President Joe Biden plans to propose a steep funding increase for police, hoping to show that Democrats are serious about combating violent crime, despite the move potentially causing backlash from top members of his party’s left flank.
But a scheduled trip to Pennsylvania to ask Congress to spend roughly $37 billion for fighting and preventing crime was canceled Thursday when Biden tested positive for COVID-19.
His proposal is set to include $13 billion to help communities hire and train 100,000 police officers over five years. Biden was going to outline it during a visit to Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania until White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced he was experiencing “very mild symptoms” after the positive result.
Instead, the president spoke by phone with Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., as well as Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown and Paige Cognetti, mayor of nearby Scranton, the White House said. Biden discussed his crime plan and expressed “his disappointment that he was unable to travel to Scranton and Wilkes-Barre this afternoon.”
Casey tweeted after his call with Biden that the president “sounded great and is in good spirits” and said he was “looking forward to welcoming him back” to Pennsylvania soon.
The White House also canceled Biden’s scheduled Philadelphia trip for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on Thursday night and plans for him to spend the weekend at his home in Delaware.
Biden, 79, is fully vaccinated, after getting two doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine shortly before taking