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Biden thanks Georgia for crucial election role, touts economic plans

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DULUTH, GEORGIA (REUTERS) – US President Joe Biden marked his 100th day in office on Thursday (April 29) thanking Georgia voters for putting Democrats in control of Congress and by promoting his plans to spend trillions of dollars to rebuild the US economy.

At a drive-in rally in Duluth, about 48km north-east of Atlanta, Mr Biden recognised the importance of Democratic victories in Georgia to his agenda.

“We owe special thanks to the people of Georgia,” Mr Biden told a crowd watching from cars outside a sports arena due to Covid-19. “You’re helping us to prove that democracy can still deliver for the people.”

Mr Biden carried the Republican-leaning Southern state in November’s presidential election, the first Democrat to do so in 28 years, and the election victories in January of Georgia’s two Democratic US senators, Mr Raphael Warnock and Mr Jon Ossoff, secured Democrats control of the Senate.

The president reminded the audience that the votes of Mr Warnock and Mr Ossoff were pivotal to the passage of his US$1.9 trillion (S$2.52 trillion) economic stimulus package in March.

Near the beginning of his remarks, Mr Biden was briefly interrupted by protesters opposed to privately run immigration detention centrse.

Visiting Georgia a day after his first address to a joint session of Congress, Mr Biden urged Americans to support his plan to invest a combined US$4 trillion in families and infrastructure to rebuild the middle class.

Mr Biden told Congress his plans would add millions of well-paying jobs and trillions of dollars to economic output in coming years, while helping to reverse decades of systemic racism.

Republicans have sharply criticised the tax increases on corporations that Mr Biden has proposed to help fund his plans.

“In the 21st century, infrastructure isn’t just steel and concrete, it’s people,” Mr Biden told the Duluth event, staged by the Democratic National Committee to celebrate his first 100 days in office.

“Folks, it’s only been 100 days,” Mr Biden said. “We’re working again, we’re dreaming again.”

Georgia has also emerged as a hot spot in a nationwide battle over voting rights. Over 100 US corporations as well as civil rights activists and sports leagues have spoken out against voting rights curbs passed by Georgia’s Republican state legislature.

Mr Biden has forcefully opposed the restrictions, calling them “sick” and “un-American.”

Similar measures are under consideration in other Republican-controlled states, where backers have used former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election to push for changes they say are needed to improve election integrity.

Earlier, Mr Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, at their home in the small town of Plains, about 240km south of Atlanta.

After limited time on the road due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Biden is stepping up his travel schedule and plans to visit Pennsylvania and Virginia in coming days.