Harris pitches $2.3T spending plan on trip to North Carolina

Published 11:59 pm Monday, April 19, 2021

JAMESTOWN (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris visited central North Carolina on Monday to pitch the Biden administration’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-generation” investment in America’s future.

In her first visit to the state since getting sworn in to office, Harris spoke at Guilford Technical Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Campus in support of the proposal, which was unveiled last month on the heels of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief law passed by Congress.

“The president and I are ready to keep going and we are not going to take it slow. And we are not going to take it one step at a time — nope,” Harris said in a speech whose audience included Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and EPA Administrator Michael Regan, a North Carolina native. “We are going to take a giant leap into the future.”

Harris highlighted many  items in the “American Jobs Plan” beyond the $621 billion in transportation infrastructure contained within. She emphasized the tens of billions of dollars in workforce training that the measure seeks, much of which could be offered at community colleges like Guilford Tech. It also calls on creating up to 2 million additional apprenticeship slots and improving access for women to fill them.

“We’re going to make sure that these opportunities are equally available to women as well as men,” she said, quipping later that “hardhats are actually unisex.” She also highlighted the plan’s efforts to set aside $25 billion to expand child care facilities and capacity access nationwide and to get rid of lead drinking pipes.

The proposal will attempt to strengthen the rights of workers to join unions, something which Harris said leads to better worker pay, health care and other benefits. North Carolina union membership ranks near the bottom of the states.

Some lawmakers, particularly Republicans, have questioned whether large items in the package should be labeled infrastructure. The package would be funded in part by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.

Harris later toured the Thomas Built Buses plant in High Point. The Biden-Harris plan seeks to electrify at least 20% of school buses nationally. Thomas Built Buses says it built one out of every three buses currently on the road.

Before leaving North Carolina, Harris also visited the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro. The museum occupies a Woolworth’s store where in February 1960 four Black students at North Carolina A&T State University refused to leave the whites-only lunch counter where they were denied service. The action spawned the civil rights sit-in movement in the South.