Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Welcomes Joe Biden: Talk of City’s Rampant Gun Crime, “Avoided”
President Joe Biden was greeted by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) on Wednesday when he arrived for a speaking appointment at an Illinois community college. The city’s rampant gun violence however was not on the public agenda, with Biden instead choosing to talk about “human infrastructure” and his American Families Plan.
AP reports the president set out for the Chicago suburbs to bolster support for both his bipartisan infrastructure deal and a broader package he expects will be passed with only Democratic votes.
In his first visit to Illinois since winning the White House, Biden’s theme of family happiness and light was designed to resonate with suburban parents, college graduates and the working poor.
“There’s a lot of work ahead of us to finish the job, but we’re going to get it done,” Biden said in a 31-minute address he self-deprecatingly suggested was less than entertaining but important. “We’re going to reimagine what our economy and our future could be.”
Absent from his public remarks was any mention of the Chicago police officer and two federal agents shot on the Southwest Side hours before he landed at O’Hare Airport, the Chicago Sun-Times lamented.
That chance was missed even as the deaths mount and community frustration at the lack of action by Lightfoot builds, leading one Democrat alderman last month to call Chicago “a city under siege.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki assured reporters Biden brought up the shootings with Lightfoot after she greeted him at O’Hare, however that exchange will remain private.
“President Biden expressed his personal support for the two ATF officials and the Chicago police officer who were shot earlier today,” Psaki said.
“He reiterated his commitment to working with the mayor and leaders in Chicago in the fight against gun violence and conveyed that the Department of Justice would soon be in touch about the strike force announced just a few weeks ago that will be working with cities like Chicago.”
Lightfoot’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the mayor’s conversation with the president, according to the Chicago Tribune.
100 people were shot, 17 fatally, last Friday night through Monday morning adding to the over 330 people killed in Chicago during the first six months of 2021 alone.
The Sun-Times observed there were over 1,892 shootings in Chicago January 1, 2021, through June 28, 2021, a 12 percent increase over the same time frame last year.
In all the number of homicides and shootings in Chicago spiked dramatically in 2020, ending with more bloodshed than in all but one year in more than two decades.
Despite the death and suffering, Biden stuck to his “happy” theme Wednesday and touted the proposed changes the country could make to child care.
“All the data shows — if you’re able to take your child to work … you get increased productivity for the parent. … It really makes a … difference in terms of generating economic growth as well,” the president said. “It’s a win-win.”
Getting the package of proposals passed will be harder than talking about it.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Biden and his fellow Democrats are in for “a hell of a fight” over the passage of the plan.
The Sun-Times reports Biden dismissed a question about the Republican’s statement while in the children’s learning center, saying the Senate minority leader “loves our programs” and claimed he has bragged about them back home in Kentucky.