Jan 5, 2023

President Biden and Sen. Mitch McConnell Make Joint Appearance in Kentucky for Infrastructure Event Transcript

President Biden and Sen. Mitch McConnell Make Joint Appearance in Kentucky for Infrastructure Event Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsBrent Spence BridgePresident Biden and Sen. Mitch McConnell Make Joint Appearance in Kentucky for Infrastructure Event Transcript

President Biden joined Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the new Kentucky Brent Spence Bridge with Republican and Democratic state leaders. Read the transcript here.

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Andrew Beshear (00:03):

Not quite one week ago, we learned the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project secured one of the largest, if not the largest federal infrastructure awards in history, more than $1.6 billion. This is a green light and a game changer. It impacts our entire country, and this funding is going to allow us to complete this project without tolls.

Building a companion bridge isn’t just the fulfillment of my administration’s promise. It’s also the beginning of an even brighter future for the families of this region, for the tens of thousands of travelers who pass through this area every day, and for the many businesses that rely on this key commercial link, the need could not be greater. The current span, while structurally sound is carrying twice the number of vehicles it was designed to accommodate. For the families who live and work in northern Kentucky and across the river in the greater Cincinnati area, the heavy traffic delays and safety issues are real everyday concerns. This crucial project will address those issues, but the full impact goes to the very health and security of our nation’s economy.

The I-71, I-75 corridor is one of the most important stretches for commercial freight traffic anywhere east of the Mississippi River. Allowing these goods to move smoothly through this metropolitan area and over the Ohio River is critical to sales, supply chains, tourism, and more. So much of our nation’s GDP relies on this crossing and getting this companion bridge built is absolutely essential to keep our economic momentum growing. On top of everything else, this project is going to create thousands of construction jobs right here during the building process.

This project has been talked about for years, decades, really, and we are the folks who are actually getting it done. But a project of this magnitude doesn’t happen without a lot of leadership and a lot of cooperation. First, I want to thank the president for delivering on this historic funding request. Multiple presidents have promised a companion bridge and this president delivered. I want to thank Governor DeWine for his continued friendship and partnership on this and so many other matters where we have shared interest. Last February, governor DeWine and I signed a memorandum of understanding that laid out the next necessary steps for this project, and he and his team continue to work with our folks to get this done.

I want to thank Secretary Pete. I want to thank Kentucky’s Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, as well as his Ohio counterpart, Jack Marsh Banks. I want to thank, yeah, we can clap for them. I want to thank Senator McConnell as well as both senators from Ohio who voted for the Infrastructure Act that made this possible. Senator McConnell, you put Kentucky and the country first with your support, and we are grateful. And I want to thank former Congressman John Yarmouth, who helped push this bill through the house.

I want to thank the Kentucky General Assembly who has many members here and its leadership who allocated 250 million towards this project that allowed us to submit a strong application saying the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the state of Ohio would do our parts. And thanks to local leaders like Covington Mayor, Joe Meyer. This amazing project shows it’s possible and what’s possible when we push partisanship aside. We did this as a team, Democrats and Republicans from the White House to local government. And look what we’ve accomplished. One of the largest infrastructure projects in US history.

60 years ago, the original Brent Spence Bridge was built by Americans who’d been through World War II. Known as the greatest generation, their example helped lead us through the last few years where we faced our own share of adversity. I’m proud of the way Kentuckians and all Americans have come together to face crisis and adversity. And now we see a new day dawning, one defined by prosperity as we reap the rewards of our hard work. A day defined by our capacity to work together for the good of all of our people. This is our moment, the chance to be the generation that changes everything for the people of Kentucky, the people of Ohio, and every single American. God bless. Thank you.

Speaker 1 (06:07):

Please welcome Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine.

Mike DeWine (06:21):

What a great day this is, the sun is out, and we’re looking to the future. We’re looking to build this bridge. There’s a lot of people to thank, but let me start with the president. Mr. President, we welcome you back to, I can’t say welcome to Ohio, but I can say you can at least see Ohio from here. But welcome back. We’re glad to have you here. We appreciate your leadership. And although Ohio Governor Beshear and I, our legislatures are been ready to put a lot of money into this bridge, I think we’ll have probably another billion dollars in Ohio and Kentucky will have a lot as well. The truth is this bridge could not be built without these federal dollars. So Mr. President, welcome, welcome back and thank you for that leadership.

