Biden will promote bipartisanship as he returns to a changed Washington

St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

President Joe Biden will join top Republican officials this week to announce his infrastructure law, seeking bipartisan cooperation in a new era of government after returning to a politically transformed Washington.

An event featuring Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky on Wednesday will highlight the importance of the massive public works package Biden has signed into law in 2021. Brent is located in this area, just across the Ohio state line from Cincinnati. The Spence Bridge is one long illustration of the country’s crumbling infrastructure, which the law is dedicating money to fix.

But perhaps more important to Biden than the legislation itself is the cooperation between Republicans and Democrats as he faces a contentious second half of his term and the start of his re-election campaign.

Ending his winter vacation here on Sunday, the president expressed optimism for the coming year.

“Next year is a good year,” he said as he left the local Catholic church. “I am looking forward.”

It was an optimistic outlook for a president entering 2023 who has dismissed predictions of a midterm repeal but still faces a new political reality in Congress.

As Republicans prepare to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Biden hopes to demonstrate his willingness to work across the aisle, even as GOP lawmakers threaten to block his legislative ambitions and stymie the White House with surveillance investigations.

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The president and his team hope the comparison will be useful as Americans look to Washington for steps to ease their economic woes. In the coming weeks, Biden is expected to repeat his bipartisan achievements at stops across the country as the Republican majority kicks off and culminates with his annual State of the Union address.

He will be joined at a stop on the Ohio-Kentucky border Wednesday by Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and two Democrats: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.

A number of Cabinet officials also plan to travel later this week to promote the infrastructure law. Vice President Kamala Harris will stop in Chicago, while Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will travel to New London, Connecticut. They will “discuss how the president’s economic plan rebuilds our infrastructure, creates good-paying jobs — jobs that don’t require a four-year degree — and revitalizes disadvantaged communities,” a White House official said.

NBC News was the first to report on the upcoming trips.

Biden has spent much of his time in office implementing bipartisan legislation, advancing an infrastructure package, as well as strengthening the US microchip industry, funding Ukraine and ensuring health care for veterans suffering from toxic burns.

Democrats have little hope of finding a compromise with the Republican Congress, but in some areas — including China and, to a certain extent, Ukraine — they are optimistic.

On other fronts, including spending bills and the looming debt ceiling deadline, aides from both parties are bracing for high-risk confrontations.

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At Biden’s direction, White House officials have quietly begun to prepare for the new reality on Capitol Hill in the early stages, looking for issues that will garner bipartisan support and tapping into two key groups: moderate Republicans with a broad range of experience. The transition and incoming freshman class flipped Republican districts won by Biden two years ago.

Those lawmakers are at the heart of the White House’s effort to secure a bipartisan victory, which officials have said Biden is interested in accomplishing over the next two years. They will also be key to any hopes of the White House trying to cram Republican bills through the House and squeeze House GOP leadership on key issues.

White House officials are also closely watching the Republican race to elect a new House speaker. Rep. Kevin McCarthy has long been tipped for the promotion, but he remains in an internal battle to shore up support. Biden spoke with McCarthy by phone shortly after the midterm elections, and the California Republican was one of four leaders to meet with Biden at the White House a few weeks later.

After the meeting, McCarthy told reporters “who he can work with,” but noted that the majority of new Republicans in the House indicated that “America likes checks and balances.”

The president’s efforts to work with Republicans will be influenced by his decision to boost his re-election campaign for the White House. Biden has repeatedly signaled his intention to run again, but said this week he would consult with family members on vacation before taking a vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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As he finalizes his decision, campaign building is underway to be ready when the president announces his intentions. Many Democrats close to Biden believe he will seek re-election, and there appears to be little conflict within his family.

There was little public evidence of intense family discussions on St. Croix this week. Biden left his rented home on the east side of the island to play golf, eat dinner, attend church and record an appearance on Ryan Seacrest’s New Year’s Eve broadcast, but was otherwise invisible. After much local speculation, he and his family decided to forgo sunrise on New Year’s Day to Point Udall, considered the easternmost point in the United States.

Instead, Biden seems to have spent the week on an intensive vacation with his wife, children and grandchildren, perhaps catching up on a few conversations about the coming year.

One day after 9:00 p.m., as he was leaving dinner, he was asked if he had discussed his plans for 2024 with his family.

– Is there an election ahead? he asked with a smile. “I didn’t know that.”


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