When President Joe Biden intensifies his attention next week to selling Republicans and Democrats on his coronavirus relief bill, he won’t be relying on some of the presidency’s most symbolic powers. Out, for now, are arm-twisting sessions in the Oval Office or rides into a lawmaker’s district aboard Air Force One. Instead, administration aides are planning remote television hits from the White House, out-of-the-blue phone calls to skeptical Republicans and maybe a stop somewhere within driving distance, according to officials.
Hamstrung by the very pandemic he is working to contain, Biden and his advisers have sharply limited the ways in which he can promote the $1.9 trillion relief bill he has proposed in the opening days of his presidency. Flying around the country to sell the plan is off the table for now, aides said, as Biden works to promote responsible pandemic behavior. Even the idea of visiting the weekly Democratic and Republican Senate luncheons on Capitol Hill is a non-starter, aides said, though — like Biden — many members of Congress have been vaccinated.