Pelosi says Biden address will come after coronavirus relief

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Biden would not address a joint session of Congress until coronavirus relief legislation is passed.

“We won’t be doing any of that until we pass our COVID bill. That’s the first order of business,” Pelosi told reporters at a news conference.

Pelosi said that the sergeant-at-arms and the attending physician would be making recommendations about how to have a joint session in a safe way amid the coronavirus pandemic and increased security threats following the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.

Biden has said he plans to address Congress in February and use the speech to lay out his recovery plan, which he wants Congress to pass after the initial coronavirus relief package he has proposed.

Biden had initially hoped to win Republican support for his $1.9 trillion relief proposal, but negotiations between the White House and Republican lawmakers have not yielded tangible progress. Democrats moved forward with budget reconciliation last week, which will allow them to pass a bill without GOP support in the narrowly-held Senate. Pelosi said last Friday she hoped the House would pass the bill in two weeks.

Asked about Biden’s eventual address to a joint session earlier this week and whether it could be virtual because of the coronavirus, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she had no updates on specifics but said “a range of options” are under discussion for Biden’s speech.

“The president is eager to lay out more specifics of his Build Back Better agenda, and he is in ongoing discussions with a range of stakeholders in Congress and the administration, outside, about what that’s going to look like,” Psaki said.

Psaki didn’t directly answer when asked if Biden wanted his coronavirus relief proposal to be passed before the address, saying only that he wants it to be passed “as quickly as possible” and that he is pleased with the progress thus far. 

Tags Biden transition Coronavirus COVID-19 Impeachment Jen Psaki Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi

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