Back to work Joe: Biden leaves Caribbean with a tan after weeklong beach vacation as border crisis, possible government shutdown and Ukraine funding row await him in Washington

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • The Bidens spent seven days on the largest of the U.S. Virgin islands
  • President has a full schedule at White House on Wednesday
  • He faces fight on federal budget, Ukraine funding, and upcoming election 

President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and granddaughter Natalie departed St. Croix on Tuesday, leaving the sunny skies of the Caribbean for the political storms of Washington, D.C.

The president was only seen in public once during his week on the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. He attended mass and took his family out to dinner. Otherwise he stayed behind the gated walls of his luxury private villa with its private beach and he left sporting a tan. 

Awaiting Biden in D.C. is a government funding fight that could lead to a shutdown as soon as January 19, uncertain funding for Ukraine amid a battle on border security, questions about his 2024 prospects, dire polls and an increase in attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East. 

The president did some work during his vacation. He was briefed daily by his national security team and released statements after Russia launched a massive aerial attack on the Ukraine and Japan was hit with a massive earthquake. 

He took wife Jill and granddaughter Natalie out to dinner in St. Croix on Saturday, eating at a local restaurant in downtown Christiansted.

Biden was sporting a tan as he left the island on Tuesday evening

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden departed St. Croix on Tuesday

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden departed St. Croix on Tuesday

Biden boards Air Force One en route back to Washington, D.C.

Biden boards Air Force One en route back to Washington, D.C.

The president was only seen in public once during his week on the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands before his departure

The president was only seen in public once during his week on the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands before his departure

The family appeared to be having a good time on their trip. The president, 81, said his new year’s resolution is ‘to come back next year.’

‘I know you guys hate this assignment down here. I’m sorry to bring you down here,’ he joked to the reporters questioning him after he left the restaurant.

The Bidens visited Too.Chez, which is known for its seafood cooked by a team of father and son chefs. They are known locally for having the best catch of the day.

Biden appeared to enjoy his night out. He stopped to talk to patrons dining on the restaurant’s porch as he exited the building. And there were several around of applause heard before he came out of the dining establishment.  

Earlier Saturday, the president went to church. A devout Catholic, he rarely misses weekend mass. Neither Jill nor Natalie accompanied to the service at Holy Cross Catholic Church. 

Jill Biden exits Too.Chez restaurant in downtown Christiansted in St. Croix

Jill Biden exits Too.Chez restaurant in downtown Christiansted in St. Croix

The Biden family stayed rent-free a a villa that sits on Solitude Bay, which has access to a private beach and is owned by Democratic donors Bill and Connie Neville

The Biden family stayed rent-free a a villa that sits on Solitude Bay, which has access to a private beach and is owned by Democratic donors Bill and Connie Neville

The Biden family are staying rent-free at a beachfront villa owned by friends Bill and Connie Neville, who made their fortune in the tech industry and attended the White House state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The property is in an area where homes can sell for up to $3million and has three bedrooms, a pool and access to a private beach.

The Bidens also spent last year at the Neville home.

Biden will have a full schedule at the White House on Wednesday as he deals with a looming government shutdown. 

When lawmakers return after the new year, they will have just eight legislative days before the first deadline of January 19, which would close parts of the government, and another four before the second deadline of February 2, which would result in a full government shutdown. 

Members of Congress left Washington for their holiday break without an agreement on overall spending levels, which are critical to negotiating a broader funding deal. 

They and President Biden  also remain locked in a stalemate over funding for the Ukraine and protecting the southern border.

Biden has asked Congress for $61 billion in aid to Ukraine, but Republicans are refusing to approve the assistance without an agreement with Democrats to tighten security along the U.S.-Mexico border. His request also includes $14 billion for Israel as it fights Hamas and $14 billion for U.S. border security.

Biden, on Wednesday, announced a $250 million weapons package to Ukraine  in what officials said would be a final amount of aid from the U.S. unless Congress approves new funding.

