President Joe Biden was visiting a dilapidated bridge connecting Ohio and Kentucky to discuss the virtues of bipartisanship with the Senate Republican Party Leader Mitch McConnell , on Wednesday, while criticizing House Republicans for an “embarrassing” scene of disorder. which has prevented the camera from being organized.
The Democratic president’s trip to the Brent Spence Bridge, which is receiving a federal facelift, comes as Washington is rocked by drama over the GOP’s inability to unify behind a candidate for House Speaker . Biden, leaving the White House, said the chaos “didn’t look good” for the country. The election of a speaker is required before members of the House can be sworn in for the new session of Congress.
“That’s not my problem,” Biden said of the speakers’ vote. “I think it’s really embarrassing that it’s taking so long.” He added that “the rest of the world is watching” the turmoil on the House floor while his focus is “getting things done.”
Even before the drama over the presidential vote, Biden’s chances of securing additional massive transformative legislation had all but evaporated in a divided Washington, where Republicans won a small majority in the Chamber after midterm elections . The focus will be on the GOP’s investigations into the Biden administration and battles over critical issues like government funding and meeting federal debt obligations.
That makes the White House and senior Cabinet officials hopeful of turning the country’s attention to Biden’s accomplishments during his first two years in office and demonstrating how the new laws directly affect Americans.
Biden’s appearance with McConnell was meant to mark a renewed push by his administration to highlight the bipartisan infrastructure bill of 2021 and appeal to the newly empowered Republicans to find additional areas of cooperation in the new Congress.
The performance of the Democrats in the midterm elections, stronger than expected, allowed their party to retain control of the senate even when the House fell into the hands of the Republicans.
On Tuesday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican Party’s ostensible choice for speaker, failed to achieve the required majority in three ballots, the first time in a century that a speaker has not been selected on the first ballot. The elected members returned to the chamber on Wednesday for an additional vote.
Biden: The chaos of the Republican president of the House of Representatives “does not look good”
President Joe Biden says the inability of House Republicans to unite behind a speaker candidate, which has prevented the house from starting its legislative business, was “embarrassing” and “doesn’t look good” for the country. (January 4)
The infrastructure bill provided $1 trillion that the Biden administration is doling out for roads and bridges, broadband networks, and water projects across the United States. The money will be critical not only for the communities receiving the aid, but also for the Democratic president’s political theory that voters are hungry for bipartisanship that delivers tangible results.
That new effort begins as Biden pulls up in northern Kentucky on the perennially congested bridge across the Ohio River that has frustrated motorists for decades. The infrastructure bill will provide more than $1.63 billion in federal grants to Ohio and Kentucky to build a supplemental bridge that will help ease traffic on the Brent Spence.
“It’s a giant bridge, man,” Biden said this week when asked about his planned trip to the bridge. “Its a lot of money. It is important.”
Other top administration officials will hold similar events Wednesday and Thursday at other major bridges across the US Vice President Kamala Harris will stop at the collection of bridges spanning the Calumet River in Chicago; Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg performed at the Gold Star Memorial Bridge in New London, Connecticut; and White House infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu was to be on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Thursday with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
All the bridges will get new funding under the infrastructure bill, which is one of Biden’s most notable bipartisan achievements.
Landrieu told reporters on Air Force One that Biden’s appearance with McConnell was “really important to show that these two people who have been friends for a long time and don’t always see eye to eye have put their country first.”
The Brent Spence, which carries Interstates 71 and 75 between Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, was declared functionally obsolete by the Federal Highway Administration in the 1990s. It has become a hulking symbol of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure , with successive presidents from both parties highlighting aging as they searched for better roads and bridges.
In 2011, President Barack Obama nominated McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, who represented suburban Cincinnati, when he stood near Brent Spence and pressured the two leading Republicans to support a package of jobs that would fix bridges with similar problems. Six years later, President Donald Trump told a local Fox station that “I already heard about the bridge. I love the area.”
“We’re going to fix it,” Trump said of Brent Spence, calling it “dangerous.”
As for Biden, he said during a 2021 CNN town hall in Cincinnati that his administration would “fix that fucking bridge of yours.” The stretch was designed for 80,000 vehicles per day, but was easily doubled in its narrow lanes.
On Wednesday, Biden can start to make good on that promise.
The president was joined in Brent Spence by McConnell, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, former Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican. Officials expect much of the work on the new project to be completed by 2029.
The White House also invited Republican Sens. Rand Paul from Kentucky and newly sworn-in JD Vance from Ohio, according to a White House official, but neither planned to appear with Biden in northern Kentucky.
McConnell, already home in Kentucky, did not fly with Biden on Air Force One, instead greeting him on the tarmac at Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport. He joined the president in his limousine to drive to the bridge.
McConnell was one of 19 Senate Republicans who supported the infrastructure bill and has said that fixing the Brent Spence has long been a priority.
“This is a bridge that has been a major national issue for 25 years, my main transportation project for decades. And it will be fully funded by the infrastructure bill, which I supported,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. “It’s important for me to be there.”