Biden pushes his infrastructure initiatives in Louisiana cities

1 month ago
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The president’s plans include improvements to water systems and protection from natural disasters.

President Joe Biden is visiting the state of Louisiana, which has supported Republicans in elections for the past two decades, on Thursday and will outline his plans to invest in projects to improve water and natural disaster protection systems in hurricane-ravaged cities.

Biden will visit both the liberal-minded city of New Orleans, still reeling from 15 years of Hurricane Katrina, and conservative Lake Charles, a city of 77,000 people that is home to major oil refineries and petrochemical plants affected by Hurricanes Laura and Delta last year.

The visit is part of a campaign to promote Biden’s proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan as well as a $1.8 trillion plan to help families.

Biden’s calls for more federal funds for schools, roads, job training and other public benefit projects are resonating with members of both parties, but Republican lawmakers have many objections to the initiatives.

The White House is counting on such trips to help Biden win popular support, including from Republican voters.

Biden plans to visit one of the outdated facilities in New Orleans that houses water treatment equipment and turbines for sump pumps that help pump out water during hurricanes. Projects to strengthen hurricane protection could potentially gain traction in the Gulf Coast state, where weather disasters are increasingly common.

Biden is calling on Congress to provide $50 billion to make infrastructure across the country more resilient and additional support measures to help regions recover from natural disasters.

Republicans in Congress oppose Biden’s proposed $2.25 trillion in infrastructure spending over a decade, saying the tax hikes on corporations that would fund the projects would lead to job losses and a slowing economy.

A group of Republicans has proposed an alternative package with a much smaller budget, $568 billion. It focuses on repairing roads and bridges, expanding broadband, and improving drinking water quality. For most of these needs, however, the federal government has already planned to allocate funds.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week expressed confidence that Biden’s infrastructure and jobs plan would not gain support from Republican lawmakers.

“I will resist these initiatives every step of the way because I am convinced that this is the wrong prescription for America,” McConnell said at an event in his home state of Kentucky last month. If no Republicans vote for the bill, Biden will need the support of every single Democrat.

When reporters asked Biden about those comments Wednesday, he recalled that McConnell said something similar when former President Barack Obama was in power, but despite all opposition, they managed to get a lot done.