Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. needs the most modern infrastructure in the world to compete with countries like China, adding that Congress should pass President Obama’s $478 billion infrastructure bill.
Biden argued that Congress should be debating how to pay for updates to the nation’s infrastructure rather than whether or not it is needed. When problems arise, the former Delaware senator said he goes to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers since he is “viewed as the least partisan guy.”
“Whatever you want to call it, there are severe weather occurrences putting our energy infrastructure at risk and there’s a need for major repair, major reorganization and major investment in our infrastructure. This is important not only for our economic competitiveness of the 21st century but for simply our national security. It’s desperately needed,” Biden said at a Bloomberg Government event on federal investment in infrastructure.
“Have you noticed every time there’s a problem I get sent up to the Hill because I’m viewed as the least partisan guy? I have real relations. I have great respect for real for the members of the House and the Senate but something is going on here. Something different is going on and all the 36 years I served as a United States senator chairing two of the major committees in the U.S. Senate for half of that time, there’s something going on here,” he added.
Biden said the “tail is wagging the dog” in both political parties and it has to change.
“I can understand Republicans debating us about how to pay for needed investment but I don’t understand the debate about whether or not we need to invest in our infrastructure and that’s the debate,” he said. “You are all here to talk about how to pay for it and what to prioritize. There’s still a debate up on the hill about whether or not it is even needed.”
Biden made a pitch for the 6-year $478 billion Grow America Act, which the Obama administration recently sent to Congress.
“It would provide $378 billion over 10 years to our nation’s highway system so our roads and bridges can move forward with certainty, they can see it to the end, saving hundreds of thousands of jobs, I might add,” Biden said.
Biden added that the legislation would “continue the TIGER grants which bring federal, state, local and private partners together to get capital off the sideline to connect the different points of our entire infrastructure.”
According to Biden, the bill would be paid for with corporate tax reform that encourages companies to bring home profits and reinvest them in the United States.
“We would levy a one-time 14 percent tax on $2 trillion in overseas profits held by American companies, which is in some cases is three times less than the tax they would ordinarily have to pay if they brought it home, that would generate a one-time surplus of $268 billion dedicated directly to modernizing our infrastructure,” he said.
Biden encouraged Republicans to “offer something else” if they do not like the administration’s plan.
“Tell us what they want done. We will be willing to listen. I will sit there for hours and compromise with them to get this done. Look, these kinds of infrastructure jobs create a virtuous cycle. First of all, they attract and retain business. Secondly, these are good, middle-class paying jobs, you can raise a family on them. It creates and supports millions of jobs,” he said.