Jun 24, 2021
Joe Biden Speech Transcript on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
President Joe Biden gave a June 24, 2021 speech, announcing that the Senate has a deal on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Read the speech transcript here.
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Joe Biden: (00:03)
Good afternoon. If you hear a little noise in the background it’s because I’m supposed to be getting on a helicopter to head to North Carolina, which I’m going to be doing right after this. And the Vice President and I don’t want to lay out what we just settled at least for the moment with our friends, the bipartisan group of senators. I said many times before, there’s nothing our nation can’t do when we decide to do it together, do it as one nation. Today is the latest example of that truth in my view. I’m pleased to report that a bipartisan group of senators, five Democrats, five Republicans, part of a larger group, has come together and forged an agreement that will create millions of American jobs and modernize our American infrastructure to compete with the rest of the world and on in the 21st century. I want to thank them for working together and for raising their ideas and concerns with me and with the Vice President, as well as with our Jobs Cabinet, Secretary Buttigieg is here. Good to see her Secretary. Secretary Fudge, Secretary Granholm. There you are. [inaudible 00:01:25] I thought everybody was on this side. Secretary Ramondo and Secretary Walsh.
Joe Biden: (01:31)
I also want to thank Senator Shelley Capito for her earlier work in infrastructure agreement. We didn’t reach an agreement, but she tried her best to get something done. I’m sure it helped produce the final agreement we had. The fact is investment in jobs and infrastructure have often had bipartisan support in the past. Matter of fact, when I first got to the United States Senate, it was probably the least difficult thing to do, is past infrastructure plans. But even so it’s been a very long time since the last time our country was able to strike a major bipartisan deal on American infrastructure, which is so badly needed, I might add. We devoted far too much energy to competing with one another and not nearly enough energy competing with the rest of the world to win the 21st century.
Joe Biden: (02:18)
The investments we’ll be making as a result of this deal are long overdue. They’ll put Americans to work in good paying jobs, repairing our roads and our bridges. They’ll deliver high speed internet to every American home, bringing down the price that people pay now for internet service. And they’ll close the American digital divide as been driven home by every mother and father with a child at home during the COVID crisis, that is thank God abating, and kids not being able to be in school. This can put plumbers and pipefitters to work. It’s going to replace a hundred percent of the nation’s lead water pipes so that every child and every American can turn on the faucet at home or at school enjoying clean water, including the low-income communities and communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by lead pipes and the consequences of that. This deal makes key investments to put people to work all across the country, building transmission lines, upgrading the power grid, to be more energy efficient and resilient in extreme weather, to be able to sustain extreme weather and the climate crisis. It also builds our natural infrastructure, our coastlines, and our levees to be more resilient as well. American workers will be installing electric vehicle charging stations and undertaking critical environmental cleanups. This bipartisan agreement represents the largest investment in public transit in American history. I might add that the largest investment in rail, since the creation of Amtrak. You all know I have nothing but affection for Amtrak, having traveled over a million miles on it, commuting every day, but it’s a big deal. This agreement’s going to create new financing authority that’s going to leverage private capital and infrastructure and clean energy projects. It’ll provide folks with good paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. The kind of jobs that provide a middle class life with a little bit of breathing room for American families. My dad used to say being in the middle class is just being able to take that extra breath.
Joe Biden: (04:28)
I mean it sincerely. Think about it. Think about all the people who can’t take that breath. Because they know they have no margin for error. We’re going to do it all without raising a cent from earners below $400,000. There’s no gas tax increase, no fee on electric vehicles. And the fact is we’re going to help ensure that we make sure that everybody in America is in a position to be able to do what need be done. Because let me be clear. We’re in a race with China and the rest of the world for the 21st century. They’re not waiting. They’re investing tens of billions of dollars across the board. Tens of billions. I just came back from Europe with meeting with the G7, as well as with NATO, as well as the EU. And as well as with Mr. Putin, all separately.
Joe Biden: (05:23)
There’s massive investment going on among the autocrats. One of the underlying questions is can democracies compete with autocratic enterprises in the 21st century? And this is a big move toward that, being able to compete. We have to move and we have to move fast. And this agreement signals to the world that we can function, deliver, and do significant things. These investments represent the kind of national effort that throughout our history has literally, not figuratively, literally transformed America and propelled us into the future. The transcontinental railroad, the interstate highway system, investments that we made together that only our government was in a position to make. Now we’re poised to add a new chapter in that American tradition.
