By Jim Tankersley
President Biden will fly to rural Wisconsin on Tuesday for an afternoon speech that will launch a national tour to pitch voters on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement that the president and centrist senators announced last week.
A White House official not authorized to speak on the record said Mr. Biden would use the speech in La Crosse, Wis., to highlight several aspects of the agreement — which would increase federal spending on physical infrastructure by $579 billion, the largest such increase in decades. He is expected to portray the deal as one that would improve quality of life for Wisconsin residents, including through more deployment of broadband internet in rural areas, where the White House says about 35 percent of families lack reliable internet.
Mr. Biden is expected to promise to replace the nearly 80,000 water service lines in Milwaukee that are made of lead, and he plans to cast spending on road and bridge repairs as a means to reduce traffic for drivers across the country.
The president and his aides have aggressively made the case in recent days that the agreement would be a large step forward for the nation on key infrastructure areas, as part of a delicate effort to sell Democrats in the House and Senate on the merits of a deal that stopped well short of Mr. Biden’s initial $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, including leaving out entire categories of spending on fighting climate change and investing in home health care for older and disabled Americans.
The tour is also meant to reassure Republicans that Mr. Biden is committed to the agreement. Mr. Biden told reporters on Thursday that he would not sign the bipartisan deal if it was not accompanied by a second, partisan bill containing much of the rest of Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda, which prompted a frantic weekend for the White House as some Republicans questioned whether the deal could survive.
On Sunday, Mr. Biden released a statement saying he had not meant to imply he would veto the bipartisan agreement, promising to campaign aggressively for its passage. That worried progressives who are counting on the second, partisan bill’s passage.
In a nod to the complicated politics of the two economic bills, the White House official said Mr. Biden would also use the Wisconsin speech to highlight the large swath of the second half of his agenda, which was excluded from the agreement, including investments in housing, child care, tax credits for parents that are meant to fight child poverty and large investments in public education.
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