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The implications of a Biden presidency with a GOP Senate

Yahoo Finance’s Seana Smith and Adam Shapiro speak with Senior Columnist Rick Newman about how divided government could impact the Biden presidency.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: We want to get back to the presidential election, and also what we're seeing play out when it comes to the Senate seats. Of course, we need 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidential election. Six states at this point, we're following the AP here, six states have yet to be called, many of those being swing states. So as it stands right now, the White House is undecided. But when you look at the Senate, although this of course too, is too early to call, we heard it from our guest earlier on the program. But we're going to take a look at the odds of the GOP holding the Senate, and also what that means if Joe Biden is elected president. Rick Newman is here with a closer look at this. And Rick, what are the implications of a Biden presidency with the GOP Senate?

RICK NEWMAN: Well, it really marginalizes the progressive wing of the Democratic party. This is represented of course by Bernie Sanders and by Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, they both ran for president and didn't win. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the so-called Squad in the House, they made a few gains in terms of progressives winning seats in the House, but they have almost no seat at the table, if this is how it turns out the government is going to look. If we do have Biden in the White House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, that means a few things.

It means almost no Democratic legislation is going to pass Congress, and you know, part of the deal that Biden seems to have made with some of the Democrat-- progressive Democrats to get them to vigorously support his campaign was, I'm going to consider some of your ideas. He actually wrote some of the-- their ideas into his campaign policies with the presumption being that he would push those things legislatively once he became president. Think about climate, for example, Biden went much closer to the Green New Deal than he was as a candidate in the primaries last year. And that's just completely off the table if the Republicans hold the Senate.

One other thing to think about, there was a lot of hope among progressives that if Biden won, Elizabeth Warren might become the Treasury Secretary, Bernie Sanders has made it known that he's interested in finishing his career as the Labor Secretary. No chance, there's just no chance a Republican Senate will approve people who are kind of on the far end of the Democratic party for important regulatory posts. So, Biden at best is going to be able to get moderates appointed to some of those positions, you might have to appoint some Republicans, and any aggressive-- aggressive rule maker legislation is probably off the table.

ADAM SHAPIRO: And yet, Joe Biden is a deal maker and he would do some deals, wouldn't you expect with Mitch McConnell and whether the AOC crowd [AUDIO OUT] those. Doesn't the country desire centrists, I mean, plain, boring, bland centrists.

RICK NEWMAN: It's a little bit hard to tell what the country desires. I mean-- I mean, it's really split into two factions, I mean, we saw that again. But I think you're right, Adam, I mean everything I described about this split government, that-- this is not entirely bad for Biden. I mean he would definitely rather have a Democratic Senate that's going to confirm, you know just about any appointee he wants, and this includes judges, by the way.

But on the other hand, if the Senate is there blocking all this progressive legislation, that perhaps Biden himself only supports in a lukewarm fashion, well Biden can say to his progressives, hey look I tried. I want to back your agenda, I want to back the Green New Deal, but there's no chance I can get anything through the Republican Senate. And let's keep in mind, we have another election in two years, the midterm elections. And if it does shake out the way it looks right now and Democrats still are a minority in the Senate, you know they're going to be gunning for a couple more seats in the Senate in 2020, while keeping the House. And if Biden can actually keep a fairly low visibility, centrist agenda for the first two terms, That might help.