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Biden Visits Minnesota to Promote Infrastructure Bill

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President Joe Biden tours the Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minn., Nov. 30, 2021.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday visited a Minnesota technical college to sell Americans on his recently approved $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which the administration says will train millions of Americans “for the high-growth jobs of the future” that will build the massive infrastructure that Biden says the U.S. needs to compete globally.

“Here’s what this is all about: rebuilding America, investing in America,” he told a crowd of some 90 people gathered at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota. “That’s what this is about. And we’re doing it as we continue to battle the pandemic. As I told the American people yesterday, this new variant is a cause for concern, but not a cause to panic.”

He was referring to the new omicron variant of COVID-19.

Biden also toured the facilities at the public, two-year technical college, which serves nearly 13,000 students across multiple disciplines, including construction, automotive work and manufacturing.

“Places like this are going to train the next generation of workers to do the jobs that my infrastructure law and our Build Back Better Act are going to put into even greater demand,” he said.

But not all Minnesotans are on board with his ambitious plan. Several dozen protesters gathered quietly across the street from the college, some waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, others bearing the distinctive garb and banners of the Proud Boys group, an all-male, far-right neo-fascist group.

One protester held aloft a sign that read “Build Back Broke,” echoing sentiments by Republicans who fear that this massive, $1.75 trillion social spending bill that expands a number of services, including child care, preschool and community college benefits, will raise the debt to dangerous levels.

“Don’t buy Biden’s spin,” tweeted Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Tuesday. “Build Back Broke RAISES taxes on middle class families while LOWERING taxes on millionaires like Nancy Pelosi.”

This is Biden’s first visit to the state known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" since he was elected president. He also used the occasion to praise lawmakers from the state — like Minnesota’s Senator Amy Klobuchar, who joined him on the trip — who he said were key in pushing through the infrastructure bill in the Senate.

The president will need their continued support for his massive social spending plan, which passed the House in mid-November but faces a Senate vote, which Biden said he is pushing for mid-December.

“The sooner the better,” he said when reporters asked him if he could wait for a vote to happen later, perhaps in January.

The White House estimates that under the new law, Minnesota will receive $4.5 billion for federal highways, $302 million for bridges, $818 million for public transportation, $680 million to improve water infrastructure and $100 million that aims to cover every resident with high-speed internet.

Also, the bill will provide about $68 million to expand the state’s electric vehicle charging network, and Minnesota will receive a slice of the $50 billion in the bill allocated to strengthening infrastructure against the effects of climate change.

Biden is selling his ambitious plan to a wounded nation, still reeling from a pandemic and political divisions that seem to be getting deeper.

That grim reality was coaxed out by the unlikeliest of interrogators. Twelve-year-old Amari Beyene was one of three student journalists from South St. Paul Middle School who approached the president with a question: ”What is the main priority for you going into 2022?"

"Bringing the nation back together so we treat each other with respect and decency,” Biden responded.

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