President Biden is in Ohio today for a CNN town hall on Wednesday as his six-month-old presidency reaches a critical juncture.
A major set of problems is unfurling as he makes his third visit to the state. Covid cases are rising, testament to a vaccination effort that stalled amid waves of disinformation and skepticism. Pent-up demand has caused an uptick in prices, leading to concerns over inflation.
And Biden’s much-touted bipartisan infrastructure deal remains in a state of limbo as Republicans and Democrats rush to finalize the plan.
The President was set to depart Washington for Cincinnati around the same time the Senate blocked a vote to start debate on the infrastructure plan, a setback to Biden’s attempts at fostering across-the-aisle cooperation. Negotiators say they will continue talking in hopes of striking a deal, but now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer must schedule another vote for next week.
Biden’s aides have been working behind-the-scenes to bring the deal to fruition. In theory, it would spend $600 billion repairing roads and bridges and bolstering broadband networks, among other physical infrastructure priorities. A separate $3.5 trillion framework being advanced only by Democrats includes the remainder of Biden’s family and jobs agenda, including education, housing and child care.
At the same time, Biden is confronting a troubling rise in Covid cases that has now spread to every state in the country. Driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, nearly all new hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people. But the new surge has already forced some localities to reapply mask mandates.
The set of challenges is familiar territory for first-year presidents, who often confront unforeseen crises just as they are hoping to quickly enact the plans they ran on.
Aside from Covid and the economy, Biden is facing foreign hotspots in Afghanistan, Haiti and Cuba. And border crossings have again spiked, an issue the administration has struggled to contain.
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