PHILADELPHIA — President Joe Biden launched his campaign to sell voters on the benefits of his sweeping economic relief plan Tuesday from a Black-owned flooring company just outside Philadelphia.
Biden toured Smith Flooring in Chester Township before holding a news conference with Democratic elected officials from Pennsylvania, where he lauded the $1.9 trillion legislation as a way forward for a country reeling from a year of health and economic suffering.
“People hardest hit are in minority communities,” Biden said. “The rate at which they get COVID is higher, death rate is higher.” He said his administration is working to get coronavirus vaccines distributed through a range of locations, including pharmacies, community centers and schools, to better reach Black and brown communities.
Biden’s road show aims to lay out how the expansive package will help families, schools, health departments and local businesses, and to highlight the achievements of the president’s 50 days.
Tuesday was Biden’s first time hitting the road since signing the legislation last week, kicking off what’s expected to be a blitz of travel. First lady Jill Biden was in Burlington County, in South Jersey, on Monday, while Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff were in Nevada. President Biden and Harris will travel to Georgia later this week.
The visits have so far focused on states with competitive Senate races in the 2022 midterm elections, which will help decide which party controls the upper chamber for the rest of Biden’s term — and the fate of his ongoing legislative ambitions.
The measure includes $1,400 stimulus checks for nearly all Americans and their children; a massive expansion of tax credits for parents and low-income workers without children; an extension of $300 per week federal unemployment aid through September; $130 billion for schools; $350 billion for state and local governments; $25 billion for restaurants; money to help more people buy health insurance and food and pay rent; and an array of liberal priorities such as expanding internet access in urban and rural areas, rescuing pension plans and paying debts of minority farmers.
The White House said earlier Tuesday ahead of Biden’s appearance that the legislation would provide $7.4 billion for Pennsylvania state government, $4.9 billion for local governments in the state, and more than $5.1 billion for K-12 schools.
Biden’s first trip back to Pennsylvania as president brought him to Delaware County, one of the Philadelphia’s four populous and increasingly Democratic collar counties. In Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, Biden grew his total margin of victory by nearly 105,000 votes compared to Hillary Clinton’s in 2016.
Chester Township, where Smith Flooring is located, is a majority-Black town of about 4,000 people. It’s about five miles from Chester city, the largest city in Delaware County, the average annual family incoming is about $30,00, and about 32% of people were living below the poverty line in 2019, according to Census data.
James and Kristin Smith, who grew Smith Flooring from their basement to a warehouse in Chester that employs about a dozen people, thanked Biden for coming.
“Thank you for helping small business and small minority businesses,” Kristin Smith said. ”It means a lot that you came to see our business. ... Not many people come out and stop here in Chester.”