Biden takes his bipartisan infrastructure deal highway present to Wisconsin

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks highlighting the benefits of Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, at La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, U.S., June 29, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin on Tuesday to promote his recently announced $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure framework.

There, Biden toured the city’s Municipal Transit Utility, and he delivered remarks focused on how the massive infrastructure package would benefit Wisconsin residents.

“It’s going to make the world a difference for families here in Wisconsin,” Biden said.

“More than a thousand bridges here in Wisconsin are rated as structurally deficient by engineers,” he said. “A thousand, just in Wisconsin.”

The framework includes $579 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, railways, public transit, electric vehicle systems, power, broadband and water.

Biden also touted the rural high-speed broadband expansion that the deal would fund if Congress passes it.

The deal will “make sure [high speed broadband] is available in every American home, including for the 35% of rural families who currently go without it,” said Biden. In Wisconsin, he noted, 82,000 children don’t have reliable internet access at home.

Biden also leaned on familiar lines about how the deal will help the United States win the technology and innovation race already underway with China, and prove that democracies can deliver for people better than autocratic systems of government.

Biden’s remarks in Wisconsin offer a preview of how he plans to sell the infrastructure deal across the country in the coming weeks, by emphasizing how the deal benefits the residents of each state in particular.

His next stop is this weekend in Michigan, where Biden will appear with the state’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

Yet Biden’s forward-looking speech in La Crosse belied the perilous path ahead for the bipartisan deal in Congress, where it is still just a framework of a plan on paper and has yet to be written as legislation.

The deal was hammered out by a group of 10 senators, five Republicans and five Democrats, over the past month, and announced last week.

Biden’s suggestion during that announcement that he might veto the framework if lawmakers do not also pass other Democratic priorities briefly threatened the deal.

Over the weekend, the president assuaged some Republicans by clarifying that he would sign the bill if it were passed on its own.

“I was very glad to see the president clarify his remarks because it was inconsistent with everything that we had been told all along the way,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, an architect of the plan, told ABC News on Sunday.

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