President Joe Biden discusses updates and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in remarks at the New Hampshire Port Authority in Portsmouth. Photo by Amanda Sabga/UPI | License Photo
April 19 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden traveled to New England on Tuesday to underscore the importance of repairing infrastructure and unclogging supply chains for some relief against inflation.
In remarks from New Hampshire, Biden addressed rising inflation, which he said was caused primarily by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
"The war in Ukraine is going to continue to take its toll on the world economy," he said. "It's going to take its toll on energy, and it's going to take its toll relative to food."
Biden used the speech to call on Democrats to pass measures to increase domestic semiconductor manufacturing and resurface elements of his signature Build Back Better plan to lower health care and similar costs for families.
"Beyond gas prices, I've called on Congress to move immediately on lowering families' utility bills, prescription drug bills and more, while lowering the deficit and reducing inflation without raising a single penny on taxes," he said.
The president visited Portsmouth Harbor, which recently completed a project to widen the harbor's turning basin and will receive money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the widening project. That will allow the harbor to accommodate larger ships and heavier cargo shipments and improve the regional economy.
Biden said the improvements will help save the $90,000 per day it can cost for an unloaded ship to wait until tides high enough to pass through.
"It also has been a problem for decades," he said. "But with an $18 million investment from the Army Corps of Engineers and with the help of [U.S. Reps.] Maggie [Hassan] and Chris [Pappas], we widened that basin to 1,200 feet and got it done."
He noted that the port supports 2,300 jobs and provides $275 million to the regional economy.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the infrastructure law dedicates close to $20 billion to upgrade, repair and maintain port infrastructure nationwide.
It's estimated that driving on those roads -- roughly 700 miles -- that need repairs costs New Hampshire drivers at least an average of $476 a year," Biden said during his speech.
The trip to New England is a continuation of similar moves Biden has made in recent weeks that are intended to underscore the accomplishments of his administration ahead of the midterm elections in November, during which Republicans could possibly retake control of one or both houses of Congress.
Biden has seen sagging support largely due to rising inflation and the high cost of gasoline in the United States -- market forces that have been influenced by the economic recovery from COVID-19 and the fighting in Ukraine.
"As the president continues to use every to to help bring down prices for Americans, investments that strengthen domestic supply chains and move goods faster and more efficiently are critical to lowering costs for families," Psaki told reporters Monday.
"American ports are a cornerstone of the U.S. economy," a senior administration official added, according to CNN. "But outdated infrastructure and the COVID-19 pandemic have strained their capacity and jeopardized global supply chains -- which has caused delays and passed costs directly to consumers."
Biden's visit in Portsmouth was his first since he stopped there in 2019 during his run for president.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave before the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo