Biden to tout economic wins with McConnell as GOP takes over House

President Joe Biden will open the new year with bipartisan support to herald one of his major legislative victories, appearing with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky to announce a major project funded by the infrastructure law.

The appearance with McConnell, R-Ky., and other regional leaders from both parties on Wednesday signals a dual focus for a White House aiming to stay above the political fray in 2023. Stoppet and others like it this week with other officials in the administration across the country, comes one day after the new Republican-led House of Representatives takes power in Washington, ushering in a period of divided government as the 2024 presidential campaign also begins to take shape.

After two years of tough legislation in a Congress completely in Democratic hands, administration officials see 2023 as a year largely about implementing Biden’s signature economic initiatives, including steps to boost semiconductor production under the CHIPS Act and new cost-cutting measures from the inflation reduction Action.

But the bipartisan infrastructure law will take center stage as the White House says 20,000 new projects funded by the law will be underway in the coming year.

In 2021, the president launched a major public effort to build support for the infrastructure law with a televised town hall in Cincinnati, promising to “fix your damn bridge going into Kentucky” — referring to the Brent Spence Bridge, a key interstate crossing classified as “functionally obsolete” that has long stood as an example of the need for major new investment in roads, bridges and other public works projects.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, both also expected to join Biden on Wednesday, announced last week that they had secured $1.6 billion from the Infrastructure Act to replace the bridge .

Vice President Kamala Harris will hold an event in Chicago on Wednesday as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg does the same in Connecticut. On Thursday, White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu will visit San Francisco, a week after outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the city’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge will undergo a $400 million renovation funded by the act.

While acknowledging that more work needs to be done and that potential setbacks loom, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Senior Advisor Anita Dunn wrote in a year-end memo that there is “clear evidence that President Biden’s economic strategy of growing the bottom-up, middle-out economy works.”

In addition to focusing on implementing the president’s previous legislative programs, top White House aides insist the president intends to press ahead with additional legislative initiatives that they believe could — or, they argue, should — win support in a divided Congress. Bipartisanship is expected to be a big focus of Biden’s State of the Union address, a big speech is expected to come, as he also makes clear his intentions for 2024.

“I’ve never been more optimistic about America in my entire career,” Biden said during an appearance on ABC’s New Year’s Eve special. “We’ve been through so much, so many hardships, the pandemic, the flu, a whole host of things. And look how the American people fought back, and they rose up, and they — there’s nothing that can hold them down.”

The appearance was one of the only public glimpses of the president since he and members of his family arrived in the US Virgin Islands last week. Although he has said he would discuss a potential re-election bid during such holiday gatherings, NBC News reported that in October first lady Jill Biden and the rest of the family fully supports another campaign. Asked Friday if the 2024 election has come up this week, Biden said, “There’s an election coming up?”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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