President Joe Biden on Friday pitched his infrastructure proposal’s investments in American railroads from a venue that no doubt felt very familiar to him: an Amtrak platform in Philadelphia.
Speaking from the 30th Street Station in the City of Brotherly Love, Biden made his pitch for his $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal at a ceremony celebrating Amtrak’s 50th anniversary. The President is one of the most famous Amtrak loyalists and for decades commuted between his home in Delaware and the nation’s capital by train, a four-hour round trip, in order to be home with his family each night.
He spoke in personal terms about that long history with Amtrak, saying he views its employees as a second family. The President recounted his long relationship with conductors on his route between Wilmington and Washington and of the many times he took the train home for an important event.
“Amtrak wasn’t just a way of getting home. It provided me, and I’m not joking, an entire other family. A community dedicated — professional and that who shared milestones in my life. And I’ve been allowed to share milestones in theirs. I’ve been to an awful lot of weddings and christenings, and unfortunately some burials as well. We’re family,” Biden said.
The President’s proposal includes $80 billion that would go to address Amtrak’s repair backlog and modernize the Northeast Corridor line between Boston and Washington, DC — the line Biden relied on for decades to get home to Delaware — as well as to connect more cities. The plan proposes spending $621 billion on roads, bridges, public transit, rail, ports, waterways, airports and electric vehicles in service of improving air quality, reducing congestion and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
As he has done repeatedly, Biden tied the infrastructure investments to jobs, noting the work on the projects he mentioned would be done by union members making union wages.
“It’s going to provide jobs and it will also accommodate jobs. And what this means is that towns and cities that have been in danger of being left out and left behind will be back in the game,” he said.
Biden spoke about the need for investments in rail to compete with other nations that have high-speed rail, singling out China, a country that he has used as a foil in recent months as he makes his case for sweeping proposals that would cost trillions.
“And like the rest of our infrastructure, we’re way behind the rest of the world right now. We need to remember, we’re in competition with the rest of the world. … We’re behind the curve,” he said.
The President said his plan would make rail a central part of the country’s economic future.
“Today we have a once in a generation opportunity to position Amtrak and rail and inner city rail as well in general, to play a central role in our transformation and transportation economic future. To make investments that can help America get back on track, no pun intended,” Biden said.