President Biden’s agenda suffering major setbacks as he nears 1 year in office

Analyzing President Joe Biden’s agenda after his failure to move forward with voting rights legislation and the Supreme Court decision to block his vaccine mandate for big companies.
5:47 | 01/14/22

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Transcript for President Biden’s agenda suffering major setbacks as he nears 1 year in office
- Here in Washington, President Biden today at the White House, he gave a progress report on the bipartisan infrastructure law, acknowledging that it's been a disappointing week for his agenda. - There's a lot of talk about disappointments for the things we haven't gotten done. We're going to get a lot of them done, I might add. But this is something we did get done. And it's of enormous consequence to the country. - Well, he's bragging a little bit on that infrastructure bill that he did pass. But those major defeats he suffered include the failure to move forward on voting rights legislation and the Supreme Court blocking his vaccine mandate for big companies. And his big social spending bill, the Build Back Better bill, that's not going anywhere either. So let's talk to White House correspondent Mary Alice Parks who joins us now with the latest. Mary Alice, as President Biden approaches the one-year mark of his presidency now, his approval rate has just sunk lower than any modern president except for President Donald Trump. This was, without question, a brutal week for his agenda. So what's the conversation in the White House like right now? - Well, Terry, no doubt they are frustrated. And you just heard the president there seem to acknowledge that out loud, say there's just been so much focus on the disappointment, what they have not been able to get done. And sure, he wanted to take a moment to, like you said, sort of focus on something they did pass, that large infrastructure bill. But in doing so, you couldn't help but sit and think about all the things that they weren't able to get over the finish line. That infrastructure bill was supposed to be a part of a two-part plan that included a human infrastructure package, things like paid family leave and help for child care, things that right now feel like so necessary and an important part of the conversation, as the country's continuing to deal with COVID and trying to sort out how to handle COVID in their families. And I think one thing I keep hearing from Democratic activists, to your point about the polling, is exactly that, that they wish that this White House and this president could be judged on the merits of their ideas, that they think that the solutions are good ones, that they think that it would be popular to pass paid family leave or popular to pass money for child care. And they are frustrated that there has been so much focus, rightly so, on the fact that the president hasn't been able to get this stuff done and not enough focus on whether the ideas themselves are good. - Exactly, rightly so, because we pay presidents not to have great ideas but to get stuff done. And on voting rights, for instance, we heard the president all week banging the drum to try to get this done. He sounded sometimes like a guy hollering into a stiff wind, even within his own party, right? He met late yesterday with those Democratic holdouts, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema. So what do we know about what went on in this meeting? And can he get his own party together to get voting rights done, which is a priority for the Democrats? - What we know, Terry, is that they didn't leave that meeting with some deal. There was no handshake. There was no evidence that either of those two was willing to budge. And I do think it's important to remember how interesting it is that those two senators have said they support the underlying bill. In fact, a big part of the legislation was one that Joe Manchin helped craft. It was designed to be kind of a compromise bill. Senator Manchin had hoped it would help bring Republicans over. It was sort of a watered-down version of what first passed in the House. So that's a long way of saying these two senators support a lot of these federal provisions that are proposed to help have some regulation and some mandates around voting rights and around election access and ballot access. But these two are just not willing to budge on changing the Senate rules. What I am so interested in is whether or not President Biden got any indication from them that they were considering coming around on some alternate version of the filibuster, whether or not they were entertaining that idea, because we sure didn't. They have been very consistent in their public statements that they were not interested in changing the filibuster. And so I don't know if President Biden just thought that he was going to be able to win them over. But they have not seemed in any way interested in doing that all year long. - I mean, it does seem almost at some level comical. He just keeps trying to keep screaming into the wind. He keeps battling that boat. And it doesn't go anywhere to mix my metaphors there. But we learned today that the president next week, he's going to hold a press conference. As we said, he's just about halfway through-- he's one year into his presidency, I should say, as he reaches that mark. And what can he do? This is not a moment of crisis. But look, he's down in the polls. He's had a bunch of defeats. He's having trouble connecting with the American people and with marshaling the resources of his own party and the government to get things done. So what can he do? What do you expect out of him next week? - Well, I expect he's going to try to focus on what they have gotten done. Obviously, tens of millions of Americans now vaccinated, protected from this virus. There has been a lot of job growth, wage growth. He's going to try to focus on the positives that the country has experienced in the last year. But I think he really needs to start talking about a new strategy. To your point, he can't just go out there and say he's going to keep trying to win over some of the more moderate Democrats. Maybe he's going to present a strategy where he breaks apart some of his big proposals. Maybe he's going to say he thinks he can get some Republicans on board with a separate, smaller package edge around just paid family leave or just paid sick leave. But he's going to have to present some new strategies, or otherwise it is just going to look like more of the same. - Yeah. And he needs to change direction in some way just to get some traction. Mary Alice Parks, thanks for that as always.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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