By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Wisconsin on Tuesday to press his case for a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill in the political battleground state that helped secure his victory in last year’s presidential election.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said last week that Biden would do a CNN town hall with voters while visiting the state, hard hit by the pandemic and its economic fallout.
“That’s an opportunity to hear directly from people about how the dual crises are impacting them,” she told reporters.
Biden has traveled to his home state of Delaware and to the Camp David presidential retreat since taking office on Jan. 20, but the trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city, is his first on official business since becoming commander-in-chief.
The state, which has 10 Electoral College votes, sided with the Democratic president over Donald Trump, then the Republican incumbent, by a narrow margin in the November election.
With the U.S. Senate having acquitted Trump in his second impeachment trial on Saturday, the White House is eager to press ahead with Biden’s agenda on the economy, fighting COVID-19, curbing climate change and addressing racial inequality.
Biden wants Congress to pass his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill in the coming weeks in order to get $1,400 stimulus checks out to Americans and bolster unemployment payments.
The White House strategy to promote the package and other policy goals involves getting out to voters. Having been vaccinated for the coronavirus, Biden, 78, is stepping up his travel in coming days.
On Thursday he will visit Michigan, another political swing state, to see a Pfizer manufacturing site and talk to workers involved in making the company’s COVID-19 vaccine. Its 16 Electoral College votes also contributed to Biden’s election win.
Wisconsin had supported Democratic presidential candidates for nearly two decades before backing Trump in 2016, helping him defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In 2020, it helped give Biden a 306-232 vote edge in the Electoral College.
The president faces resistance from Republicans over the high price tag of the stimulus bill. Biden and his allies have argued that going “big” will help boost the economy and bring the pandemic under control in a country where more than 485,000 people have died from COVID-19.
Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Michelle Price and Howard Goller
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