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Deal or no deal: Virus aid tests Biden 'work together' plea

A retail politician who never misses a chance for small talk or schmooze, Biden has been penned in somewhat by the pandemic, which limits the face-to-face interactions on which he thrives.

January 31, 2021 / 07:42 PM IST

He was an arm-draping pol as a senator. He hung out in the Senate cloakroom chatting up legislators as vice president. He pitched himself during the presidential campaign as someone who could “get people working together” and lower the temperature in a Washington overheated by Donald Trump.

Now, after his first full week as president, Joe Biden is coming face to face with the potential limitations of his ability to work across the aisle as he pushes for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that is the first big test of his tenure.

Republicans are balking at the price tag and Democrats are sending signals that they’re willing to push the bill through without GOP help as Biden’s campaign pitch to be a deal-maker appears to be giving way to the reality of a Senate that does not resemble the one he once inhabited.

In a nod to reality, Biden told reporters on Friday: “I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But the COVID relief has to pass -- no ifs, ands or buts.”