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Biden is reeling from one self-inflicted crisis to the next

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If August was the worst month of Joe Biden’s presidency, September is not looking much better. From Kabul to Del Rio, Texas, the Biden presidency is reeling from one self-inflicted crisis to the next.

On Friday, Biden learned that his plan to begin delivering booster shots of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to millions of Americans starting this week had been rejected by a Food and Drug Administration panel of experts in a 16-2 vote.

That same day, defense officials confirmed that the “righteous strike” his administration carried out against Islamic State-Khorasan militants in Kabul killed no terrorists, but instead took the lives of 10 innocent people — including seven children and an Afghan civilian working for an American humanitarian organization who was trying to come to the United States.

Also that day, France recalled its ambassador for the first time since our countries forged an alliance in 1778 after Biden failed to consult it before launching a new submarine pact with Australia and Britain. In an insult that must have stung deeply in the Oval Office, French newspaper Le Monde declared in an editorial that when it comes to foreign policy, “the Biden administration is no different from the Trump administration.”

Just the day before, Americans learned that the Biden administration was housing thousands of migrants who were in the United States illegally in squalid conditions under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas, where the New York Times reported there being “dense crowds sleeping on dirt or milling about in triple-digit heat amid conditions of deteriorating sanitation” — a vivid reminder of the debacle Biden has unleashed on the southern border.

And what did the president do after all these mistakes? He went to the beach.

Little wonder Biden’s approval rating is underwater for the first time since he took office. Approval of his handling of the pandemic has plummeted by 10 points since June, according to the latest Post-ABC survey. In the same poll, only 30% of Americans approve of his handling of Afghanistan. And in RealClearPolitics’ polling averages, just 36% approve of his handling of immigration, while 45% approve of his handling of the economy.

This is a presidency in decline. Biden desperately needs a win — and he has a chance for one staring him in the face. But like his withdrawal from Afghanistan, his drone strike, his booster plan and his border strategy, he is messing that up, too.

Before all hell broke loose in Afghanistan last month, Biden got some good news when Senate Republicans and Democrats came together and passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Given the cavalcade of disasters besetting the president, you would think Democrats would be in a hurry to move that bill through the House and get it to the president’s desk so he can hold a signing ceremony in the White House with both parties standing behind him. It would be a moment of triumph for a president who urgently needs one.

Instead, House Democrats are slow-rolling the bill, refusing to pass it until Congress first approves a massive $3.5 trillion spending package using the budget reconciliation process. The problem is there are not enough Democratic votes to pass a $3.5 trillion bill. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed and a face-to-face meeting with Biden, Sen. Joe Manchin III, W.Va., has made clear he won’t vote for anything close to $3.5 trillion. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) has similarly said, “I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion.” Without their votes, the reconciliation bill is going nowhere.

Manchin has said he’d be willing to support a maximum of $1.5 trillion. But in today’s Democratic Party, $1.5 trillion is considered chump change. Instead of working with Manchin and Sinema to craft a more limited reconciliation bill, Democrats are holding a gun to their own heads — refusing to move forward on anything unless they get everything.

Sinema has reportedly told Biden that if the House does not pass the bipartisan bill by Sept. 27 — as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised — she will not vote for any reconciliation bill. Period. Good for her.

The question is: Why does Biden need an ultimatum to do what is in his obvious self-interest? Democrats have already passed a massive $1.9 trillion spending bill, disguised as Covid-19 relief. The Senate has approved another $1.2 trillion in infrastructure spending with bipartisan support — which is ready for the president’s signature if House Democrats will only pass it. That’s more than $3 trillion in government spending right there — a massive amount of money. And if they can stop their infighting, they can pass an additional $1.5 trillion reconciliation bill — for a colossal $4.6 trillion signed into law in the first nine months of Biden’s presidency.

But instead of doing that and declaring victory, Democrats are fighting over what should go into a $3.5 trillion bill that has zero chance of passage — creating the very real possibility that nothing will pass. Given the unprecedented string of self-inflicted disasters we have seen from the Biden administration, another would come as little surprise.

Distributed by The Washington Post Writers Group.

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