The White House has warned that unless Congress appropriates additional aid for Kyiv, the funds will run out at year’s end.

Biden and his Democrats have offered major concessions on border security to try and get a deal in place, including raising the standards for asylum-seekers and expanding the president’s power to quickly remove migrants who cross the border. 

But Republicans have remained non-committal. 

Immigration has entrenched itself into Biden’s foreign policy and is a political hot potato for the president as he seeks a second term in office.  Republicans – and even some Democrats – have criticized him for not doing enough to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The villa the Bidens stayed in has a tiled infinity pool

The villa the Bidens stayed in has a tiled infinity pool

The home features colorful decor and has a private beach

The home features colorful decor and has a private beach

Biden attended mass at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in downtown Christiansted

Biden attended mass at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in downtown Christiansted 

Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, repeatedly hammers Biden for not doing enough to stop border crossings. 

Last month saw a record number of border crossings. 

Between Dec. 1 and December 31, more than 302,000 migrants were documented attempting to cross the U.S. southern border.

It is the highest total for a single month ever recorded in history and it marks the first time migrant encounters have reached over 300,000.

Thousands more were set to arrive in the coming days in the form of a massive migrant caravan making its way through Mexico to the southern border. Video and photos show the massive march with families carrying large crosses and their possessions as the trek to the US.

 

The border has been a headache for Biden for months and his approval ratings continue to plummet with only 38 percent of voters saying they approve of his handling of immigration, compared with 46 percent in November.

Republicans took advantage of President Biden going on vacation to hammer him for heading to the Caribbean while the crisis grows.

Biden isn’t the first to face partisan criticism for taking a vacation with former Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump all enduring scrutiny for time spent away from the capital. 

And while Biden is on the U.S. Virgin Island, members of Congress are back home in their congressional districts, meaning Washington, D.C., is virtually empty of political types.

‘Joe Biden’s vacationing in the Virgin Islands while the southern border is in crisis,’ said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) earlier this week.

Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) criticized Biden for being ‘on vacation AGAIN while our southern border is being invaded by illegal aliens.’

Meanwhile, the start of 2024 is also the official kickoff for the next presidential election.

Biden saw some concerning numbers in the first poll of the new year. Trump beat him with two key voter groups, giving the former president an overall lead in the White House race.

Trump leads Biden among Hispanic voters by five points, 39%-34% and among younger voters by three points, 37%-34%, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll.

Biden won both those voting groups in the 2020 presidential contest, where he defeated Trump to win the White House. Monday’s poll also shows Biden is losing support among black voters, another key voting bloc.

He now has the support of just 63% of black voters, a group he carried by a whooping 87% in 2020.

Overall, the poll found that Trump in the lead at 39% to Biden’s 37% with 17% supporting an unnamed third-party candidate.

Donald Trump is leading Biden in a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll; the Republican primary process begins in January

Donald Trump is leading Biden in a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll; the Republican primary process begins in January

When third-party candidates were specified by name, Trump’s lead increased to 37% to Biden’s 34%, with independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the top of the third-party candidates at 10%.

The overall trend is worrisome for Biden, particularly with younger voters, who overwhelmingly supported him four years ago and are largely at odds with Republicans on issues such as abortion access and climate change.

And some of the president’s support looks to have gone to third-party contenders. The poll found that 20% of Hispanic and black voters, along with 21% of young voters, say they’ll back someone other than the two main contenders. 

Multiple polls have shown voters want an alternative candidate for the 2024 presidential contest, citing concerns about Biden’s age. At 81, he is the oldest American president in history. If he wins a second term, he would be 86 when it’s completed. 

However, in the poll, 74% of likely Democratic primary voters support Biden with only 9% backing author Marianne Williamson and 2% supporting Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips.

Trump, 77, leads polls for the Republican nomination. The first nominating contests begin in a few weeks. 

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