Biden's agenda: What can pass and what faces steep odds

President Joe Biden arrives to speak to a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
President Joe Biden arrives to speak to a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool) (The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden laid out a long list of policy priorities in his speech to Congress — and some are more politically plausible than others.

The two parties are working together in some areas, including on changes to policing and confronting the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans. But Republicans are likely to block other Democratic initiatives on immigration and voting rights.

On some of Biden’s top priorities, Democrats may choose to find ways to cut out Republicans entirely. The president told lawmakers that “doing nothing is not an option” when it comes to his two massive infrastructure proposals, which would cost $4.1 trillion.

A look at what’s possible, and what’s unlikely, when it comes to action in Congress:

GO IT ALONE?

Biden won an early victory in March when he signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package into law. Democrats passed that bill over unanimous Republican opposition, using special budget rules that bypass the Senate filibuster.

While they can’t use that tactic on every piece of legislation, Democrats might return to the same procedure for Biden’s two signature proposals — his $2.3 trillion infrastructure jobs plan, which would rebuild roads and bridges, boost broadband access and make other improvements; and his $1.8 trillion families plan, which would expand preschool and college opportunities, create a national family and medical leave program, distribute child care subsidies and make other similar investments.

Republicans have proposed a much smaller $568 billion infrastructure package, and both sides have shown a willingness to negotiate. But their differences are broad — including on how they would pay for the plans and whether to raise taxes — and Democrats are intent on passing a major infrastructure boost this year, with or without GOP support.