President Joe Biden and his allies are hitting the road this week to promote the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill he signed in law last week as the right prescription for a country humbled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden and a slate of advocates including Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden are being deployed to politically important states and to television as part of what the White House is calling the “Help is Here Tour” to tout measures that include a $1,400 check for most U.S. households.
“I promised the American people, and I guess it’s becoming an overused phrase, that help was on the way,” Biden told a White House ceremony on Friday. “We’ve delivered on that promise.”
The bill was Biden’s first legislative priority on taking office in January and his fellow Democrats used narrow majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate to pass a large measure of what Biden originally proposed without Republican support.
Democrats regard the bill as good policy and politics. Opinion polls show majorities supporting efforts to shore up the coronavirus vaccination campaign, prepare schools to reopen and ease poverty after a year-long pandemic that has killed over 526,000 Americans and put millions out of work.
Republicans, who broadly supported coronavirus relief early in the crisis when Republican Donald Trump was president, have dismissed the latest measure as an overpriced collection of pet projects unrelated to the pandemic.
The White House has said it does not believe President Barack Obama’s administration, in which Biden served as vice president, did enough to promote its more than $800 billion 2009 economic rescue program. Democrats went on to lose control of the House to Republicans the next year.
Taking their case directly to the people, Harris will launch the tour on Monday in Las Vegas, while Biden goes to Delaware County, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday and Atlanta on Friday. He will also do an interview on Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.
Biden defeated Trump in closely divided Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia in the 2020 presidential election.
Each state will also feature a competitive Senate race in 2022. Losing just one seat in that evenly divided chamber would all but doom Biden’s legislative agenda, handing Senate control to Republicans for the rest of the president’s four-year term.
At least two outside political spending groups that backed Biden’s presidential bid, Priorities USA and Unite the Country, said they would put millions into advertisements supporting the stimulus measures.
Priorities USA said its ads would partly be targeted at voters who flipped from supporting Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020, in “2022 battleground states” including Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Peter Cooney)
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