WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden pitched his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan in Louisiana Thursday, putting a spotlight on the state’s ailing infrastructure as he seeks to build widespread public support for his proposals.
“I’ve never seen a Republican or a Democrat road: I just see roads,” Biden said, speaking in Lake Charles in front of a 70 year-old bridge that is 20 years older than its intended lifespan.
The bridge is part of Interstate 10, a critical east-to-west artery for American transportation and commerce and is in the heart of the nation’s energy corridor, connecting Houston to New Orleans, a route lined with petrochemical refineries.
“It shouldn’t be this hard or take so long to fix a bridge that’s this important. It makes no sense. But the truth is, across the country, we have failed to properly invest in infrastructure for half a century,” Biden said.
Biden is scheduled to visit the Carrollton Water Plant in New Orleans later Thursday, which has been plagued with technical problems that causes flooding in the city even after routine rain storms.
Biden’s Louisiana visit is part of the White House’s “Getting America Back on Track” tour aimed at building public support for jobs and infrastructure proposals. The president has also visited Georgia, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The White House is hoping to use these trips to highlight the need to invest in the country’s infrastructure and showcase the bipartisan support for some elements of the president’s plans.
In a fact sheet about Thursday’s trip the White House said that Louisiana has experienced 30 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $50 billion in damages. Lake Charles was hit by two hurricanes in 2020 and is still struggling to recover.
A floating casino crashed into the bridge Biden was highlight during a hurricane last year.
“We can’t deny it. There is a real change in the weather,” Biden said. “We got to build for what is needed now. And I promise you we’re going to do that so we’re better prepared to withstand storms that are becoming more severe and more frequent.”
Biden was joined Thursday by Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter, a Republican who recently wrote an opinion piece with the Democratic Mayor of Shreveport arguing that the “American Jobs Plan is needed for Louisiana’s future.”
“Infrastructure has historically been a bipartisan undertaking and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be that way again, as the mayor is evidence of,” Biden said Thursday.
Despite the support Biden’s plan might enjoy outside of Washington, the president is facing an uphill battle on Capitol Hill.
Republicans have pushed back against the president’s proposal to partially rollback the 2017 corporate tax rate cuts to pay for the American Jobs Plan and some have voiced disagreement with Biden’s broad definition of infrastructure to include affordable housing and care for the elderly, calling on the president to limit the scope to more traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
“I am sick and tired of corporate America not paying their fair share,” Biden said Thursday. “What I am proposing is badly needed and able to be paid for.”
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