BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Mayor Brandon Scott will be in attendance at President Joe Biden's town hall in Baltimore Thursday night, along with Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa.
Whether or not Scott will appear on camera during the broadcast is still to be determined, the mayor said Thursday afternoon.
But if the mayor got the moment to meet with the president, be it in front of a live TV audience or before or after the event, Scott said he would talk about bolstering affordable housing and Black home ownership, issues that are critical to cities like Baltimore.
He would also reiterate the importance of federal support for community- and public health-driven solutions to violence in American cities, a topic the mayor said he discussed with Biden during a conversation several months ago.
The mayor also said he would lobby for "pathways for folks re-entering into our society for the jobs that are going to be created by the American Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Plan."
Biden's appearance at Baltimore Center Stage comes as Democrats are pushing to pass the president's $3.5 trillion domestic agenda to strengthen the social safety net. The bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, would provide two years of free community college, child care assistance and universal Pre-K, expand Medicare and the child tax credit, and combat climate change, among other policies.
The president has told progressive House Democrats the price may need to lower the price tag to between $1.9 and $2.2 trillion in order to secure enough votes in the Senate.
On infrastructure, the Senate previously passed a $1 trillion bill to rebuild the country's roads and bridges, expand internet access and other upgrades, but it's stuck in the House of Representatives.
Scott praised the members of Maryland's congressional delegation for understanding the importance of these initiatives but said some of their counterparts too often get sticker shock even though the laws would benefit everyday Americans.
"Let's talk about what we need. We need to rebuild this country, prepare for the 21st century, allow for folks to create opportunities for families and generations to come," said Scott. "That's what this would do for Baltimore, I know specifically, but cities around the country."
The Anderson Cooper-moderated town hall is set to start at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on CNN.
Audience members, who received invitations to attend the town hall, will have to follow all local COVID-19 guidelines, meaning the city's indoor mask mandate will be in effect for people in the crowd.
A primetime TV special provides the opportunity to demonstrate how well Baltimore has responded to the pandemic, Scott said, pointing to a September analysis by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that found the city fared better than most of its peer jurisdictions.
"And this is one of the reasons why," Scott said of the mask mandate. "For us to showcase how we've been able to fare better than cities around the country is quite OK with me."
"And I don't care what anybody else has to say about it," he added, "because I'm concerned about saving the lives of Baltimoreans."
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