With its agenda stuck, WH puts focus back on infrastructure

Politics

FILE – Drivers take an exit ramp off the Tobin Memorial Bridge, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in Chelsea, Mass. The Transportation Department is launching a $27 billion program to repair and upgrade roughly 15,000 highway bridges as part of the infrastructure law approved in November. The effort is being announced Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 as President Joe Biden tries to showcase how his policies are delivering for the public. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

President Joe Biden on Friday tried to put behind recent setbacks on voting rights and his economic agenda by outlining progress made in implementing his $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.

“When we invest in infrastructure, we’re really investing in opportunity,” Biden said. “These are investments that will build a better America. It sounds like hyperbole, but it’s real.”

Sixty days after the infrastructure packagebecame law in November, the Transportation Department is launching a $27 billion program to repair and upgrade roughly 15,000 bridges. Under the five-year program, the federal government will release nearly $5.5 billion this fiscal year to states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and tribes.

The president is trying to regain a sense of optimism after his administration has endured a rough week. His economic and voting rights agenda has been stymied in the Senate, while the Supreme Court halted his administration’s vaccine-or-testing mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees.

Biden said he’s determined to show that construction tied to the infrastructure package can better people’s lives.

“There’s a lot of talk about disappointments of things we haven’t gotten done — we’re gonna get a lot of them done, I might add,” he said. “But this is something we did get done and it’s of enormous consequence to the country.”

The White House issued a fact sheet in advance of Biden’s remarks that details how the administration is preparing to distribute infrastructure funds. There are plans to build out 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles. The Transportation Department has announced the distribution of roughly $56 billion to improve highways, airports and shipping ports.

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to disburse $7.4 billion to upgrade water and sewer systems. Steps are also being taken to build out broadband internet, among other initiatives.

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is tasked with managing the implementation of the infrastructure spending. He appeared with Biden on Friday and pledged to “deliver results on time, on task and on budget.”

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