Some Democrats are pushing Biden to embrace normality, to ease Covid-19 cases
Some Democrats are pushing Biden to embrace normality, to ease Covid-19 cases

Some Democrats are pushing Biden to embrace normality, to ease Covid-19 cases

WASHINGTON – Some Democrats are pushing President Biden to use his planned State of the Union speech to support a return to a sense of normalcy as Covid-19 cases fallwhich is pushing the White House as many of the party’s governors withdraw restrictions in their states.

The elected representatives focus on the speech on March 1 as a crucial opportunity for Mr. Biden to embrace the waiver of mask mandates and other rules as cases fall from the latest Omicron rise but hospital admissions remain high in parts of the country. They hope the speech in prime time can lift public morale and boost the party on its way into midterm elections, where Democrats are seen facing an uphill battle to retain control of Congress.

“There are a bunch of us who are pushing the White House to really use the state of the Union as a kind of declaration of the new phase,” the rep said. Elissa Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat facing a close race this fall.

White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said Mr Biden and his administration are in active discussions with public health experts both inside and outside the government, as well as state and local leaders, on how to tackle the next phase of the pandemic.

CDC, led by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, currently recommends masking in schools and in indoor public environments where Covid-19 transmission is significant or high.


Alex Brandon / Associated Press

In setting policies, the White House continues to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends universal masking in schools and that masks be worn in indoor public environments where transmission is significant or high. While Mr Biden extended a federal mask mandate in December requiring masks on planes, trains and buses, decisions are being made to implement CDC guidance in businesses and schools for state and local officials.

On its way into the state of the Union, several Democratic lawmakers in the House are concerned about the optics of the event and are pushing against capacity constraints that could signal a persistent nervousness over the pandemic. These legislators, who say they are willing to be tested for Covid-19 and aid that requires vaccination, are concerned about the visuals of Mr. Biden, who gives a speech to a largely empty chamber, or one with more Republicans than Democrats.

President Biden addressed a joint congress in April last year.


Pool / Getty Images

Some capacity constraints are expected and the decision on participation and mask policies for the speech will ultimately be taken by the President of Parliament.

Nancy Pelosi

(D., California) and the Capitol’s attending physician. Ms. Pelosi said Wednesday that members had expressed interest in a larger audience than Mr. Biden’s speech to Congress in April last year, before much of the country was vaccinated.


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“This is the unique moment that perhaps this entire presidency will be judged on,” the rep said. Dean Phillips (D., Minn.) On the speech, adding that he wants the president to address the administration’s response to the pandemic and economic recovery, as well as how to tackle rising crime and widespread divisions in the country.

Asked in an NBC News interview aired Thursday whether Democrats were moving too fast to loosen masked mandates, Mr Biden said it was “probably too early.” He added that people became restless with Covid-19 restrictions, saying the range of variants “has had a profound impact on the psyche of the American people.”

Opinion polls show that many Americans have become critical of Mr. Biden’s handling of the pandemic after first giving him high marks. An Associated Press NORC study from January put his approval rating on Covid-19 at 45%, with 54% rejecting, a sharp change from the spring, when more than two-thirds of respondents approved his performance on the question.

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy toured at a Covid-19 test site in Galloway Township, NJ, last month.


Edward Lea, Staff Photographer / Associated Press

“Everyone is tired, tired, tired, tired of this thing,” said Gov. Phil Murphy (D., NJ), vice president of the National Governors Association, who was barely re-elected last fall and recently announced an end to the state’s mask mandate for the schools. “We are convinced that this is the right, responsible step for public health, and it passes that test to meet the moment,” he said.

the state of New York and California announced plans to drop indoor mesh mandates for businesses, while governors in Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Oregon went a step further, saying they would loosen the mask requirements for K-12 schools. The steps were in violation of the CDC guidelines.

Many GOP-driven states have long opposed mask mandates and other Covid-19 restrictions, and some Republicans have sharply accused Democrats of handling the pandemic.

“After years of forcing Nevada’s unnecessary lockdowns and mandates, Democrats have now changed their definition of science because they believe it will help them win re-election,” said Adam Laxalt, a Republican who challenges Nevada’s Democratic senator Catherine Cortez-Masto, after the Democratic governor of his state, loosened the mask rules.

The White House’s public respect for the CDC has at times masked frustration in the Biden administration. Some administration officials have privately said that the agency’s guidance has sometimes been confusing for Americans to follow and sometimes slow to develop.

Some of Mr Biden’s aides say the administration is now working on a strategy to shift to a sense of normalcy, but they remain cautious after the president’s statement last July that the country was approaching independence from the virus emerged. to be wrong.

The New York governor has announced plans to drop indoor mask mandates for businesses.


Seth Wenig / Associated Press

Mr. Biden did not call for a return to mask mandates as some cities and states re-implemented them during the Omicron wave. He has urged people to follow the CDC’s guidelines and wear masks, but also said the pandemic was in another phase with so many Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 and that stricter pandemic restrictions were no longer necessary.

Democrats hope a focal point for Covid-19 will help them politically while campaigning in places with few, if any, pandemic restrictions, such as Iowa, Arizona, Michigan and Texas.

“It’s time to recapture our lives and do it in a safe way, keep up the science,” the rep said. Ami Bera, a physician and chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s front-line program that supports lawmakers in hard runs.

New Jerseys Mr. Murphy said governors from both parties told Mr. Bitten at a recent meeting about their desire to usher in a new phase that would no longer allow the virus to disrupt daily life.

“We are all struggling with that journey – from pandemic to endemic. We are all trying to find that way,” he said.

Write to Natalie Andrews at [email protected] and Sabrina Siddiqui at [email protected]

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