Image Courtesy of CNBC
By Justin Lamoureux
Washington has emerged from a week characterized by intense political activity. While members of the U.S. Senate were preoccupied with the trial of former president Donald Trump, the White House directed its attention to policy-based initiatives as President Biden laid out additional provisions of his agenda.
Biden provided struggling Americans with somewhat of a reprieve when he extended the nationwide moratorium on foreclosures through June 30. Originally enacted by the Trump Administration during the outset of the pandemic – in which an estimated 30 million Americans are believed to be at risk of losing their homes – said moratorium had been slated to expire on March 31.
Over the course of the pandemic, the national moratorium is believed to have protected at least 2.7 million homeowners, with availability for an additional 11 million mortgages. Additionally, Bidens’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill would provide states with $10 billion for assisting homeowners with mortgage and utility bills.
In addition to advocating for measures that would provide Americans with secure living situations for the duration of the pandemic, Biden also reaffirmed his calls for tougher gun laws this week. The president’s most recent commentary on the issue came on Sunday: The 3-year anniversary of the Parkland school shooting. Said massacre is remembered for the loss of 17 individuals – 14 students and 3 faculty members – when a student opened fire with an AR-15 rifle.
Biden commemorated the solemn occasion by urging Congress to strengthen current gun regulations. This would include requiring background checks on all weapons sales, outlawing high-capacity magazines, and making gun manufacturers liable for the role(s) their products play in violence. Stressing the situation’s exigence, the president declared that “we owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.”
Biden has experience working on the issue of gun control. During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Biden co-wrote the Brady Bill: a now-expired assault weapons ban which was the last major gun regulation to pass Congress. Nearly two decades later, as vice president, he assisted President Obama with drafting legislation to address the issue following the Sandy Hook school shooting.
After choreographing his administration’s pandemic response from the White House for nearly a month, Biden is taking his push for COVID-19 relief outside Washington. His first trip in office, the itinerary features a stop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the president agreed to participate in a CNN town hall on Tuesday evening. This was followed by a visit to a Pfizer manufacturing site in Kalamazoo, Michigan two days later. According to a White House official, Michigan and Wisconsin were chosen for this tour because they are emblematic of the struggles Americans face as a result of the pandemic and resulting economic fallout.
This week, Biden’s focus remained squarely on COVID-19 – and working to assist struggling Americans – as he worked to remedy an ongoing economic crisis, and took steps intended to prevent an onslaught of widespread homelessness. However, the attention he devoted to the issue of gun control represents a (rarely seen) deviation from this trend. Despite the apparent irrelevance of this issue to the pandemic itself, there could be underlying implications; as schools prepare to reopen for in-person learning, the president could be taking measures to foster a seemingly safer environment in schools. Not to mention, stricter gun laws have long been a fixture of the Democrats’ policy platform; emphasis on said issues could also have political motives. All things considered, President Biden had a seemingly eventful week; as always, though, it remains to be seen whether his initiatives materialize.