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President Biden visits Baltimore to push plan to help U.S. families, boost economy in TV town hall

Emily Opilo and Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Political News

President Joe Biden made his first official visit to Baltimore since becoming chief executive, making a plea to the American public in support of his social spending and infrastructure plan during a nationally televised town hall hosted by CNN Thursday.

Biden was greeted by raucous applause from the crowd as he walked onto the stage wearing a dark suit and a wide grin. He waved at the crowd and put one hand over his eyes as he peered into the audience.

The Democratic president was peppered with questions from Marylanders on issues ranging from affordable child care and gas prices to tax rates and climate change, with host Anderson Cooper interjecting his own questions, as well.

As he answered, Biden tried to appeal to the crowd inside the 541-seat Pearlstone Theater at Center Stage in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon, repeatedly asking the attendees to evoke their own struggles or those they’ve witnessed, particularly during the pandemic.

Biden offered his legislative package as a solution, touting its provisions for child care assistance and paid parental leave as well as help with community college tuition.

“There’s a lot of pieces,” he said of the legislation early in the event.

 

Biden’s appearance came during a push by Democratic lawmakers in Washington to pass his legislative package, which includes efforts to boost spending on social programs, climate change mitigation and infrastructure.

The infrastructure bill is designed to improve roads, bridges, transit systems and broadband — and help fund Chesapeake Bay restoration — and the social spending package contains key elements of Biden’s agenda including expanding child care support and health care.

The total cost of the “Build Back Better” plan, originally priced at $3.5 trillion, has proved to be a sticking point during weeks of partisan haggling over the legislation. On Thursday, White House officials and key Democrats rushed to rework several pieces, including trimming social services and climate change programs in an effort to pare back the legislative package to about $2 trillion.

As he discussed the bill Thursday, Biden’s experience negotiating during his tenure in Congress was on display. After joking that he served in the U.S. Senate for hundreds of years, the president spoke frankly about provisions of his legislation that have been cut to please moderate Democrats.

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