Mara Liasson

To a growing number of Democrats, the filibuster is a giant barrier to the things they want to accomplish. At the funeral last year for congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, former President Barack Obama listed some of them: ending partisan gerrymandering and making Election Day a national holiday, as well as statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

President Biden is continuing his victory lap this week after passing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which addressed the most immediate crises Biden has faced coming into office: a pandemic still spreading and an economy still millions of jobs short of where it was a year ago.

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Joe Biden ran on competence and experience, and he chose a chief of staff known for both: Ron Klain.

"We're seeing a functioning White House. Go figure," says Chris Whipple, who wrote The Gatekeepers, a book about White House chiefs of staff. "That's a tribute to Klain."

In the first 49 days of the administration, Klain has had a big win and also a notable loss, but he entered the role with broad experience and a good relationship with the president.

Taking the win

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Joe Biden's first full week as president has been a gusher of executive orders, some big legislative proposals — and a very different model of presidential leadership than his predecessor.

Traditionally, the first week is when new presidents set the tone. For Biden, that's all about taking down the temperature and trying for "unity." But unity means different things to different people.

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Joe Biden's first full week as president has been a gusher of executive orders, some big legislative proposals and a very different model of presidential leadership. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports.

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Now to another national political correspondent, the great Mara Liasson, who has been covering presidential inaugurations for - well, I'm going to let you answer that, Mara. How long?

In a matter of hours on Jan. 6, the Republican Party went from shrugging off its loss of the White House to a party in crisis.

It was becoming clear just before the violent insurrection at the Capitol that the party had lost two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, making President Trump the first president since Herbert Hoover whose party lost the White House, the House and the Senate in one term. And plenty of Republicans blamed Trump for the Democrats' success in Georgia.

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And I want to bring in another voice - that of NPR's Mara Liasson, who was listening in, along with the rest of us, to that last conversation.

Hey, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi there.

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And we'll turn now to NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

Good morning, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

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(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The House will come to order.

(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCKING GAVEL)

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Democrats are trying to figure out what the voters were trying to tell them this year, because it was kind of confusing.

President-elect Joe Biden won the popular vote by 4.5 percentage points — a 7 million vote margin — and got 306 electoral votes, which President Trump once called "a massive landslide victory" when he got the same number in 2016.

But Biden had no coattails.

With another COVID-19 relief bill awaiting his signature or veto, what's President Trump's end game? A new Congress begins Jan. 3, a new president in 24 days, and millions of Americans are struggling.

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Progress on the COVID-19 relief bill, as a lame duck President Trump continues to spread falsehoods about the election amid the continuing COVID-19 crisis and now an alleged Russian cyberattack.

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Well, soon after the Electoral College vote ended with the final ballots cast in Hawaii, President-elect Biden spoke to the nation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

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NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson joins us now.

Good morning, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Lulu.

In the two weeks since it became clear that President Trump lost the election to Joe Biden — a period bookended by befuddling press conferences from his longtime lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — the president has made it clear that he will spend his remaining days in the White House in the same way he spent much of his term in office: fighting.

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