LA CROSSE, Wis. (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden visited Wisconsin on Tuesday on a mission to drum up support for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package hammered out by a bipartisan group of legislators but still in need of wide support in Congress to become reality.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin at the White House in Washington
Biden went on a tour of a public transit facility in La Crosse, a city in western Wisconsin, highlighting the plan's investment of some $48.5 billion in public transit to reduce commute times and help reduce emissions, while boosting growth and wages.
Afterward, he is to speak about local gains from the deal, including funds for electric buses, replacement of some 80,000 lead water service lines in Milwaukee and better access to high-speed internet, a White House official said.
The bipartisan package also includes $109 billion in funding for roads, bridges and other major projects, including the 1,000 bridges rated "structurally deficient" in Wisconsin, the official said.
Biden will also note that the plan won't hike the gas tax or raise taxes on Americans earning under $400,000 a year, the official said.
Biden is attempting to keep up the momentum for a legislative proposal that Democratic congressional leaders believe will reach a critical stage in the second half of July.
"I expect the last two weeks of July to be very busy weeks, when we will deal with the president's proposals on the jobs plan and the family plan, hopefully," the No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, told reporters on Tuesday.
House and Senate Democrats hope to have infrastructure legislation done and on its way to Biden's desk by the end of September, a Democratic aide said.
Senate Democrats are aiming to pass bipartisan legislation and send it to the House, before breaking for an August recess.
The Democratic president told a virtual fundraising dinner on Monday that the infrastructure package would create millions of good-paying jobs and help U.S. firms to compete in the global economy.
"We're in a race for the 21st century, for who is going to have the strongest economy," Biden told the event, hosted by the Democratic National Committee. "And the rest of the world's not waiting around. We have more to do, and we have to move fast."
Biden also vowed to continue fighting for additional spending that would expand child care and paid leave to more Americans and offer two years of free community college to those who qualify.
Biden, under massive pressure from Republicans, on Saturday withdrew a threat to not sign the bipartisan bill unless it was accompanied by a separate package focused on what he calls "human infrastructure," including expanded home care for the elderly and disabled.
Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the White House had been in touch with Democratic leaders about the two measures but Biden had not spoken about the issue with U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who wants Democrats in Congress to abandon their plan to link the two measures.
With the Senate divided 50-50 between the two parties, a move by McConnell against the bipartisan bill could cost it the 60 votes it would need to pass under Senate rules. Democrats aim to pass the companion measure through a process called reconciliation that requires a simple majority.
Psaki said Biden's trip to Wisconsin was intended to convince Americans about the importance of both packages. He will also travel to Michigan on Saturday.
Wisconsin first stop on Biden's tour to sell $1.2 trln bipartisan infrastructure plan (yahoo.com)