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Politics Kamala Harris begins roadshow to sell infrastructure plan, starting in swing state North Carolina

02:10  20 april  2021
02:10  20 april  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off a tour to sell the White House's infrastructure policies in North Carolina, a battleground state ripe for a "bridges and roads" pitch.

Kamala Harris holding a sign © Provided by Washington Examiner

Joined by Environment Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, and Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning, Harris, in a speech at Guilford Technical Community College, billed the $2.25 trillion package as an investment in "good jobs."

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"It's pretty simple: A good job allows people the freedom to build the life you want," the vice president said.

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The kickoff in North Carolina checks two boxes: It's a swing state where Democrats hope to make incursions in the House and Senate next November, and it also has massive infrastructure needs.

"We have, except for Texas, the most miles of highways, and we have significantly bad bridges," said David McLennan, director of the statewide Meredith Poll.

"We were always known as the good highway state for many years. We had governors who like to build highways, and we have highways to go crazy places," McLennan said. "But they're older and haven't been maintained like they should have. We have a lot of mile per capita, so to speak, and the need is here."

McLennan also said that about 20% of North Carolina residents don't have access to broadband, a focus of Harris's pitch Monday and a provision of the bill.

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Central to Harris's speech were the "good jobs" the plan would create locally, which stem directly from legislation on water infrastructure, broadband, and electric school bus fleets, she introduced or co-sponsored while a California senator.

"Too often, opportunity knocks from far away ... but that should be a choice, not a necessity, and that's why we want to bring opportunity closer to home," Harris said. "An electrician in Helena could get a good job laying broadband lines a few towns over, a forklift operator, right here in Greensboro, could get a good job fixing the road they drive on every day."

President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan would spend more than $2 trillion of a combination of hard infrastructure, such as bridge, road, and highway renovations, and provisions such as lead pipe refitting and nationwide broadband. The plan also calls for boosting pay for home health and elder care workers, defined as infrastructure under a broader definition the White House is using.

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While Republican support for the bill remains unlikely, the issues central to Harris's visit have garnered bipartisan interest in North Carolina, as well as Washington.

"Historically, when I've polled on this particular issue it has gotten bipartisan support," McLennan said. "Infrastructure is one of those things that sells. We've tried to move broadband through the state Legislature, and that seems to be getting bipartisan backing."

Republicans in the Tar Heel State and Washington have balked at the one-fifth of the proposed plan going to care home spending, while business groups and some Democrats have joined in opposing the corporate tax hike the White House proposed as a pay-for.

"I would say that we're like the country, in that Republicans don't like some of the things in the bill. Democrats liked most of the things in the bill," McLennan said.

And the state, which former President Donald Trump won by 1.3 percentage points in 2020, remains politically divided.

In an interview with Trump to air in full Monday night, Fox News commentator Sean Hannity billed North Carolina among a handful of potential bellwethers for the presidential race in 2024.

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McLennan said he thought it was too early to view Harris's visit though the lens of the midterm elections but that it could help build awareness of her. Notably, Cooper fared better than Biden last year in his race against Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, winning by more than 4 percentage points.

Whether the outreach proves successful in boosting support for Biden's agenda isn't clear. Most provisions are already popular with Democrats, and Biden said again Monday during an Oval Office meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers he is open to negotiating to strike a bipartisan deal.

After Democrats passed Biden's COVID-19 package, Harris criss-crossed the country pitching the administration's work to voters and businesses.

However, a Morning Consult tracking poll published last week shows approval of Harris's handling of COVID-19 dropping to its lowest point yet. Support declined five points to 50%, with 38% disapproval, for net 12 points approval. At 26 percentage points, Biden’s net approval stands at more than double Harris.

About 1,990 registered voters are surveyed weekly in the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Still, Democrats will benefit if infrastructure renewal remains broadly popular and they dampen opposition to, or cull, aspects of the bill deemed more divisive.

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"There will be some pressure on the Republican members of the congressional delegation to at least consider the bill" if Harris's visits are well received, McLennan said.

Harris will head to New Hampshire Friday, the first in the nation presidential primary state and her first visit since she ran for president in 2019.

Tags: News, Biden Administration, White House, Kamala Harris

Original Author: Katherine Doyle

Original Location: Kamala Harris begins roadshow to sell infrastructure plan, starting in swing state North Carolina

Joe Manchin urges Biden to focus on 'conventional' infrastructure .
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, an influential Democrat, called for focusing on 'conventional' infrastructure and suggested splitting off parts of Joe Biden's $2.3 trillion plan.‘What we think the greatest need we have now, that can be done in a bipartisan way, is conventional infrastructure whether it's the water, sewer, roads, bridges, Internet — things that we know need to be repaired, be fixed,’ the influential West Virginia Democrat said at a press conference Friday.

usr: 6
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