President Joe Biden speaks at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota, on Nov. 30, 2021 (Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer).
By Ricardo Lopez
ROSEMOUNT, Minn. — On his first visit to Minnesota since he was elected, President Joe Biden on Tuesday touted the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package he recently signed into law. Biden spoke during a brief stop at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount.
Minnesota will receive more than $6 billion in federal funds, of which $4.5 billion will go toward highways. Minnesota bridges will receive $302 million, public transportation will get $818 million and $100 million is aimed at improving high-speed internet in rural areas.
Biden toured the college and spoke with students who are training for jobs that could be created by the infrastructure package. He said the law he signed on Nov. 15 will help fund much-needed repairs to roads and bridges, noting the 2007 Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis.
“We’re going to rebuild this economy from the bottom up,” Biden said. “I’m tired of this trickle-down economy. I’m tired of it. This is a blue collar blueprint to rebuild America.”
He also stumped for the second part of his Build Back Better agenda, saying it will help lower childcare costs for families. The bill, which the House passed on Nov. 19, would cap child care costs for families at 7% of their income.
He recalled his previous visits to Minnesota, noting his friendships with notable state leaders like former vice presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, both now deceased.
Biden also hit back at GOP congressional critics who say his Build Back Better agenda would worsen inflation. He said more than a dozen Nobel laureate economists have said the proposed legislation would reduce inflation in the long run.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, who traveled with Biden on Air Force One, recently said in a Reformer interview that she expected the social safety net legislation could pass the Senate before the end of the year, but it faces an uphill battle as Democratic lawmakers hold a slim majority.
U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, whose district includes the technical college, also spoke Tuesday. Craig is among the suburban Democratic lawmakers Republicans are targeting in their efforts to win back the U.S. House next fall.
“My hope is that today, by having President Biden visit here, that both young folks and folks seeking a better life and a better career, will see this story and it will help us promote the trades across this country as an amazing career choice,” Craig said.
The visit came with less than a day’s notice. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki highlighted the Rosemount technical college as a school that will train the next generation of workers needed to work on critical infrastructure.
“Programs provided by community and technical colleges like Dakota County Technical College will provide the training and skill development needed to help workers access the jobs created,” Psaki said during a briefing. “Paired with the historic $24 billion investments in workforce development in the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, schools like Dakota County Technical College will prepare millions of workers with high-quality jobs in growing sectors and will help rebuild and transform the workforce.”
The list of invited guests to Tuesday’s event was small. They included Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Minnesota state legislators and local officials.
Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin praised Biden’s recent legislative success, including the American Rescue Plan, which passed early in his presidency.
“Now, President Biden’s infrastructure law is set to create good-paying jobs across Minnesota by repairing our roads and bridges, upgrading our broadband, and replacing dangerous lead pipes,” Martin said. “I am glad Minnesotans will have the opportunity to hear directly from the President about how his historic infrastructure law will improve their daily lives.”
Minnesota Republicans criticized Biden and his policies, arguing they would worsen inflation.
“Investing in core infrastructure projects should be a bipartisan goal, but the runaway spending from the President and Congress on non-infrastructure related items is harming the economy by causing inflationary increases to everyday costs for Minnesotans,” Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said in a statement. “When we need to be coming together to get Minnesotans on track after two years of pandemic restrictions, this Washington spending spree is going to hit all Minnesotans’ pocketbooks even harder.”
Minnesota GOP Chair David Hann also slammed the rise in inflation as well as the country’s supply chain problems.
“Make no mistake: Biden’s visit to Minnesota has nothing to do with Minnesotans and everything to do with the midterm elections in 2022,” Hann said. “This is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded campaign event.”
Biden touched down at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport around 2 p.m. Traveling aboard Air Force One with him were Smith, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser and a Minneapolis native, also traveled with Biden to the state.
Ricardo Lopez is a reporter for the Minnesota Reformer, a sibling site of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.
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