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Biden’s Chicago-area trip is back on; will be here Thursday to boost business COVID-19 vaccine mandate

This will be Biden’s second visit to the Chicago area as president. He boosted his “Build Back Better” agenda at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake on July 7.

President Joe Biden speaks at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake in July.
President Joe Biden speaks at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake in July.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — After canceling a Sept. 29 visit, President Joe Biden now will travel to the Chicago suburbs on Thursday to highlight his order to require large employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for its workers, the White House told the Chicago Sun-Times.

In the original plan, Biden was to visit a construction site in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village. He scratched it to stay in Washington to work on negotiations with House and Senate Democrats over two stalled bills — the centerpieces of his domestic agenda.

Last month, Biden issued an order requiring all federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated, with few exceptions, and also requiring private employers with 100 or more workers to make sure those workers are vaccinated or are tested weekly — and provide time off for the shots. The order is not yet in effect.

Under the September plan, the White House said Biden would “highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccine requirements for businesses” in his Chicago area stop.

Biden’s event was to be at an Elk Grove Village “hyper scale” data center project built by Clayco, the building and design company founded by Bob Clark in 1984.

Clark is a major Democratic donor and fundraiser for former President Barack Obama and Biden. Clark’s company has been very supportive of Biden’s vaccine policies. The company now has 3,000 employees.

Clark is also a Biden administration appointee. On Sept. 12, the State Department announced he is the U.S. Commissioner General at Expo 2020 in Dubai, which opened Friday.

According to a Sept. 16 State Department release, Clark “will serve as the Expo’s senior U.S. government representative” to the expo. “In this role, he will lead a team showcasing American culture, values, and technology to a global audience.”

Biden was also going to salute Chicago-based United Airlines for its company-wide vaccine mandate.

The White House is not announcing yet the location of the Biden visit; a non-White House source told me the stop in Elk Grove Village is still in the works.

A few hours before the announcement that last month’s Chicago trip had been canceled, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a daily briefing that Biden would be “going to Chicago because he wants to lift up and communicate not to just people of Chicago, but the people of the country about the effectiveness of vaccine mandates — how they can work for businesses, how they can make workplaces safer, and how they can be constructive to our economy.”

The president is back on the road since the next vote showdown is now not likely until the end of October.

On Tuesday, Biden heads to Howell, Michigan — political turf won by former President Donald Trump in 2020 — to rally support for his infrastructure bill – which passed the Senate on a bipartisan roll call and his stalled “human infrastructure” measure opposed for now by Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. The bill can’t pass without Manchin and Sinema in the 50-50 Senate.

That bill contains provisions dealing with Medicare expansion, prescription drug, dental and vision coverage; child and elder care assistance; immigration reform; climate change, free community colleges tuition and other social safety net provisions that are the heart of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda.

No Republican will support this sweeping package.

Biden boosted his “Build Back Better” agenda at McHenry County College in northwest suburban Crystal Lake — also Trump turf — on July 7.