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President Biden in Seattle: Traffic impacts and plans for Earth Day

On Friday, President Biden will discuss his administration's efforts to continue growing the country's clean energy economy.

SEATTLE — President Joe Biden arrived in Seattle on Thursday, a day before he is scheduled to talk about clean energy.

Biden arrived in Seattle just after 5 p.m. Thursday, following his visit to Portland, Ore. He is expected to fly back to the East Coast on Friday afternoon.

The trip is Biden's first to the Pacific Northwest since he was elected.

After Air Force One lands at Sea-Tac Airport, Biden is believed to be traveling north to a private event in Seattle.

Sea-Tac Airport said travelers should expect potential delays during the early evening hours on Thursday due to Biden's arrival. Security protocols call for all air traffic to stop 30 minutes prior to arrival and 30 minutes afterward.

Westbound lanes of Interstate 90 were closed for a brief period near Rainier Avenue due to the President's arrival. Traffic started moving after about twenty minutes, but backups are expected to continue through the evening.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson warned drivers to expect “intermittent heavy congestion due to temporary closures of the freeway system” in the Seattle area Thursday evening and Friday due to Biden’s visit.

Biden will spend the night in Seattle, and on Earth Day Friday, he is expected to speak about his administration’s efforts to continue growing the country's clean energy economy, as well as bringing down costs for families, the White House said.

The White House said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will release more than $385 million to states to help families and individuals with their home energy costs through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Washington state will receive an additional $6.5 million, bringing its LIHEAP total to $151.2 million.

Multiple sources confirm to KING 5 that Biden will attend an event at Seward Park in Seattle Friday morning before traveling to Green River College. The Washington Post reports Biden will sign an executive order aimed at protecting old-growth forests.

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At Green River College, Biden is expected to give remarks in the Mel Lindbloom Student Union and meet with elected officials and a limited number of people in the college's community, including students. The event is invitation only.

In a letter, Green River College President Suzanne Johnson said the college was selected as part of Biden's tour because of the career and technical programs that it offers, such as its nursing program, which support workforce development in the region.

Biden will be joined by Gov. Jay Inslee, Congresswoman Kim Schrier, and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell during his appearances in Seattle Friday, according to Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

During his trip, Biden is also expected to reaffirm his calls for Congress to pass legislation to lower prescription drug prices, as well as highlight executive actions such as extending the freeze on student loan payments and tweaking the Affordable Care Act.

There will be politics on Biden's agenda, too. He plans to participate in fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee while in Portland and Seattle.

In Portland, Biden visited Portland International Airport to talk about critical investments to ensure stronger, more resilient infrastructure. Biden also highlighted investments made at PDX due in part to the infrastructure package that passed Congress this fall.

Meanwhile, some Republicans are critical of the president's messaging during his trip to the Northwest. Republican National Committee Spokesperson Paris Dennard said Biden should be focused on the economy.

"At the end of the day, there are more pressing issues that are concerning voters right now," Dennard said. "What is Joe Biden and the Democrats doing right now to address inflation, right now to reduce crime, right now to address the rise in gas prices, right now to address the fentanyl crisis because of the open border policies? That's on top of mind for voters in Seattle. That's top of mind for voters all over the state of Washington."

Previous presidential visits to Washington: 

President Biden's trip to the Pacific Northwest marks the first in his presidency, but it follows a long list of politicians, both foreign and domestic, who have toured the Evergreen state.

Back in 2016, former President Donald Trump drew a crowd in Lynden, becoming the first major-party nominee to visit the small town.

Former President Barack Obama has made several stops in Seattle over the years. While here, he met with former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, former Governor Christine Gregoire and current Governor Jay Inslee on his trips.

In September of 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping drew protesters and caused traffic delays during a rare visit to the United States centered around business relations between the U.S. and China. 

Nearly a cenutry and a half ago, the first sitting president made a trip to Washington state. Rutheford B. Hayes, the nation's nineteenth president, arrived via steamship in the year 1880.


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