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Capitol Report: ‘Our economic plan is working,’ Biden says ahead of talks with Republicans on spending


President Joe Biden on Monday talked up his administration’s handling of the U.S. economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 crisis, with the remarks coming before meetings with lawmakers on Wednesday and Thursday about his plans for big spending on infrastructure and social programs.

Biden is continuing to present his case for his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan following a weaker-than-expected jobs report on Friday.

“Our economic plan is working,” he said in an address from the White House. “I never said — and no serious analyst ever suggested — that climbing out of the deep, deep hole our economy was in would be simple, easy, immediate, or perfectly steady. Remember 22 million Americans lost their jobs in this pandemic. So some months will exceed expectations. Others will fall short.”

Biden pushed back on claims that extra federal unemployment benefits are dampening what should be a stronger jobs market.

“I know there’s been a lot of discussion since Friday’s report that people are being paid to stay home, rather than go to work. Well, we don’t see much evidence of that,” he said. The president also said that his administration will emphasize that the law says anyone collecting unemployment benefits who is offered a suitable job must take it or lose those benefits, with a few COVID-related exceptions.

The Democratic president is slated to meet Wednesday with the Republican Party’s top two U.S. lawmakers, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, along with the top two congressional Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“They will discuss policy areas of mutual agreement and identify common ground on which they can work together and deliver results on the challenges facing American families,” the White House said in a statement.

He’s then due to huddle on infrastructure on Thursday with a group of six Republican senators led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Related: Senate Republicans’ opening infrastructure bid: $568 billion

Biden also was having individual meetings on Monday with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, according to the White House.

“We need the American Jobs Plan, which is an eight-year investment strategy to make sure working people of this country get to share in the benefits of a rising economy — and to put us in a position to win the competition with China and the rest of the world for the 21st century,” Biden said in Monday’s address. “That’s the next stage. That’s what we’re doing right now — we’re working to get that passed.”

Some lawmakers have said in recent days that a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, a major system that transports fuel across the East Coast, shows how the country must spend more on infrastructure.

“This is why we need to take strengthening our energy infrastructure security seriously,” said Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan in a tweet. “Energy infrastructure is vulnerable from weather, adversaries, & cyber attacks.” 

Related: White House says it didn’t offer advice to Colonial Pipeline over paying ransom to hackers

U.S. stocks

closed lower Monday as tech stocks tumbled, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average

ending in the red after trading above 35,000 for the first time.

Capitol Report: White House says it didn’t offer advice to Colonial Pipeline over paying ransom to hackers

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