- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 20, 2021

President Biden held his second full Cabinet meeting Tuesday and marked six months on the job, boasting of his efforts on COVID-19, infrastructure, climate change and the economy.

The president ticked off a list of what he sees as his accomplishments, including creating jobs and reducing COVID-19 deaths.

“The bottom line is, we are delivering on our promises,” Mr. Biden said.

He also highlighted items on his to-do list, such as voting rights, immigration, police reform and crime. Those items represent the bulk of his agenda and remain mired in Congress.

Mr. Biden began the meeting saying COVID-19 deaths are down about 90 percent from their peak, but Delta variant continues to surge in regions with low vaccination rates.

“Virtually all of the COVID deaths are from unvaccinated people,” he said, adding that it may seem like a “constant uphill climb,” but the “nation is making progress.”

It was the first time Mr. Biden’s full cabinet convened in the Cabinet Room. An earlier meeting this year took place in the East room because of COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

Tuesday’s meeting followed revelations that a fully vaccinated White House official had tested positive for COVID-19.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the official “remains office campus as they wait for a confirmatory PCR test.” Ms. Psaki added that the White House medical unit has begun contract tracing and found no close contact between the unnamed official and White House principals, staff, or Mr. Biden.

The positive test, which the official received on Monday, highlighted Mr. Biden’s struggle to get a handle on a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

Many Americans are refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, even as the highly transmissible and deadlier Delta variant rages across parts of the country.

The White House also continues to push a set of twin spending plans that are vital to Mr. Biden’s agenda but are caught in grueling negotiations on Capitol Hill.

A critical Senate test vote is set for Wednesday on Mr. Biden’s roughly $1 trillion package of traditional infrastructure projects. Republicans are poised to block it with a filibuster.

Another $3.5 trillion package of health care, child care and anti-poverty measures that the administration calls “human infrastructure” is in line for a separate vote using a special process that avoids a filibuster and would allow it to pass with only Democratic votes. That bill, however, also is not guaranteed to survive.

Mr. Biden said his administration created 3 million jobs, more than any other administration has done during its first six months. He said the spending bills would further increase job creation.

“I think we can turn this great movement into an economic boom,” he said, highlighting public support for his infrastructure plans.

The full Cabinet was in attendance, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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