By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden touted the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package during remarks in Los Angeles on Thursday, addressing a crowd of Southern California officials just weeks before midterm elections and on the heels of a scandal involving Los Angeles city councilmembers.
Speaking from the site of the Purple Line Extension Project in Los Angeles, the president said the infrastructure bill is the “largest investment in public transit in the history of America,” noting that the project extension of the LA Metro’s Purple Line is funded in part by the infrastructure bill and local taxpayer dollars.
“The last eight years or so, American infrastructure – bridges, rails, everything – you know what we were rated in the world? Number 13,” President Biden said Thursday. “We should be ranked number one.”
“Instead of Infrastructure Week being a punchline under my predecessor, Infrastructure Decade is a headline on my watch for the next 10 years,” the president added.
The Purple (D Line) Metro extension project will add seven new stations, connecting West Los Angeles to Koreatown. The project is being built in three sections, with phased openings in 2024, 2025 and 2027, according to Metro. The total cost of the extension is about $9.5 billion, according to the Orange County Register.
President Biden emphasized Thursday that the project will connect more neighborhoods across Los Angeles, ease traffic congestion and reduce air pollution. He said an estimated 80,000 additional riders would take the Metro every day when the Purple Line Extension is complete.
The president’s remarks came after a tumultuous week in Los Angeles, where leaked recordings of Los Angeles City Councilmembers and prominent local labor leaders resulted in calls for resignation. President Biden even called for resignations earlier this week but did not offer further comment during his remarks on Thursday.
His visit also comes just a few weeks before the Nov. 8 election, where Los Angelenos will select a new mayor. President Biden referred to current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as “Mr. Mayor,” and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass as “soon-to-be Ms. Mayor.” President Biden endorsed Rep. Bass in her campaign for mayor against her opponent Rick Caruso.
President Biden also spoke about lowering prescription drug costs and hinted at an announcement next week regarding gas prices during his remarks on Thursday, saying “the price of gas is still too high, and we need to keep working to bring it down.”
“I’ll have more to say about that next week,” he added.
The California GOP criticized the president’s visit to the Golden State, calling it an “odd choice” to use the state as a “backdrop for bragging about failed policies.”
“If President Biden is looking for a sympathetic audience to high five him for a job well done, he’s come to the wrong state,” CAGOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement. “Californians are suffering under the reckless policies of Joe Biden and the California Democrats who enable his failed agenda.”
The president was slated to attend a reception Thursday evening for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He is also scheduled to speak in Orange County on Friday about “lowering costs for American families,” according to his press office.