Stage set for critical town hall event aiming to kick off Biden policy agenda push

NOW: Stage set for critical town hall event aiming to kick off Biden policy agenda push

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Milwaukee (CBS 58) – President Joe Biden’s town hall event in Milwaukee is set to be a critical moment for trying to accomplish his first major policy goal.

“We are very, very honored,” Mayor Tom Barrett said in a video conference Monday.

Barrett told reporters he looks forward to thanking President Biden for including aid to local governments in his COVID relief package. Barrett also highlighted Biden’s initiatives on gun violence and vaccine distribution.

“It’s just really good to have a partner in the White House that I feel comfortable working with in helping us address the issues,” Barrett said.

Other Milwaukee Democrats say having the president hear directly from community members is important for a city still suffering from the pandemic.

“[I’m] hoping that they find something in what President Joe Biden says that will help us feel like this pandemic is being handled, but in a way that’s going to help all communities equitably,” Solana Patterson-Ramos told CBS 58. Patterson-Ramos is the chair for the Young Democrats of Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District.

City health care workers echoed the need for the president to hear from groups that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“I hope that he hears the need to make the vaccine accessible and health care accessible to disadvantaged, underrepresented, very poor people of color,” said Melanie Gray, an RN at Aurora Sinai Medical Center and board member of the Milwaukee chapter of the National Black Nurses Association.

Gray added the president focusing on solutions in Milwaukee can ultimately benefit the entire country.

“If our city, if Milwaukee can be elevated, it’s a model to help other cities and people across the nation,” Gray said.

For Biden, the event comes off the end of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Political experts said the town hall is an opportunity for him to focus the attention on his policy goals.

“Now that the impeachment trial is over, it’s sort of behind [Biden], he didn’t want to get involved in that, he now wants to focus American public opinion on COVID and on the economy and so I think the timing for him worked out perfectly,” Mordecai Lee of UW-Milwaukee said.

Lee said the town hall will potentially allow Biden to drive the news cycle, gain public support for his policy and put pressure on Congress to back him.

“I think with the President coming to Milwaukee, he’s asking people not just to agree with him, he’s asking them to express themselves to influence Congress to pass what really is a huge bill, and that’s why he needs as much public support as he can get,” Lee said.

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