Members of the Biden administration are continuing to pitch the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan to lawmakers and American citizens alike, with both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris touting the proposed legislation at separate events on Monday.
President Biden, joined by transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday afternoon to push for his plan. All of those assembled were former governors and mayors, which the president said was done on purpose because “they know what it’s like to make things work, to make sure that you get things done, and deal with infrastructure and the needs of your community.”
The group of attendees included:
Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)
Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL)
Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-FL)
Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)
Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA)
While acknowledging the massive scope of his proposal, Biden said he was hopeful that the group would “be able to reach some kind of consensus, at least in broad terms,” about what the final bill should include.
The price tag on Biden’s infrastructure package — as well as what exactly qualifies as infrastructure — has been a major sticking point for many Republicans.
“It’s a big package, but there's a lot of needs,” Biden said ahead of Monday’s meeting. “We’re going to be talking about, number one, what should be included in the package. Obviously I put a lot in the package, I think it all should be included. And how to pay for it.”
A number of GOP lawmakers have argued that just a fraction of the spending in the American Jobs Plan goes to traditional infrastructure, since $400 billion would expand Medicaid support for caregivers and substantial portions would fund electric vehicle charging stations and address the racial injustice of highways that were built in ways that cut off Black neighborhoods.
Republican lawmakers also object to funding the package by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and increasing the global minimum tax, among other proposed tax changes that include stepped-up IRS enforcement.
But Biden on Monday said he is “prepared to compromise” on certain aspects of the package, although he did not specify exactly what items those might be. The administration has previously stated they are willing to negotiate on the increase in the corporate tax rate, and they have encouraged lawmakers to bring other options to the table.
Earlier Monday, Vice President Harris traveled to North Carolina to visit Guilford Technical Community College, a location chosen for its focus on training students for in-demand manufacturing careers at its Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
The center itself trains students for careers in machining, welding and transportation related programs, and the school at large focuses on a range of technical careers including hospitality management, computer technology, and health sciences.
“The president and I are ready to keep going, and we are not going to take it slow. We are not going to take it one step at a time. Nope,” Harris said as she began her speech after a tour of the center. “We are going to take a giant leap into the future.”
“And so that is what the American Jobs Plan is all about,” she continued. “It's a once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-generation investment in America’s infrastructure. In America's future. It is what the American people deserve. It will keep our nation competitive, it will build up our nation’s communities, and it will put our nation back to work.”
Manufacturing and the jobs associated with it are a large focus of the American Jobs Plan, and the proposed bill stresses the need to “revitalize manufacturing, secure U.S. supply chains, invest in R&D, and train Americans for the jobs of the future.”
Biden’s plan allocates $300 billion to focus on American manufacturers and small business owners. Nearly a third of that sum would specifically be used to strengthen the domestic manufacturing supply chains for critical goods, like high-capacity batteries and pharmaceutical ingredients.
The plan also calls on Congress to invest $48 billion in workforce development programs to train Americans for jobs in the developing infrastructure fields. Harris on Thursday said the jobs plan will help all Americans — with a special focus on women, primarily women of color — to gain access to millions of apprenticeships slots to train them for such positions.
“Good jobs are what the president and I will create with the American Jobs Plan,” Harris said. “We will draw on the skills that millions of workers in our country already have. Just look at what’s happening here — the skills of pipe fitters and electricians and welders, construction workers and factory workers and transit workers, and care workers too. And if you don't have those skills, or if you want to learn other skills, we intend to help you get them.”