“Thank you. You've been really — really cooperative,” he told Walmart CEO Doug McMillon on Monday, during a meeting with CEOs on problems with the supply chain and concerns heading into the holiday shopping season. “I can't tell you how much we appreciate it.” The sight of a Democratic president embracing Walmart would have sent shockwaves through the political ecosystem not too long ago. But times have changed since those days when Biden and others were holding out the company as a corporate force of evil. Over the past few years, Walmart has adopted internal policies that have softened its image among Democrats. It has also donated to Democratic lawmakers and their causes, right as the party was forging common ground with corporate America during the Trump years. In turn, the company has won an audience with top Democratic officials, including the president himself. President Joe Biden listens as the CEO of Walmart Doug McMillon speaks remotely at a hybrid virtual roundtable with CEOs and leaders of retail, consumer products firms and grocery store chains. | Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images On Monday, Biden joked with the company’s CEO that he had “spent more time walking through the aisles of Walmart than I want to admit.” On Wednesday, he cited his administration’s collaboration with the company on issues related to the supply chain. And on two occasions, White House chief of staff Ron Klain has tweeted out McMillon’s remarks or praise as evidence of the administration’s success. The administration has also promoted Walmart’s efforts to support Afghan refugees. Press secretary Jen Psaki noted that she ordered her Covid at-home tests from Walmart. And in selling the Build Back Better agenda, the White House has at least three times sent out Walmart’s lukewarm endorsement of the climate provisions before Congress, including those in the budget reconciliation and infrastructure bills. Beyond the administration, the embrace of Walmart has been disorienting, especially for those in the labor community who fear the message it sends. “It’s telling that in the White House statement touting its collaboration with CEOs to solve supply chain challenges, not one mention is made of the workers who drive the profits and keep the supply chains moving,” said Bianca Agustin, corporate accountability director at United for Respect, an advocacy group for Walmart and Amazon employees. “We need our elected officials to stand with the essential workers that are keeping our country running... We need regulations and laws in place to make McMillon, who leads the largest private workforce in the country, implement the changes that Walmart associates have been demanding.” Walmart’s newfound status within Democratic political circles is, to a degree, a reflection of how the modern economy has shifted political considerations. Once laser-focused on how retail giants were impacting small businesses and exacerbating low wages, Congress has placed Amazon, Facebook, and other tech behemoths under its microscope in recent years. But the friendly rapport with Democrats is also the result of Walmart’s attempt to use corporate initiatives to make inroads with the party, according to four people close to the company. A small fleet of lobbyists has been doing the company’s bidding in Washington, and at least the past two lead in-house lobbyists have both been Democrats. “As the nation’s largest private employer and a bellwether for the U.S. economy, with deep roots in communities across the country, we’re used to working with policymakers from across the political spectrum,” said Brian Besanceney, Walmart senior vice president, chief communications officer, in a statement. “We’re glad policymakers view Walmart as part of the solution to national issues like climate change, pandemic response, and workforce development and training.” Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, listens during a meeting with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and others about the need for the American Rescue Plan. | Pete Marovich/Getty Images Political giving from Walmart’s PAC has evened out over the years, according to data from the money-in-politics watchdog group Open Secrets. The PAC gave $1.32 million to Republicans compared to just $358,500 to Democrats in the 2004 cycle. In the 2020 cycle, the PAC gave $596,000 to both parties. While Democrats had once refused to accept the company’s donations, lawmakers have become far more willing in recent cycles, according to an individual close to the company. In 2018, Walmart announced that it would give $2 million in grants to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute to help provide internship opportunities to diverse young candidates. Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) praised the company’s support for increasing access to opportunities on the Hill. Members of the family behi . . . read the full article here.