HOWELL, Mich. - President Joe Biden visited Michigan Tuesday in hopes of building public support for his economic agenda.
The president's visit to Howell on Oct. 5 comes during a pivotal moment for the president's Build Back Better plan and the massive infrastructure bill in Congress - both plans are facing opposition from Republicans as well as members of Biden's own party.
Biden landed around 1:20 p.m. and at 3:25, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Rep. Elissa Slotkin spoke about the need to increase infrastructure support. Whitmer discussed her campaign slogan of "fix the damn roads" and the plans she has for Michigan to build a self-charging highway for electric vehicles.
Biden started his speech by touting the importance of union, saying that they built the country.
"I wish the American people understood how much serious, serious training goes into being a union worker," Biden said.
Calling Whitmer a good friend, he thanked her and Gilchrist for their work to help him get elected President. Biden won Michigan, a key swing state by a little less than 150,000 votes in November 2020.
The President touted his Build Back Better plan to help the nation's roads and highways return to where they once were.
"Our infrastructure used to be best in the world," Biden said. "Today, we rank 13th."
Saying the nation has ‘taken our foot off the gas’, Biden said the plan would help regain the momentum it once had.
The infrastructure bill is meant to fund efforts to rebuild roads, highways, airports, and broadband networks.
He said the plan would remind the world that the U.S. is going to be part of the future of the automotive industry.
"The whole world knows that the future of the auto industry is electric," Biden said. "These are the kind of investments to get Americans back in the game and give them a chance."
Speaking about extreme weather and how it's affected the country, Biden said it cost the nation $99 billion in 2020.
Stressing the need to pass an infrastructure bill now, Biden said that it's been decades since Washington lawmakers passed one and it used to be bipartisan and passed regularly.
The Build Back Better plan is also meant to help make college possible and affordable to families to help the nation keep up with other advanced nations, Biden said.
Why did Biden come to Michigan?
It's not easy to pass big bills in Congress - and it may be nearly impossible in today's tension-filled politics. On the table are a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a massive overhaul of social programs that will "grow our economy by investing in working families, paid for by repealing tax giveaways to the rich," according to the White House.
But Biden will need public support before he can convince any lawmakers to support the legislation.
Howell is located in the historically conservative county of Livingston, despite it being represented by Democrat Elissa Slotkin - a moderate in Congress. Biden has spent months of his presidency arguing his proposals offer pragmatism while he also paints Republicans as obstructionists uninterested in repairing the country's issues.
Not his first trip to Michigan
This isn't the first time that Biden has come to the state this year. The president has made visits to Traverse City and Dearborn in the previous months - partly to celebrate the holidays and partly to direct focus to the work of electric vehicles.
Biden also took a tour of biomedical company Pfizer's facility in Portage, where the COVID-19 vaccine is being manufactured.
What is Build Back Better?
Many have touted the outcome of the pandemic would offer a chance to breathe new life into the country's economy after a rough 2020.
Biden wants to do it with a $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan that would require only Democratic support. Republicans who oppose the spending have invited little interest in compromising on the bill.
But what's actually in the 10-year plan? Quite a bit actually.
- Funding would be made available for two free years of community college and boost money for Pell Grants.
- Child care assistance would be boosted by roughly $450 billion to cover the cost of kids between the ages of 0-5. The plan would also provide two years of pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds. Additionally, the plan would expand the child tax credit through 2025. The country's previous COVID-19 relief plan did this through September.
- Medicare would be expanded.
- The plan would work to offset climate change by paying utilities that increase their use of renewable energy. It would also penalize utility companies that don't boost their clean energy sources.
- It would also boost incentives for buying electric vehicles and help build charging stations as well as increase financial assistance for forest management.
Will it pass?
While the bill wouldn't need Republican support since it would be approved through a budget process called reconciliation. But finding a middle ground where both hard progressives and fervent moderates like Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema can agree represents a sizeable gap to bridge.
Both of Michigan's Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are reliable Democratic votes. So is much of the Michigan Congressional Delegation in the House.
But such a high price tag on the plan has forced delays on the act multiple times.
What about protesters?
The Livingston County Republican Party will be alongside the Michigan Republican Party's Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock for a rally to protest the president's visit.
The "Stop the Spending" rally will begin around 2 p.m. at the corner of M-59 and Michigan Avenue.