President Biden on Wednesday promoted his economic agenda in Ohio, pledging to create thousands of union jobs even as Senate Republicans successfully blocked a vote to advance a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill he championed.
Mr. Biden toured the IBEW/NECA Electrical Training Center in Cincinnati. The labor union facility trains students to do residential and industrial electrical work.
During his visit, the president argued that his $4 trillion economic spending plan would help America rebound from the coronavirus pandemic by creating thousands of high-paying union jobs.
Those jobs would be in construction, clean energy, and other industries, Mr. Biden said.
“There is a reason why unions are the best,” Mr. Biden said as he toured the training facility. He added that they “built the middle class.”
Later, Mr. Biden said that without union electricians, the country would come to a halt.
The president then headed to Mount St. Joseph University, also in Cincinnati, to participate in a town hall airing on CNN on Wednesday night. Mr. Biden again used the event as a sales pitch for his twin spending bills.
The first proposal is a bipartisan infrastructure agreement to spend $600 billion to repair physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges as well as replace lead water pipes and boost high-speed internet.
A second, $3.5 trillion bill would expand healthcare, build affordable housing and push green energy initiatives.
While Mr. Biden was in Ohio, Republicans stopped the Senate from debating the bipartisan agreement, which hasn’t been completed. While negotiations on Capitol Hill will continue, the vote was a blow to Mr. Biden.
The president remained upbeat, however. When a reporter asked him Wednesday if he would get an infrastructure deal, he responded, “Yes, we will.”
Mr. Biden sought to rebound by taking his case directly to Ohio voters, seeking to shore up his base in the politically competitive state. It is his third trip to the state since taking office in January.
The appearances are critical for Democrats to retain control of Congress, but only if Mr. Biden can sell his economic proposals on Capitol Hill.
Democrats have been losing blue-collar workers over the past decade. The slide accelerated under former President Donald Trump, who peeled them away from Democrats.
Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance said ahead of Mr. Biden’s visit that Democrats put “out-of-touch left-wing elites” ahead of the working class’ needs.
“With inflation sky-high, middle-class Americans are struggling to afford groceries, gas and everyday items that they need to support themselves and their families,” he said in a statement. “Instead of focusing on real problems that Ohioans face, Democrats are busy playing politics with a so-called ‘infrastructure’ bill that has more to do with funding the radical left’s pet projects than fixing our roads and bridges.”
Mr. Biden is one of the most pro-union presidents in recent history, increasing his appeal to blue-collar workers. During his first six months, the president has unapologetically promoted unions.
On his first day in office, Mr. Biden fired the National Labor Relations Board anti-union general counsel. In February, he issued a video that some have called the most pro-union statement ever made by a president.
The president’s infrastructure proposal even requires companies that receive money under the legislation not to oppose unionization efforts.