After months of tense negotiations, President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill was signed into law Monday afternoon.
“I am signing a law that is truly consequential, because we made our democracy deliver for the people,” said Biden, marking what analysts are calling the crowning achievement of his first year in office at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.
Still, much remains to be seen about the allocation of the $550 billion in new federal funds that the bill calls for. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has not yet indicated when she plans to transfer the money to the government or what it means for the Dec. 3 debt ceiling deadline. Biden did, however, name former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, to oversee the allocation of said funds.
Landrieu will take on the role of senior adviser to Biden, with the title of infrastructure coordinator. He will make sure that the correct allocation of funding goes to create and upgrade roads, bridges, broadband, and other infrastructure projects over the next few years, and that projects remain on track.
“In this role, Landrieu will oversee the most significant and comprehensive investments in American infrastructure in generations—work that independent experts verify will create millions of high-paying, union jobs while boosting our economic competitiveness in the world, strengthening our supply chains, and acting against inflation for the long term,” the White House said in a statement Sunday evening.
In a statement of his own on Sunday, Landrieu said he would work with state leaders, the private sector, and labor organizations to ensure that the appropriated money will be well spent.
Landrieu became mayor of New Orleans in 2010, and led the city through the recovery from both Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
“He hit the ground running, fast-tracking over 100 projects and securing billions in federal funding for roads, schools, hospitals, parks, and critical infrastructure, turning New Orleans into one of America’s great comeback stories,” the White House said.
Landrieu, who also served as lieutenant governor of Louisiana, hails from a political dynasty (his father was mayor of New Orleans and secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and his sister is a former senator) and is typically respected by Republicans and Democrats alike as someone who is able to avoid political stalemates and get things done.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, said in a statement that Landrieu was a great choice to oversee the implementation of the bill.
“Mitch Landrieu knows firsthand the devastation Hurricane Katrina caused on the Gulf Coast,” Cassidy said, “and in turn, this devastation shows the importance, for Louisiana and the United States, of the investments the [infrastructure bill] makes in coastal restoration.”
This role will propel Landrieu, 61, into the national spotlight and set the stage for a run for national office.
Biden made sure to point out that he had a job similar to Landrieu’s while he served as vice president to President Barack Obama and oversaw $787 billion in stimulus spending associated with the 2009 Recovery Act.
“I made it a point every day to stay on top of how exactly the money was spent, what projects were being built, what projects were not being built, and how it was functioning,” Biden told reporters last week. “We owe it to the American people to make sure the money in this infrastructure plan and the Build Back Better plan—which, God willing, we’re going to be able to still finish—will be able to be used for purposes it was intended.”
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