Instead, in Zoom meetings and conference calls, the Biden White House is making its pitch to governors and mayors, county executives and state treasurers and secretaries of state, agriculture associations and labor unions, progressive groups and faith leaders.

Some of that has paid off. The U.S. Conference of Mayors urged quick action on the president’s plan in a letter to Congress that had so many signatories it ran 11 pages long. State and local governments stand to benefit from the Biden plan, which calls for an infusion of $350 billion to offset pandemic-related losses and expenses.

Local elected officials see up close how the pandemic has ravaged their communities, said Cedric Richmond, a former Democratic congressman who is now one of Biden’s top aides at the White House, in charge of the Office of Public Engagement.

“They understand the hurt,” Richmond told NPR.