Vice president hits Chicago Wednesday to tout Biden administration achievements

The president and top administration officials will fan out nationwide the day after Republicans take control of the House.

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA in Plainfield, Illinois, Friday afternoon, June 24, 2022.

The Democrats’ Senate majority means Vice President Kamala Harris won’t need to be anchored to Washington, D.C., as much.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris visits Chicago on Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and other top administration officials travel across the nation to tout a series of major White House accomplishments, a White House official said Sunday.

The Harris event in Chicago — details of which have not been finalized — comes the day after Republicans take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, which will make passing legislation very difficult. House Republicans, who will have subpoena power, have already said they would launch investigations into the business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter.

Still, Biden starts 2023 in relatively strong shape. The supposed “red wave” of GOP midterm election victories never happened, and Senate Democrats picked up a seat, earning the Biden team bragging rights. The 51-seat Democratic Senate majority as of Tuesday means Harris will not have to be anchored to Washington as much — where she had been needed to cast, if need be, a tie-breaking vote.

Also, since it takes time for major legislation to take effect, the impact of Biden’s big bills — dealing with drug prices, for example — will start to be seen more this year, even if new legislation never materializes.

Biden has said he will seek another term, but before making it official, he said he wants to discuss it with his family over the holidays. He was in St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands, for the New Year’s break.

One of the points of the Biden White House’s first swing of the new year, according to a White House official, is to “highlight how the president’s economic plan — including his work bringing Republicans, independents and Democrats together to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — is growing our economy from the bottom up and middle out.”

Biden’s possibly last major piece of legislation, signed last week, was the $1.7 trillion spending bill. And while it passed with nine Republican votes, other big accomplishments, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, were passed with only Democratic support. That includes independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Angus King of Maine, who count as Democrats in determining the party in control of the Senate. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona recently became an independent but will continue to side with Democrats.

On Wednesday, Biden will visit Kentucky — near the Ohio border and the Cincinnati area — to appear at an event with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican; Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear; and GOP Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Also on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg travels to New London, Connecticut.

Among the accomplishments Biden will be expected to highlight will be the enormous infrastructure bill, with money flowing to the state of Illinois and local governments for a variety of projects; the Safer Communities Act, the first piece of gun safety legislation Congress passed in decades, despite the absence of an assault weapons ban; and the historic number of judges who have been confirmed in Biden’s first two years.

Harris was last in Chicago Nov. 6 for a get-out-the-vote-rally. Before that, she was in the city Sept. 17 for a forum with health care providers. On July 5 she paid a surprise condolence call, visiting Highland Park the day after the parade massacre. She came after speaking to the National Education Association in McCormick Place. Before that, Harris was in Plainfield and Chicago June 24.

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