Joe Biden met with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi today, ahead of the start of the G20 summit in Rome tomorrow.
“Both leaders recognized the historic achievement of a global minimum tax, building resilience against future pandemics, and the commitment to rapidly decarbonize how we produce electricity,” the White House said in its readout of the meeting.
“President Biden thanked Prime Minister Draghi for all Italy has done to support the people of Afghanistan, including by convening an extraordinary G20 session to address counter-terrorism efforts and humanitarian aid, and by temporarily housing over 4,000 Afghans en route to the United States last August.”
The White House also noted that the two leaders expressed their ongoing commitment to ensuring “the rules governing the 21st century economy are based in shared democratic values”.
In June, the US Conference of Bishops took steps to rebuke Catholic politicians like Joe Biden who support abortion and LGBTQ rights.
After the conference took those steps, Biden was asked whether he was concerned about the potential rebuke and calls from some Catholic leaders to deny him communion.
“That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Biden said in June.
Pope said Biden should ‘keep receiving communion,’ president tells reporters
Joe Biden said Pope Francis told him during their one-on-one meeting this morning that he should keep receiving communion, amid some Catholic leaders’ criticism of the president’s views on abortion.
At the start of Biden’s meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, a reporter asked the president whether abortion came up during his discussion with the pope.
“No, it didn’t,” Biden said. “We just talked about the fact that he was happy that I was a good Catholic.”
Biden, who is only the second Catholic to ever serve as president of the United States, then added that the pope told him he should “keep receiving communion”.
Some Catholic leaders have suggested that Biden and other Democratic politicians should be denied communion because of their support for abortion rights.
When asked about the debate last month, Pope Francis said Catholic bishops should focus on leading with “compassion and tenderness,” rather than condemnation, but he did not explicitly say whether politicians like Biden should receive communion.
The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is confronting a pivotal moment as resistance from top Trump administration aides threatens to undermine their efforts to uncover the extent of the former president’s involvement in the 6 January insurrection.
The select committee remains in the evidence-gathering phase of the investigation that now encompasses at least five different lines of inquiry from whether Donald Trump abused the presidency to reinstall himself in office or coordinated with far-right rally organizers.
But unless House investigators can secure a breakthrough to obtain documents and testimony from Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and others in the next few weeks, the most pressing questions about Trump’s role in 6 January may go unanswered, two sources said.
The select committee has designated its “gold” team to examine the extent of Trump’s personal involvement in the events that left five dead and more than 140 injured as his supporters stormed the Capitol in his name, the sources said.
One major focus of the investigation is whether Trump had advance knowledge of the insurrection, the sources said – since if they uncover evidence of conspiracy to violently stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win, that could constitute a crime.
In his video announcing his retirement from Congress, Adam Kinzinger also denounced the tribalism that has come to define the Republican party.
“In this day, to prevail or survive, you must belong to a tribe. Our political parties only survive by appealing to the most motivated and the most extreme elements within it,” the Illinois congressman said.
“And the price tag to power has skyrocketed, and fear and distrust has served as an effective strategy to meet that cost. After all, if a man is convinced that his very survival is at stake, he’ll part with anything, including money to ensure he does survive.”
Kinzinger emphasized his commitment to changing the narrative around party politics, and he said he wanted to focus on “a broader fight nationwide” instead of a reelection battle.
If Adam Kinzinger had decided to seek reelection, he would have faced a bruising primary campaign that will likely include another Republican congressman.
As one of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol insurrection in January, Kinzinger had already attracted several primary opponents.
But perhaps even more challenging for Kinzinger was the reality that he would have to face off against Republican incumbent Darin LaHood in the race.
As Politico reports, the newly approved congressional map in Illinois would have pitted Kinzinger against LaHood, after the state lost one House seat due to the results of the 2020 Census.
Kinzinger, House Republican on Capitol attack committee, will not seek reelection
Adam Kinzinger, one of two House Republicans serving on the select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, will not seek reelection next year.
The Illinois congressman made the announcement in a video posted to Twitter this morning.
In the video, Kinzinger recounted how he was first elected to the House in 2010, after he returned from a deployment in Iraq.
“I also remember during that campaign saying that, if I ever thought it was time to move on from Congress, I would. And that time is now,” Kinzinger said in the video.