Let me thank my friend Mitch McConnell, my mentor when I was in the United States Senate. His leadership made a huge, huge difference. Mitch’s always been someone who can get things done, and he certainly took the lead in getting this done. My friend Rob Portman, former United States Senator, it’s kind of hard to say that former, about Senator Portman, but a true leader in getting this bill passed as well. I want to thank Senator Brown for his work, his leadership on the bill.

And then there’s my partner, Governor Beshear. He and I have sort of navigated through the covid together. We were on the phone with Eric Holcomb, governor of Indiana, I think every single week for over a year. But we also had time to talk about this bridge and how we were going to get it done. And I salute his team. They have done a great, great job. When this bill was passed, we were ready to go, weren’t we, Governor? We were ready to go. And I also want to call out Jim Gray, who heads up the transportation department here in Kentucky. Jack Marsh Banks, who heads it up in Ohio. They have worked together for a number of years to getting ready for this day. The next magical day is January 13th when the RFP will be put out. So we’re rolling. We don’t have too many days to go before we really, really kick this thing off.

I want to thank the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. Throughout the years, good times and bad, when you ask the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, and when you ask the business community, “What’s your number one priority in Cincinnati?” They came back every single time and said, ” This bridge.” They did not falter. They stayed with it. And so I thank them. I thank Joe Meyer who heads up the chamber, and I thank the business community in Cincinnati. Thank you for your persistence and for knowing what was important, not only for Cincinnati, but for this country as well.

My friend, new Mayor Preva. He and I just had a chance to talk a moment ago, but thank you. Thank you for your leadership and your predecessor, John Cranley, it’s mayor of Cincinnati. We have been working very closely with them, the Ohio Department of Transportation. And part of the good news, I think of this story is that the city’s going to have an additional because of this 10 acres, additional 10 acres that they can develop, they can use for the people of the city. We’re working with the city of Cincinnati to make sure that because of the way we’re constructing this and the on-ramps and off ramps and other streets, we’re going to tie the community together and closer together to downtown Cincinnati. And that certainly is going to make a difference as well.

So let’s build this bridge. Let’s get it going. We’re moving forward. We know the economic impact that this bridge has for the country. But let me say also this bridge, a new bridge is going to have a huge impact for Kentucky. It’s going to have a huge impact for the state of Ohio. The timing is right. This is a time in our history when we’re reassuring, when we’re seeing things come back. And one of the lessons we’ve learned over the last few years is we need to make more things in the United States of America. And Ohio is doing that, and Kentucky is doing that, and this bridge is going to facilitate that and make it a lot easier for us to get those products to market and make it go faster. So again, important for the commerce, important for the economic future, and Jobs of Ohio.

But I also like to thank, I’m going to have grandchildren and on and on who are going to cross this bridge. And you’re going to have people coming in, Governor Beshear from Kentucky. They might be coming in to go to a Reds game, a FC Cincinnati game, Bengals game. They might be going to the Aranoff Center. A lot of great things are going to happen with families being able to cross this bridge in a safe and a very effective and efficient way. So let’s go ahead and build this, build our bridge, really our bridge to the future. And I hope that the success that we have seen, this bipartisan support, this Democrats and Republicans coming together. And candidly, we would not be here today without both Democrats and Republicans working together. It simply would not have happened. So let our new bridge serve as an example of how we can come together as a country, come together as a country, as a people to build things and come together as a country together to just get things done. Let’s go build the bridge. Thank you very much.

Speaker 1 (13:09):

Please welcome United States Senator Rob Portman.

Rob Portman (13:24):

Well, good morning everybody.

Speaker 2 (13:24):

Good morning.

