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President Joe Biden canceled a planned trip to Chicago to promote his vaccination mandate for businesses as ongoing negotiations over his legislative agenda in Washington intensify, White House officials confirmed Tuesday.
Biden was to have been accompanied by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker during a brief visit Wednesday. But the president is dealing both with congressional Democrats split on the size and scope of proposals to enact his economic recovery package, and with Republicans who have sought to block an extension of the federal debt ceiling that authorizes payment for spending under the Trump administration.
In a statement, the White House said, “In meetings and calls over the weekend and through today, President Biden has been engaging with members of Congress on the path forward for the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. He will now remain at the White House tomorrow to continue working on advancing these two pieces of legislation to create jobs, grow the economy, and make investments in families, rather than failed giveaways to the rich and big corporations.”
The White House statement added, “There will be more to come on his engagement over the next couple of days, and the trip to Chicago to discuss the ongoing importance of getting people vaccinated will be rescheduled.”
Despite internal disputes among moderate and progressive Democrats who control Congress, Biden has said he is confident that both a comprehensive recovery plan and an infrastructure package will eventually pass.
Biden has expressed frustration that his Build Back Better plan has not gained larger acceptance from a public whose attention has been focused on issues such as the delta variant to hurricanes in the South and wildfires in the West.
“I’d be out making the case about what my plan contained and it’s been very much curtailed by a whole range of things,” Biden said earlier this month.
“The problem is, with everything happening, not everybody knows what’s in that plan,” he said. “For example, all those women out there who are not able to go back to work because they have a dependent grandparent or a parent or a dependent child who needs help, or they can’t find day care … there’s a solution in the proposal that I put forward.”
Wednesday’s scheduled trip to Chicago would have been Biden’s second to the Chicago area since he assumed the presidency, following a July stop in Crystal Lake to promote community colleges.
This trip would have been made just two days after the 78-year-old chief executive received a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine, which has been authorized for people 65 and older and those adults age 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions.
Despite Biden’s confidence in congressional passage, the decision to cancel the trip to Chicago underscores the stakes at play for the president, including attempting to resolve differences in his party’s congressional delegation over a multi-trillion dollar economic recovery program and an infrastructure package of more than $1 billion.
Only last week, the White House enlisted Pritzker to help tout provisions in Biden’s plan that would make funding child care more available through tax credits, enabling more parents to return to work, and launching the availability of universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Biden’s plan for funding the social package would be paid for by reversing some Trump-era tax cuts, raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals while providing tax cuts to working and middle-class residents.
But internally among congressional Democrats, fissures have developed between progressives who want to see a larger scale expansion of government health care and other social issues, jeopardizing the separate infrastructure package aimed at also boosting employment in the labor construction trades.
At the same time, Republicans have locked in opposition to the need to lift the debt ceiling in October, risking the potential of default and the possibility of a recession.