As war rages in Europe and rising prices cause economic uncertainty in the U.S., President Joe Biden is visiting the Duluth-Superior region Wednesday for his first event after the State of the Union address.
During a speech at the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s student union, Biden will promote infrastructure spending and call on Congress to move forward with his stalled climate and child care agenda.
The president, along with First Lady Jill Biden, landed in Duluth, Minn. and then crossed over to Superior, Wis. He’s scheduled to make his remarks around 2:15 p.m.
Echoing themes in his State of the Union speech, Biden is expected to tout how the $1 trillion infrastructure law will improve the state’s roads and bridges and create jobs.
After landing in Duluth, Biden’s motorcade made a brief stop at the Blatnik Bridge that carries Interstate 535 between Duluth and Superior. The bridge, built in 1961 and co-owned by Minnesota and Wisconsin, is deteriorating and will require replacement within the next 10 years, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials say.
Minnesota is in line to receive roughly $5 billion for roads and bridges through the 2021 infrastructure law, though some of it was money that would’ve flowed to the state regardless of whether the legislation had passed.
Biden’s visit is also aimed at shoring up support in two key states during this fall’s midterm elections. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who greeted the president when Air Force One landed in Duluth, are both up for re-election.
A Marquette University Law School Poll released just before Biden’s visit showed the president with 43 percent approval in Wisconsin, down from 49 percent from the same poll in August.
Biden is overseeing economic uncertainty in the U.S. caused by inflation, which is at its highest level in 40 years. Oil prices have topped $100 a barrel after Russia invaded Ukraine, causing gas prices to surge.
“The American people are having to spend far more money on their energy, whether they’re burning propane or natural gas for their heating fuel, gasoline or diesel for their automobiles,” U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, a Republican who represents Wisconsin’s 7th congressional district, told reporters. “They’re paying far more for energy, and it’s leading to decline in America.”
Republicans said Biden weakened the U.S.’s international standing by canceling a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and through his hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which allowed the Taliban to quickly retake the country.
Last week, Biden visited Ohio to boost a $1 billion investment from the infrastructure plan to accelerate cleanup of polluted hotspots on the Great Lakes. The additional funding is expected to fast-track restoration of four polluted sites in Wisconsin, including the St. Louis River that runs between Superior and Duluth, Minnesota.
The trip comes a day after Biden vowed in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night to check Russian aggression in Ukraine, tame soaring U.S. inflation and deal with the fading but still dangerous coronavirus.