President Joe Biden (L) and first lady Jill Biden walk on the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday to depart for Europe in Washington, D.C. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 28 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden begins a tour of Europe on Thursday -- during which he is scheduled to meet Pope Francis, participate in the G20 summit and attend a major climate change summit.
The president and first lady Jill Biden were scheduled to leave for Rome on Thursday afternoon. The president had urged congressional Democrats to come to an agreement on his Build Back Better Act, a proposal with trillions of dollars in social spending, before he leaves.
"What we're really facing right now is a question of whether people are going to support the largest investment in climate and clean energy," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing Wednesday.
"Do they want to be a part of the largest investment in early childhood education in history? Do they want to make healthcare more affordable and accessible? Or do they want to let the perfect be the enemy of the historic? And that's what we're talking about right now in these negotiations."
First on Biden's itinerary is Rome, where he expects to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday and attend the G20 Leaders Summit on Saturday.
"They will discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis and caring for the poor," the White House said of the papal meeting.
Biden also will hold bilateral meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
After spending the weekend with world leaders in Italy, Biden will travel to Glasgow, Scotland, to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26. The summit runs from Sunday until Nov. 12.
"After a lot of commentary in recent weeks about the state of the transatlantic relationship, the United States and Europe head into these two summits aligned and united on the major elements of the global agenda," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at a briefing Wednesday.
"In just the past few weeks, we've seen the U.S. and the EU come together for joint action on COVID-19. The U.S. and EU have launched a Trade and Technology Council to set the rules and standards for economics and technology in the 21st century. And President Biden and key European partners will sit down at these two summits to coordinate policies on Iran, on supply chains, on global infrastructure efforts and so much else."
ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods opens with remarks before a hearing
on "Fueling the Climate Crisis: Exposing Big Oils Disinformation Campaign to Prevent Climate Action" at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo