SUPERIOR, Wis. – President Joe Biden, struggling to regain his political footing ahead of the midterm elections, traveled to the crucial state of Wisconsin on Wednesday to promote one of his major achievements, a bipartisan infrastructure measure which will distribute billions of dollars to repair roads, bridges and other works.
Biden’s trip was part of a usual post-State of the Union blitz that enlisted Vice President Kamala Harris and Cabinet officials, who fanned out across the country to present the administration’s plans.
Alongside first lady Jill Biden, the president shook hands with workers wearing hard hats and fluorescent vests near the base of the John A. Blatnik Memorial Bridge, which connects Wisconsin and Minnesota spanning a corner of Lake Superior . The span is a permanent candidate for replacement as it is too corroded to support heavy trucks, limiting its ability to serve as an economic lifeline for the region.
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“After years of talking about infrastructure, we’re finally getting there,” Biden said in a speech at a nearby college campus.
While the $1 trillion infrastructure legislation was a bright spot in its turbulent first year, Biden’s broader agenda — including education programs, prescription drug price controls, and financial incentives to fight climate change – remains stuck on Capitol Hill.
The White House brushed off the question of whether Biden was renaming his legislative proposals, previously known as “Build Back Better,” but signs accompanying the Wisconsin president told a different story.
“Building a better America,” they said, echoing a line from his State of the Union address.
Biden is also trying to demonstrate that his administration remains focused on domestic issues even as he faces the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a crisis that has required close coordination with European allies.
“When the history of this era is written, Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger,” Biden promised.
Harris, Cabinet members speak elsewhere
Harris was in North Carolina, a swing state that remained out of reach for Democrats in the last election, to visit an apprenticeship training program for union electricians. She was joined by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, one of several Cabinet officials traveling on Wednesday.
One of the most notable trips was made by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who rarely makes politically charged appearances. She landed in Chicago, where she had lunch at a Ukrainian restaurant in a show of solidarity with the beleaguered country and spoke on the University of Illinois campus in the city.
Yellen defended the administration’s economic sanctions against Russia, saying they had lowered the value of the ruble and forced Moscow to shut down the stock market for days to limit losses.
“The goal is to keep the pain as much as possible focused on Russia and not on the rest of us,” she said, acknowledging economic ripple effects could affect Americans with higher gas prices.
what it means
Biden’s approval ratings have plummeted since last summer and Republicans are poised to regain control of Congress. The White House has said Biden intends to spend more time traveling this year to promote his administration’s plans.
“He needs to take his message beyond the national press and the talkative class of the Northeast Corridor,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster. “He has to hit the local TV channels, he has to get into the local newspaper.”
Belcher encouraged Biden to emulate President Ronald Reagan’s “morning in America” promise at a time when polls show voters pessimistic about the future.
“He has to be head cheerleader,” he said. “He has to make Americans feel better.”
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Other trips highlight a mix of administrative successes and pending proposals.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan planned to promote water infrastructure investment during a visit to South Carolina, while Interior Secretary Deb Haaland traveled in Connecticut to talk about funding tribal communities to expand high-speed internet access and repair roads.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was traveling to Kentucky to visit a solar farm and participate in a roundtable on clean energy investments in Appalachia.
More trips are to come.
On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra travels to Manchester, New Hampshire, to present Biden’s new initiatives on mental health, as well as other administration priorities on vaccinations. against COVID-19 and health equity.
Congressman Bryan Steil (R)
“Our nation faces multiple challenges, including an increase in violent crime, record inflation, an open southern border and now, global instability. Instead of addressing these challenges, President Biden is spending his day touting a huge plan spending bill passed last year With our gas and home heating costs steadily rising, it is unfortunate that President Biden did not take this opportunity to focus on energy infrastructure servants.”
Ben Wikler, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
“Through the close partnership between President Biden, Governor Evers, and our Democratic delegation to Congress, the federal government is funding and prioritizing projects that will benefit every city and town in our state – from Superior to Milwaukee to Platteville.
“Today is a celebration of President Biden and the Democrats bringing much-needed relief to our state and a referendum on the Wisconsin GOP – including Superior’s own Rep. Tom Tiffany – who voted against these investments. critics without regard to the communities they represent.Despite Wisconsin Republican stonewalling, working families in Superior and across Wisconsin are grateful to President Biden and Democrats for providing the largest federal investment in the historical infrastructure.
“President Biden’s Infrastructure Act will benefit every neighborhood in Badger State – especially in communities along the Great Lakes – and is just another example of how the Biden administration -Harris and Democrats in Congress are working to build Wisconsin back better.”
Paul Farrow, Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin
“Joe Biden’s PR shutdown at Superior only illustrates why his approval ratings are plummeting – he’s too busy planning photo ops to focus on the issues that matter. Amid his attacks on mining, threats to pipelines like Line 5 and the shutdown of Keystone XL, and the failure to maintain American energy independence, no photo op will stop rural Wisconsin residents from leaving the Democratic Party en masse.”
Ronna McDaniel, Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC)
“After doubling down on his failed agenda in his State of the Union address, Biden is heading to Wisconsin without offering real solutions to the problems Americans face. taxpayers while hard-working Americans are forced to pay skyrocketing prices for everyday goods proves how out of touch Biden and the Democrats are with the American people.”