Biden visited La Crosse, Wisconsin (52,000 people) and toured the public transit center. He highlighted projects, including hybrid buses, road repair equipment, that would be eligible for additional funding through the infrastructure bill. The promise of millions more jobs is what he said made the package a way for America to affirm both its principles of democracy as well as the economic power that can be derived from making major investments in its future.
Biden stated that America has been propelled to the future by landmark investments. He added that only the government can provide funding for such a large amount.
He stated that there is an urgent need to repair crumbling infrastructure, from overloaded power grids to lead-filled water lines to traffic-clogged roads. He also stressed the importance of having a plan that is ambitious to not only improve Americans' lives but also combat climate change.
Biden stated, "We are not just tinkering around with the edges."
Biden's visit to Wisconsin was the start of what the White House declared would be a series if presidential trips to promote the bipartisan bill and to reassure nervous Republicans who helped to craft it.
Biden suggested that the process would be delayed until he received a separate package to support infrastructure, jobs, and education. This would only be done through the budget reconciliation process.
Biden stated Saturday that this was not an ill-intentioned threat to his veto, and the package looked back on track by Sunday. There were still concerns on both sides.
Some Republicans question the wisdom of signing onto a bipartisan legislation if it is tied to a party line reconciliation bill that will include a host of Democratic priorities. The process has been questioned by Mitch McConnell (the GOP Senate Leader), who has repeatedly criticized the Biden agenda.
A balancing act is also needed among Democrats: Some liberal Democrats have asked Biden to push for a Democrats only reconciliation bill that is at least $4 trillion larger than his previous stated goal. However, some moderate Democrats have indicated they would prefer a smaller number. The Senate is deadlocked at 50-50 with ties broken in the wake of Vice President Kamala Harris's resignation, so the White House cannot afford to lose one vote.
While Biden proclaimed the deal publicly, the White House worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that it was kept on track.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said Tuesday that senior West Wing aides had called more than 60 Democratic or Republican members and chiefs and staffs and other aides this week. Jen was speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday as it traveled to Wisconsin. She said that the White House is following the timeline set by Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader. Schumer has stated that he would like to see both packages on the floor next month.
Psaki stated that "The president made it clear that he will work hard to get both bills through the finish line."
White House officials issued an internal memo highlighting how the largest transportation, water system and services investment in nearly 100 years would help boost growth. The total package is nearly four times larger than the infrastructure investment made in response to the Great Recession a decade ago. It also represents the largest since Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s.
The report also highlights an analysis that suggests that 90% of jobs created by spending could be to workers with no college degree. This is a significant shift considering the majority of net job growth before the pandemic was achieved by college graduates.
The memo states that this is a blueprint for rebuilding America from blue-collar workers.
Blue-collar politics were played at La Crosse with fake traffic signs that read "American Jobs Plan" all over the place. While the president has a long history of connecting with working-class voters and Wisconsin is one of three Great Lakes states that Biden narrowly won for the Democrats in 2016, after they were captured by Donald Trump.
The potential economic benefits were shared incentives for the group of Democratic senators and Republican senators that agreed to the deal last Wednesday. McConnell stated that he is not yet certain whether he will support or reject the bipartisan package. However, he wants Biden pressuring Nancy Pelosi and Schumer to allow the bipartisan arrangement pass without mandating the larger, more comprehensive follow-up bill.
McConnell stated this week, "I appreciate President Trump saying that he's willing deal with infrastructure separately. But he doesn’t control Congress."
Both bills were expected to move together, as Biden dropped his veto threat and reached across the aisle to support the $1 trillion bipartisan package. The Democratic leaders are pushing ahead with the broader bill that includes Biden's family and climate change proposals as well as their own investments into Medicare. It will eventually reach $6 trillion.
Senator Joe Manchin, a Democratic moderate, said Tuesday that he was open to a party line budget bill, but did not address its size.
He stated to MSNBC, "I have accepted that it can be done."