Rob Portman (13:26):

And what an exciting morning it is. Today is the triumph of common sense and persistence over pessimism and partisanship. That’s what this represents. President Biden, I want to thank you for bringing us all together today to celebrate this truly historic accomplishment. It’s also today a demonstration of great teamwork across the river. That doesn’t always happen, but what we’ve seen here with Governor Mike DeWine, who you just heard from,

Rob Portman (14:00):

… Governor Beshear, who you heard from, but also ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks and Kentucky Transportation Secretary, Jim Gray. I’ve watched these governors and these transportation directors work together closely, come up with their Memorandum of Understanding, and they’ve always been easy to work with, a lot easier when they had some federal money to work with, but they’ve been at this a long time. Today’s also a day that is 30 years in the making. I can tell you that because I represented Cincinnati in the United States House Representatives starting in 1993. And over those 30 years, I’ve spent a lot of time working on the Brent Spence Bridge and we’ve gotten some funding for some parts of it, the environmental impact statement, the engineering, but we could never get the money for construction. So, 30 years is a long time to wait. I guess it took me retiring from the Senate to actually see it, but it is great to be here today after 30 years of working on this.

And by the way, it’s worse now, of course, than it was in 1993. Today they say the I-71-75 junction is the number two bottleneck in the nation. As of today, you look behind me, all those cars and trucks going over, it almost looks like rush hour even though it’s not. But it’s not just the congestion, it’s the safety issue. I remember when the lanes were taken out on the shoulders on the side of the bridge in order to create more room on the bridge, and that obviously creates a huge safety hazard as we saw with regard to some of the terrible accidents that we’ve had. But it’s also carrying more than twice as many cars and trucks as it was ever designed to carry. So it’s a safety issue as well as an economic issue for our region and for the country.

I make a lot of trips across that bridge. I’ve been doing the commute for most of those 30 years a couple times a week, saying my prayers as I cross that bridge being inches away from an 18 wheeler often. And it’s kind of a white knuckle experience for a lot of people who will be happy to see us have another bridge next to it and have this bridge repaired. So it’s been top of mind for me, and I was honored to lead from the Republican side the infrastructure negotiations in Washington. Remember, infrastructure is something that five administrations had talked about and many congresses have talked about. In fact, I think President Biden is not the first president to have a photo op in front of this bridge. In fact, I know there’ve been Republicans and Democrats, I’ve been with them sometimes in front of this bridge saying, “We’re going to get it fixed.” We’re finally going to get it fixed, folks.

The unprecedented level of federal support that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has provided both through the Bridge Investment Act and through the Mega Program and other programs has given us the ability to finally move forward with this and I’m really excited about it. The Memorandum of Understanding was key to this. And as I said earlier, just the cooperation between the two states is really important. Where it’s going to be particularly important is over the next several years, and for this administration, these two governors, and for their successors and for the future directors and to the workforce that’s going to be involved in this and to our local government officials, today and future over the next decade really, we have to thank them in advance because a lot of the hard work is yet to be done.

I will say today thanks to the support of the Department of Transportation providing this award, it’s about $1.635 billion. That’s the biggest federal grant ever for a project anywhere in the country, anywhere. And it’s appropriate. You got 3% of the nation’s Congress going over that bridge. We’ve probably seen about 1% of it just while you’ve been sitting here. And so I want to thank President Biden, I want to thank Secretary Buttigieg. I want to thank Director Mitch Landrieu, who’s here with us, who heads up their infrastructure project. And I think they understand how critical this is for our nation’s economy and for our region, for the commute. But they also understand that this is a model now for the rest of the country. Our nation has fallen behind a little bit on our competitiveness. We’re not as efficient as we should be and that’s what transportation infrastructure was always about for me, in addition to the digital infrastructure, broadband.

The reason I got so excited about getting something done finally is because this puts America in a stronger position to compete with the rest of the world, and therefore it helps all taxpayers and every American worker. And that’s what this bridge represents too, is this notion that we can, when we put our heads together, get something done that’s that important. I want to especially thank leader Mitch McConnell who showed political courage, I won’t go into great detail on that, but I think you know what I mean, but also patience in working with us. This was a six-month long bipartisan project, started off with one Republican, one Democrat, then we grew it to five and five and 10 and 10, but he helped us steward this through the process and his support for this, in my view, the Infrastructure Bill itself was critically important to our being here today. So Mitch, thank you.