Joe Biden: (06:12)
Let me be clear, neither side got everything they want in this deal. That’s what it means to compromise. And it reflects something important. Reflects consensus. The heart of democracy requires consensus. And this time, a true bipartisan effort breaking the ice that too often has kept us frozen in place, prevented us from solving the real problems facing the American people. This deal means millions of good paying jobs and fewer burdens felt at the kitchen table and across the country, and safer and healthier communities. But it also signals to ourselves and to the world that American democracy can deliver. Because of that, it represents an important step forward for our country.
Joe Biden: (07:03)
I want to be clear about something else. Today is a huge day for one half of my economic agenda, the American jobs plan. It delivers clean transportation, clear water and clean water, universal broadband, clean power infrastructure, and environmental resilience. These areas invest two thirds of the resources that I proposed in my American jobs plan. Two thirds of what I called for [inaudible 00:07:31] But I’m getting to work with Congress right away on the other half of my economic agenda as well. The American family plan, to finish the job on childcare, education, the caring economy, clean energy and tax cuts for American families, and much more. For me, investment on our physical and human infrastructure are inextricably intertwined. Both make us better off and stronger. The case for these investments as clear. Economists-
Joe Biden: (08:03)
The case for these investments is clear. Economists left, right and center, independent Wall Street forecasters, they all say that these kinds of public investments mean more jobs, more workers participating in the labor force, higher productivity and higher growth for our economy over the long run.
Joe Biden: (08:21)
Both need to get done. I’m going to work closely with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer to make sure that both move through the legislative process promptly and in tandem, besides that. And in tandem. We need physical infrastructure, but we also need a human infrastructure as well. They’re a part of my overall plan.
Joe Biden: (08:42)
What we agreed on today is what we could agree on, the physical infrastructure. There was no agreement on the rest. We’re going to have to do that through the budget process. And we need a fairer tax system to pay for it all. I’m not going to rest until both get to my desk.
Joe Biden: (08:59)
And lastly, I know there are some of my party who discouraged me from seeking an agreement with our Republican colleagues who said that we should go bigger and go alone. To them I say this, I’ve already shown in my young presidency that I’m prepared to do whatever needs to get done to move the country forward. That’s what I did with the American Rescue Plan, which was $1.9 trillion.
Joe Biden: (09:23)
Let me say this, when we can find common ground now, working across party lines, that is what I will seek to do. The reason why is because the broader support a proposal has in Congress, the strongest prospects for passage. Working together when we can allows us to make bipartisan process whenever possible, without foreclosing the right and the necessity of moving forward on a majority basis when we are at deep odds with one another, so-called reconciling process.
Joe Biden: (10:03)
And for the deal being announced today, there’s plenty of work ahead to bring this home. It’s going to require hard work and collaboration. The committee chairs and the ranking members are going to play a major part. There are going to be disagreements to resolve and more compromise to be forged along the way. But this group of senators and all the American people can be proud today because we’ve reaffirmed, once again, we are the United States of America.
Joe Biden: (10:36)
There’s not a single thing beyond our capacity that we aren’t able to do, when we do it together. I know a lot of you in the press, particularly, doubt that unity is possible, that anything bipartisan is possible. It’s hard, but it’s necessary and it can get done. So I want to thank you all and God bless you. And now I’ll take a few questions, before the helicopter leave without me, from the press.
Speaker 1: (11:02)
Mr. President, what assurances do you have at this point that you have sufficient Democratic support both in the Senate and the House to move both on this bipartisan deal and on the reconciliation package?
Joe Biden: (11:10)
You always ask me those things. Nobody knows for certain. It’s your job, but you know it’s not a reasonable question. And the reason I say, and I’m being critical, the idea of my telling you now that I know what every Senator, how they’re going to vote, it’s just not… I don’t know that.
Joe Biden: (11:26)
I do know that among the roughly 20 bipartisan groups of Senators and Senators, that I met with… Well, only 10 were here today. But that group… that we had an agreement. For example, you talk about, “Well, why would Biden compromise?” Well, when’s the last time if you had asked me whether or not I’d be able to get passenger rail service, or $66 billion worth, largest investment ever since Amtrak came about. I asked for 90, I got 66 billion.
Joe Biden: (12:01)
Talk about public transit, $49 billion for public transit. When I raised that before somebody looked at me like, “Where have you been Biden? You’ve been spending too much in China or something.” I hadn’t been to China. You know, electric buses, 7.5 billion. I asked for 15, I couldn’t get all of it but we compromised. Electric infrastructure, that is charging stations along the roads, I asked for 15, I got seven and a half.
Joe Biden: (12:31)
These are significant down payments on things that we finally got after skillful negotiation, the part of my cabinet and my team led by Mr. Ricchetti. And so when you asked me what guarantee do I have that I have all the votes I need, I don’t have any guarantee. But what I do have is a pretty good read over the years of how the Congress or the Senate works.
