President Joe Biden made his case for his infrastructure plan’s investments in American railroads on Friday from an Amtrak platform in Philadelphia, which no doubt looked very familiar to him.
At a ceremony commemorating Amtrak’s 50th anniversary, Biden made his pitch for his $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan from the 30th Street Station in the City of Brotherly Love. The President is one of the most well-known Amtrak supporters, having commuted by train for decades between his home in Delaware and the nation’s capital, a four-hour round trip, to be with his family each night.
He spoke about his long relationship with Amtrak in personal terms, saying he considers the company’s workers to be a second family. The President recalled his long friendship with conductors on his Wilmington-Washington line, as well as the many occasions he took the train home for a special occasion.
“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 budget includes $80 billion to fix Amtrak’s backlog of repairs, modernize the Northeast Corridor line between Boston and Washington, DC (which Biden used for decades to get home to Delaware), and link more cities. In order to improve air quality, reduce pollution, and curb greenhouse gas emissions, the initiative recommends spending $621 billion on highways, bridges, public transportation, rail, ports, rivers, airports, and electric vehicles.
Biden tied the infrastructure investments to employment, as he has done before, noting that the work on the projects he described will be done by union workers earning 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 talked about the need for rail investments in order to compete with other countries that have high-speed rail, specifically mentioning China, which he has used as a foil in recent months as he makes his case for massive plans that will cost trillions of dollars.
“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.
According to the President, his initiative would make rail a vital 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.