I want to thank Senator Brown as the co-author of what’s called the Bridge Investment Act, which is made part of the Infrastructure Bill that’s providing about 1.3 of this historic $1.6 plus trillion commitment today. And of course, again, to Director Marchbanks and Secretary Gray and the teams, thank you for what you will do going forward. This is really important for our region, but it’s also important for our country and it is a model.

Let me finish with talking about another model. We did something to get this infrastructure bill passed that is too rare in Congress these days, and that is we sat down as Republicans and Democrats and said, “What is our objective? What are we trying to accomplish here? After decades of talking about it, how are we actually going to get infrastructure done?” And we set aside our partisan differences, and although we didn’t agree on every detail of that Infrastructure Bill, we worked as hard as we could to find common ground to get it done. Now to me, this is not just about a bridge between Ohio and Kentucky, this is about a more effective bridge for our country by talking about how we got here, which is through this process of yeah, bipartisanship because it actually works to deliver for the people.

So as we celebrate the bridge today as being a more effective way to move people across our two great states, it’s also a day to talk about how we need to more effectively create those bridges to solve big problems in our country. Godspeed to all of you and congratulations.

Speaker 3 (21:23):

Please welcome United States Senator Sherrod Brown.

Andrew Beshear (21:35):

Good afternoon Cincinnati and wherever else you’re from. Mr. President, President Biden, thank you, thank you, thank you. Leader McConnell, thank you for your role in this. My longtime friend, Senator Portman, this would not have happened without him either. Governor Beshear, thank you and good to see your family here. Governor DeWine and Franny, thank you for your work. This is what bipartisanship in the United States of America should look like and does look like.

As Rob said, after working on this for more than a decade, he’s actually worked on this for 30 years, I’ve only worked on this for 15 or 16 years, we’re finally going to build a new bridge. The federal government’s finally doing its part to make this crucial crossing between Ohio and Kentucky safe and reliable. We passed the PACT Act, the most comprehensive expansion of benefits for veterans who face toxic exposure from those football field sized burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, we finally passed the PACT Act, which has made us making a huge difference for veterans. That’s what bipartisanship looks like in the last two years.

This last Congress, we worked together to pass the CHIPS Act, and again, with Senator McConnell and Senator Portman stepping up with us, meaning the technology of the future won’t just be developed, R&D, in America, it will actually be made in America, in the industrial heartland, in Ohio, in Kentucky where we have built the engines of progress for generations. That’s what bipartisanship looks like.

And to me, it mostly looks like jobs. It looks like good union jobs, construction jobs, building the new companion bridge, improving the entire Brent Spence corridor that runs from here in Kentucky to the nine-year old Western Hills Viaduct and FDR project in the 30s. Rob and I were talking about that on the way out here. A few of you in the front row seem to have worked on that project back in the 30s. It’s received millions of dollars in federal infrastructure funds. It will mean more American manufacturing jobs. There will be more contracts for Ohio and Kentucky manufacturers because of the work Senator Portman, Governor DeWine, and I did to make sure the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has the strongest by America requirements ever signed into law in the United States of America.

It means taxpayer dollars will support American jobs, American taxpayer dollars supporting American jobs, period. The days of taxpayer-funded bridges like these, the days of taxpayer-funded bridges made with Chinese steel are over. It means the 160,000 Americans who cross this bridge every single day, 3% as Rob said, 3% of the GDP every day crossing this bridge, it means that all of them will benefit. Whether that’s a safer commute to work for commuters, whether it’s businesses both large and small, safely and affordably transporting their products over this bridge, this bridge will make life better for people in Ohio and Kentucky.

