ROSEMOUNT, Minn. — President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Nov. 30, trumpeted the more than $4 billion set to come to Minnesota as part of a federal infrastructure law signed into law earlier this month and made a pitch for the passage of another $1.9 trillion spending plan.
Inside a heavy truck shop at the Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota, the president spoke with Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party leaders, students and others about the school and its role in educating the next batch of skilled laborers. And he made a pitch for Congress to move his proposed Build Back Better Plan.
“Rebuilding America and investing in America, that’s what this is all about," Biden told the room of about 100 onlookers Tuesday afternoon. The president also listed several road and bridge projects that could be on the agenda in the coming years and said Minnesota and other states shouldn't face another infrastructure failure such as the 2007 I-35W collapse.
“We know about our infrastructure problems, we’ve known for a long time. And now we’re doing something about it. It’s time for action," Biden said.
Biden's visit marks his first trip to Minnesota since winning the presidency in 2020 and his latest effort to tout the bill in swing states around the country that he won. His stop-by on Tuesday took place in Rosemount, a city in the politically split 2nd Congressional District, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Angie Craig narrowly won reelection in 2020.
Craig joined Biden for his visit, as did U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Reps. Dean Phillips and Betty McCollum and Gov. Tim Walz. Craig on Tuesday said the package will create jobs, help ease supply chain issues and lower inflation.
"My hope is that having President Biden here today, young folks and folks seeking a better life and career will see this story and it will help us promote trades across this country as a career choice,” Craig said.
The federal boost is set to fund more than $4 billion in improvements to Minnesota highways, $818 million for public transportation investments and $302 million to help repair and replace bridges, according to the White House. The plan will also fund broadband expansion, port and airport improvements, water quality projects and electric car charging stations in the state.
State transportation officials have said the funds could allow Minnesota to move forward with projects earlier than they'd planned. More than 661 bridges and 4,986 miles of highway in Minnesota are considered to be in poor condition by the White House.
Biden's visit and the push to promote the massive package spurred split reactions from Minnesota Democrats and Republicans. Minnesota GOP leaders pointed to Biden's lagging approval ratings and called on the president to address pressing issues affecting Minnesotans.
"The Democrats know Angie Craig is in serious jeopardy of losing her seat in 2022 and are using their deeply flawed infrastructure legislation as an excuse to bring Joe Biden in to save Craig’s floundering political career," said Republican Tyler Kistner, who ran against Craig in 2020 and is set to again challenge the congresswoman in 2022.
GOP lawmakers said they supported projects that were included in the proposal but felt there were too many non-infrastructure pieces added to it.
“We deserve better and we’re certainly going to push back on many of these failed policies,” said Rep. Pete Stauber, a Republican representing the state’s 8th Congressional District.
Minnesota Democrats on Tuesday said the passage of the massive plan was proof that Biden was able to break through partisan gridlock in Washington. And they said the measure's impact would be profound for Minnesota and its workforce.
"The impact of this will truly last generations," Walz said. “This is where, literally, the rubber hits the road in many ways."
Minnesota's congressional delegation split almost on party lines on the infrastructure proposal. All of the state's Republicans, along with Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, voted against the proposal, while the other Democrats voted in favor. Omar said she wanted the infrastructure package to come up for a vote alongside a larger spending plan.
Biden in 2020 won Minnesota with a 7-percentage point advantage over then-President Donald Trump. But Biden's approval rating has declined during his first year in office.
The president also announced that he would roll out additional measures to address the omicron variant of COVID-19 later in the week without shutdowns or lockdowns. Instead, he said the federal plan would focus on booster shots, testing and masking in public spaces.