If President Biden retains control of foreign policy, he will likely have to contend with the Republican Party, which is expected to take control of the House of Representatives. On the issue of Ukraine, Republican leaders have said that they do not want to sign a “blank check” to Ukraine and have announced that they want to launch a series of investigations into the actions of the Biden administration.
More complicated, to be sure, but not a major obstacle: US President Joe Biden will likely have to contend with Republican opposition after Tuesday’s midterm elections, but will remain in control.
Final election results were still pending Thursday, but the Democratic president faces the prospect of a Republican-held House of Representatives. Senate control was still uncertain.
Joe Biden will suddenly have less free hand to push his agenda on climate change, for example, or to continue massive US aid to Ukraine.
Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the Republican opposition in the lower house, has warned that he will not sign a “blank check” on Ukraine if the victory is confirmed.
And his party has traditionally been hostile to tackling climate change, one of the top priorities of the Democratic president, who travels to Egypt on Thursday to attend COP27.
But Republicans overwhelmingly supported aid to Ukraine, and the party’s most extreme wing failed to win Tuesday’s election.
At a press conference on Wednesday, President Biden said he hopes to “continue this bipartisan approach in dealing with Russian aggression against Ukraine” and will call party leaders after he returns from a tense diplomatic tour.
“This is what I expected, and by the way, we are not signing a blank check to Ukraine,” he said, citing, for example, his refusal to provide certain weapons to Kiev.
Biden’s foreign policy in the eyes of Republicans
In addition to Egypt, the head of state will go to Cambodia this weekend for the summit of ASEAN countries, and then next week to the island of Bali, Indonesia, for the G20 summit.
For experts, the Republicans will be a priority to open an investigation into Biden’s presidency, which could complicate the task of the American diplomatic apparatus.
Brian Finucane, a former diplomat who joined the International Crisis Group, said: “They won’t have the votes to override the president’s veto. They won’t have the power to make their case substantively.”
“But where they can use their power is to oppose or investigate government initiatives,” he adds.
Especially in the sights of Republicans, the fiasco of the withdrawal of America from Afghanistan in August 2021, the origin and management of Covid-19 or even the activities of his son Hunter Biden.
“It almost sounds like a comedy,” the president quipped Wednesday.
Privately, however, US diplomats fear these investigations will monopolize “additional time and resources”.
Approaching the Chinese competitor
Among the major divisions between Democrats and Republicans is Iran, with conservatives strongly opposed to the idea of restoring the 2015 nuclear deal brokered by Barack Obama, which President Biden sees as the only way forward in the long term. has nuclear weapons.
Despite a resurgence of activity this summer, diplomacy around the deal has stalled as Iran cracked down on street protests.
Republicans should also find a strong ally with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in Israel.
But the focus is largely on China, where Republicans and Democrats agree to identify Beijing as a major security and economic threat to the United States.
“There isn’t much of a gap between the Republicans and the Biden administration when it comes to China policy,” said Anna Ashton of the Eurasia Group.
“Whatever the Biden administration does to get tough on China, Republicans will likely say more needs to be done,” he adds.
Tensions with Beijing peaked during House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last summer, but the Republican camp did not oppose it.
Influential lawmakers from both parties favor sending direct military aid to Taiwan, which would depart from decades of American policy.
All eyes will be on Bali for the first face-to-face meeting between the US president and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday.