By Samantha Fischer
President Joe Biden arrived in Minnesota Tuesday to highlight the $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, that he says will bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to Minnesota over the coming decade.
Air Force One touched down at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport around 1:40 p.m. with U.S. lawmakers in tow, including Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Rep. Betty McCollum, who deplaned alongside the president. Waiting for them on the tarmac was Gov. Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.
The president's motorcade then made its way from MSP to Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, where Biden delivered remarks about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is set to distribute at least $7 billion to Minnesota.
President Biden took the stage just before 3:40 p.m., following speeches by Klobuchar, Smith and Rep. Angie Craig, who represents Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, where the technical college is located. He was introduced by Sarah Riviere-Herzan, a first-year student at DCTC, who also served in the Minnesota National Guard.
Before discussing legislation, Biden addressed a deadly shooting that occurred at a high school in eastern Michigan earlier Tuesday. Authorities say a 15-year-old student opened fire inside Oxford High School in Oxford Township, killing three students and injuring eight other people, including a teacher.
"My heart goes out to the families enduring the unimaginable grief of losing a loved one," Biden said.
The President transitioned to speaking about the Infrastructure Law, where he first acknowledged Minnesota's congressional congregation, who he said played a major part in the making of the piece of legislation, as well as having it reach his desk to be able to sign it into law.
"It would not be possible without the Minnesota Congressional congregation," Biden said. He went on to thank Klobuchar for knowing how to "work across the aisle and make progress."
Biden then pivoted to recognize that the trip to Minnesota came amid heightened coronavirus concerns, as the World Health Organization said Tuesday that there could soon be a steep rise in infections due to the newly discovered omicron variant.
"Here’s what this is all about: rebuilding America — investing in America — and we’re doing it as we continue to battle the pandemic," Biden said.
He reiterated what he said Monday, that the new variant is a cause for concern but “not a cause for panic," with the reassurance that he is not considering any widespread U.S. lockdown, but instead, is pushing toward vaccination.
"On Thursday, I’ll put forward a detailed strategy to fight COVID this winter with widespread vaccination, testing, boosters and more. I urge all Americans who haven’t yet, get that done today," he said.
Moving on to key details in his plan, Biden said, "we're getting back in the game," with plans in place to train the next generation of workers, builders and operators who will be tasked with building and maintaining much of the infrastructure in his new agenda, which he says is the largest investment in infrastructure in nearly 70 years. Biden said in Minnesota alone, there are 661 bridges and over 5,000 miles of highways in poor condition.
Other areas that will receive attention from his plan include old public transit vehicles that need replacing, saying they'll eventually switch from diesel to electric. He then pointed to replacing 100% of the nation's lead pipes "so every person can turn on a faucet and drink clean water." Biden said there are 260,000 lead pipes used in Minnesota infrastructure alone.
The law will also help address severe weather events, with Biden citing wildfires in northern Minnesota, tornadoes that have touched down recently in the metro and historically heavy rains that had the capacity to close roads and contaminate wells in the past.
"This is dire stuff, but all within our capacity to deal with," Biden said. "This law builds back our bridges, our water systems, our power lines, our electric grid better and stronger; more resilient and resistant to the negative impacts of effects of climate change."
Biden also proposes a $2 trillion agenda in his ""Build Back Better" plan, referred to as the "human" infrastructure plan, including a bid to make high-speed internet more affordable and accessible to everyone in the state, increase the maximum amount awarded to students from pell grants — making community colleges and technical schools more affordable — offer free child care for Pre-K children, and lower prescription drug costs.
"We have to build a foundation for success," Biden said. "My Build Back Better plan is going to make a giant difference in your life."
Biden's "Build Back Better" bill has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is slated to hit the Senate floor for a vote in the coming weeks.
Key monetary allotments for Minnesota include:
- Highways: $4.5 billion to improve highways
- Public transportation: $818 million to improve our public transportation
- Water Infrastructure: $680 million over five years to improve water infrastructure
- Bridges: $302 million for bridge replacement and repairs
- Broadband internet: $100 million
- Wildfire protection: $20 million
- Cybersecurity: $17 million