Joe Biden: (12:58)
And the idea that because someone’s not going to be able to get every single thing they want, they’re going to vote against some of the things I just named with nothing in here that’s quote “bad” for the environment, “bad” for the economy, “bad” for the transportation is unlikely, but I can’t guarantee it. You know that. Yes?
Speaker 2: (13:22)
Mr. President, talk a little more about your interactions with the Republicans specifically. You said earlier, “They’ve given me their word, where I come from that’s good enough for me.” To skeptics in your own party, what is it about the conversations you’ve had recently with Republicans [inaudible 00:13:38] Secondly, you had said earlier you might have more to say about the situation in South Beach, Miami. Just curious [crosstalk 00:13:44]
Joe Biden: (13:44)
I’m going to stick to… At the end I’ll answer your South Beach question. But let me, so we have some coherence here. Number one, I work with a lot of these people who are in the room. I know them. Everybody knows, and you guys know, when certain Senators tell you something, they mean it. And others you discount.
Joe Biden: (14:06)
Where I come from, in my years in the Senate, the single greatest currency you have is your word, keeping your word. Mitt Romney’s never broken his word to me. The Senator from Alaska and the Senator from New Hampshire, from Maine, they’ve never broken their word, they’ve friends.
Joe Biden: (14:23)
And so the people I was with today are people that I trust. I don’t agree with them on a lot of things, but I trust them when they say, “This is a deal, we’ll stick to the deal.”
Joe Biden: (14:36)
Just like I dealt with, you’ll find any one of them say they don’t trust me when I said, “Okay, this is the deal on these issues. This is the deal we’ll stick with.” But for example, and I made it clear today, there’s other things in the environment I want to get done.
Joe Biden: (14:50)
I think we should have the $300 billion tax credit for dealing with the environment. It will be a giant tax cuts for corporations, but also be a giant move toward weatherizing every building in America and all the things that we need to do. And so when I said we agree, I’m not going to go back and renegotiate the Amtrak piece, but I am going to fight for trying to get $300 billion more for tax credits for the environment. That’s about the best that I can answer the question. Yes. Ma’am?
Speaker 3: (15:26)
Mr. Biden can you answer a question? [Inaudible 00:15:30] My question on the timeline. There are families who are look at the Families Plan wondering when the help is coming. [inaudible 00:15:36] can you say anything more about that? And what does this signal for future deals? They’re still things like voting rights and policing reform that are not able to get bipartisan votes. What does this tell you, what have you learned in talking to Republicans about what [inaudible 00:15:53]
Joe Biden: (15:53)
You asked three essay questions, and legitimate questions, but you asked three of them. The first one related to… What again?
Speaker 3: (16:00)
The first one was on the timeline, when [crosstalk 00:16:04]
Joe Biden: (16:03)
The two what again?
Speaker 4: (16:03)
[inaudible 00:16:02] the timeline, when [inaudible 00:16:04] this two track?
Joe Biden: (16:04)
And you said people were waiting for relief.
Speaker 4: (16:06)
Joe Biden: (16:07)
I got them $1.9 trillion in relief so far. They’re going to be getting checks in the mail that are consequential this week for childcare. A lot has been happened already, number one. Number two, I’m going to fight like heck to get them the rest of what I think has to be done. On education, for example, my proposal was in a family plan, early education and free community college. I’m going to fight like the devil to get that done, but it’s not going to be with Republican help. I’m going to have to get every Democrat and do it through reconciliation if it gets done. So that’s number one. Yeah, I think based on my being out in the street and polling data, I think the people who need the help the most trust me to be fighting to get them the help they need. They know who I am, and they know my record.
Joe Biden: (16:59)
With regard to the issue of what about voting rights? Voting rights is maybe the most consequential thing. I think I’m going to be going around the country, spending time, making the case to the American people that this just isn’t about showing identification, that this is who I am when I vote. This isn’t just about whether or not, excuse me, you can provide water for someone standing in line while they’re waiting to vote.
Joe Biden: (17:29)
This is about who gets to judge whether your vote counted after it’s been cast. Think about it. Up to now, every state and the federal government’s assumed that there would be officials who were appointed and/or elected in states who are the election commissioners bound by an oath that they would uphold certain requirements and make sure the vote was honest and fair. What these guys are trying to do now, in rough approximation, is say that if we don’t like the way the vote turned out, and we control the state legislature, we’re going to say the vote didn’t count. And we’re going to recount. That’s never happened before. It’s wrong. Who in God’s name, as my mother would say, died and left them boss? Your vote has to count when you cast it.
