It was no accident that the Biden administration would choose a school as a backdrop and the first lady as a substitute to start their ambitious sales effort.
Biden has been a teacher for three decades and continues to teach as a first lady. This makes them uniquely suited to announcing the more than $ 128 billion that will be sent to local and state agencies for schools. And the administration knows.
“She’s an effective promoter of her husband’s work, and doing so in schools and seeing different approaches to safe reopening makes perfect sense,” a White House adviser told POLITICO. Wednesday she will be sent to New Hampshire to take a look at the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord maneuvering the pandemic.
The reopening of schools was the most politically vulnerable element of the White House’s response to the pandemic. Confusion about administration policies and metrics was a persistent issue for two and a half months. Even what a “reopened” school looks like is unclear.
Samuel Smith Elementary is a microcosm of how Covid-19 has devastated the nation’s educational system. To get into the building, Biden went through a thermometer control station that resembled a metal detector, saw a very empty cafeteria, and greeted 17 excited children sitting at home while two others were in class on laptops surrounded by plexiglass . All along the message was clear: things may be miserable right now, but when the money in the bill goes to the schools, everything will change.
Biden himself put it much finer. “Even with your best efforts, students cannot come every day. And this school, like schools across the country, cannot fully reopen without help. Today I am here to tell you, with the American bailout plan, help is here. We. We.” are going to open schools – and we will surely do it, ”she said.
Republicans were relentless in their attacks on the government for compromising their promise to open schools in the first 100 days. And in the past few days the administration has tried to clarify its positions, even suggesting that some of the guidelines be reconsidered on how far apart students would have to sit. It comes after a new study finds that students may only need three feet of space instead of the currently recommended six.
“We are carefully reviewing this,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters. “Once we issued our guide, one of the biggest challenges we became aware of was the fact that schools were having difficulty with the 6 foot guide and this of course prompted further study to say: Is Six Feet Necessary in the Context with wearing masks? We are carefully recording all of this data and are revising our guidelines in this regard. ”
Monday’s visit provided an opportunity to rewrite the debate around questions about priorities and the influence of teachers’ unions on the avalanche of resources contained in President Joe Biden’s bill.
The first lady’s tour was part of a larger coordinated and carefully planned campaign to own the bill’s narrative. or, as Vice President Kamala Harris took it through Nevada Monday to give people an overview of what is actually on the bill and what they will make of it.
Hundreds of kilometers from central New Jersey, Harris was visiting a vaccination site at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where she was chatting with a nursing student when the student was shot in her arm. Then she came to a plant-based taco shop for lunch and told workers that small businesses are the “lifeblood of the economy.”
“Know you are entitled to file your taxes so that you can expedite the benefits you will receive to speak to your friends and neighbors about vaccinations because we expedite vaccination delivery and delivery in places like UNLV, ”Harris told reporters.
Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, got a tour of a Las Vegas food bank where the president told him he was “coming to the right place to start your tour because this is the zero point for Covid’s wrecking ball” .
The president stayed at the White House on Monday. But he didn’t leave the management of sales to someone else. He made comments on the implementation of the law and announced Covid Tsar Gene Sperling. He traveled to Pennsylvania on Tuesday while his Veep will hit Denver. Emhoff will be in Albuquerque on Wednesday. The president and vice president will close the week in Georgia – the state whose Senate elections in January gave the Democrats a majority in the Senate and thus the votes to pass such an auxiliary bill.
Biden stood behind his own lectern – this one adorned with the seal of the president, not the logo “Help is Here Tour” – and tried his own soundbites for the upcoming sales job.
The government, he proclaimed, gets “shots in the arms and money in the pockets”.