Administration

Biden touts infrastructure spending as other priorities stall

President Biden on Friday sought to highlight the progress implementing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law he signed 60 days ago, even as other elements of his legislative agenda have stalled recently.

In remarks from the White House, Biden described a government-wide effort over the past two months to get funds flowing to help repair bridges and highways as well as expand access to broadband.

“There’s a lot of talk about disappointments and things we haven’t gotten done — we’re going to get a lot of them done, I might add — but this is something we did get done and it’s of enormous consequence to the country,” Biden said.

Biden highlighted the bipartisan nature of the bill and said it would spur job creation, make communities safer and help lower costs for Americans over time.

“This is what a better America is going to look like,” Biden said.

Biden announced at the Transportation Department a new bridge investment program that, with funding from the infrastructure bill, will provide more than $27 billion to states and tribes over the next five years to repair and replace bridges.

The administration is allocating $5.3 billion for the current fiscal year for states and tribes to repair bridges as soon as they can get projects of their choosing up and running.

The president also mentioned efforts to distribute funding to modernize highways, improve ports, modernize airports and expand broadband, as well as plans to replace lead pipes and cap abandoned wells.

The speech came at the end of a challenging week for Biden. The president’s push for action in the Senate to alter the legislative filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation has thus far come up short, as he’s been unable to convince moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to get on board.

New data also showed inflation rose last year to a nearly 40-year high, and Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses was blocked by the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Biden did notch legislative successes in his first year, namely the infrastructure bill and a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law. However, the other major piece of his domestic legislative agenda — a $2 trillion climate and social policy bill — remains stalled in the Senate.

The speech on Friday gave Biden a new opportunity to remind the public of the impact of the infrastructure legislation. Biden has also traveled across the country to promote the package, though his most recent trip — to Georgia on Tuesday — was focused on pushing for voting rights legislation.

Biden was joined on Friday by Mitch Landrieu, the White House infrastructure coordinator, who said that implementing the legislation “won’t be easy” but promised to “put our shoulder to the wheel” to make sure the funds are put to use effectively.

“This is a one-team, one-fight mission to build a better, stronger America,” Landrieu said.

Administration