He’d once hoped the money would be approved by the time he arrived in Europe last week for a pair of high-profile international summits — timing that might also boost Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s lagging campaign for governor in Virginia.
He tried to force the matter in the hours before he departed. As he was jetting over the Atlantic toward Italy, however, it became clear the gambit wouldn’t work. Making his return flight home Tuesday, the future of his plan was no more certain than when he’d arrived.
By the time he landed, McAuliffe had lost.
Biden’s second foreign trip has been shadowed at both ends by halting efforts to pass a sweeping domestic agenda. After arriving in Europe unable to secure a vote, he left with fresh doubts about one key senator’s position.
In between, Biden was able to move world leaders on a host of issues he’s struggled to gain traction on back home. He secured an agreement that would see corporations pay more in taxes after unsuccessfully pushing for a corporate tax hike in Congress. He pushed world leaders to up their climate ambitions, including on methane and international coal financing, even though his own climate plan was scaled back after opposition from one senator with deep ties to the coal industry.Even Biden’s chatty meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican was an entirely warmer affair than his frosty standoff with conservative American bishops, who are mulling a plan that would deny him communion because he supports abortion rights for women. Emerging afterward, Biden said Francis called him a “good Catholic,” and the next day he received the holy sacrament at a church in Rome.
Feeling invigorated during in-person meetings he says cannot be replicated over a screen, Biden found in Europe a level of cooperation that’s become elusive at home.
“Two world leaders came up to me today and said, ‘Thank you for your leadership. You’re making a big difference here,'” he said during a concluding news conference in Scotland before returning to Washington.
“They listened. Everyone sought me out,” he said earlier in the trip. “They wanted to know what our views were. And we helped lead what happened here.”
Biden has long savored international summitry for its ample opportunities for backslapping. Though he skipped some lighter-hearted photo-ops, including a coin toss at the iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome, and appeared weary as he listened to other leaders deliver their climate statements, he was mostly in his element. Over the course of the six-day trip, the White House listed pull-aside meetings with more than a dozen of his counterparts — and one with Prince Charles.
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