Joe Biden’s team ‘in crisis mode’ says Stuart Varney
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As reported by the White House, Joe Biden has landed in Italy where he will attend the G20 Rome Summit before heading to Glasgow on Sunday night for the COP26. However, the first world leader he will meet will be Pope Francis, 84.
Joe Biden is the second Catholic elected president of the United States after John F. Kennedy.
A spokesperson from the White House said the two men share a “respect for fundamental human dignity”.
He landed in Rome early on Friday for a G20 summit where plans for a global minimum tax will be on the agenda.
Mr Biden will seek to project the message that the US is back in the fight against global warming after his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from the Paris climate accord.
The US president, who has vowed to tackle a climate crisis he has described as an “existential threat” to civilization, will be welcomed to the Cop26 talks with a sense of relief following the decisions of his predecessor, who pulled his country out of the landmark Paris climate agreement and derided climate science as “bullsh*t”.
As Mr Biden will tackle international issues in the coming days, he also has to deal remotely with the current controversy regarding his proposed spending plan.
Mr Biden is firstly trying to rally Democrats around a $1tn infrastructure package, which has already passed the Senate.
He is also trying to pass a pared-down bill costing at least $1.75tn, which the White House calls Build Back Better.
Progressives are unhappy because the plan does not include paid family leave, free community college, a large healthcare expansion, a tax on billionaires, or lower prescription drug prices.
The House will not vote on the infrastructure bill until next week at the earliest. Mr Biden is due back in Washington on Wednesday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Mr Biden can still try legislative arm-twisting by phone from Rome.
“The US is still the world’s largest economy, other nations pay attention to it, and we’ve never had a president more committed to climate action,” Alice Hill, who was a climate adviser to Barack Obama, told The Guardian.
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“But there is scepticism being expressed by other countries. They saw our dramatic flip from Obama to Trump and the worry is we will flip again. A lack of consistency is the issue.”
Laurence Tubiana, a French diplomat who was a key architect of the Paris agreement, said the US had a “historical climate credibility problem.”
“We do worry because it has happened before and could happen again,” she said.
“The US is the world’s largest historical emitter and never passed a significant climate bill. [Biden] still has a long way to go to make up for Trump’s lost years” she continued.
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