“Amtrak Joe” is returning to his roots.
President Joe Biden will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amtrak’s founding when he travels to Philadelphia on Friday to make a push for his massive infrastructure proposal, a White House official confirmed to CNN. He will be visiting the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in downtown Philadelphia, the official said.
The train station trip is part of a travel blitz, aptly named the “Getting America Back on Track” tour, which is aimed at highlighting the President’s first 100 days in office and his legislative push for infrastructure, something Biden expected to advocate for as he addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. Biden is also set to travel to Atlanta on Thursday.
The administration views the American Jobs Plan laid out by Biden last month as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in physical infrastructure. Biden is set to lay out the second component, the American Families Plan during his address to Congress Wednesday, setting up transformative spending on what officials are calling “human infrastructure,” including a child tax credit, paid leave and other child care provisions.
The first piece of the proposal includes $621 billion in spending on roads, bridges, public transit, rail, ports, waterways, airports and electric vehicles. And it specifically includes $80 billion to improve the American train service.
Amtrak, the largest passenger rail provider in America, said it plans to upgrade and expand service, including as many as 30 new routes and more trains on 20 existing routes. Service would begin in cities like Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix and Las Vegas, pending approval from Congress.
Biden, an avowed Amtrak superfan who spent most of his career commuting by train from Delaware to Washington, has made few trips since taking office in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this will be his third visit to Pennsylvania. He previously visited the battleground state in mid-March as he kicked off his “Help is Here” tour touting the Covid relief package in Philadelphia and two weeks later in Pittsburgh as part of the same tour.
The travel blitz marks a key opportunity for Biden to sell his infrastructure plans directly to the American people, including Amtrak riders in Pennsylvania. While negotiations on the more than $4 trillion proposals are chugging along in Congress, Biden has made clear that his definition of “bipartisan” support for the bill does not necessarily require Republican support in Congress, but rather, support from a majority of everyday Americans. That definition could be key if Democrats try to pass the sweeping bill through reconciliation, a process that allows it to pass with a simple majority.