McConnell vows to fight Biden’s $2tn infrastructure plan ‘every step of the way’ – live | US news

Poor old Joe Biden. He might have won the electoral college and the popular vote but he’ll never feel the love of his underlings like Donald Trump did.

The former president’s first full cabinet meeting in June 2017 remains an unparalleled opera of oleaginousness. Secretary after secretary all but flung themselves at his feet, sang songs of praise and paid homage to the divine emperor of the universe.

Has any parent ever known such undying adoration from their child? Only King Lear from Goneril and Regan, perhaps. And most telling was the fact that the world was allowed to see it. Trump made sure it was one more chapter in his reality TV presidency.

Not really Biden’s style. His first cabinet meeting on Thursday was relocated to the East Room because of coronavirus restrictions – the 16 permanent members wore face masks and sat in a giant square with empty chairs between them – but was otherwise a return to the staid old way of doing things.

The main item on the agenda was not the American president’s sculpted handsomeness, nor his towering intellect, nor his indubitable virility, nor his ability to hit holes in one, but merely his freshly announced $2tn infrastructure plan.

Flanked by the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, with the vice-president, Kamala Harris, opposite, Biden said he was asking five cabinet members to “take special responsibility to explain the plan to the American public”.

He took no questions from the media and, after less than two and a half minutes, reporters were ushered out. “I thank the press for being here, but I’ll talk to you all later.”

But even this brief glimpse behind the curtain spoke volumes about how much has changed. White men composed nearly three-quarters of Trump’s cabinet; they make up only a third of Biden’s.

On Thursday the East Room included Harris, the first woman and first woman of colour to service as vice-president; Janet Yellen, the first woman to lead the treasury department; Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay secretary confirmed to the cabinet; and Deb Haaland, the first Native American in a president’s cabinet.

“This is the first in American history that the cabinet looks like America,” Biden said. “That’s what we promised we were going to do, and we’ve done it.”

If Trump represented a backlash against America’s first Black president, Biden’s cabinet represents a backlash against the backlash.

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