President BidenJoe BidenSouth Africa health minister calls travel bans over new COVID variant 'unjustified' Biden attends tree lighting ceremony after day out in Nantucket Senior US diplomat visiting Southeast Asia to 'reaffirm' relations MORE and other top officials are fanning out across the country to promote the bipartisan infrastructure law, in many cases heading to swing states and locations where lawmakers face tight races next year.
Biden traveled to New Hampshire and Michigan this week, while Vice President Harris is being deployed to Ohio and Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegAdvocates see pilot program to address inequalities from highways as crucial first step Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE is headed to Arizona, all to demonstrate what effects the law will have locally.
Democrats say it is crucial that the White House and other members of the party effectively sell the components of the infrastructure package to the American public by highlighting near-term projects.
“I think it’s important that we talk about what’s in the package and what it will do for the people of Michigan,” said Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes. She added that Democrats must remind voters that “almost all of the Republicans did not support the things that were in this package.” The bill passed the Senate with substantial bipartisan support, but the majority of House Republicans voted against it.
“This is ‘promises kept,’ ” Barnes said.
Biden on Wednesday was in Detroit, where he visited General Motors’ electric vehicle assembly plant to highlight the funding in the bill to build a network of electric vehicle charging stations.
“We’re going to make sure that the jobs of the future end up here in Michigan, not halfway around the world,” Biden said during his remarks in Detroit. “That means that here in Detroit, you’re going to set a new pace for electric vehicles.”
Some of the states Biden administration officials are visiting are home to senators who negotiated the bipartisan deal on the infrastructure package that Biden signed into law on Monday. When Biden visited a structurally deficient bridge in Woodstock, N.H., Tuesday afternoon, he was joined by Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenGOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions Sununu setback leaves GOP scrambling in New Hampshire Three female senators call NYT coverage of Sinema's clothes 'sexist' MORE (D), who was among that negotiating group.
Biden was also joined by Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanConstant threats to government funding fail the American public Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Sununu sidesteps question on running for president in 2024 MORE (D), who is seen as one of the more vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection next year, and Democratic Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris PappasChristopher (Chris) Charles PappasTop House Democratic group launches six-figure ad campaign to sell infrastructure package Booker headlining Democratic fundraiser in New Hampshire GOP primary in NH House race draws national spotlight MORE, both of whom are at risk of losing their seats in 2022.
In Michigan, Democratic Reps. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeBiden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Group aligned with House GOP leadership targeting nine Democrats on spending vote House GOP campaign arm releases ad hitting Democrats on IRS bank-reporting proposal MORE, Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellBiden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Pelosi calls for ethics, criminal investigations into Gosar Democrats look to establish green bank for clean energy projects MORE, Brenda LawrenceBrenda Lulenar LawrenceBiden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Gosar faces increasing odds of censure on House floor CBC's pivotal role on infrastructure underscores caucus's growing stature MORE, Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinMcCarthy delays swift passage of spending plan with record-breaking floor speech Biden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Jailed American journalist freed from Myanmar arrives in New York MORE and Haley StevensHaley Maria StevensBiden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package WHIP LIST: How House Democrats, Republicans say they'll vote on infrastructure bill Katie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House MORE and Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Democrats look to fix ugly polling numbers Ford announces plans to increase electric vehicle production to 600K by 2023 Biden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package MORE (D), who is up for reelection in 2024, traveled with Biden to Detroit on Wednesday. Biden narrowly won Michigan in 2020, and the state is expected to have several competitive races next year, including Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen Whitmer44 military personnel going to Michigan to assist with COVID-19 spike Michigan hospital chiefs plead with public to do its part amid surging hospitalizations Biden must protect Great Lakes from oil spill threat MORE’s (D) reelection bid. During his speech, Biden name-dropped Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinUS lawmakers arrive in Taiwan to meet with local officials US lawmakers visiting Taiwan for meetings with defense ministry: report For Democrats it should be about votes, not megaphones MORE (D), who couldn’t be at the event and who is facing challenging reelection prospects.
Whitmer was unable to attend the event because she was meeting with leaders in the semiconductor industry in California about the automotive chip crisis, her office said.
