• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In Louisiana, Biden makes infrastructure pitch local

·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

President Joe Biden pitched his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan in Louisiana on Thursday, putting a spotlight on the state's ailing infrastructure as he seeks to build widespread public support for his proposals.

"I've never seen a Republican or a Democrat road. I just see roads," Biden said, speaking in Lake Charles in front of a 70-year-old bridge that is 20 years older than its intended lifespan.

The bridge is part of Interstate 10, a critical east-west artery for transportation and commerce in the heart of the country's energy corridor, connecting Houston to New Orleans, a route lined with petrochemical refineries.

"It shouldn't be this hard or take so long to fix a bridge that's this important. It makes no sense. But the truth is, across the country, we have failed to properly invest in infrastructure for half a century," Biden said.

Biden was scheduled later Thursday to visit the Carrollton Water Plant in New Orleans, which has been plagued with technical problems that cause floods in the city even after routine rain storms.

Biden's visit is part of the White House's Getting America Back on Track tour to build public support for jobs and infrastructure proposals. Biden has also visited Georgia, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The White House hopes to use the trips to highlight the need to invest in the country's infrastructure and showcase bipartisan support for some parts of the plans.

In a fact sheet about Thursday's trip, the White House said Louisiana has had 30 extreme weather events, causing up to $50 billion in damage. Lake Charles is still struggling to recover from two hurricanes last year.

A floating casino crashed into the bridge Biden was highlighting during a hurricane last year.

"We can't deny it. There is a real change in the weather," Biden said. "We've got to build for what is needed now. And I promise you we're going to do that so we're better prepared to withstand storms that are becoming more severe and more frequent."

Biden was joined by Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter, a Republican who recently wrote an opinion piece with the Democratic mayor of Shreveport arguing that the "American Jobs Plan is needed for Louisiana's future."

Biden said Thursday, "Infrastructure has historically been a bipartisan undertaking, and there's no reason it shouldn't be that way again, as the mayor is evidence of."

Despite the support Biden's plan might have outside Washington, he faces an uphill battle on Capitol Hill.

Republicans have pushed back against Biden's proposal to partly roll back the 2017 corporate tax rate cuts to pay for the American Jobs Plan, and some have disagreed with his broad definition of infrastructure to include affordable housing and care for the elderly, calling on him to limit the scope to more traditional infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.

"I am sick and tired of corporate America not paying their fair share," Biden said Thursday. "What I am proposing is badly needed and able to be paid for."