As both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and President Joe Biden’s larger economic bill are on hold in Washington, Biden hit the road to pitch his “Build Back Better” agenda Tuesday. The video above shows clips from the trip.
Joined by Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Biden talked about his economic agenda at a union training center in Howell, Michigan.
“These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency. They’re about opportunity versus decay,” Biden said. “They’re about leading the world or continuing to let the world pass us by, which is literally happening.”
Biden urged swift action on both bills while in Michigan. “America’s still the largest economy in the world, we still have the most productive workers and the most innovative minds in the world, but we’re at risk of losing our edge as a nation,” he said.
Before leaving Washington, Biden met with 11 House Democrats to talk his economic agenda. Meeting participants included:
- Rep. Colin Allred (TX)
- Rep. Cindy Axne (IA)
- Rep. Sharice Davids (KS)
- Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (TX)
- Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (TX)
- Rep. Lucy McBath (GA)
- Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ)
- Rep. Katie Porter (CA)
- Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA)
- Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL)
- Rep. Susan Wild (PA)
“They had a productive discussion about how each of these economic growth packages, both physical and human infrastructure, are central to how we ensure our economy delivers for the middle class and secure our competitiveness in the world,” the White House said of the meeting.
The participating representatives, like Rep. Slotkin, represent swing districts that Democrats need to win in 2022 to maintain a House majority.
Tuesday’s meeting came a day after a separate economic agenda meeting between Biden and 12 progressive House members. No deal has been struck to settle the differences between moderates and progressives on the size and scope of the larger bill. However, Biden has conceded the once-$3.5 trillion bill would be closer to $1.9 trillion and $2.3 trillion, according to a Democrat familiar with the sessions.
There’s currently an end-of-week goal for drafting a final package.
In the battle between progressive and moderates, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday Biden “has picked a side”.
“He signed up with the progressives, came up and tanked his own infrastructure bill and as a result of that, they’ve obviously taken a one-month pause,” McConnell said.
Joe Biden, U.S. President: “We invested to win the space race. We led the world in research and development led to the creation of the internet. And, you know, but then something happened. We slowed up. We stopped investing in ourselves. America is still the largest economy in the world. We still have the most productive workers and the most innovative minds in the world. But we’re risk losing our edge as a nation. Our infrastructure used to be the best in the world, literally, not figuratively. Today, according to the World Economic Forum, we rank 13th. Our infrastructure, 12 nations have a better infrastructure than we do, which means they can move product, they can do so many things better than we can do it.”
“All those investments that fueled a strong economy, we’ve, we’ve taken our foot off the gas. We’ve taken, we just, I don’t know what’s happened. The world has taken notice, by the way, including our adversaries, and now they’re closing the gap in a big way. So it’s essential that we regain the momentum that we’ve lost and work hard. You know, the work of our time, it seems to me, those of us who hold public office, is to prepare ourselves to be more competitive and to win the fast changing 21st century and the global economy. Things are changing incredibly quickly. That’s why I propose two critical pieces of legislation being debated back in Washington right now.”
“These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency. They’re about opportunity versus decay. They’re about leading the world or continuing to let the world pass us by, which is literally happening. To support these investments is to create a rising America. America is moving. To oppose these investments is to be complicit in America’s decline. To support these bills is to pursue a broader vision of our nation and (to) oppose them is to accept a very cramped view of our future. This isn’t about two pieces of legislation. It’s about the inflection point I mentioned earlier we are in our history, the world history.”
“Our competitors aren’t hanging around and waiting to we’re going to do. They’ve been pouring billions of dollars into infrastructure and into training their people for years now. Take China, for example. Now I’ve been clear that China uses unfair commercial practices to get ahead of their competitors, but that’s not the whole of the story. They also invest in themselves. In recent years, China has spent around three times as much on infrastructure as a share of their economy than we have, three times.”
“China now produces more steel in one month in America, does in an entire year. You can see it in sector after sector. Other countries are speeding up and America is falling behind. We’ve got to reset the pace again. We’ve got to set a different pace.”
“Folks, we need to step up again. But the challenge of today is one of economic competition. Let’s learn from that history, not because it was perfect, because Americans then did what we must do now, invest in ourselves to show the world that American democracy works.”