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Biden urges lawmakers to strive 'to know one another well' at White House picnic

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President Joe Biden said he wished lawmakers had more opportunities to get to "know one another well" while hosting first White House congressional picnic since 2019. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/44be05513691c8469f237e9e786c65cc/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
President Joe Biden said he wished lawmakers had more opportunities to get to "know one another well" while hosting first White House congressional picnic since 2019. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

July 12 (UPI) -- Between talks on migration with Mexico and a high-stakes trip to the Middle East, President Joe Biden hosted the annual White House congressional picnic on the South Lawn on Tuesday.

During remarks to open the festivities at the White House, Biden recalled forging personal relationships with lawmakers from across the aisle during his time in Congress and as vice president, noting it is difficult to hold animosity for your colleagues when you are invested in their personal lives.

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"I wish we were able to do more of this, so that you all got to know one another well," he said.

Biden was joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and a bipartisan group of 260 members of Congress and their families for the picnic, held for the first time since 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The first lady also remarked on the importance of the annual gathering, saying there is "something magical" about the White House.

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"It echoes with history and reminds us that we are part of something so much bigger than one party or political movement or presidency," she said.

While White House officials said only about a dozen Republicans were present for the picnic during which Biden committed to spending face-to-face time with the attendees.

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"They said 'You can work the rope line.' I said, hell, I'm going to sit down and eat with you all. And so you're stuck with me," Biden joked.

Following the picnic, Biden was to travel to the Middle East to advance U.S. interests in the region. He is expected to meet with Palestinian leaders, conduct bilateral discussions with Saudi leaders and attend a Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council with Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

Biden will also visit the West Bank to consult with the Palestinian Authority and to reiterate his strong support for a two-state solution with Israel, with equal measures of security, freedom and opportunity for the Palestinian people.

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