Home Agenda Biden heads to global summits in Europe as national agenda hangs in limbo

Biden heads to global summits in Europe as national agenda hangs in limbo


President Joe Biden has pledged to show the world that democracies can work to meet the challenges of the 21st century. As he prepares to get this message across at two world summits, his case may hinge on what happens in Washington, where he rushes to finalize a large national legislative package.

Headed first to Rome and then to Glasgow, Scotland, Biden will be in a hurry to provide concrete ideas to stop a global pandemic, spur economic growth and halt accelerating climate change. Those stakes might seem a bit high for a pair of two-day gatherings attended by the world’s elite and their entourage. But it is written directly in the slogan of the meeting of the Group of 20 in Rome: “People, Planet, Prosperityâ€.

Biden, who planned to speak in the East Room before leaving Washington on Thursday, vowed to align US diplomacy with the interests of the middle class. This tied any success abroad to his efforts to get Congress to advance its environmental, fiscal, infrastructure and social policies. It might be more difficult to get the world to commit to its stated goals if Americans refuse to fully embrace them, one of the risks of Biden’s choice to link his domestic and foreign policies.

Biden’s trip overseas comes as he faces an increasingly pessimistic nation at home and a scathing outlook on his management of the national economy. According to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only 41% of Americans now approve of Biden’s economic management, up from 49% in August and a sharp reversal since March, when 60% approved.

FILE – President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Tuesday, August 10, 2021, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

Americans are broadly divided over Biden, with 48% approving and 51% disapproving of the management of his job as president. Only about a third of Americans say the country is heading in the right direction, also a significant drop from the start of the year when about half said so.

A consequence of Biden’s decision to tie his domestic and foreign policies so closely is that the two are now at the mercy of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, whose votes are critical in a Senate divided equally between Democrats and Republicans. . Biden associates hoped, among other things, of an investment of more than $ 500 billion to fight climate change in the United States, which would help efforts to persuade China and other countries to invest. same in renewable energies.

“It would be very, very positive to do that before the trip,†Biden said Monday.

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But as talks continued, administration officials began to downplay the importance of Biden’s spending plan which was still hovering in limbo rather than being locked down. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president can still use phones from Rome, the city that gave birth to the word “Senateâ€. She suggested on Wednesday that foreign leaders could look past ongoing talks with U.S. lawmakers to judge Biden’s commitment.

“They don’t look through the lens of whether there is a vote in a body of the legislature before it gets on a plane,†Psaki said.

Reaching an agreement that has had a perilous journey so far, the president begins his trip abroad with an expert in the power of prayer. Biden, the country’s second Catholic president, will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday in a visit that is partly personal for the intensely religious Commander-in-Chief and partly political, particularly on climate issues and confrontation with the autocracies.

Biden will also visit Italian hosts at the G-20 summit before sitting down with French President Emmanuel Macron. Biden is trying to bridge a gap with France created when the US and UK agreed to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, thereby supplanting a French contract.

Biden is also set to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, who backed down just days ago over threats to expel Western diplomats and whose purchase of Russian surface-to-air missiles has shaken his country’s participation in the program. fighter jet F-35.

At these and other meetings, Biden is expected to address the Iranian nuclear threat and Iran’s announcement that he could resume talks next month in Vienna.

He should also continue to pressure wealthier US allies to step up their commitments to share COVID-19 vaccines with low- and middle-income countries. Some countries have been slow to keep their ambitious promises and others have largely been left on the sidelines. Biden will argue that the pandemic cannot be over until vaccines are widely available and democracies cannot allow Chinese and Russian vaccine diplomacy – which often comes with strings attached – to take hold around the world.

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Biden will have little interaction with these two most important American rivals, as Chinese Xi Jinping and Russian Vladimir Putin are only attending the summits virtually due to the threat of a pandemic. These two leaders are key to broader climate issues at a time of rising energy prices. China has pledged to increase coal mining before winter, while Russia’s natural gas reserves give it some political power over parts of Europe.

Beyond the politicians and personalities who will be at the forefront of Biden’s trip, the president will try to advocate for democracy itself, arguing that the essentials – fair elections and representative government – are superior to autocracies. in good times and in bad times.

Traveling to Scotland on Sunday night for the climate summit, Biden will lead a large US delegation which he hopes will outline US plans to deal with the threat of climate change. This is a brutal turnaround on the part of former President Donald Trump, who withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

Biden is set to give an important speech on climate change and attempt to reclaim the mantle of American leadership. One of the main objections to moving away from oil and other fossil fuels has been the costs, but the president said nature is already demanding a price with the extreme weather conditions of climate change.

The president noted in a speech in New Jersey on Monday that storms, floods, fires and other disasters exacerbated by climate change have already cost $ 100 billion this year.

“We’re going to tackle the root cause of extreme weather and ever-increasing destruction: the climate crisis – we have a climate crisis,†Biden said.

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Miller reported from Rome. AP Director of Public Opinion Research Emily Swanson contributed to this report.


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