Instead, Mr Biden went out of his way to woo Republicans, treating them at his first official Oval Office meeting – an honor he knew, as a former senator, would flatter them – from which they came out without agreements, but a palpable sense of good nature.
“The president has been very gracious,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana who discussed education funding with Mr. Biden, after their meeting. “If we are to move forward as a country, we have to do a better job than we did in determining where those who disagree with us are coming from.”
Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas who told the president how nice it was to talk to other humans during the pandemic, confessed to his colleagues after their meeting that Mr. Biden “ knew more about his plan that we and Joe Biden knew about. more on the Republicans level than them, ”recalls Mr. Carper.
When time prevented Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota from attending in person, he called a meeting with Mr. Biden, whom he later described as “cordial,” “interested” and ” engaged ”. Mr Rounds told the president he personally received a stimulus check – proof, the senator said, that the next round of relief payments should be more focused.
“He made it clear that he believed the relationship he had established in the United States Senate was still quite important,” Rounds said. “But he didn’t give up any aces he might have in his hand.”
Still, Biden uses the sessions to nurture relationships with important potential allies.
Senator Jon Tester, a centrist Democrat from Montana who could be a crucial decisive vote on the stimulus package, said after his hearing with Mr Biden that in his 14 years in the Senate, no president has ever had it invited to the Oval Office before.
“I’ll be honest with you: it was quite emotional for me,” Mr. Tester said. “I told the president.”