President Joe Biden returned to the White House around noon Monday after spending a weekend in his adopted hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden’s only public appearance was a visit to his church, St. Joseph on the Brandywine, attending Sunday morning mass with grandchildren Hunter and Natalie, the children of his late son Beau.
The president returns to Washington, D.C. as the Senate picks up his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package sans the $15-an-hour minimum wage bump that the Senate parliamentarian ruled couldn’t be passed through the body’s reconciliation rules.
The first scheduled thing he did upon return was meet virtually with a group of eight or nine Senate Democrats, the White House said.
The list of attendees included Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who has imperiled at least one of Biden’s cabinet nominations, as well as Sens. Maggie Hassan, John Hickenlooper, Angus King, Jeanne Shaheen, Jon Tester and Mark Warner.
The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, was listed as ‘tentative.’
Before Biden departed Saturday afternoon for Delaware he made brief remarks highlighting the House’s passage of the bill, which had happened overnight.
If the Democrats use reconciliation to pass the Senate bill, which they will, they only need a majority vote, which they have – meaning it could be passed as early as this week.
Senate Democrats also decided against adding in a proposal from Sen. Ron Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, that would penalize corporations who didn’t pay workers the $15 minimum.
That was scrapped as lawmakers are looking at a March 14 deadline to get the bill passed and signed by Biden before some Americans’ unemployment benefits expire.
During the White House briefing on Monday, press secretary Jen Psaki had the TV monitors at her sides say ’14 DAYS: Unemployment Insurance Benefits Start to EXPIRE for 11 million Americans.’
She encouraged lawmakers to pass the bill – which will have to go back through the House since the versions differ – before the deadline.
On Tuesday, Biden will virtually join the Senate Democrats’ weekly luncheon as well.
Zero House Republicans voted for the House version of the bill early Saturday.
So far, there’s no Senate Republican support for the bill.
The White House has been pointing to polling data as opposed to Congressional support to tout the bill’s bipartisan nature.