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Politics Chat: What's Next For Biden After The Coronavirus Aid Bill

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Those who are eligible for stimulus checks should be checking their bank account. That $1,400 per person could have landed already. And President Biden is taking a victory lap while Republicans lambast the popular law. We have NPR White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe joining us now to tell us what to expect.

Good morning.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: President Biden signed the stimulus bill just three days ago, and some Americans may have already seen the cash land, as we mentioned. But that's just part of this massive law, which many are celebrating for what it does for child poverty, for child care, so much more. What is President Biden's next step here?

RASCOE: The president is hitting the road. The White House has said they are really going to promote the benefits of the stimulus. Biden will be in Pennsylvania and in Georgia this week, and he's not the only one. The first lady, vice - the - Vice President Harris and other officials are going to be traveling around the country.

This is really Biden taking a lesson from former President Obama's time in office. Biden has said that Obama failed to take a victory lap when they passed the stimulus bill in 2009. Biden views that as a mistake that he doesn't want to repeat. So they want to make the case to the public that Biden is delivering on his promises, and this is how he's helping to improve their lives.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So they're selling the Rescue Plan to the public after they passed it.

RASCOE: That's right. They don't want Republicans to drive the narrative on this aid package. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told PBS NewsHour that Americans only support the bill because they don't really know what's in it. Republicans say the law spends too much money and is not targeted enough on COVID response. Right now, though, polls show that the public overwhelmingly backs the law. And by traveling like this, the Biden administration gets to go out and kind of soak up some goodwill. They hope that the White House will be able to use that to allow them to move on to the rest of their agenda from a place of strength.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. What is the next legislative battle going to be - infrastructure, immigration? I mean, we've heard both those things mentioned. How are they prioritizing?

RASCOE: That's the million-dollar question right now. White House officials...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Or billion-dollar or trillion-dollar (laughter).

RASCOE: Or billion or really trillion (laughter). White House officials have said that whatever it is, it likely will focus on creating jobs in some way to boost the economy. The rescue bill was meant to stabilize the economy, but there's still so many people out of work and struggling.

There's going to be pressure, though, to move on to a number of issues, including immigration, voting rights, climate change. The White House isn't locking itself in on any of these issues right now. But no matter what their next move is, it's clear that the White House will try to do what they did with the Rescue Plan, which is continue to redefine bipartisanship. For this administration, they're saying it's not about getting Republican votes; it's about looking for the issues that most people support. And they're making the case that the policies they're passing are popular with the public.

For their part, Republican lawmakers are really going after those wedge issues, though - transgender rights, cancel culture. They don't necessarily have a unifying, overarching message that they're pushing.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. And finally, I do want to talk about this. At least six women have now come forward complaining of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's inappropriate behavior. And this is on top, of course, of his concealing the real number of COVID deaths at New York nursing homes. The calls for him to resign are growing louder, and they include now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. We'll have details on that later in the hour. But what does the White House have to say about this so far?

RASCOE: They've been trying not to get involved. The White House has told reporters that President Biden believes that women should come forward and be heard and that an investigation is ongoing, but there's going to be pressure for them to move beyond that. It's not clear that that response is going to be sustainable with all these people coming out and asking Cuomo to resign.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe.

Thank you very much.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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