming that the Constitution allows presidents to do whatever they want, Biden understands the legislative process.

The result has been a string of successes that have broken the gridlock that so often burdens Congress.

For many voters, that is a bug and not a feature. Some prefer a do-nothing Congress, believing that lawmakers will only make things worse.

We respectfully disagree with that view. Making America great again actually requires a Congress that identifies problems and works to address them. Then we can argue about policy instead of needless distractions.

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