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Biden in Michigan: U.S. risks 'losing our edge' in infrastructure

Biden in Michigan: U.S. risks 'losing our edge' in infrastructure
President Joe Biden speaks in the state dining room at White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday. He travels to Michigan on Tuesday to promote the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 5 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden warned Tuesday that the United States risks losing its edge in the global economy if Congress doesn't pass his twin economic packages.

He traveled to Michigan to stump for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan, which has been stalled in the House by Democratic progressives who want to see a separate $3.5 trillion spending plan approved in Congress.

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"These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency," Biden said during remarks in Howell, Mich., after touring the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 training facility.

The Senate has already passed the infrastructure bill, but the legislation has been slowed in the House by progressives who are using it as leverage for the larger spending package, which is part of Biden's social and economic agenda.

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Biden traveled to Capitol Hill last week and has spoken by phone in negotiation with the Democratic Caucus on ways to break the impasse.

"We risk losing our edge as a nation. Our infrastructure used to be the best in the world, literally, not figuratively," he said. "Today, according to the world economic forum, we rank 13th. ... All those investments that fueled a strong economy, we've taken our foot off the gas. The world has taken notice, by the way, including our adversaries and now they're closing the gap in a big way.

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Biden spoke to an outdoor crowd of about 50 people after touring the training center.

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He carried the state of Michigan in last year's presidential election and Howell is in a district represented by Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich. But former President Donald Trump won more support in the district in the 2020 election.

"We're going to a state and a part of the state that could benefit from all of these packages because they're hugely popular whether you're a Democrat, a Republican, an independent," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

"People don't think of their roads as partisan for good reason, nor do they think of their childcare as partisan. So that's why the president wants to go make the case in Michigan," Psaki said.

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Psaki noted that Michigan residents spend a good deal of time commuting to work because of a dire need for infrastructure upgrades. She also said nearly 10% of residents in the state don't have access to broadband Internet.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have voiced support for the infrastructure bill, but moderate Democrats such as Rep. Joe Manchin of West Virginia have balked at the $3.5 trillion cost of the spending blueprint, which calls for the money to be spent on healthcare, education, climate change measures and other social programs.

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