Mayor Pureval and other local mayors and community leaders, business people have been sounding the alarm to Rob and me and to others for years, I want to particularly thank the Cincinnati Regional Chamber of Commerce. I remember my first meeting, it was my first week in the Senate, the Chamber of Commerce, first thing they talked about was Brent Spence. Thank you for continuing to champion this critical Infrastructure Bill. Plenty of politicians have paid lip service to fixing our infrastructure. We used to be the envy of the world, our infrastructure did, but until now it’s been empty talk. Today shows what we can achieve for the region and for our country when everyone works together.

To get this funding through Congress, it took a new approach. In 2018, as Rob just said, we started building a bipartisan coalition to create a new program that could tackle large, mega projects like Brent Spence. I worked with Rob and 12 other senators to begin to work to make that happen. For years, for years, presidents of both parties have promised infrastructure. You can count and name the number of presidents that have either stood on that bridge or stood over here so you get the best view of Cincinnati, sorry Kentucky, you can name all those presidents that talked about that. But it took President Biden, the most pro-worker, pro-union president in my lifetime, it took President Biden to do this.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, included my bridge legislation that Rob and I talked about, made this investment possible. We celebrate today, not just the new Brent Spence crossing, but all the investments in Ohio from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. I was talking to Ms. Mays a moment ago, a 30-year iron worker, she will be introducing the president, and talking about these projects she’s worked on and how we are going to need in this state, in this country to see a lot more women in the trades and a lot more people of color in the trades, building our bridges, building intel, building small county culvert bridges in places like Mansfield and Richland County where I grew up and worked on our family farm. And we’re going to need good union workers to do these. It’s not just about numbers, it’s about what the investments meet in Ohio. For the black and brown communities who have historically been cut off from job centers, for [inaudible 00:27:36] rural areas that are hard to reach, it will mean connection, it will mean good-paying, union, middle-class jobs.

Together, together we can leverage this investment to create jobs in every city, every county, every township across our great state. Thank you today, all of you, for being part of this great day. Thank you.

Speaker 4 (28:04):

Please welcome Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

Rob Portman (28:27):

Well, good afternoon, everyone. This is a day I think many people in Northern Kentucky thought might never happen. For those of us who’ve run for public office in Kentucky over the years, every time you came to Northern Kentucky, the issue was how we’re going to get the bridge built. And as all the Kentucky politicians can tell you, the issue of possibly tolling the bridges was very, very toxic. And so today, we sit in this wonderful clear day with sun shining down on literally a legislative miracle. How did it come together?

Well, Senator Portman, from whom you had a chance to hear, was the active person on our side. Several Democratic senators on the other side came together and began to talk about how we might be able to work together to get an outcome. We all know these are really partisan times, but I always feel, no matter who gets elected, once it’s all over, we ought to look for things we can agree on and try to do those even while we have big differences on other things.

And this bridge, I think, symbolizes the coming together of both sides on something that both sides thought was important to try to get an outcome. You have a Democratic governor here, Governor Beshear, a Republican legislature led by Senate President Stivers, Kentucky House led by Speaker David Osborne, Chris McDaniel from Northern Kentucky, who took the lead on it down in Frankfurt to provide the matching funds that we needed to make this project to go forward.

So it’s not just this project, but the infrastructure bill, the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the President signed, provides dramatic additional assistance just looking at the Kentucky side of the river, this project plus other projects, over $8 billion over the next five years, this is really quite significant. And as we know, even though it benefits us in Ohio and Kentucky, nationally, this was one of the big projects in the entire country to deal with the crumbling infrastructure that we’ve all been talking about for years. And so we finally stepped up together and addressed it.

It’s also great to see the Governor of Ohio here. We used to be colleagues in the Senate, Governor DeWine and his team. So if you look at the political alignment of everyone involved in this, it’s the government working together to solve a major problem at a time when the country needs to see examples like this of coming together and getting an outcome. And so I’m pleased to be here today to be a part of this. I encouraged it, I supported it, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish working together with the people of Kentucky and Ohio and all these other commuters coming through here every day, going north and south across our great country. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. It’s an exciting day. I’m proud to be a part of it. Thank you.

Speaker 4 (32:06):

Please welcome Ironworker Local 44 member, Sarah Gwen May.

