Klain says it will ‘take time’ to heal country’s divisions

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White House chief of staff Ron Klain acknowledged Tuesday that the U.S. continues to have deep divisions but said President Biden is “very focused” on fulfilling his campaign pledge of healing a divided nation.

“I think it’s something he thinks about everyday as president, is what can he do to pull this country together, to move this country forward, to try to heal the divisions that we have,” Klain said during an interview with The Hill’s Steve Clemons on Tuesday. “I think we’ve made some progress in that regard.”

Klain cited the Biden administration’s work vaccinating millions of Americans against COVID-19 and the economic growth that Biden has presided over in his first nine months as president. He also pointed to bipartisan deals on legislation to rebuild physical infrastructure and boost American competitiveness against China — both of which have passed the Senate but are currently stalled in the House.

“We still have a long way to go. There’s no question it’s still a country that’s divided. There’s no question there’s still a lot of cleavages in this country. Look at issues like voting rights, immigration. You see those divisions,” Klain said in an interview for The Hill’s “A More Perfect Union” event.

“But we didn’t get in this mess overnight, Steve. This wasn’t something that just happened recently. These are longstanding divisions in our country. It’s going to take time to heal them and bring the country together, but that’s something that the president is very, very focused on,” he continued.

Biden ran on his ability to work across the aisle and pledged to unite the country after four years of former President Trump, who often stoked divisions.

But Biden has struggled to make good on his campaign promise of unity in the midst of a polarized electorate and partisan divides in Washington.

Still, securing the bipartisan infrastructure bill despite the partisan tensions in Washington represented a significant victory for Biden. The measure, which Biden negotiated with a bipartisan group of senators, passed the Senate in August with overwhelming bipartisan support.

It has stalled in the House, however, amid hang-ups over a broader social spending and climate package. Progressives have refused to vote for the infrastructure bill without movement on the second measure.

The Hill’s “A More Perfect Union” was sponsored by Microsoft and Southern Company. 

This story was updated at 7:19 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Ron Klain

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