Biden strains to show progress at home before summits in Europe

President Biden walks through the Capitol with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a meeting with the Democratic caucus on Thursday. With his domestic agenda hanging in the balance on Capitol Hill, President Biden is heading to Europe for two international summits where he’ll face questions about how much more the United States can contribute to battles against global warming and the ongoing pandemic.

Biden’s first stop is Rome, where the world’s richest nations are gathering for the G20 forum, a meeting traditionally focused on economic issues that have been eclipsed by the coronavirus. Next he goes to Glasgow, Scotland, for the United Nations conference on climate change at a time of rising doubts that enough will be done to avoid a dangerous rise in global temperatures.

Ahead of his scheduled departure, Biden headed to Capitol Hill and met with House Democrats to pitch his revised $1.75-trillion plan for investing in education, safety net programs and environmental policies. He also plans to speak from the White House to push for a final deal that has proved elusive during months of negotiations as he struggles to bridge the gap between moderate and progressive members of his party.

The frenetic schedule, which pushed back Biden’s departure on Air Force One, reflects a fraught moment for a president who has strived to demonstrate that the United States remains a democracy capable of bold progress at home and abroad. Instead of arriving in Europe with legislation that’s ready for his signature, or even a handshake deal on an agreement, Biden’s agenda remains very much a work in progress.

Although his proposals remain extensive — they would, among other things, create universal preschool for American children — he’s been forced to abandon some key policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and guaranteeing paid family leave for workers.

Administration officials have tried to downplay the importance of reaching a deal before the trip even as Biden strives to do exactly that. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that world leaders aren’t bothered by the grinding debate on Capitol Hill.

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