Biden Highlights Infrastructure in Campaign Message
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During the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, President Joe Biden has amplified his “Amtrak Joe” bona fides, the result of which has turned him into “Builder-in-Chief Joe.”
Last year’s enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure law, has equipped Biden and his Cabinet with a significant tool in their political arsenal throughout the fall campaigns. A nimble argument before November has been to remind constituents in electoral battleground states, such as Pennsylvania, their infrastructure will be fixed due to the $1 trillion law.
“I signed into law a once-in-a-generation investment in roads, highways, bridges, railroads, ports, airports and so much more,” Biden told a crowd at the construction site of the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh on Oct. 20. The collapse of the bridge in January was used to justify the significant investments in roads and bridges.
President Joe Biden says the bipartisan infrastructure law addresses deficient bridges, such as Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge that collapsed in January. (Justin Merriman/Bloomberg News)
“Pittsburgh is the city of bridges, but too many of them are in poor condition, like this bridge behind me before it collapsed,” the president added. “But with the bipartisan infrastructure law, we’re doing something about it.”
The previous day, the president was at the White House expounding potential benefits from the law. As he put it, “It was a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, railroads, ports, airports, water systems and high-speed internet.
“Federal infrastructure funding is helping states and cities with these projects all across the country. But the infrastructure law also invests in people and companies that are going to build our future, like electric vehicles and advanced batteries that are going to power those vehicles.”
In keeping with his transportation theme, Biden recently announced a release from the U.S. strategic reserve of an additional 15 million barrels of oil. “President Biden is directing his administration to take additional action to strengthen energy security, address the supply crunch and lower costs,” the White House explained.
Fuel prices have consumed the political discourse inside the Beltway. The president has argued his recent move was not anchored on politics. Yet, ahead of the midterms, the White House continues to receive attacks from leadership on the other side of the aisle. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, lambasted Biden’s recent oil-centric plan.
“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was built for a national energy crisis — not for a Democrat election crisis,” Barrasso observed. “Joe Biden is draining our emergency oil supply to a 40-year low. His dismal approval rating is not a justifiable reason to continue to raid our nation’s oil reserves. The surest way to bring down energy prices is to unleash American energy production.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member, added, “President Biden is depleting the reserve to cover up his anti-American, ‘rush-to-green’ environmental agenda.
“Since day one, he has waged war on American fossil energy. This has led to surging inflation and made everyday life more expensive for people across the board — from the gas pump to the grocery store.”
According to Energy Information Administration data Oct 17, the national average price of diesel reached $5.339 a gallon.
The Week Ahead
Oct. 24, 12:30 p.m.: New America meets for a panel discussion titled, “Good Jobs: Making the Most of Infrastructure Investments.” Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg is scheduled to participate.
Oct. 24-25: American Trucking Associations’ annual Management Conference & Exhibition continues at the San Diego Convention Center.
Oct. 26, 9 a.m.: The Surface Transportation Board meets to examine rail service, infrastructure planning and development and coordination among users.
Gloria Shepherd was named executive director of the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Oct. 20. Among her tasks will be assisting with administering more than $350 billion for highway programs approved in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “We are lucky to have her expertise, insight and dedication as we work to modernize our nation’s roads, bridges and highways to serve the American people now and for generations to come.”
Acting FHWA Administrator Stephanie Pollack added, “Our nation’s street and highway infrastructure is changing in real time, and there is no one with more experience and dedication to this work to help guide that transition than Gloria.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), a member of the Commerce Committee with jurisdiction on trucking matters, is tasked with helping his colleagues win the leadership in the U.S. Senate.
For most of Biden’s tenure at the White House, the senator has displayed an ability for staying on message. During the midterms, at campaign stops in Georgia and elsewhere, he’s consistently slammed the president and his senior staff. Specifically, the Florida Republican is blaming POTUS & Co. for economic conditions that he argued has contributed to inflation.
“Joe Biden’s disgusting attempts to gaslight the American people and feed them lies about his failed economic agenda have reached a new level of insanity,” the senator, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Oct. 21. “He pretends to care about the economy and American families in scripted White House speeches, but his actions show that he couldn’t care less about the pain he’s causing.”
In her swearing-in ceremony, the new leader at FMCSA, Robin Hutcheson was celebrated by her colleagues.
Secretary Pete, in keeping air travel on his radar, showcases his economics pedigree.
Hidden fees for checked bags or even carry-ons help airlines hide the true cost of your flight.
Our new proposed rule would put an end to that, by requiring airlines to share those hidden fees up front, so passengers can make an informed decision. https://t.co/PIkXGTz3KD — Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) October 17, 2022
The Last Word
[The Management Conference & Exhibition] is always a special time, but this year with so many successes to highlight, it truly feels like a celebration.
ATA President Chris Spear on Oct. 18
We publish Mondays when Congress is in session. We also are publishing weekly during the 2022 midterm elections. See previous installments of Capitol Agenda here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.
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