Joe Biden: (18:21)
There’s a lot of ancillary pieces of this legislation I strongly support. I strongly support the idea, if I had my way, there’d be no private contributions to see who gets elected, how much money you raise. If I had my way, and I think it’s really important that every election day would be a day off because people who work certain shifts can’t make it to election. I would make sure there’s automatic registration when you turn 18. That’s what I think everybody thinks this fight is about. It’s a worthy fight, but it’s much more profound than that.
Joe Biden: (18:59)
It’s about saying that the legislature in Georgia could decide, if it was Republican legislature, “On reflection, we don’t think that election was fair. We’re going to vote to say it didn’t count.” It’s just simply wrong. It’s wrong. In my view, it borders on being immoral. This is the sacred right to vote. As John Lewis said, it is the, the, the most important right you have. So I’m going to be making the case across the country and as best I can to [inaudible 00:19:36]
Speaker 5: (19:36)
You said you want both of these measures to come to you in tandem. Did you receive any assurances that that will happen? How do you anticipate, what will you do [crosstalk 00:19:51]
Joe Biden: (19:51)
I control that. If they don’t come, I’m not signing. Real simple. But I expect that in the coming months this summer, before the fiscal year is over that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution. But if only one comes to me, if this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing. It’s in tandem.
Speaker 6: (20:27)
Mr. President, do you support [inaudible 00:20:31] Speaker Pelosi’s stated plan to hold the bipartisan deal in the House until the Senate also passes reconciliation. Do you support that sequencing on her part?
Joe Biden: (20:38)
Speaker 7: (20:42)
[crosstalk 00:20:42] same page about reconciliation package. So by moving forward with this two track system, are you putting the bipartisan bill in jeopardy?
Joe Biden: (20:52)
Sure. Bipartisan bill was look. The bipartisan bill from the very beginning was understood. There’s going to have to be the second part of it. I’m not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest that I proposed. I proposed a significant piece of legislation in three parts, and all three parts are equally important. And by the way, my party, everybody tells me who my party is. My party’s divided. Well, my party is divided. My party’s divided, but my party’s also rational. If they can’t get every single thing they want, but all that they have in the bill that before them is good, are they’re going to vote no? I don’t think so. Yes.
Speaker 8: (21:33)
Mr. President, 48 hours ago it seemed like this deal was kind of in a rough place, didn’t necessary have a path forward. What clinched it? What changed the dynamic that you saw and also would you be willing to [inaudible 00:21:46] increase in either of the two vehicles you’re talking about?
Joe Biden: (21:48)
[inaudible 00:21:48], whether it’s included in either of these bills is not relevant. It depends on what the leadership in the House and Senate thinks how they proceed, number one. Number two, you notice I didn’t have that bleak view you all had. You said 48 hours ago it didn’t look good. It looked good to me 48 hours ago. Looked good to our team 48 hours ago, 72 hours ago it looked good too. Wasn’t there yet.
Joe Biden: (22:16)
But you guys know me too well. I’m going to drive you crazy the next four years, because I’m going to tell you the truth as I see it. I know the Senate and the House better than most of you know it. I’ve been my whole life, that’s what I’ve done. It doesn’t mean I’m going to turn out to be right all the time, but I’m not going to negotiate with the press while I’m negotiating privately with my colleagues. And these are really tough decisions [inaudible 00:22:49] I don’t in any way dismiss what Senator Murphy says about the environment, don’t dismissive it at all. So she might’ve. I wrote the bill on the environment. Why would I not be for it? The question is, how much can we get done? And the bottom line is when all is said and done, does what you agree to preclude forever you getting the things you really want? Well, I’m not for that. I’m not going to vote for one of those deals. Secondly, do you get all of what you wanted and you come back and fight another day? I’ve been president about 150 days. Think I’ve done really well so far. Not because of me, but because the way the system works. I know that doesn’t answer any of your questions about, can you tell me when, how are you going to do it? I just feel that the best way to get a senator or congressperson who supports the essence of what’s already there, but says I don’t have enough-
Joe Biden: (24:03)
… already there, but says I don’t have enough of what’s there, of other things. The best way to get that message across is go to the constituents and say, “Here’s what’s on the table. Do you think your Senator, your Congressman, should offer that?” So you campaign. The campaign doesn’t stop. The partisan piece stops in terms, “I’m against Charlie Smith or Harriet Wilson,” but that doesn’t stop. I mean, that stops, but what doesn’t stop is the saying you’re … The last example I’ll give, I promise I won’t do this to you again.
