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Biden touts COVID bill as putting ‘working people first’

President Joe Biden took a victory lap in the White House Rose Garden Friday after signing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package the day before. 

‘For the first time in a long time, this bill puts working people in this nation first,’ Biden told a small crowd of Democratic Congressional leaders, adding the caveat that the rich aren’t ‘bad folks.’  

He added that it was time to ‘build an economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out.’ 

President Joe Biden speaks in the White House Rose Garden at an event marking the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package passed by Democrats in the House and Senate 

Biden appeared in the Rose Garden alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Other Democratic lawmakers were the seated guests. 

Schumer, Pelosi and Harris all made the point to say that ‘help is on the way.’ 

When it got to the president’s turn he uttered, ‘I guess it’s becoming an overused phrase,’ before saying it again. 

The package includes $1,400 stimulus checks, extended umemployment benefits, a child tax credit that will raise millions out of poverty, as well as money for vaccinations and to help reopen schools. 

‘It changes the paradigm,’ Biden said, pointing out how Washington has used tax cuts for years to drive economic stimulus, with financial benefits for the rich – in theory – trickling down to those at the bottom. ‘

‘We’ve seen time and time again that the trickle down doesn’t work, by the way,’ the president noted. 

‘We don’t have anything against wealthy people,’ he said again.  

Biden made sure progressive Democrats were represented by singling out his former primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, as he was doing a round of thank yous. 

‘And I want to say to Bernie, Bernie stepping up and making the case about why this was so transformational made a big difference in how a lot of people voted,’ Biden said. 

He also told the socially distant audience that he wished he could greet them all properly. 

‘Wish I could come out and shake hands with every one of you, but next time we won’t be so far apart,’ the president said. 

Biden had let Schumer, Pelosi and Harris all speak before he walked up to the podium.  

‘Everybody is complimenting us and I, every time we get a compliment I say, I accept on behalf of the House Democrats and of the staff of the House Democrats and I know of the Senate staff as well,’ Pelosi said.  

She thanked Biden as well. 

‘Yes, this is a great day to be in the Rose Garden and to have us be able to fulfill the promise that President Biden has made all along – that help is on the way. Promise made, promise fulfilled,’ she added.  

Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Hosue Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrate the passage of the COVID-19 stimulus package in the White House Rose Garden Friday

Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Hosue Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrate the passage of the COVID-19 stimulus package in the White House Rose Garden Friday 

BIDEN’S AUDIENCE AT THE ROSE GARDEN PARTY 

Leadership

· Speaker Nancy Pelosi

· Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

· Majority Leader Steny Hoyer

· Majority Whip Jim Clyburn

· Chairwoman Patty Murray

· Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow

· Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar

· President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy

Chairs of Relevant Committees

· Senator Bernie Sanders, Budget Committee Chair

· Senator Gary Peters, Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Chair

· Senator Ben Cardin, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee Chair

· Senator Sherrod Brown, Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chair

· Congressman John Yarmuth, Budget Committee Chair

· Congressman Bobby Scott, Education and Labor Committee Chair

· Congressman Frank Pallone, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair

· Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Financial Services Committee Chair

· Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Oversight and Reform Committee Chair

· Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Small Business Committee Chair

· Congressman Mark Takano, Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair

· Congressman Richard Neal, Ways and Means Committee Chair

· Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Appropriations Committee Chair

· Congressman Gregory Meeks, Foreign Affairs Committee Chair

The White House invited 22 Democratic lawmakers – leadership and chairs of the relevant committees – to join the festivities, but no Republicans were present, as no GOP member of Congress crossed the aisle to vote in favor of the massive COVID-19 relief package.  

A number of Republicans at the state level were supportive of the package, but the White House has maintained strict COVID-19 protocols, so the footprint of the celebration remains small.  

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday morning on ‘Good Morning America’ that Biden will keep trying with Congressional Republicans, telling George Stephanopoulos, ‘the door to the Oval Office remains open.’ 

Psaki said she believed Republicans might be willing to work with the Democratic White House on an infrastructure package and ‘modernizing our immigration system.’ 

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, GOP lawmakers are already setting their sights on taking back the House majority next year by using the influx of migrants at the southern border to hammer the White House on Biden’s immigration policy. 

‘He’s hopeful Republicans will join him,’ Psaki said upon mentioning the two issue areas. 

She also reacted to criticism of the legislation from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said that Democrats inherited a rising tide, and so the $1.9 trillion rescue plan didn’t need to be so big.   

‘Sen. Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are really outliers on this as you noted the majority of the American people support this package, including the majority of Republicans,’ Psaki responded. ‘So hopefully there’ll be a moment of self-reflection for some of the members who voted against it.’ 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who appeared on ‘Morning Joe,’ echoed Psaki’s sentiment. 

‘It’s not bipartisan in the Senate unfortunately, maybe the next bill will be because when Republicans see we can do it without them maybe they’ll want to join us and do it with us, but it’s bipartisan with the American people,’ Schumer said.  

Public polling on the American Rescue Plan has shown that it’s popular with both Democratic and Republican voters. 

A Morning Consult poll conducted between March 6-8 found that 59 per cent of Republicans strongly or somewhat supported the COVID-19 relief package. 

That’s, of course, in comparison to 90 per cent of Democats who said the same thing.   

The principles of the Biden administration: the president, vice president, first lady and second gentleman, will fan out throughout the country – mostly to swing states – starting next week to keep the legislative victory in the news. 

Biden will kick off the American Rescue Plan Tour on Tuesday with a visit to Delaware County, Pennsylvania, the county tucked between his adopted hometown of Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he headquartered his 2020 campaign. 

He’ll also travel to Atlanta, Georgia Friday to promote the package. 

In December and early January, Biden campaigned along with Georgia Democratic Senate hopefuls Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, promising voters in the state that if they won – which would give Democrats control of the Senate – Americans would see those $2,000 relief checks.  

The checks in the American Rescue Plan are $1,400 because $600 checks were included in the final COVID-19 stimulus package passed under former President Donald Trump. 

Both Trump and Biden wanted the amount to be $2,000.  


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