“It’s infrastructure decade now, man,” President Joe Biden declared while touting the massive new infrastructure law in Missouri Wednesday.
Flanked by shiny blue Kansas City buses and a bevy of signs boasting the “Building a Better America” slogan, Biden homed in on just how the $1.2 trillion law will help Missouri and Kansas — from broadband to public transit to weather-related repairs.
And yes, while in the Show-Me State, the president pronounced it “Missourah.”
“We’re in a situation where we’ve known our infrastructure had problems for a long, long time,” Biden said. “I don’t think I could take one more phrase that’s going to be ‘infrastructure week.’ But guess what, it’s going to be ‘infrastructure decade’ now, man. No more talking. Action.”
According to White House estimates, Missouri is slated to get about $6.5 billion for federal highway programs and $484 million for bridge repairs over a five-year span. There is also nearly $19 billion in other bridge and roadway grants available the state can vie for.
Additionally, the state is expected to see $99 million over five years for the expansion of an electric vehicle (EV) charging network and $100 million for broadband infrastructure. Missouri should also receive about $866 million for improvements to the state’s water infrastructure and $246 million for airport improvements, according to the White House.
Biden called the new law a “blueprint” for working Americans and billed it as a catalyst for new, union jobs in Missouri as well as across the U.S.
“We’re going to need tens of thousands of plumbers and pipefitters making a union wage to do this,” Biden said, specifically speaking about the law’s impact on lead pipe replacement.
The president also pointed to weather-related damages to infrastructure in Missouri, including the 2011 Joplin tornado. He recounted how he helped rebuild a Joplin school in the aftermath.
“We never stop. We Americans always rebuild, and we will rebuild this country,” Biden said to applause. “This law builds back our bridges, our water system, our powerlines, electric grids — better, stronger, more resistant to climate change.”
We just met @POTUS! #MO #infrastructure pic.twitter.com/euULk5gWpk
— Crystal Quade (@crystal_quade) December 8, 2021
Biden praised Senator Roy Blunt, who was not in attendance, for his bipartisanship and work on the infrastructure package. And he also heaped accolades on Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas for their work on bringing electric buses to the city’s fleet and instituting a zero-fare service — something Biden said will save riders about $2,000 per year.
And he took the time to remember former Kansas Senator Bob Dole who passed away earlier this week. Biden said, “Our nation owes Bob Dole a debt of gratitude for his remarkable service and a life well-lived.”
I’m fortunate enough to be in KC with President Biden listening to all the great things the Infrastucture Law will do. “It’s no longer infrastructure week it is infrastructure decade.” Joe Biden @JoeBiden #moleg pic.twitter.com/bgeYGnibn3
— Doug Beck (@Dougbeck562) December 8, 2021
Prior to his speech in a bus barn — where he addressed local transit workers and state lawmakers, among others — Biden was greeted upon landing at the Kansas City International Airport by Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson. Biden and Parson, Missouri’s Republican chief executive, were seen smiling and shaking hands while they spoke on the tarmac. Parson has made infrastructure a focal point of his tenure as governor.
GOP Senate candidates respond to visit
Even before Biden touched down in Kansas City, several Republican candidates for U.S. Senate castigated the president for certain policies.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt sent a letter to Biden where he criticized his efforts to institute a federal vaccine mandate as well as his handling of the southern border. Schmitt said “things are worse now than before you took office” in Missouri, pointing to higher prices and supply chain issues.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler implored Biden to “listen to the people while you are here.”
“They are hurting due to your policies,” Hartzler said.
Former Gov. Eric Greitens said Biden’s visit “to promote his socialist agenda proves he is not our president.” As he’s campaigned for U.S. Senate, Greitens has visited other states, including Arizona, to peddle debunked claims that Biden lost the 2020 election to former President Donald Trump.
This story has been updated.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn was the editor in chief of The Missouri Times from 2020-2022. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.