Sarah Gwen May (32:25):

Good afternoon. My name is Sarah and I stand here today, a proud union ironworker. I’ve been a member of Local 44 right here in Cincinnati, Ohio for 30 years. 13 of those years, I’ve dedicated my service to CHC fabrication. When I first became a union ironworker, I didn’t know anything about ironwork and I didn’t even know how to properly read a tape measure, but I heard they had good benefits, their wages was allowing me to take care of my family, so I decided to take the chance to become an ironworker.

As a single mother, it was very important for the benefits. The benefits was really nice benefits. My union has built this city from the ground up. And now, thanks to President Biden, our leader, and the work of other leaders here today, we are rebuilding and replacing the Brent Spence Bridge. It’s a boost for the workers. Thank you. It’s a boost for the workers and it’s a boost for the region. That means quicker and faster commutes. Ironworkers like me, and my brother and sister ironworkers of Local 44, and other tradesmen get the opportunity to work on the bridge. This brings jobs, this brings money, which is very well needed right now today in Cincinnati and Kentucky. It is now my honor and my privilege to introduce to you the President of the United States, our president, Joe Biden.

Joe Biden (34:40):

Please, have a seat if you have one. Folks from inside the tent, I didn’t know you’re all back there. I tell you, you got to be standing too, huh? All right. Well, look, Happy New Year, everyone. And Sarah, thanks for that introduction. I’m delighted to see the mayor, Mayor Covington and … Mayor of Covington, I should say, he is Covington, I think, Joe Mayor, and the Mayor of Cincinnati. And I make sure I got to do this right. Aftab Fraval. Did I correct it?

Speaker 5 (35:19):

[inaudible 00:35:20].

Joe Biden (35:21):

Because I want to get it right. He’s a hell of a lot bigger than I am. Look, newly elected representative, Greg Landsman, he couldn’t be here today. He’s dealing with trying to figure out who’s going to be the next Speaker of House of Representatives. And I wish him a lot of luck. He may be the first freshman ever elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. But it’s great to be here with two individuals who are among those who work the hardest and the longest to get this done. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, both men of significant integrity and people who do what they say. They’ve been fighting this for years, to get the funding to repair the bridge, Sherrod 16 and Rob about 28. They never gave up. They got it done. And a big thanks also to Governor Andy Beshear and Mike DeWine, who worked hand in hand to help get this done.

Folks, I’m especially happy to be here with my friend and colleague of many years and, I might add, a longest serving leader in the United States Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell. Mitch, it’s great to be with you. I asked permission if I could say something nice about him. I didn’t want to … I said I’d campaign for him or against him, whichever will help him the most. But Mitch, it wasn’t easy to get this done and it wouldn’t have gotten done, no matter all the work so many others have done. And my writing the legislation and dropping it in, it wouldn’t have happened without your hand. It just wouldn’t have gotten done, and I want to thank you for that.

And we have to find common ground, common ground to get major legislation done in any circumstance, ever, but particularly the circumstance we’ve been in the last four or five years have been less than cooperative. And Leader McConnell and I don’t agree on everything. In fact, we disagree on a lot of things, but here’s what matters, he’s a man of his word. When he gives you his word, you can take it to the bank, you can count on it, and he’s willing to find common ground to get things done for the country. So thank you, Mitch. Thank you.

And that’s exactly what we did in the bipartisan infrastructure law, which got done, in no small part, because of Mitch’s leadership. Folks, look, I wanted to start off the new year at this historic project here in Ohio and Kentucky with a bipartisan group of officials because I believe it sends an important message, an important message to the entire country. We can work together, we can get things done, we can move the nation forward, we just drop a little bit of our egos and focus on what is needed in the country.

For decades, people have talked about the Brent Spence Bridge, but folks, talking is over. The bipartisan infrastructure law, we’re finally going to get it done. And the law, its most significant investment, this whole bill, the most significant investment in American roads, bridges since the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system. Over $1 billion from the infrastructure law for this is going to upgrade the bridge and the delegation has fought so hard to get done for so long.

