Oval Office

11:44 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  Thanks for coming in.  I’m fortunate to have today a group of leading governors and mayors of both political parties to talk about the COVID plan that we’ve put forward, and their needs and their ideas and their recommendations on how to proceed. 

And the American Rescue Plan is — has multiple pieces.  The most important piece, in my view, is making sure we give them enough capacity to deal with the virus in their states and how we’re going to do that.

But equally consequential is the need to help the states economically, in terms of everything from unemployment to being able to make sure that they’re able to get kids back in schools and what role the federal government should play in helping getting that done.

And, you know, if — these folks are all on the frontlines.  They’ve been dealing with this crisis from day one.  It’s — I’m not making a political statement; it just it’s taken a while to adjust.  They’ve been left on their own, in many cases.

I think some have found what I found when I got here: that what we thought was available, in terms of everything from vaccine to vaccinators, was not the case. 

So I thank them for the work they did in their cities and their states in order to respond to the crisis.  But I think it’s — and I’ve said it plainly when I was running and as President — that I think the federal government has a major role to play here.  But these are the folks that are on the ground dealing with it every single solitary day.  And they see the pain, and they see the successes when they occur. 

And what I really want to know about is what should that — the recovery plan — should we have more or less of anything in it; what do they think they need most; how to proceed.  Because as I’ve said before, you know, governors and mayors — that’s a real job. 

I was a senator for years.  I got in a train every day and came to Washington, D.C., and I’d get asked questions by the conductors and the shoeshine guys and the ticket masters and — but every single day, these folks are home.  Every single day, they’re meeting with their constituents. 

We’re down here in Washington, and we meet with them.  I don’t mean to belittle them at all, but it’s not the same as being on the ground.  And so whenever I want to know what’s really happening, I want to talk — and I’m not being solicitous — to governors and mayors.

And so thank you for being here.  And that’s what we’re going to be doing today.  Thank you all.

11:47 A.M. EST

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