President Joe Biden formally kicked off a victory tour to celebrate his $1.9 trillion stimulus, stamping his mark on a law he says will help deliver Americans relief from the pandemic and its economic devastation.
After signing the bill into law on Thursday, Biden invited almost two dozen Democratic lawmakers to the White House Rose Garden on Friday to cheer its passage. The televised event preludes a nationwide blitz by Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Cabinet officials to sell the plan to the public.
“It focuses on what people need most,” Biden said, thanking lawmakers for what he called “refinements” to the legislation. “It’s going to make a difference in the lives of millions of people in concrete, specific ways.”
Biden will travel next week to Pennsylvania and Georgia -- two key political battlegrounds in the last election -- to kick off what the White House is calling the “Help is Here” tour to promote the relief measure. Harris will join Biden in Georgia and also plans her own trips to Nevada and Colorado, two other states crucial for Democrats in 2022 and beyond.
The president said he plans to “speak directly to the American people about how this law is going to make a significant difference in their lives.”
The White House wants to ensure Biden and Democrats receive credit for the package, which polls show a majority of Americans support. Biden has said Barack Obama was too modest in celebrating the 2009 stimulus he signed into law, and that as a result Democrats paid a price in the midterm elections the following year.
By touting the virus relief measure, Biden’s team is seeking to lay groundwork for forthcoming recovery package, focused on infrastructure and climate policies, that will be even more difficult to pass through the closely divided Congress.
“The next thing to do is to implement the bill and to go out and talk to people about how this money is going to make a difference in their lives,” White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said this week on MSNBC.
Biden kicked off his sales pitch with his first prime-time address to the nation on Thursday night, in which he set a Fourth of July goal for the U.S. to begin returning to normal life. He cited a rapidly expanding supply of coronavirus vaccine and relief funds that will go toward direct payments for Americans, reopening schools and keeping businesses afloat as reason for hope.
Biden’s stimulus bill passed Congress without a single Republican vote, foreshadowing a tough fight over the infrastructure plan.
“This law is not the end of our efforts,” Biden said. “I view it only as the beginning.”
No Republicans attended Friday’s ceremony at the White House to celebrate the relief package, the second-largest stimulus in the nation’s history.
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