Biden officials tout infrastructure agenda as talks drag on
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh touted President Biden’s infrastructure package on Wednesday as the White House continues talks with GOP lawmakers.
Buttigieg, who met with Republicans Tuesday to discuss infrastructure spending, told reporters it was a “productive conversation.”
“The purpose of our conversation was really to see where there are areas of overlap,” he said after touring the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge project in Washington, D.C.
“We start in very different places, but that’s how negotiations work.”
Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and other congressional Republicans on Tuesday. Capito pitched a $568 billion plan in April, far below the $2.3 trillion proposal put forth by Biden.
Buttigieg used Wednesday’s tour of the historic bridge in the nation’s capital to highlight the need for more government investment in roads and bridges.
“I am thrilled to be able to point in a very literal way to the job creation that is possible when America decides to make good and needed investment in infrastructure,” said Buttigieg, who was joined by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).
The project replaces the 70-year-old bridge that spanned the Anacostia River.
Buttigieg was asked about Biden’s trip to the Ford Rouge Vehicle Center in Michigan on Tuesday and if lawmakers can find common ground with the administration on policies to advance electric vehicles and other green efforts as part of infrastructure spending.
“A lot of our transportation decisions, they’re climate decisions whether we say so or not,” the secretary said.
Walsh, who is the first union member in decades to lead the Labor Department, said Biden’s proposal would bring good-paying jobs to the U.S. workforce.
“We have a unique opportunity. We have something the president unveiled the other day called the American Jobs plan,” Walsh said at the event. “It’s about building a stronger America. It’s about building a country that we can be proud of.”
Walsh added that the administration wants to see the American Jobs plan passed by September.
“We can’t afford to miss, we can’t afford to miss,” he said.
The White House has said that Biden hopes to see “progress” on a bill by Memorial Day, but without defining exactly what kind of movement that entails.
GOP lawmakers are opposed to Biden’s plan, largely because it calls for raising the corporate tax rate to pay for infrastructure spending.
Democrats could decide to move forward without Republicans through a process known as budget reconciliation, so long as they have all 50 Democrats in the Senate on board, along with almost every Democrat in the House.