By Jarrett Renshaw and Steve Holland
President Joe Biden and top officials in his Cabinet are hitting the road to promote the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed in Congress last week, to explain when and where Americans can expect to see some of the funds in their own communities.
White House aides are planning a bipartisan signing ceremony for the infrastructure bill as soon as this week, after it gained final passage on Friday night when Democrats who control the House of Representatives ended months of bickering and approved it.
Biden heads to the Port of Baltimore, Maryland, on Wednesday to promote the bill, and will travel to places where the “need is and the action is,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said during the White House daily news briefing on Monday.
Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo are fanning out across the country as well.
“In the coming weeks, those members and other senior officials will travel to red states, blue states, big cities, small towns, rural areas, tribal communities and more to translate what this deal means for real people across the country,” a White House source said.
A Democratic National Committee source told Reuters the party will unveil a new slogan based on the bill: “Democrats delivered.”
The bill sends tens of billions of dollars to federal agencies and states for bridge and highway repair, new broadband and public transportation projects and will fund a network of electric-vehicle charging stations across the country.
“A lot of this sells itself,” Buttigieg said, “because communities never needed to be persuaded that their bridge needed to be fixed or their airports needed an upgrade…They’ve been trying to get Washington to catch up to them.”
It gives Biden and Democrats a much-needed jolt of good news after poll numbers have fallen for the president. Republicans made gains in local elections last week, winning the governor’s office in Virginia and coming closer than expected in heavily Democratic New Jersey.
The White House victory lap will include messages on African American and Spanish-language media and partnering with labor unions, business groups and state and local leaders.
The DNC source said that while the infrastructure bill is an important milestone, Democrats need to pass Biden’s $1.75 trillion social safety and climate spending plan next.
“Voters have a short memory. They have already forgotten the Cares Act. They will forget a bridge that was built or a highway that was repaired, but they will remember the monthly child tax credit payment. It is necessary that we pass that,” the source said.