Where does the Black agenda stand as President Biden heads to Italy for G20?

EXCLUSIVE: Biden will hit the international stage to discuss a range of issues. But his domestic policy agenda remains a work in progress at home.

Domestic policies will be discussed on an international stage as President Joe Biden embarks on his second trip abroad to Europe on Thursday. President Biden’s foreign trip comes at a critical moment when the cornerstone of his agenda continues to be negotiated on Capitol Hill.

President Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden walks across the South Lawn after returning to the White House on October 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Congressional lawmakers filed into the White House on Tuesday to share updates with the president on the progress of passing his Build Back Better (BBB) plan. Among the group were members of the caucuses focused on Black, LGBTQ+ and women’s issues who say that the current deal to get BBB through Congress does not include their legislative priorities. 

“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,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki as she pushed back against notions that Build Back Better has lost too many key components. “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.”

But it doesn’t appear to be as simple on the ground level. Yes, infrastructure advancement and jobs creation are the overall goals driving BBB. But, the implementation of the plan and funding allocation within the bill will impact Black communities, women and LGBTQ+ people in various ways that depend on how this deal is cut. 

Melanie Campbell speaks outside Capitol building
Melanie Campbell of NCBCP/Black Women’s Roundtable along with members of Congress, parents and caregiving advocates hold a press conference supporting Build Back Better investments in home care, childcare, paid leave and expanded CTC payments in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising Together)

Similarly, Biden’s agenda items and topics of discussion for his upcoming trip will have implications for ongoing policy debates presently unfolding in the U.S., such as abortion and immigration.

On the first leg of the president’s trip, he will visit the Vatican in Rome, Italy. This will mark the fourth time the life-long Catholic president will have an audience with Pope Francis. Biden, a socially liberal political figure, is expected to discuss issues of abortion and LGBTQ+ rights since both continue to be domestically and internationally debated. 

As President Biden continues his trip and converses with leaders of other nations at the G20 Summit, the stability of Haiti will be a leading topic. The decay of Haiti’s political and physical infrastructure has brewed the perfect storm and prompted mass migration to the United States. Following the assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, gang rule has blocked the island nation from holding elections that would continue its transfer of power to a democratically-elected president.

A man holds a Haitian flag
A man holds a Haitian flag during a faith vigil for victims of an earthquake in Haiti. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The developing political huddles have also created a tense environment to allow the rise of gang activity that now has the world watching as they hold children and missionaries hostage for ransom. The Biden administration will discuss how to address Haiti’s resource needs at the summit, as well as how other countries with ties to Haiti can help get those kidnapped to safety.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan emphasized this during Tuesday’s press briefing when asked by theGrio if the U.S. considered the instability in Haiti a national security issue and whether its international implications would be addressed at the G20 Summit.

“The United States has to step up and do its part, but other countries that have a longstanding relationship with and role in Haiti’s development also need to step up as well,” said Sullivan.

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