Biden Pitches Spending Plan to Trump-Voting Chicago Suburb

Joe Biden made his first presidential trip to Illinois on Wednesday, seeking to rally bipartisan support for his economic proposals at a community college nestled in a conservative-leaning northwest suburb of Chicago.

The trip to Crystal Lake -- in a county won in 2020 by Donald Trump -- is the latest in a string of visits by the president to promote his infrastructure and social spending plans in tossup or Republican-leaning areas.

In his speech, he argued that policies -- including free community college and childcare -- are key for the U.S. to compete with economies such as China’s.

Biden Pitches Spending Plan to Trump-Voting Chicago Suburb

“Folks, Democrats and Republicans agree: we can’t afford to lose this race,” Biden said. “We need to lay the foundation for the next generation of American jobs.”

Last week, Biden visited a cherry farm in Michigan’s Antrim County and a transit depot in western Wisconsin as he sought backing for his agenda, including a $579 billion infrastructure package negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators and a separate tax and social spending bill that Democrats plan to pursue unilaterally.

During his visit to McHenry County College on Wednesday, Biden discussed his plan to provide free community college tuition to all Americans. The school has a workforce development program and child care center that could also receive funding boosts under the president’s proposals.

Biden pushed for passage of remaining elements of his Build Back Better proposals, including elements of his American Jobs Plan that were excluded from the bipartisan infrastructure pact.

Building Pressure

White House officials are hoping that Biden’s travel can keep pressure on Republican lawmakers who initially signed on to support the infrastructure bill, as well as Democratic lawmakers who disagree over the size and scope of the second, social spending package.

“Obviously there’s a lot of work that needs to happen with Congress and we expect over the next week there to be a lot of behind-the-scenes bill writing and negotiations, discussions on Capitol Hill, long nights, lots of coffee over the course of the next several days,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

Biden’s speech focused heavily on education and touted the proposed extension of the expanded child tax credit and call for the construction of new child care centers. He also reiterated his proposed investments in affordable housing.

Democratic leaders including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have said they hope to write and secure passage of the infrastructure bill this month. But congressional and White House officials face a difficult challenge keeping lawmakers’ votes in line -- particularly as they simultaneously wrangle over the broader, partisan bill they hope to pass alongside it.

Biden’s visit to the Chicago area also comes amid a spate of gun violence that has gripped the city. At least 17 people were killed and 99 were wounded by gunfire over the Independence Day holiday weekend, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

Gun Violence

Biden late last month said his administration would step up enforcement efforts against gun dealers who willfully break federal laws amid a surge in homicides across major U.S. cities. The president was greeted by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has requested additional federal assistance to combat the growing violence, when he arrived in Illinois earlier Wednesday.

Psaki said in a statement that Biden had committed federal assistance to Chicago to help fight crime.

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