President Joe Biden is traveling coast to coast this week to tout the bipartisan infrastructure bill he signed into law last November. Biden hit Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Tuesday, where the state’s only deep water harbor was awarded $1.7 million by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for maintenance dredging. The Army Corps also spent $18.2 million to widen the turning basin in the river, making it easier for larger ships to navigate the harbor.
“Instead of turning away business, we’re sending a message: This port is open for business and will be for a long time,” Biden said. “And we’re sending the same message through our investments in roads and bridges here in New Hampshire.”
Biden’s pitch is meant to highlight steps the administration is taking to address the supply chain bottlenecks that have helped drive inflation to a four-decade high. The president is slated to visit Portland, Oregon, on Thursday and Seattle, Washington, on Friday for other infrastructure and fundraising events.
“The last fella who had this job kept talking about infrastructure week, for four years. We have infrastructure decade. This is going on,” Biden said Tuesday, touting the $1.2 billion total price tag of the infrastructure bill he signed. “Thanks to the infrastructure law we’re making the most significant investment in modernizing our roads and bridges since the interstate highway system was built with Eisenhower.”
Biden says Americans should decide for themselves on masks: When asked by reporters Tuesday if Americans should be wearing masks, he said it’s “up to them.” A federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump on Monday struck down a nationwide mask mandate for airplanes and other public transportation. Biden told reporters he hadn’t yet spoken to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the court ruling. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the Department of Justice would make an assessment as to whether it would appeal the decision. “The CDC continues to advise and recommend masks on airplanes,” she said. “We're abiding by the CDC recommendations, the president is. And we would advise all Americans to do that.”
Psaki added that the administration’s “biggest concern” on Covid-19 “continues to be the fact that we don't have funding from Congress to ensure that we can return to a point where we have programs for the uninsured, we’re able to purchase treatments for the immunocompromised, ensuring that we continue to be the arsenal of vaccines to the world.”
A bipartisan agreement in the Senate to provide $10 billion in additional Covid funding remains hung up due to a dispute over the Biden administration’s decision to end the pandemic-related use of Title 42 authority to deny asylum claims at the southern border.
The bottom line: Biden’s local infrastructure push is a key part of Democrats’ election messaging as the party tries to convince voters that it has racked up meaningful accomplishments. “Voters, as sympathetic as they are to Ukraine, are getting a little fatigued,” Celinda Lake, a veteran Democratic pollster, told Politico. “And they’re wondering: We’re spending all this money abroad, but what are we spending here at home?”