President Joe Biden will visit the Gulf Coast state of Louisiana on Thursday, which has endorsed Republicans in U.S. elections for the past two decades, to tout his efforts to invest in water and storm projects in hurricane-ravaged cities.
Biden, a Democrat, will visit both the decidedly liberal city of New Orleans, which is still scarred 15 years after Hurricane Katrina, and the highly conservative Lake Charles, a city of 77,000 with a large refinery and petrochemical plants that was hit by Hurricanes Laura and Delta last year.
The visits are the latest stop on the White House’s “Getting America Back on Track Tour,” which is promoting Vice President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure investment initiative and a $1.8 billion education and child-care proposal.
Members of both parties support Biden’s campaign to invest more federal funds in colleges, bridges, job training, and other public-facing programs while taxing the richest Americans and corporations to pay for it. Republican lawmakers, however, are staunchly opposed to the proposals.
The White House is betting that trips like this would increase popular support for Biden and his budget plans, even among Republican voters who supported former President Donald Trump, who still wields immense power within his party.
Biden intends to visit an ageing facility in New Orleans that houses water purification equipment and turbines for drainage pumps, which help pump out water during storm events. “Storm-hardening” programmes that invest in dams and levies may be a common idea in a Gulf Coast state that is increasingly threatened by severe weather caused by climate change, according to scientists.
Biden is asking Congress for $50 billion to boost the resilience of infrastructure around the country, as well as new funding to assist disaster-affected areas in their recovery.
Republicans in Congress oppose Biden’s planned $2.25 trillion in infrastructure investment over a decade, claiming that higher corporate taxes to finance it would cost jobs and slow the economy.
Some Republicans have proposed a $568 billion plan focusing on highways, bridges, internet access, and drinking water upgrades. However, all of it is money that the federal government is already planning to invest in infrastructure.
Last week, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted that Biden’s infrastructure and employment initiative would not be supported by Republican lawmakers.
“I’m going to fight them every step of the way because I believe this is the wrong medicine for America,” McConnell said last month at a rally in his home state of Kentucky. If no Republicans support the bill, Biden will need every Democratic vote in the Senate.
As reporters at the White House questioned Biden about the remark on Wednesday, he dismissed it. He remembered McConnell saying something similar when former President Barack Obama was in office, but he was still “able to get a lot done with him.”
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