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Biden poised for big wins in Congress

Democrats are on the cusp of significant wins in Congress that the White House hopes will provide at least a modest political boost. Most politically resonant is a bill to let Medicare negotiate drug prices, a hugely popular idea that Democrats have been pursuing for more than 20 years. The Medicare drug bill is especially notable, despite only covering some medications, since it marks the most significant drug pricing legislation since 2003. Even before that, Congress is likely to pass a bill providing $52 billion to the U.S. semiconductor industry. The legislative wins come at a precarious time for the president and congressional Democrats, who have struggled to overcome poor public views of the economy due to persistent inflation as well as Biden’s low approval ratings.

Biden advisers say the bills, if they all pass, will help the president draw a contrast between Democrats’ agenda and what they portray as an increasingly extreme GOP that is out of step with most Americans on issues ranging from abortion to same-sex marriage. Biden advisers said they are not yet assuming the bills will become law, and caution there is work ahead. Biden's public standing has suffered as he has faced one crisis after another over the last year-and-a-half. Biden took office as the coronavirus pandemic was raging and killing thousands of people a day. Since then, he has dealt with record inflation, a baby formula shortage, mass shootings, numerous mass shootings and increasingly transmissible coronvirus variants.

The White House hopes a legislative flurry will rewrite the storyline of Biden’s legislative record. The push has taken on an added urgency because operatives in both parties expect Democrats to lose control of the House and possibly the Senate in November. Democrats scrambled last summer to set the fiscal parameters for Build Back Better, which some Democrats compared to the New Deal and the Great Society in its size and scope. But that agenda may have been better suited to a Senate split 50-50 with Vice President Harris casting tiebreaking votes. Efforts to rebuild a deal faltered again this month when Sen. Manchin backed away from supporting any climate or tax provisions, leaving only the health-care pieces. The semiconductor bill