President Joe Biden and senior administration officials are embarking on a travel swing this week, showcasing what they see as successful measures to rebuild America’s ailing infrastructure.
In what’s been described as a preview of some of the messaging for next week’s State of the Union address, Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Cabinet secretaries are all hitting the road to highlight the implementation of the landmark legislation signed into law during the president’s first two years in office. Among those accomplishments are the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Chips and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
The president is scheduled to travel from Washington to Baltimore, New York City and Philadelphia this week to showcase the implementation of his policies.
The trips are taking place in the lead up to Biden’s State of the Union speech in Washington next week – a national platform where he’s expected to illustrate how his policies are successfully going into effect – and a prospective reelection announcement in the coming months. Biden’s approach is expected to be focused on touting the rebound of the American economy and taking aim at Republican proposals – while still underscoring his desire to work across the aisle.
In Baltimore on Monday, Biden will discuss how infrastructure law funding “will replace the 150-year old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel to address the largest bottleneck for commuters on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC, and New Jersey.” The new tunnel will be named in honor of civil rights leader and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
At the project kickoff, the president will announce an agreement between the state of Maryland and Amtrak, which includes a $450 million commitment for the tunnel replacement project, according to the White House. A project labor agreement between Amtrak and the Baltimore-DC Building and Construction Trades Council will be unveiled to cover the first phase of the project. And he will also announce an agreement between Amtrak and the North American Builders’ Trade Union “that ensures Amtrak’s large civil engineering construction projects controlled by Amtrak will be performed under union agreements,” according to the White House.
The program is expected to cost approximately $6 billion, of which Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding could contribute up to $4.7 billion, the White House said. Biden will be joined by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at the event, according to a White House official.
On Tuesday, Biden travels to New York City to discuss how Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will improve the Hudson River Tunnel, which sees 200,000 passengers passing through each weekday on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.
On Friday, Biden and Harris are scheduled to travel to Philadelphia to discuss how Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding is removing lead pipes and ensuring clean water across Philadelphia and the country, the official told CNN.
According to the White House, the pair “will discuss the progress we have made and their work implementing the Biden-Harris economic agenda that continues to deliver results for the American people.”
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge will also travel to Chicago to discuss progress made to address homelessness as a result of provisions within the American Rescue Plan, according to the official.
While Biden has often embarked on domestic trips to highlight his policies in action, these stops have served as a significant messaging platform since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives this year.
In a speech at a union hall in Virginia, Biden, for example, sought to contrast his economic policies with House Republicans’ effort in the debt limit standoff.
He asked the crowd, “(Why) in God’s name would Americans give up the progress we’ve made for the chaos they’re suggesting?”
“MAGA Republicans,” he added, “are literally choosing to inflict this pain on the American people.”
Despite that heavy emphasis on his warnings about GOP plans, Biden this week is expected to hone in on his ability to work across the aisle to push legislation into law. Specifically, in a preview of the travel, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre underscored Biden’s “success (in) bringing Republicans and independents and Democrats together to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
The policy messaging trips also carry more weight as the prospect of a presidential reelection campaign looms large over the White House.
Biden has been working intensively on his State of the Union Speech speech – including over the weekend – which his team views as a launching pad for the reelection bid. His speeches around the East Coast week will offer a preview of his message as he touts new infrastructure projects.
Behind the scenes, aides are building up a campaign infrastructure and the West Wing is in the process of restructuring for a politically intense two years.
Peppered in between stops to visit projects funded though the proposals which were the bedrock of his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden will participate in events that are part of an intense fundraising push ahead of the campaign announcement.
The travel comes as Biden also contends with a number of simmering issues in Washington – House Republican probes, investigations into classified documents found at his residence and former office and the debt ceiling standoff. The US Treasury is already taking extraordinary measures to keep the government paying its bills after the US hit the debt ceiling set by Congress.
While the president is in Washington on Wednesday in between travel stops, he’s scheduled to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.