Instead of an Infrastructure Week, President Biden Calls for an “Infrastructure Decade”

Oct 13 2022 |
“Instead of Infrastructure Week, made a punchline by my predecessor, Infrastructure Decade is the headline I want for the next 10 years,” President Biden said during an event showcasing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s role in Los Angeles County’s Metro expansion. | Photos via The White House YouTube

After years of infrastructure hopes and dreams, the nation is implementing the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Two White House events Thursday aimed to reveal its full value.

President Biden visited a work site for Los Angeles’s Metro Purple Line Thursday as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s larger mission to showcase the results of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was signed by Biden on Nov. 15, 2021.

Though the event focused on infrastructure, the president prefaced his remarks by reasserting his commitment to lowering inflation. September’s Consumer Price Index was released the same day and showed that the overall index rose 8.2 percent for the month.

“Because of my economic plan, we’re better positioned than any other major economy in the world, to weather the challenges to come through this as a stronger country. We’ve created nearly 700,000 manufacturing jobs just in the last 19 months. Businesses are investing in America at record rates. They see what I see—the resilience of the American people and the potential of building the economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” Biden said.

Part of the economic plan Biden is executing is expediting infrastructure projections nationwide that have been long overdue.  

“For too long we’ve talked about building the best economy in the world. We’ve talked about asserting America’s leadership with the best and safest roads, railroads, ports, airports, et cetera. Now we’re finally getting it done.”

Biden pointed to a 2019 report from the World Economic Forum that ranked 141 countries’ economies by a variety of factors, including infrastructure, for which the United States was ranked 13th.

“Instead of Infrastructure Week, made a punchline by my predecessor, we need an Infrastructure Decade is the headline I want for the next 10 years,” Biden said.

More than ten million people reside in Los Angeles County, and the city’s Metro, light rail, and buses see more than 22 million rides annually, “but the transit system needs an upgrade badly,” Biden said.

The Purple Line expansion will connect the county’s downtown to the West Side with seven new stations and is expected to increase ridership of LA’s Metro by 80,000 every day and eliminate roughly 27,000 car rides every day, Biden stated.  

More than 100,000 union workers are part of the Purple Line project—workers like Laborers’ Local 300 Labor Apprentice Edwina Hernandez who introduced the president at the event Thursday. Hernandez began her professional life as a physical therapist but found a better life after four years in an apprenticeship program that led her to a union job.

“This is more than a job. This is a career,” Hernandez said. “And it allows me to provide for my three beautiful children and family. I also get to be a part of an incredible project like this right in my backyard. I’ll always be able to point to this and say, ‘I help build that.’”

In addition to LA’s Metro project, Biden outlined several other infrastructure projects benefitting the county, including the electrification of its buses, the modernization of its airport, and new construction at its port, which is one of the busiest in the nation.

During his speech, Biden also blasted Republicans who have decried his infrastructure initiative as a “socialist wish list,” as Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said in a statement, according to a CNN report. And yet, Emmer, along with dozens of other Republican opponents to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, later expressed support for the it or appealed for funds from the law in private letters to administration officials, CNN revealed this past week.   

“Well, now they are quietly and privately sending their letters to my administration asking for money. They’re talking about how important projects are in their districts and for all Americans,” Biden said. “Well, guess what? I’m going to give them the money because it’s not about them. It’s about the people they represent.”

“People are starting to see this, but we have to be our own cheerleaders,” White House Environmental Justice Advisory Committee member Harold Mitchell said during the White House infrastructure summit Thursday.

The White House also announced new initiatives stemming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and an action plan for accelerating infrastructure projects, including new commitments from federal agencies and their partners, during a virtual summit Thursday.

“We cannot squander the opportunity before us. We must seize it. We must accelerate the pace by which the federal, state and local governments and the private sector deliver infrastructure projects to fully maximize the benefits of the law,” White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu said during the summit.

Among the efforts that were highlighted at the event were workforce development programs from the Department of Transportation and accelerated permitting from the Department of Commerce, and construction contract templates from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“For the first-time, we have the money. Now we have the will to make a new way to better, faster, cheaper project delivery,” Landrieu said.

The summit gathered Cabinet secretaries, governors, mayors, engineers, researchers, and labor leaders, to discuss how to maximize the value of the infrastructure law’s fund through a whole-of-government effort—a critical endeavor as more than 90% of the fund will be delivered by non-federal agencies.

The Biden-Harris administration hit hard on the once-in-a-generation Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Thursday. And yet, “only 24% of voters think the bill is law,” according to a survey of 2,000 likely 2022 voters conducted this summer by Third Way and Impact Research. The survey showed that “a plurality (37%) says they ‘don’t know’ the status of the bill, 30% say ‘it is still being worked on in Congress but isn’t law yet,’ and 9% believe it is not being worked on in Congress and will not be passed.”

As Biden’s remarks in LA and the infrastructure summit demonstrate, transformative projects are happening across the country, thanks to Biden’s historic law, but public championing is still needed.

“People are starting to see this, but we have to be our own cheerleaders. We really have to talk about these things, not just do it, cut a ribbon, and leave,” White House Environmental Justice Advisory Committee member Harold Mitchell said during the summit. “We have to talk about it and really talk about the impact of what these investments are actually doing. It’s almost like creating a movement, and if you don’t tell your story, somebody else will.”