President Joe Biden spoke Wednesday afternoon at a General Motors factory in Detroit to promote Monday’s passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The legislation is a $1 trillion package that will invest in the United States’ infrastructure for the first time since many of the nation’s major highways and bridges were created.
Biden gave a speech at GM’s newest plant Factory ZERO in Detroit near Hamtramck. The factory will exclusively produce GM’s line of electric vehicles. Biden’s remarks come on the heels of GM’s release of their new all-electric Hummer, which he test drove before giving the speech.
The bill will make major investments into public transit, bridges, roads, highways and clean energy as Biden moves to make America’s automotive fleet electric. The legislation features projects that will give all Americans access to high-speed broadband internet, as well as invest in the construction of cleaner pipes for drinking water — two major Democratic campaign promises from the 2020 election.
Sen. Gary Peters, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Rep. Debbie Dingell — all Michigan Democrats — and other Representatives from surrounding Metro Detroit districts were in attendance.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was not present at the event, as she had a previously scheduled meeting with leaders in the semiconductor industry, according to a White House statement . In the release, Whitmer commended Biden for the legislation’s passage that would result in “thousands of good-paying blue-collar jobs that will result from this historic investment in our state’s infrastructure.” She also expressed her commitment to keeping Michigan as the “automobile capital of the world.”
Biden praised Michigan lawmakers for their help in passing the bill and for understanding the issues important to Michigan families.
“It’s not hyperbole to say that this delegation is laser-focused on your needs and needs of the people of Michigan, your concerns,” Biden said. “The kind of conversations that take place around your kitchen table. Conversations as profound as they are ordinary. ‘How am I going to get to work on time if I-75 is flooded again?’ ‘How can I be sure my job and the auto plant is still going to be here a few years down the line?’”
A major part of the bill is expanding the U.S.’s capacity for electric vehicles by vastly increasing the number of charging stations available to drivers. Biden said the bill has plans to pair this step with creating more union jobs in the U.S.
“We’re going to put IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) members and other union members to work installing a national network of charging stations along our roads and highways in our communities,” Biden said. “Look, we’re going to make sure that the jobs of the future end up here in Michigan, not halfway around the world.”
During the event, Peters said he sees electric vehicles as the “future of American automotive manufacturing.”
“What we saw today was how mobility will transform society in the 21st century – just as it did in the last century,” Peters said. “The electric vehicles that will be built out of Factory ZERO will be highly advanced and completely change the way we get around. The bipartisan infrastructure law will cement Michigan’s leadership in innovation by making electric vehicles more accessible and building charging stations across the country.”
A major focus of the event was Biden’s belief in good-paying, unionized jobs. He explained how the transit upkeep projects included in the bill will create jobs in Michigan while also updating U.S. infrastructure.
“Here in Michigan, (we’re) replacing nearly one-fifth of the transit vehicles that are past their useful life,” Biden said. “It means jobs for folks making the upgrades, good-paying union jobs, jobs you can raise a family on, jobs you can’t outsource.”
Biden touched on the parts of the bill that may not have always been considered as “traditional” infrastructure needs. These included projects to eliminate PFAS and drinking water issues and expand WiFi access for American families.
“There’s an additional $10 billion nationwide to eliminate the dangerous chemical PFAS,” Biden said. “This law is going to make high-speed internet affordable and available everywhere in America. 14% of Michigan households don’t have an internet subscription, nearly 400,000 people in the state. In a lot of places, there’s no broadband infrastructure at all.”
Biden also touched on how the bill strengthens the U.S.’s defense against extreme weather events, like the 2020 California wildfires or the extreme flooding that took place this past summer in Michigan.
“Here in Michigan, you know the cost of extreme weather, you remember the flooding this summer that shut down parts of I-75 and I-95, the power outages and tornado warnings,” Biden said. “Last year, the extreme weather cost the United States of America $99 billion. From hurricanes in Louisiana to 20 inches of rain in the northeast, to fires in the West that literally consumed more land than the entire state of New Jersey.”
This legislation was a key campaign promise from Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign to help the country “build back better,” something he discussed in his remarks.
“This law is going to help rebuild the backbone of this nation,” Biden said. “To rebuild the economy from the bottom up and the middle out is the way I look at the world. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America that leaves no one behind.”
Biden also addressed concerns about how the bill will be paid for, saying that large corporations and wealthy individuals should pay their fair share in taxes.
“Look, I’m a capitalist — If you’re able to make a million or billion dollars, have at it, that’s good for everybody, except pay your fair share,” Biden said. “We had 55 of the largest corporations in America pay not a single penny in federal taxes last year. They made $40 billion. I want them to make money, that’s good, but pay a little. That’s how we pay for it, for real.”
Daily Staff Reporter Christian Juliano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.