Biden talks infrastructure with top labor leaders - with $2 trillion in spending on the line

  • In Politics
  • 2021-02-18 17:28:03Z
  • By Business Insider
Joe Biden
Joe Biden  
  • President Biden met with labor leaders on Wednesday to discuss job creation through new infrastructure.

  • Biden emphasized his infrastructure proposals - which his campaign gave a $2 trillion price tag.

  • Republicans have pushed back on Biden's spending plans, but bipartisan talks are beginning.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

President Joe Biden met with top labor leaders on Wednesday to discuss the potential for COVID-19 relief, job creation, and further infrastructure improvements through new funding.

Biden emphasized the importance of passing both his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, along with additional infrastructure funding, to boost the economy and create millions of new jobs in a meeting in the Oval Office with 10 labor officials.

It's unclear whether Biden mentioned the $2 trillion price tag on infrastructure that he campaigned on in that meeting, which included Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, and Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Union.

"We have an incredible opportunity to make some enormous progress in creating jobs," Biden told reporters before the meeting.

According to his campaign website, Biden plans to invest $2 trillion in infrastructure that would create "good, union jobs that expand the middle class," but with his stimulus plan being the primary focus since he took office, discussions on infrastructure funding are only now beginning among labor leaders and lawmakers.

During the meeting, the president discussed the need to increase US competitiveness, saying that the country ranks "something like 38th in the world in terms of our infrastructure," and he reiterated his campaign goals of moving the US up the ranks by investing in clean-energy infrastructure, like electric vehicles and high-speed railways, something Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has said he would prioritize.

"For working people, this was the most productive Oval Office meeting in years. The president and vice president share our belief that rebuilding our infrastructure is critical to our communities," Trumka said in a statement. "President Biden ran on a promise to build back better. As we made clear today, America can only build back better if unions are doing the building."

However, despite support from labor leaders and groups, Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure proposal is likely to encounter pushback from Republicans, who have dismissed the plan as too expensive and potentially damaging to the economy by causing inflation.

But bipartisan conversations are in the works.

Last Thursday, a group of four bipartisan senators met with the president to begin infrastructure discussions, and Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said in a statement that it was "positive and substantive."

Although Biden's campaign contemplated a $2 trillion infrastructure package, senior Democratic officials have discussed allocating as much as $3 trillion, three anonymous sources told The Washington Post.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing on Wednesday that Biden will not detail plans for any upcoming legislation, including a finalized amount for infrastructure spending, until the pandemic relief plan is passed.


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