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Biden set to convene his Cabinet in-person for the first time on Thursday

President Joe Biden is set to convene his Cabinet in-person for the first time Thursday at the White House.

The meeting comes one day after he rolls out the first piece of his sweeping infrastructure proposal focused on investments in transportation, public water, health and broadband systems, community care for seniors and innovation research and development. Biden will be keeping the focus on the plan, his top legislative priority, during the meeting, according to a White House official.

The group will also discuss the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package and other top priorities.

Unlike traditional Cabinet meetings, the meeting will take place in the East Room, rather than the eponymous Cabinet Room, due to social distancing constraints amid the ongoing pandemic, with public health experts expressing concerns about a new surge in cases in recent days.

There are 25 expected attendees, including the confirmed Cabinet, Vice President Kamala Harris and chief of staff Ron Klain — both of whom are Cabinet members — as well as acting Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and other senior staff. The meeting was first reported by The Associated Press.

“One day after unveiling the American Jobs Plan in Pittsburgh, the President will highlight how it will rebuild our infrastructure, strengthen American manufacturing, and position us to out-compete China. He’ll also speak to how the American Rescue Plan continues to deliver for families, and to the acceleration of the federal Covid response,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

“After successful confirmations, he’ll also use this first gathering to empower his deeply qualified, barrier-breaking, historically diverse Cabinet to carry out and be key voices for his agenda as the administration works to defeat the pandemic, turn our economy around and bring the country together,” Bates said.

There will be pool coverage of Biden’s remarks, according the official.

Thursday’s meeting is likely to stand in contrast to the Cabinet meetings of Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, an opportunity for Cabinet members to go around the table and offer extensive praise that at times mirrored the board room in an episode of his old television show, NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

The first Trump Cabinet meeting, convened in June 2017, featured an unusual display of self-congratulation that came to be emblematic of the Trump era.

“I think we’ve been about as active as you can possibly be and at a just about record-setting pace,” Trump said, even though he had no significant legislative achievements at the time.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke, telling Trump and the reporters gathered: “This is the greatest privilege of my life is to serve as vice president to a president who’s keeping his word to the American people.”

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “It’s an honor to be able to serve you in that regard and to send the exact right message, and the response is fabulous around the country.”

And chief of staff Reince Priebus: “On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.”

Trump held eight Cabinet meetings in his first year in the White House, compared to five during former President Barack Obama’s first year in office. The last Cabinet meeting of the Trump administration was on December 16, 2020, but it was not open to press.

A May 19, 2020, Trump Cabinet meeting during the pandemic also took place in the East Room, though no officials wore masks.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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