The White House will announce more than $5 billion in funding on Wednesday for agriculture, broadband and clean energy needs in less populated parts of the country as President Biden travels to Minnesota to kick off an administration-wide tour of rural communities.
The president’s efforts to focus on the domestic economy ahead of next year’s campaign come after three weeks in which his administration was seized by events abroad following terrorist attacks in Israel and the kingdom’s subsequent military action in Gaza. Is.
The visit will come as Mr Biden is urging Congress to quickly pass a $105 billion funding package that includes emergency aid to Israel and Ukraine, two conflicts he has said threaten democracy around the world.
But the president and his allies are well aware that his hopes for a second term are likely to be set closer to home. Rural voters, whom he will address in the corn, soybean and hog farms south of Minneapolis, are increasingly voting Republican. A Recent survey revealed Most voters have heard little or nothing about the health care and clean energy legislation that is the cornerstone of Mr. Biden’s economic agenda. And the president also faces a challenge within his own party from Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who last week announced his long-shot bid for the presidency.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to speak on campaign issues Tuesday, citing the Hatch Act, which limits political activity by federal officials, but said Mr. Biden “loves Minnesota ” Administration officials have said Mr Biden’s visit was planned before Mr Phillips announced his candidacy.
The White House has called the next two weeks of events the “Investing in Rural America Series.” It includes more than a dozen trips by Mr. Biden as well as Cabinet secretaries and other senior administration officials. The White House said in a statement that the tour will highlight federal investments that are “bringing new revenue to farms, increasing economic development in rural towns and communities, and greater opportunity across the country.”
Mr Biden will be joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. Against the backdrop of a family farm that uses technologies to make crops more resilient to climate change, he will announce $1.7 billion for farmers across the country to adopt so-called climate-smart farming practices.
Other funding announcements include $1.1 billion in loans and grants to upgrade infrastructure in rural communities; A $2 billion investment as part of a program that helps rural governments work more closely with federal agencies on economic development projects; $274 million to expand high-speed Internet infrastructure; And $145 million to expand access to wind, solar and other renewable energy, according to a White House fact sheet.
“Young people in rural communities should not have to leave home to find opportunity,” Neera Tanden, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a call with reporters on Tuesday.
He said federal investments are paving the way for “the next generation to keep their roots in rural America.”
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, said he expected Mr Biden to face severe headwinds in largely rural communities because of inflation levels.
“It’s a little bit challenging, there’s no denying that prices will go up,” Mr. Walz said. “Politics has become a bit extreme. I think people are feeling a little bit held back.
But Mr. Walz also praised Mr. Biden for spending time in rural communities. “Democrats need to step up,” he said.
Kenan Fikri, research director at the Economic Innovation Group, a Washington think tank, said the Biden administration has invested massively in agriculture, broadband and other rural priorities over the past two and a half years.
“The administration has a lot to show for its economic development efforts in rural communities,” he said, but “whether voters will credit Biden for strong economic performance is another question.”
Over the weekend Mr. Vilsack will travel to Indiana, Wyoming and Colorado to talk to agricultural leaders and discuss land conservation. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will visit her home state of New Mexico to highlight water infrastructure investments.
Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm will be in Arizona to talk about the power grid and renewable energy investments in the rural Southwest.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dennis McDonough, plans to visit Iowa to discuss improving access to medical care for veterans in rural areas. Isabel Guzman, who leads the Small Business Administration, will travel to Georgia to talk about loans for rural small businesses.
Education Secretary Miguel A. Cardona will travel to New Hampshire to promote how community colleges help students in rural areas. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will be in North Carolina to talk about health care access in rural areas.