And here’s why it’s so important. This bridge connects Ohio and Kentucky, carries Interstate 71 and 75 across the Ohio River. It’s on one of the nation’s busiest freight routes. Truck traffic on I75 alone carries $2 billion of freight, $2 billion of freight per day between Florida and Canada, $2 billion. The bridge was built in ’63, as you all know, designed to carry 80,000 vehicles a day. Today, 160,000 vehicles cross this bridge, 30,000 of them, as you can see, about 10 of them already passed, are trucks.

Think about it. A bridge built over half a century ago handling double the volume it was built for. It’s the second most congested truck bottleneck in the entire United States. It doesn’t take an engineer to tell anyone in this neck of the woods that the recipe for dangerous accidents, delayed shipments, and notorious gridlocks, you’re looking at it. Folks around here understand. Y’all saw what happened two years ago. Two years ago, when the bridge was closed for weeks because of the damage from a crash, lost revenues to local businesses, congestion on alternative routes, nightmare commutes. One company called it what everyone else felt, total chaos.

Folks, this is the United States of America, for God’s sake. We know, and now we’re proving, we’re much better than we’ve been of recent past. The funding from this infrastructure law is going to upgrade the current bridge and to build a second new bridge right next to it for interstate traffic. Look, that’ll keep local traffic from competing with those massive trucks and freight. Look, it means folks around here will actually be able to use the bridge again to work, for work, for school, for emergencies without bumper-to-bumper traffic, and it’ll be safer and easier commutes. First responders will get to folks who need help without delay and our nation’s commerce can flow more efficiently through this area because tractor trailers and other large vehicles will be able to move products to their destination without so much congestion.

Look, it’s not just here that the infrastructure law is being used. We’re just getting started. We’re doing it all across America, from coast to coast. As I speak, the Vice President of the United States is in Chicago today. We’re rebuilding four drawbridges in the South Side, so barge and ship traffic will continue to move in and out of Illinois’ international port. We’re going to move product faster from ships to shelves. Secretary Pete Buttigieg is in Connecticut. We’re renovating the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, so traffic along the busy northeast corridor of the United States can move smoothly along I95. Tomorrow, Mitch Landrieu, our infrastructure coordinator, is going to be in San Francisco. We’re upgrading the iconic Golden Gate Bridge so it can

Joe Biden (42:00):

And withstand future earthquakes and be around for generations to come. And it’s not just bridges. Already over a million households across Ohio and Kentucky are getting access to high speed internet through the infrastructure law, didn’t exist before. And right across the river in Cincinnati, we’re going to award $127 million to replace the old Western Hills wire duck with a new structure to make freight movement by road and rail more reliable and efficient. A critical piece right at the beginning of this entire Carter. And I know a big priority for you, Mr. Mayor. And on the Tennessee River here in Kentucky, we’re investing $465 million to finish building the Kentucky Lock and Dam to clear bridge [inaudible 00:42:50] traffic. And we’re going to lead to more economic growth in this area. In Louisville, transforming 9th Street from a six lane thoroughfare into an area of large pedestrian zone bicycles, bus lanes, better public space.

In Lancaster Ohio and Hopkinsville Kentucky, the infrastructure law is helping companies that make batteries for electric vehicles build new manufacturing sites, create more jobs. So our electric vehicle future is going to be made in America, all of it. And we’re doing all this with American workers and American products that are made in America. It’s a simple concept. I can sum it up in two words. Buy American. I don’t sign anything that the Congress passes unless it’s buying up something in American. With [inaudible 00:43:42] Brown’s help, we’re making sure that the iron steel construction materials that they’re built in this bridge are made here in America, the United States, made in Ohio, made in Kentucky, employing thousands of people all by itself, and that’s the work we’re going to do largely and it’s being largely done by unions, not labor, union. I can say the word union. Laborers, electricians, carpenters, cement masons, ironworkers, steelworkers, communication workers, autoworkers, and so much more. These are good jobs you can raise a family on and most don’t require a college degree.

