Jen Psaki ( Photo by Cameron Smith )

Press Secretary Jen Psaki gaggles aboard Air Force One to talk about infrastructure efforts and provide an update on the South Florida building collapse. Delaney Tarr reports on the briefing.

President Joe Biden is in  La Crosse, Wisconsin today to push for the current bipartisan infrastructure framework amidst the conflict between parties.

The President was near success in his ambitious “across-the-aisle effort” before his impromptu comments stating that he would not sign the bipartisan deal without another bill on his desk. 

Biden later walked back those comments, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said the House wouldn’t vote on the bipartisan bill until the Senate passes the reconciliation package. 

The package holds many of Biden’s more ambitious agenda pieces that were cut out of his original $1.9 trillion proposal and would only require a simple majority for passage. 

Republicans have halted at the assertion from prominent Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel requested Democrats delink the bipartisan bill from the broader reconciliation package. 

In the middle of the conflict is Biden, who Press Secretary Jen Psaki said is just trying to make the benefits of the package clear. She listed off components of the bipartisan bill and their impact on the Wisconsin city Biden is visiting today. 

Psaki specifically discussed the nearly half of Milwaukee water service lines made of lead and the 82k Wisconsin children without access to reliable internet. The infrastructure bill would address lead pipes and broadband, as well as bridges and roads. 

Talks around the infrastructure and reconciliation packages come as major infrastructural issues occur in the Pacific Northwest, with roads buckling and train cables melting in record-breaking heatwaves. The temperatures have re-upped discussion around climate change.

Senator Bernie Sanders has publicly said the bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t have enough focus on climate, but Psaki said Biden sees the bipartisan package on climate as “ downpayment.” She spotlighted the focus on environmental remediation and electric vehicles. 

Psaki then stated the administration looks forward to working with Sanders on the reconciliation package.

Despite Biden’s walk-back of his earlier comments, Psaki said the President would continue to push for both the bipartisan bill and the reconciliation package. She said the administration would engage with several officials in Congress, including McConnell moving forward.

“He looks forward to signing both bills into law, and he will leave it to leaders in Congress to determine the order and the sequencing,” said Psaki. 

Coastal Collapse

The Press Secretary briefly touched on other topics, like the South Florida partial building collapse. The search and rescue efforts for the over 100 people missing in Surfside have continued amidst the rubble. 

The administration declared the tragedy a national emergency days ago and has since sent words of support to those on the scene. 

Psaki said the White House has no updates about meetings with local officials but that the President supports an investigation on the safety of coastal buildings. 

She said The National Institute of Standards and Technology is authorized to lead the charge on building failures. The Institute has sent six scientists and engineers to collect firsthand information on the towers and determine if an investigation should be conducted.

Psaki said the President would be a part of “any effort to determine if an investigation should happen moving forward” and that the administration wants to make sure state and local officials have the resources they need.