Biden spent most of his brief remarks touting his spending plans that would offer a universal preschool, free community college, 12 weeks of paid family leave and millions of “good paying jobs.”
“In the 21st century, infrastructure is not just steel and concrete. It’s the people, ”said Biden, who took off his mask to speak. “It’s a unique investment in America.”
Republicans have resisted both proposals: the US Jobs Plan, a $ 2.3 trillion package designed to fix the country’s crumbling roads and bridges, create jobs and fight climate change; and the American Families Plan, a $ 1.8 trillion plan to fund democratic priorities, including billions of dollars for child care, preschool, paid family time off, and tuition-free community college . He would pay the price by raising taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations.
“The middle class and working people in this country are already paying enough taxes,” he said. “It’s time for the richest 1% of Americans and corporate America to start doing their part.”
Republicans have resisted Biden’s big spending plans, voicing concerns about price tags, proposed tax hikes on wealthy Americans and businesses, and the generational and historic expansion of the social safety net.
Some Democrats have hinted they would like to proceed with whatever they can pass without Republican backing, but the White House says it is trying to work with Republicans. Biden’s advisers have said the president hopes to move forward on the two spending bills by Memorial Day and sign them this summer. Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the House could vote on at least one by July 4.
Biden flew to Georgia after his first speech to Congress on Wednesday, just a day before his 100th day in office, which focused on vaccinating Americans.
It was his second visit to Georgia, the state that gave Democrats the smallest majority in the Senate. Just six weeks ago, Congress passed the US bailout that sent 1,400 checks to Americans, increased unemployment benefits, and injected billions of dollars into the distribution of vaccines and the reopening of schools. He passed without Republican support.
“We owe special thanks to the Georgian people. Thanks to you, the rest of America was able to get help, ”Biden said. “If you ever wonder if the elections are making a difference, just remember what you did here in Georgia. … You have changed America. ”
Biden’s first visit to promote the coronavirus recovery bill was hastily changed after a series of shootings at Atlanta-area spas that killed eight people, including six Asian women. Thursday’s visit comes after the passage of the controversial state voting law, which Biden dubbed the “Jim Crow of the 21st century” and “a blatant attack on the Constitution.”
At the auto rally, Biden shouted at former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who he said “could be whatever she wants to be out of whatever she chooses for president.” He also touched on various issues including climate change, police reform and the right to vote.
Near the start of his remarks, Biden was interrupted by a group of protesters shouting “Abolish ICE” and “End Detention Now”. One of them shouted, “We voted for you too.” “Our families are dying,” said another.
“I agree with you, I’m working on it, man, give me another five days,” Biden replied. “People, you all know what they’re talking about. There should not be a period of private prison. Private detention centers. They shouldn’t exist. And we are working to shut them all down. ”
Biden was joined by First Lady Jill Biden, who introduced her husband. “In some ways it’s hard to believe it’s only been 100 days,” she said. “Back in DC, we’re still getting to know our new home, figuring out where the switches are.
Ahead of the rally, the Bidens met with former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, at their home in Plains, Georgia.
Carter, 96, did not travel to Washington for Biden’s inauguration in January due to the pandemic, although the two spoke by phone the night before.
“Joe Biden was the first US senator to endorse former Governor Carter when he ran for president,” Senior Press Assistant Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One. “So they have a long-standing relationship that lasts a few decades.”
Benjamin Din contributed to this report.