All this is about making an investment in America’s heartland, in America’s people, in America’s future. It’s about making things in America again, it’s about good jobs. It’s about the dignity of work. It’s about respect and folks, it’s about damn time we’re doing it. For too long we’ve talked about asserting American leadership, about building the best economy in the world, but to have the best economy in the world, the reason I pushed this bill to begin with, you have to have the best infrastructure in the world. You can’t have the best economy in the world without having the best infrastructure in the world. Again, products to market, creating thousands of good paying jobs. For most of the last century, we led the world by a significant margin because we invested in our people. We invested in ourselves, but along the way, we stopped. We used to rank number one in the world in research and development from the federal government’s funding. Now we ranked number nine. China used to rank number eight. Now, China ranks number two.

We risk losing our edge as a nation and China and the rest of the world are catching up. Communities in places like Ohio and Kentucky saw factories leave towns hollowed out. Infrastructures start to crumble. Just between 1990 and 2020, Ohio lost more than 350,000 manufacturing jobs. 350, 000 lost. Kentucky lost 20,000. Now we’re back on track. Folks, where is it written? Where is it written that the United States cannot and will not lead the world in manufacturing once again? We’re going to do it. Just since I got elected, we’ve created 750,000 new manufacturing jobs. Today just a few hours from here Intel’s investing $20 billion. 20 billion near Columbus to expand what I refer to as the field of dreams. Expanding semiconductor manufacturing. That’s 7,000 construction jobs, 3,000 full-time jobs, paying an average of $135,000 a year those full-time jobs, and you do not need a college degree. Micron is investing $100 billion in semiconductors factory in Syracuse. TSMC is invested 40 billion in Phoenix to do the same. 20 billion in Poughkeepsie New York for IBM.

All together, there’s a commitment of close to $300 billion in major private investment in American manufacturing and to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to the United States. And by the way, we invented the semiconductor, the United States that we got back in our heels, no, think about it. Think about why the recession got so bad two years ago. Cars got so expensive. We didn’t have semiconductors. Scores of them are in the engines of every automobile. We invented them and then we went to sleep. We exported jobs. Now we’re exporting product and creating jobs. And it’s happening in no smaller part because of another bipartisan effort the Chips and Science Act, which Mitch and all these folks here with me today, they all supported it. It’s about revitalizing American manufacturing. It’s about America once again, being the leading edge that of technological innovation. It’s about America’s national security. Folks, it’s about one more thing. It’s about pride. Simple pride. Pride that I know all of us here today can feel. Pride in our country. Pride in what we can do and what we can do when we do it together.

Folks, let me close with this. After years of politics being so divisive, there are bright spots across the country. The Brent Spence Bridge is one of them, a bridge that continues and connects different centuries, different states, different political parties, a bridge to the vision of America I know we all believe in, where we can work together to get things done. And thanks to those here today, we’re into Congress. We’re willing to cross the aisle to get something done. They know fasting these two bipartisan laws just by themselves, more important than partisan politics. And it’s going to make a gigantic difference. Together, we’re approving. Our best days are ahead of us. And I mean this from the bottom of my heart. We’ve been doing this a long time. Folks, our best days are ahead of us. They’re not behind us. I’ve long said, and I mean this, I have never, ever, ever been more optimistic about America’s prospects than I am today. Never, never.

I’ve traveled over 140 countries around the world. I’ll paraphrase the phrase of my own neighborhood, the rest of the country is the world is not a patch on our genes. If we do what we want to do, we need to do. It’s never been a good bet to bet against America. It’s never been more true than today. I can honestly say here today, I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future. We just have to remember who in the hell we are. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing beyond our capacity when we do it together, and I mean it. Think about it. Name me another country in the world at such as such that didn’t complete it. So folks, thank you all for your local officials. Thank you all for this Congress and senators that are here, may God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Keep the faith. Every time I’d walk out of my grandfather finishing a house up in Scranton, he’d yell, Joey, keep the faith. And my grandmother yelled, no, Joey, spread it. Let’s go. Spread the faith. Thank you. Thanks everybody.

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