Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Charlotte on Thursday to promote a newly approved infrastructure spending plan – a key piece of legislation for President Joe Biden’s administration that will bring billions of dollars to North Carolina.
His visit was also aimed at mobilizing support for the administration’s next big priority: its $ 1.85 billion social policy bill. This would focus on reducing the cost of healthcare, child care, and tackling climate change, among others.
The infrastructure bill, she said, was “part 1 of 2,” with the Social Build Back Better bill being the last.
Rebuild Better faces a tough road to the Senate, however, which is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, where Harris can vote to break the tie. While the infrastructure package has received some bipartisan support, the social spending bill appears to face stronger opposition. It was passed by the House last month.
“That’s our goal with Build Back Better,” Harris said in an interview with the Observer, “Workers right now are having a hard time getting through the day given all the burdens they carry … Let’s make it more affordable. . “
Harris celebrated the passage of the infrastructure bill during a speech at the garage and electric vehicle hub of the Charlotte Regional Transportation System in the South End, and then spoke briefly with the Observer.
“People depend on public transportation for all kinds of reasons – to shop for groceries, to get to school on time, to get to work on time, to get to church in the hour, ”she said. “A bus stop within walking distance can make all the difference, compared to a bus stop that you have to walk for half an hour to get to. “
What the bill could mean for Charlotte
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also spoke at the event, saying the bill will help fund more climate-friendly public transport systems in Charlotte, which can connect communities with limited access to jobs. well paid.
Among the projects that could receive funding in North Carolina are $ 7.2 billion for highways; $ 457 million for bridges; $ 911 million for public transit and $ 100 million for broadband Internet.
Several members of Charlotte City Council, Mecklenburg County Commissioners and other politicians attended the event, including Mayor Vi Lyles, Governor Roy Cooper and US Representative Alma Adams.
Cooper praised the Biden administration for knowing “how to work in a bipartisan fashion.”
“At the start of the last administration, in 2017, we were told that (the infrastructure) was coming. It never has – until now, ”Cooper said.
In Charlotte, Adams said the money could be used for the city’s Silver Line light rail, to buy more electric buses, and to upgrade Highways 85 and 77. The state is home to 1,460 bridges and over. 3,116 miles of highways in poor condition. state, according to a note from the US Department of Transportation.
Some bipartisan support for infrastructure
The package, called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, received bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. North Carolina Republican Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr both voted in favor, although no GOP member of the State House delegation did.
“Because of their work, because of our work together, America is on the move again,” Harris said. “At the end of the day, that’s what infrastructure is all about: to get people moving.
Republicans opposed to the bill have argued that its reach is financially irresponsible and will further increase inflation.
Harris said she believes most Americans don’t view infrastructure improvements as a partisan issue. She pointed out that people who need high-speed internet for online school and rural people can make video calls with their doctor.
“(The invoice) is about what we could all do to help the people who depend on their government for work, ”Harris said. “It’s time we actually heard what they are saying and moved beyond the gossip of partisan politics. ”
On the social policy changes and spending proposed by Build Back Better, Republicans are stepping up criticism, saying such legislation will worsen national debt problems. Alex Nolley, communications director for the North Carolina section of the Republican National Committee, called the bill “disrespectful and unproductive to the American people.”
“Instead of trying to score political points on a taxpayer-funded public relations tour, Kamala Harris should return to Washington and work on resolving the multiple crises facing our country,” Nolley said in a statement. communicated.
Harris acknowledged that high prices make it harder for working families. She said the administration was focused on cutting prices by opening ports and addressing supply chain issues that ignited during the pandemic.
“During those almost two years, the pandemic has had a real impact on the production of goods over the delivery of goods and the distribution of goods,” Harris said. “It impacts the price, so let’s deal with the real causes. “
This story was originally published 2 December 2021 at 12:48 pm.