“It would be very, very positive to do that before the trip,” Biden said Monday.
But as the talks continued, administration officials began to downplay the importance of Biden’s spending plan which still loomed in limbo. White House press secretary Jen Psaki stressed that the president can still use phones from Rome, the city that gave birth to the word “Senate”. She suggested that foreign leaders could look past ongoing talks with U.S. lawmakers to judge Biden’s commitment.
“They don’t look through the lens of whether there is a vote in a body of the legislature before it gets on a plane,” Psaki said.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, however, called the bills vital to the country’s security. “Making these investments in the American force will be very important for our national security in the future,” he said.
Seeking a deal that has had a perilous journey so far, the president begins his trip abroad with an expert in the power of prayer. Biden, the country’s second Catholic president, will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday in a visit that is partly personal for the intensely religious Commander-in-Chief and partly political, particularly on climate issues and confrontation with the autocracies.
Biden will also visit Italian hosts at the G-20 summit before sitting down with French President Emmanuel Macron. Biden is trying to bridge a gap with France created when the US and UK agreed to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, thereby supplanting a French contract.