After spending months wrangling votes to pass the $1.2 trillion public works package, the President is turning his attention to ensuring it is enacted as intended.
Biden and congressional Democrats hope to have some tangible benefit from the new law before next year’s midterm elections but are mindful that the appearance of wasted money could sour the public on a package that, for now, remains widely popular.
“The American people sent us here to deliver. The American people sent us here to make their government work, and they sent us here to make a difference in their lives. And I believe we’re doing that,” Biden said during a Friday afternoon meeting with members of his Cabinet. The session was called specifically to discuss implementation of the infrastructure bill.
Biden has touted the measure as proof Democrats and Republicans can work together to improve the lives of Americans. He has invited several Republicans to join him at the White House for Monday’s signing ceremony, though it wasn’t yet clear how many planned to attend.
The President and other Democrats hope to use the popular benefits in the plan — like improving roads and bridges, expanding broadband internet and creating better water systems — to make their case in next year’s elections.
Biden already has two trips planned next week to extol the benefits of the package. He’ll visit a bridge in need of repairs on Monday in New Hampshire, where Sen. Maggie Hassan is viewed as among the nation’s most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection next year.
On Wednesday, the President plans to visit an electric vehicle plant in Michigan.
Yet for all of his attempts at salesmanship, officials acknowledge that for the benefits of the infrastructure bill to be felt, the money must be distributed effectively and not go to waste.
Biden said he would name the individual responsible for overseeing the implementation at some point next week. He recalled his own assignment during the years he served as vice president ensuring the 2009 stimulus bill was implemented smoothly.
“I made it a point every day to stay on top of how exactly the money was spent, what projects were being built, what projects were not being built and how it was functioning,” he said, noting the nickname given to him by President Barack Obama: “Sheriff Joe.”
“We owe it to the American people to make sure the money in this infrastructure plan and the Build Back Better plan — which, God willing, we’re going to be able to still finish — will be able to be used for purposes it was intended,” he said.
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