PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – President Joe Biden visited an Amtrak train station on Friday to promote his $1.9 trillion infrastructure proposal, saying the United States is “way behind” in improving its transportation grid and needs to do so to keep up with China.
Biden spent time on an Amtrak car at Philadelphia’s 30th Street train station before climbing down to give remarks. It was a moment of nostalgia for Biden, who as a U.S. senator commuted by train for years between his home town of Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington.
He was introduced in Philadelphia by Amtrak CEO William J. Flynn as “perhaps one of Amtrak’s most loyal customers.”
The visit was part of Biden’s “Getting America Back on Track Tour,” a tour he began in Georgia on Thursday, with more travel expected next week. The stops are intended to build popular momentum for his $1.9 trillion infrastructure proposal and a separate $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan.”
Biden said America’s transportation system needs a makeover including more high-speed rail lines like China has developed.
“We’re way behind the rest of the world right now. We need to remember we’re in competition with the rest of the world,” he said.
The Democrat is asking Congress for $80 billion in spending to improve train service, one of a wide set of initiatives included in multitrillion-dollar infrastructure, climate, childcare and other proposals Biden is trying to maneuver through a sharply divided Congress.
The spending would be paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
Republicans and even some Democratic lawmakers have balked at the price tag.
Former President Donald Trump, whom Biden defeated in the November election but who remains influential among Republicans, predicted in a phone interview with Fox Business Network on Thursday that higher taxes would prompt some companies to relocate abroad.
Biden has long been associated with Amtrak because of his decades commuting daily on the 90-minute train ride between Washington and his home in Wilmington, Delaware, when he was a U.S. senator.
The government-funded rail service is asking Congress for $31 billion in funding over the next five years to expand it’s Northeast Corridor that runs between Boston to Washington, D.C.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose; Writing by Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney and Alistair Bell)