Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Biden tries to show progress at home ahead of summits in Europe

With his domestic agenda hanging in the balance on Capitol Hill, President Biden is heading to Europe for two international summits, where he will face questions about how much more the United States can do to combat global warming and the ongoing pandemic.

Biden’s first stop is Rome, where the world’s richest countries gather for the G-20 Forum, a gathering traditionally focused on economic issues that have been overshadowed by the coronavirus. He then travels to Glasgow, Scotland, for a United Nations climate change conference when doubts grow that enough will be done to avoid a dangerous rise in global temperatures.

Ahead of his planned departure, Biden headed to Capitol Hill and met with House Democrats to present his revised $ 1.75 trillion plan to invest in education, social safety nets and environmental policies. He also plans to speak at the White House to push for a final deal, which proved unreachable in months of negotiations as he struggles to bridge the gap between moderate and progressive members of his party.

The frantic timetable that pushed back Biden’s departure for Air Force One reflects a difficult moment for the president, who sought to demonstrate that the United States remains a democracy capable of bold progress at home and abroad.

Speaking at the White House after meeting with the Democrats, Biden said the Democrats had reached the spending plan that he said would “fundamentally change the lives of millions of people.”

While the president’s proposals remain extensive – including, among other things, the creation of one-stop preschools for American children – he has been forced to abandon some key policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and guarantee paid family leave for workers. Biden admitted that it was difficult to make such compromises.

“We spent hours, hours and hours, months and months working on this,” Biden said, describing negotiations with Democratic MPs. “Nobody got everything they wanted, not even me. But that’s what compromise is. This is consensus. “

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat from San Francisco) is pushing for a ballot on Thursday on relevant legislation to invest in roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects, which she presented as a way to show progress ahead of Biden’s meetings with world leaders.

“When the president gets off this plane, we want him to get a vote of confidence from Congress,” she told her faction members during a meeting with Biden, according to a source familiar with her remarks.

Administration officials have tried to downplay the importance of closing the deal before the trip, although Biden is trying to do just that. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden’s colleagues from other countries are not worried about the fierce debate on Capitol Hill.

“They see that we are making progress,” she said. “They are complicated. They see that we are on the verge of making a deal. “

While Biden plans to keep in touch with lawmakers while he is abroad, there is no clear time frame for how long it will take.

“We’re really close, but as you know, really closeness can last for a while,” said Senator Brian Schatz (Democratic Republic of Hawaii).

The G-20 brings together powerful autocracies such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, as well as liberal democracies such as Canada and Germany. As the US and China – the world’s largest and second-largest economies – diverge more and more on trade and security issues, some analysts doubt this forum can remain a place where the international community can find common ground.

“I wouldn’t say I really hope so,” said Thomas Wright, director of the Brookings Institution Center for the United States and Europe. “I think this is a test.”

Biden is likely to face more skepticism from America’s traditional allies than he did earlier this year when he attended the G-7 summit in the seaside resort town of Carbis Bay in England. At the time, he was hailed for resuming relations with the international community after being despised by President Trump for four years.

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There is now less confidence that Biden can turn the page as he promised, said Heather A. Conley, director of the Europe, Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Europe needs a very stable Biden administration,” she said. “However, he sees that the Biden administration is struggling domestically. He fears that the instincts that brought President Trump to power are back and that he is not sure that America can be a partner it can rely on. “

Biden shocked his allies with his chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan when the Taliban toppled the central government in Kabul and quickly rolled back the gains made by women during the American occupation there.

The president also angered France by forging a new security partnership with Australia and the UK, which resulted in Australia canceling a lucrative contract to buy diesel submarines from France in favor of working with the US on a new nuclear fleet.

Biden plans to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron while they are in Rome as part of his efforts to forge ties with America’s oldest ally. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told reporters in Washington that he believed relations would return to normal.

“Presidents Biden and Macron agreed that things could have been done better. We agree with that, ”he said. “But we’re not going to be masochists.”

Public health advocates will be closely monitoring the G-20 to make additional commitments to expand COVID-19 vaccines in poor countries that remain vulnerable to the pandemic. The international community seems to be on track to vaccinate at least 40% of every country’s population by the end of the year.

“This will require coordination,” said Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Not enough is being produced. And those that we have are distributed unevenly. “

So far, Biden has pledged to donate more vaccines than any other country, and more than 1 billion vaccines are slated to be delivered by next fall.

More problems await the president in Glasgow, where world leaders are forced to increase their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Biden has already announced ambitious goals, but the trajectory of the US is in doubt as Democratic lawmakers try to figure out how to tackle the problem.

There is a preliminary agreement to spend about $ 500 billion, but the details of the policy have not yet been agreed upon. Whatever the final outcome, it will be far less ambitious than Biden once imagined.

He originally wanted to use a combination of fees and fines to encourage utilities to ditch fossil fuels and move to clean energy. However, this idea was abandoned because it could not get the necessary support from Senator Joseph Manchin III (DW.Va.). The legislation is now likely to include grants and loans to encourage the private sector to cut emissions.

Nathaniel Keohan, president of the Climate and Energy Solutions Center, said the US must show the world a credible global warming plan to bring other nations together.

“The best scenario is coming to Glasgow with something that can really close the gap,” he said. “If the US comes along and says we are still working on it, it will drastically reduce their ability to lead in Glasgow.”

Times staff writers Jennifer Haberkorn and Tracy Wilkinson contributed to this report from Washington.

Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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