By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
As House Republicans continued their dysfunction and remained divided over who would be the next speaker, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined President Joe Biden in Kentucky to promote the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
While McConnell joining Biden in the senator’s home state on Jan. 4 proved rare, it’s been nearly 100 years since the House needed more than one round of voting to select a speaker.
Republicans, who have a slim majority in the House, have failed to unite behind presumptive speaker Kevin McCarthy of California.
McCarthy needs 218 votes, but 20 of his GOP colleagues have either voted against him or have cast ballots for Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.
Hakeem Jeffries, the leader of the Democratic Party in New York, got all 213 of his party’s votes, setting up a historic, if unlikely, scenario that would put him in the speaker’s seat.
If six disgruntled Republicans vote for Jeffries, he will become speaker in a House where his party is in the minority.
Meanwhile, McConnell and 18 other Senate GOP members voted in favor of Biden’s massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which the president signed into law in 2021.
The Kentucky event and the fights within the GOP have shown how much Biden wants to work with both sides.
The Jan. 4 visit began in Covington, where Biden, McConnell, and others, visited the Brent Spence Bridge.
The president called the moment the latest example of how his economic plan delivers for American families and communities.
The White House said more than $2 billion in investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is earmarked for upgrading some of the nation’s most economically significant bridges.
“The President’s economic plan is proving that when America invests in ourselves – especially in our infrastructure, clean energy, and high-growth industries that are critical to our economic and national security – we can build a bottom-up and middle-out economy,” Administration officials said in a Fact Sheet.
“That means an economy with better jobs and better pay, including jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. And it means a more dynamic and more resilient economy, including in communities that are too often forgotten.”
The infrastructure law invests $40 billion to repair and rebuild the nation’s bridges – the single most significant dedicated investment in bridges since the construction of the Eisenhower-era Interstate Highway System.
Administration officials said it would help repair or rebuild ten of the country’s most economically significant bridges and over 15,000 additional bridges nationwide.
Most of the projects funded by the new law are covered by Davis-Bacon requirements, meaning the construction workers who build the projects will receive good pay and benefits.
While Biden also plans to visit Cincinnati, Vice President Kamala Harris travels to visit bridges that cross the Calumet River in Chicago, Secretary Pete Buttigieg will travel to the Gold Star Memorial Bridge in New London, Connecticut, and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu will join Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
“These major bridge investments are a symbol that we can still do big things when we do them together,” administration officials noted.