(CNN)Before Wednesday in Washington, President-elect Joe Biden’s fundamental challenge upon assuming office was this: How to navigate a divided Congress on everything from his Cabinet picks to his policy agenda.
After a 24 hours that saw a) control of the Senate majority flip to Democrats and b) a violent insurrection that led to an occupation of the US Capitol by pro-Trump forces, the Biden presidency looks very different.While a bloc of Trump dead-enders remain in Congress — especially in the House — it was clear in the wake of the first overrunning of the Capitol since the war of 1812 that the desire for hard-edge partisanship had abated at least somewhat.Senators who had hours before the violence insisted that, on principle, they had to object to the Electoral College results dropped those objections. Others called for bipartisanship and a focus on our common humanity.Now, if past if prologue, those feelings may not last all that long. But they could linger for the opening weeks and months of Biden’s presidency, which will change both the challenges and opportunities before Biden.Read MoreRather than trying to find a narrow legislative path to pick off the votes of a few GOP senators in the Republican-controlled Senate, Biden’s core challenge now will be to maintain a balance within his own party between the ascendant liberal left and the more moderate faction (that includes the President-elect himself.)Now, it’s important to note here that it still remains extremely unlikely that things like “Medicare for All,” the “Green New Deal” or the adding of seats to the Supreme Court will ever see the light of day. Biden opposes them, and with a 50-50 Senate — even with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris breaking ties — it would be nearly impossible to push though those sorts of liberal policies.
THE POINT — NOW ON YOUTUBE!
In each episode of his weekly YouTube show, Chris Cillizza will delve a little deeper into the surreal world of politics. Click to subscribe!
But there’s opportunity for Biden in this new Washington as well.Obviously he can worry slightly less about whether the people he wants for his Cabinet can win bipartisan support. More importantly, however, he may well have more leverage to go to Republicans like Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Rob Portman and others with an appeal to the need to find compromise on the major issues of the day as a way of demonstrating to the public that the government and its politicians can work together again.”Now, more than ever, we must enter a new era of bipartisanship in Washington,” said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat, Wednesday morning — after it was clear that the Senate would switch hands but before the rioting broke out.The Point: If ever there was a man and a moment for bipartisanship to make its return to Washington, Biden is the man and this is the moment.