President Biden will travel to Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday to promote his $1.9 trillion stimulus, but his trip is being shadowed by a new outbreak of an old problem: the mass killings of Americans with easily obtainable guns.
On Monday, a gunman killed 10 people, including a police officer, at a grocery store in Denver, Colo., less than a week after another gunman murdered eight people in Atlanta — a return of mass casualty shootings that had seemed, for as time, to be suppressed by pandemic lockdowns.
“The President has been briefed on the shooting in Colorado and he will be kept up to date by his team as there are additional developments,” wrote Jen Psaki, Mr. Biden’s spokeswoman, on Twitter late Monday.
Mr. Biden, who was tasked with coming up with a legislative package of gun control measures by President Barack Obama after the Sandy Hook killings of 2012, plans to address the shooting in Colorado during his appearance in Columbus, a White House aide said.
The White House is intent on juggling multiple priorities simultaneously, and intends to keep the focus on Wednesday on informing people about the benefits of the pandemic relief package and promoting the 11th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Biden was expected to focus on the parts of the stimulus that will lower health care costs.
Two other administration figures — Xavier Becerra, confirmed last week as the secretary of health and human services, and Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman — will go on the road to make the same pitch, Mr. Becerra in Carson City, Nev., and Mr. Emhoff in Omaha, Neb. Vice President Kamala Harris made a similar trip to Jacksonville, Fla., on Monday.
Mr. Biden “will deliver remarks on the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law — of course, something he had a major role in — and encourage Americans to sign up for insurance at HealthCare.gov during the special enrollment period his administration opened amid the pandemic,” Ms. Psaki told reporters on Monday.
The act, a signature achievement of the Obama administration, has proved resilient, despite repeated Republican attacks. More than 200,000 Americans signed up for health insurance under the act during the first two weeks of an open enrollment period Mr. Biden created, and a provision in the stimulus package making Medicaid expansion more fiscally appealing has convinced two deep-red states, Alabama and Wyoming, to consider expanding the program.
While he is in Ohio, the president is also scheduled to meet with Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, to discuss coronavirus vaccinations and other matters related to the pandemic.