Joe Biden: (24:40)
But remember in 2018, everybody said, “Well, we’re going to lose. The Democrats are going to lose the House and Senate. The House is not going to make gains.” And I went into over 60 congressional districts. I didn’t go after the individual Congresspersons who were against making sure that we kept the Affordable Care Act. But I went to their constituents and said, “The Affordable Care Act is really important.” We had a large crowd show up, I’d say, “Here’s why I think you should do it. That’s why if I were you I’d take a look at what Charlie Smith says and Harriet Wilson says. He’s for it. She’s not. Or she’s for it and he’s not.” Guess what? We won, what, 40 some seats? So it’s not just convincing this particular Congressperson. It’s making a rational case if you can in their communities, why this is important to get done. And I think the fact that I didn’t get everything now, at this moment … For example, a lot of our housing pieces didn’t get passed. We’re coming back at it though. We’re coming back at it. We’re going to make the case. And if I make the case to the public at large … And the one thing I can say for all of you, you do accurately report what I say. Problem is, I disappoint you because I can’t answer all your questions and negotiate with you before I negotiate with my colleagues.
Joe Biden: (26:13)
But I really think the public understands and they’re seeing the proof is in what’s happening. It’s now projected our economy is going to grow above 7% this year. Projections are from Wall Street to the Fed. It’s going to continue to grow. We’re going to increase more. And guess what? You remember you were asking me … And I’m not being critical of you all. I really mean this. It was legitimate questions you were asking me. Asking me, “Well, you know, guess what? Employers can’t find workers.” I said, “Yeah, pay them more. This is an employee’s bargaining chip now.” What’s happening? They’re going to have to compete and start paying hardworking people a decent wage.
Joe Biden: (27:08)
And by the way, talk of inflation. The overwhelming consensus is it’s going to pop up a little bit and then go back down. No one’s talking about this great, great [inaudible 00:27:19] So, again, if it turns out that what I’ve done so far, what we’ve done so far, is a mistake, it’s going to show. It’s going to show. The economy’s not going to grow, like it wasn’t before. People aren’t going to have jobs with increased pay, like it was before. People are going to be out of work, like it was before with no options. Unemployment is going to continue to climb instead of continuing to go down. If that happens, then my policies didn’t make a lot of sense. But I’m counting on it not. That’s why I count on it as working. I’ve got to get a helicopter-
Speaker 9: (28:02)
One more. [crosstalk 00:28:02]
Speaker 10: (28:02)
Mr. President, will you travel to Florida, sir? Can we ask you about Florida? What you’ve learned and-
Joe Biden: (28:04)
Oh, yes, I apologize. Yes, thank you. I’ve spoken with, coincidentally, the Mayor of Miami-Dade, who was in my office yesterday. And I talked to her today. Not about that, obviously. And so I had a long discussion with her today. I’ve also spoken with … We’ve committed contact with the Congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has that district. We’ve gotten in touch with FEMA. They’re ready to go.
Joe Biden: (28:34)
The governor is going to have to … They’re down inspecting what is what they think is needed. But I’m waiting for the governor to ask for a declared emergency. And especially as we learn more about what might happen with the rest of the building. So we are on top of it. We are ready to move from the federal resources immediately. Immediately. If, in fact, [inaudible 00:28:59] but we can’t go in and do it now, but FEMA is down there taking a look at what’s needed, and including from everything from if the rest of those buildings have to be evacuated as well, finding housing for those people, making sure they have a capacity to both have a place to shelter and food to eat, et cetera. So that’s underway now. And my Chief of Staff has been deeply involved in this from the very beginning. We got the cabinet involved in it now, in terms of dealing with FEMA. We’re working on it. And I made it clear. I say to the people of Florida, whatever help you want, the federal government can provide. We’re waiting. Just ask us. We’ll be there. We’ll be there. So thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Speaker 11: (29:49)
Mr. President, what are you hoping the Vice President can do at the border tomorrow?
Joe Biden: (29:53)
She’s done a great job so far and the reason why it was reported that she’d go down, she can now set up a criteria [inaudible 00:30:03] with the President of Mexico [inaudible 00:30:06].
Joe Biden: (29:54)
Thank you very much.
Speaker 12: (30:09)
Do you know anything about these reports about moving Afghan nationals to other countries who helped during the war?
Joe Biden: (30:14)
They’re going to come. We’ve already begun the process. Those who helped us are not going to be left behind.
Speaker 12: (30:20)
Do you know what other country they’re going to move to first?
Joe Biden: (30:23)
I don’t know that. I’ll be meeting with Ghani tomorrow. He’s coming to my office. That will be discussion. But they’re welcome here, just like anyone else who risked their lives to help us.