But Kinzinger made clear that he will remain involved in politics, possibly hinting at a statewide or national campaign in the future.
“My desire to make a difference is bigger than it’s ever been,” Kinzinger said. “This isn’t the end of my political future but the beginning.”
Kinzinger is one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol insurrection in January. Another one of those members, Anthony Gonzalez, has already announced he will also not seek reelection next year.
Pope Francis has urged world leaders to take “radical decisions” at next week’s global environmental summit in a special message recorded for BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.
Leaders attending the Cop26 conference in Glasgow must offer “concrete hope to future generations”, the pontiff said.
Francis is not attending the summit, despite earlier suggestions that he would fly in for a brief appearance to reinforce the significance of the event. His message was recorded in Italian and lasted almost five minutes. It was broadcast on Friday morning with a voiceover in English.
He said: “Climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic have exposed our deep vulnerability and raised numerous doubts and concerns about our economic systems and the way we organise our societies.
“We have lost our sense of security, and are experiencing a sense of powerlessness and loss of control over our lives. We find ourselves increasingly frail and even fearful.”
“It was an honor to meet with Pope Francis again at the Vatican today,” the president said in the tweet.
“I thanked His Holiness for his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution, and lauded his leadership in fighting the climate crisis and ending the pandemic.”
And in an extremely on-brand moment for Biden, the US president apparently parted ways with the pope by telling him, “God love ya!”
Biden meets with Pope Francis in Vatican City
Joe Biden met with Pope Francis in Vatican City this morning, marking the first time that the president has met with the Catholic leader since taking office in January.
Biden, who is only the second Catholic to ever serve as president of the United States, met one-on-one with the pope for about 90 minutes before participating in a bilateral meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state.
“In his audience with Pope Francis today, President Biden thanked His Holiness for his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution,” the White House said in its readout of the meeting.
“He lauded Pope Francis’ leadership in fighting the climate crisis, as well as his advocacy to ensure the pandemic ends for everyone through vaccine sharing and an equitable global economic recovery.”
Complicating the reconciliation bill negotiations for Democratic leaders was a lack of certainty from the key holdouts, Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Both sounded hopeful that a deal was within reach, but stopped short of offering their firm support.
“After months of productive, good-faith negotiations with Biden and the White House, we have made significant progress on the proposed budget reconciliation package,” Sinema said yesterday, adding: “I look forward to getting this done.”
Manchin also did not commit to supporting the legislation he played a significant role in shaping. Asked whether he would vote for the plan, he said only that its fate was presently “in the hands of the House”.
After months of prolonged negotiations, the proposed framework is far smaller in size and scope than the $3.5tn package Joe Biden initially envisioned. Even so, the president claimed a pre-emptive legislative achievement on par with those enacted by Franklin D Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
“Any single element of this framework would be viewed as a fundamental change in America. Taken together they’re truly consequential,” Biden said yesterday before leaving for Europe.
“If we make these investments, we will own the future,” he added.
Biden’s economic agenda hangs in the balance after another delayed vote on infrastructure
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi did not get the vote she wanted on the bipartisan infrastructure bill yesterday, after the Congressional Progressive Caucus indicated its members would not support the proposal until the reconciliation package advanced as well.
But there was some good news for Pelosi yesterday: while delaying the infrastructure vote (again), the CPC also indicated its members support Joe Biden’s framework for the $1.75tn reconciliation package.
The president released the framework yesterday just before leaving for his week-long trip to Europe. The proposal includes $555bn to invest in climate initiatives and $400bn to expand access to prekindergarten and affordable childcare.
“The Congressional Progressive Caucus just overwhelmingly voted to endorse, in principle, the entire Build Back Better Act framework announced by President Biden,” CPC chair Pramila Jayapal said in a statement yesterday.
“The reality is that while talks around the infrastructure bill lasted months in the Senate, there has only been serious discussion around the specifics of the larger Build Back Better Act in recent weeks, thanks to the Progressive Caucus holding the line and putting both parts of the agenda back on the table. Now, Congress needs to finish the job and bring both bills to a vote together.”
So it is looking more and more likely that Democrats will be able to pass both the reconciliation package and the infrastructure bill, but it remains unclear when they will be able to do so.