Biden and Harris travel to Atlanta to meet with Asian American leaders in wake of mass shooting

They also visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is headquartered there, as part of a focus on combating Covid-19.

“The President will offer his support to the community in Georgia and across the country and highlight his commitment to combating xenophobia, intolerance and hate,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.

Jean-Pierre said Biden “understands and knows the past year that the community has been vilified, they’ve been scapegoated and they’ve been attacked.”

Biden will later deliver remarks at Emory University in the evening.

“You can expect the President to meet the moment that we are in,” Jean-Pierre said of Biden’s speech.

On Friday, the President issued a statement urging Congress to pass the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, which he said would “expedite the federal government’s response to the rise of hate crimes exacerbated during the pandemic.”

Biden said the measure would also support state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting and make information on hate crimes more accessible to Asian American communities.

Prior to meeting with the Asian American leaders, Biden and Harris received an update on the Covid-19 pandemic from health and medical experts at the CDC.

“This is a war and you are the frontline troops,” Biden told the CDC staff. “I came here to say thank you.”

Biden and Harris were initially traveling to Georgia to tout the benefits of their $1.9 trillion Covid-19 economic relief package, which Biden signed into law last week, as part of a “Help is Here” tour. But White House officials canceled the rally they had planned in the wake of the shooting.

Georgia has also emerged as a key political state for Democrats. Biden narrowly won there in the presidential race and Democrats subsequently won two Senate seats there earlier this year, which gave the party control of the chamber — enabling passage of Biden’s sweeping Covid-19 law.

Biden and Harris will meet with those Democrats, Georgia Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, during their trip, Jean-Pierre said, as well as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights champion Stacey Abrams.

Abrams has devoted years to expanding the electorate and boosting turnout in Georgia, a typically reliable red state. Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992.

Georgia is ground zero for one of the country’s biggest fights over voting rights. Georgia Republicans are trying to pass new laws to make voting more difficult — an expansive new voting bill unveiled on Wednesday would give the state broad powers over local election officials, set limits on weekend early voting and add voter ID requirements for absentee ballots.

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