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With a stop in Pennsylvania, Biden begins his pitch to Americans on new COVID relief law

President Biden is on the road, aiming to sell his COVID relief law to the American public. His first stop Tuesday was in Pennsylvania with a visit to a Black-owned flooring business near Philadelphia, highlighting the aid that his administration is providing through small business loans and stimulus checks. Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Biden is on the road today, aiming to sell his COVID relief law to the American public, first stop, Pennsylvania, with a visit to a Black-owned flooring business near Philadelphia, highlighting the aid that his administration is providing through small business loans and stimulus checks.

  • Pres. Joe Biden:

    We're in a position where it's going to bring immediate relief, $1,400, to 85 percent of the American public.

    I said yesterday we're going to get 100 million shots in people's arms within the first 60 days of my administration, and 100 million checks out; 100 million people are going to be getting — not a joke — a check for $1,400, which could change their lives.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Here to break down the White House sales pitch, our Yamiche Alcindor.

    So, hello, Yamiche.

    This is the second day of what the White House is calling their Help Is Here Tour. Tell us what they're trying to accomplish.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    That's right.

    President Biden, as well as a number of White House officials, are eager to take a victory lap after having the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package become law. They're also eager to really try to explain the details of the bill to the broader public.

    Now, of course, as you said, this is dubbed the Help Is Here Tour, but it could also be dubbed the shots in arms, money in pockets tour, because that's what you're going to be hearing from these officials and what we have already heard from them as they have been crisscrossing the United States talking about it.

    Now, this tour comes as President Biden said that, in 2009, he felt like President Obama was too humble about explaining the economic stimulus package that he, when he was president, passed. So, this is really Democrats wanting to learn from that what they see as maybe a mistake or a stumble there and wanting to make sure that they take full credit for what is happening with this bill.

    I want to put up a map for folks, so you can see where people are heading this week. Yesterday, we saw the vice president, as well as the second gentleman, go to Las Vegas. There, they went to culinary academy, as well as a vaccination site.

    Then, in New Jersey, we saw first lady Jill Biden go. She visited an elementary school. Today, as you mentioned, Joe Biden was in Chester, Pennsylvania, visiting that Black-owned flooring company. They received a PPP loan, which is the Paycheck Protection Program. They're also going to qualify for some other programs under the new bill.

    Then, you also saw the vice president, as well as the second gentleman, go to Colorado. They went and did a listening session for small business owners.

    Tomorrow, the first lady's heading to New Hampshire. The second gentleman will be in New Mexico. Friday, we're going to have the president and the vice president in Georgia, in Atlanta, Georgia. That, of course, is that newly blue state. They're again going to be wanting to talk about what they did and how they accomplished this.

    But they're also going to be wanting to bolster their next item on their agenda. That might be infrastructure, immigration, but they're wanting to say, look at what we did and what we what we can do for this country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, tell us a little more about how this fits into the larger political goals of the administration. And what are the Republicans doing to push back?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, Democrats are really looking at this $1.9 trillion package and saying, this is not just a political messaging tool, but it's really also a tool that could get us reelected in 2022, as, of course, those midterm elections approach, even though, of course, it's in some ways head-spinning that we're heading into another election season.

    But I had a pretty lengthy conversation with the DNC chair, Jaime Harrison. And he told me the DNC and Democrats are going to be much more aggressive in trying to make sure that their base stays excited, stays eager, and really thinks through how this bill affects their lives.

    On the Republican side, what we're seeing is a number of lawmakers doing two things, one, calling this bill bloated, saying that it is not targeted enough, that it's full of all sorts of Democratic wish list items that don't have to do with the pandemic.

    The other thing that they're doing, Republicans, is trying to change the subject. So, we saw a number of lawmakers go to the border, talking about the challenges that you have there. The Biden administration is, of course, struggling with the spike we're seeing in unaccompanied minors coming to the border. So, that's how Republicans are really responding to this.

    But Democrats say that this bill will be transformational. It's the bet that they're willing to make.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we are going to hear a little more later in the program about what they are facing at the border.

    Yamiche Alcindor covering the White House for us.

    Thank you, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks so much.

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