Democrats view Biden’s trips as an opportunity for him to boost his popularity with the public, which is certain to be a factor in upcoming competitive races. Biden’s approval ratings have declined following the flawed withdrawal from Afghanistan and amid negative public sentiment about the coronavirus and economy.
“In these states, the Democrats running for reelection will sink or swim based on Joe Biden’s approval ratings in those states,” said Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at the Democratic think tank Third Way. “He doesn’t need stellar ratings, but higher ratings than he has now. So highlighting this major accomplishment in these specific places is exactly the right politics.”
White House officials indicated that the effort to promote the infrastructure bill will be a sustained campaign over the coming months involving not only Biden and Harris but also first lady Jill BidenJill BidenBiden attends tree lighting ceremony after day out in Nantucket Biden meets with Coast Guard on Thanksgiving Biden calls in to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: 'America's back' MORE, second gentleman Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffBiden, Harris volunteer at DC nonprofit before Thanksgiving The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden's strategy to lower gas prices The Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid MORE and other members of the Cabinet.
“Officials will travel red states, blue states, big cities, small towns, rural areas, tribal communities and more to highlight how the president forged consensus to demonstrate how democracies can deliver real results for their people,” a White House official said on Tuesday.
On Friday, Labor Secretary Marty WalshMarty Walsh minimum wage for federal contractors will take effect on Jan. 30 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Pelosi takes victory lap after breaking months-long standoff The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay MORE is going to Michigan, while Harris is in Ohio and Buttigieg is in Arizona. On Saturday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeButtigieg has high name recognition, favorability rating in Biden Cabinet: survey Biden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Black Caucus eager to see BBB cross finish line in House MORE and Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandInterior recommends imposing higher costs for public lands drilling Overnight Energy & Environment — White House announces new climate office Biden administration approves second offshore wind project off Rhode Island MORE will travel to Georgia and California, respectively, and next week Energy Secretary Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmWhite House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Buttigieg has high name recognition, favorability rating in Biden Cabinet: survey Energy chief describes oil reserve release as 'bridge' before prices fall MORE is going to Tennessee and Haaland to New Mexico.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael ReganMichael ReganBiden administration takes step toward reversing Trump water regulations rollback Biden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Energy & Environment — Beyond COP26 MORE also has planned visits to Louisiana and Texas.
The Biden administration is also trying to quickly implement the legislation to get funding to infrastructure projects that are shovel-ready.
“When you can see the results, it’s a lot different than reading about the results. The fact that not only are people going to be able to see shovels, they’re going to be able to have essentially a better quality of life as a result of this bill. If not anything, broadband access is so critical and that’s going to have an immediate impact. The amount of people who are going to be put to work from this bill,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist.
The White House is getting some help from outside groups in promoting the bipartisan legislative victory.
Building Back Together, the Biden-aligned group that launched earlier this year, on Wednesday announced a $10 million ad campaign beginning with an advertisement promoting the infrastructure bill and Biden’s ability to deliver on the bipartisan accomplishment. The group said the ad will run in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., through Thanksgiving.
“We know what happened after we passed the very consequential Affordable Care Act, we did not tell people what we did so the very thing that ended up helping people hurt us,” Seawright said. “I’m very happy to hear they are going on the road to tell people about the bipartisan infrastructure deal. The fact that this White House is taking the time to travel the country to educate people will make them feel like their vote was worth it in November of last year.”
The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by then-President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaStephen Sondheim, legendary Broadway songwriter, dies at 91 With extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE in March 2010, and Democrats lost the House later that same year.
“I think Democrats are learning from our mistakes,” Seawright added.
Democrats have partially attributed Biden’s low approval ratings to the haggling over his domestic agenda in Congress. The infrastructure bill languished in the House for three months amid debate of a separate spending package before Democrats, bruised from a bad loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race, reached an agreement to vote on it.
House Democrats are hoping to pass the separate climate and social spending package by the end of this week, but it still faces an uphill battle in the Senate due to unanimous GOP opposition and lingering concerns among moderates.
“We have to move from the sausage making phase to the serving of the meal. And the last several months have just been ugly Washington negotiating,” Kessler said.
“There’s a point where you have to move from the prep work to the selling of the product, and that’s happening now with the infrastructure bill, and the hope is that 2022 is going to be mainly selling what Biden has done in his first year,” he said.
Julia Manchester contributed.