During his presidency so far, Joe Biden has been following in the footsteps of former President Barack Obama in many ways. That’s why it’s come as a surprise to many that when it comes to the Senate, Biden is doing things very differently than Obama did.
Biden signaled that he is handling the Senate differently than Obama did on Wednesday when he made his first trip to the Senate Democrats’ weekly lunch since taking office, according to The Hill.
“It was great to be home, great to be back with my colleagues, and I think we’re going to get a lot done,” said Biden, who spent over thirty years serving in the Senate and was at the lunch for over an hour.
Biden gushed over Democrat senators during the lunch, praising them for their budget deal and complimenting individual senators for things that they were doing.
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While Obama also travelled to Capitol Hill regularly, he did so with a very different style than Biden, according to those who watched both men interact with lawmakers there.
“Obama did caucus lunches as well, but he viewed engaging the Hill as a necessary chore. Joe Biden views it as the only way to advance his agenda and he genuinely enjoys it,” said one former senior aide. “
Obama leveraged his popularity to drive an agenda. Biden is leveraging his role as the modern day ‘Master of the Senate,” the aide added.
Another former aide of Obama’s said that the difference is that Biden is more comfortable around senators. This aide explained that with Obama, schmoozing senators “didn’t come too naturally.”
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Experts agree also that Biden and Obama have very different styles with senators.
“Obama was more cerebral, depending on reason and rhetoric to make his case, but also more cautious and easily stymied when the arguments, good as they were, did not work,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.
Jillson added that Biden also has the advantage of seeing what worked and didn’t work for Obama.
“Biden, of course, has gone to school on Obama and so has gone bigger and been willing to deal and bargain to get most, though often not all, of what he wants,” the professor continued.
Jillson went on to say that Biden and Obama aren’t all different. Like Obama, Biden “has not yet shown a willingness to push his own side [and] demand that the Democrats stand together on the core parts of his agenda,” according to Jillson.
“It looks like part of the infrastructure agenda is actually coming together, but voting reform, more emotionally central to the Democrats, is still hanging fire,” he said.
This piece was written by James Samson on July 15, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.
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