Biden, family to head to U.S. Virgin Islands for rest of year

President Joe Biden headed to a place he knows so well — the U.S. Virgin Islands — on Tuesday to enjoy some downtime and warm weather and welcome in the new year with his family.

The president and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, flew from Washington to St. Croix, one of three U.S. islands in the Caribbean, on Tuesday. St. John and St. Thomas are the other two islands. The Bidens were joined by their grandsons Natalie and Robert.

St. Croix is ​​a tropical getaway that Biden has been on vacation at least since he was vice president from 2009 to 2017.

“We’ve missed him a lot over the past few years,” Beth Moss Mahar, a retired attorney who has lived on the island for nearly 30 years, said in a telephone interview.

Biden is vacationing at his Delaware home in 2020 and 2021, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week’s visit to St. Croix will be his first visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands as president.

“We are very honored,” Del. Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat who represents the Virgin Islands in Congress, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

“In the past, when he and his family were visiting, seeing President Biden was of course almost legendary,” she said.

The fact that Biden is now considered one of the most powerful men in the world will change any sightings. As a result, he now has a much larger travel footprint than he did when he was vice president, including an army of U.S. Secret Service agents, White House staff and reporters covering the trip.

Aides say Biden and his wife prefer to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day in warmer climates, and Jill Biden loves the beach.

“We’ve been looking forward to his arrival and we really understand that it’s a place to relax for him and Jill and any other family he might bring, so we leave him alone and let him relax,” Donna Ke said. Christensen said he was Plaskett’s predecessor in Congress.

“He usually said, ‘In the next life, I’ll live in St. Croix,'” she said in a phone interview.

Both Plaskett and Christensen expressed hope that the focus on where Biden will spend his year-end vacation will exacerbate challenges facing the U.S. Virgin Islands and other U.S. territories, such as the threat of climate change, including more powerful hurricanes and rising sea levels, as well as the The problem governments are having with dealing with aging infrastructure.

Biden was originally scheduled to return to Washington on January 2. That was a day before the president’s Democrats ceded control of the House of Representatives to Republicans following November’s midterm elections, potentially complicating Biden’s legislative agenda for the remaining two years of his term.

Democrats will retain control of the Senate, which will sit on Jan. 3.