President Biden met with key lawmakers and administration officials Thursday to discuss his goals for infrastructure and green energy.
In comments ahead of the meeting, Biden said infrastructure should not be a partisan issue. “I've been around long enough ... that infrastructure wasn't a Republican or a Democratic issue," he said. “There are not many Republican or Democratic roads and bridges,” he added.
The White House said meeting participants – which included a bipartisan group of senators from the Environment and Public Works Committee, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Vice President Kamala Harris – agreed “that America needs to build new infrastructure across urban and rural areas and create millions of good-paying jobs in the process to support the country’s economic recovery in the months and years ahead.”
China in the lead: Biden said he had spoken to President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, and noted that China has invested heavily in rail, including trains that travel 225 miles per hour. “We don't get moving, they're going to eat our lunch," Biden said.
No price tag yet: Biden campaigned on a $2 trillion plan of infrastructure and green energy investment, but Thursday’s talks were preliminary and did not include specific dollar figures. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the meeting was part of an “ongoing discussion” on an issue that was important to the president. “But I don’t have a number for you, we’re not at that stage in the process yet,” Psaki told reporters.
Familiar hurdles ahead: Infrastructure investment has long been a popular topic for lawmakers, but few discussions have gotten past the basic question of how to pay for it. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said after the meeting that funding would be an issue. “I raised the issue that would be good if we could do some of this during the Covid relief package to get us started, recognizing that it's going to be a challenge to make sure that we have adequate revenues to fund transportation moving forward,” he told Politico.