President Joe Biden comes to Portland to tout infrastructure spending and raise money for Democrats
President Joe Biden will visit Portland for the first time during his presidency on Thursday during a brief stopover aimed at helping his party’s chances in this year’s election.
In public remarks at Portland International Airport, Biden is expected to continue selling voters the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package he signed into law in November. Democrats are touting the bill as a landmark achievement, at a time when they are struggling to push other priorities past a tightly divided Senate.
Biden will also participate in a fundraiser for Democrats at the Portland Yacht Club on the Columbia River. As Willamette Week first reported, the fundraiser for the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund offered varying levels of access to Biden, with tickets ranging from $500 to $36,500. All tickets sold out Wednesday afternoon.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden plans to speak to PDX about investments as an earthquake-proof runway and improvements that “help lower the costs of everyday items by ensuring that goods can move faster and more efficiently”.
The president will be joined at the airport by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Governor Kate Brown and U.S. Representative Kurt Schrader, Psaki said. The appearance could be a political giveaway for Schrader, a centrist who faces a competitive primary challenge from the left this year in a newly redesigned congressional district.
It’s unclear if Biden plans to make any more stops in Portland. A spokesperson for the city’s police bureau said Wednesday that police would not provide specific information about expected traffic impacts for safety reasons, but may tweet “general information.”
The president is halfway through a bicoastal mini-visit to tout the investments made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed last year. On Tuesday, he traveled to Portsmouth, NH, praising future expenses on a local port and other projects, and making sure to credit state congressional Democrats with helping to pass the bill.
“The last guy who was in this job kept talking about ‘Infrastructure Week’ for four years,” Biden said at the event, referring to former President Donald Trump. “We have a decade of infrastructure.”
If Biden’s Thursday remarks follow that script, he’ll likely highlight his administration’s talking points detailing nearly 400 bridges and 1,300 miles of freeway in Oregon deemed in poor condition and lamenting commute times. longer. The president could also address one of the region’s most important infrastructure priorities: a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River.
Oregon transportation officials said the infrastructure bill would send an additional $1.2 billion to the state over five years. About a third of that money came in the form of flex funds, and in late March the Oregon Transportation Commission voted on a plan to spend that money. The plan includes $50 million for road projects, $80 million for safety improvements on main streets and routes to school, $75 million for maintenance projects and $40 million to strengthen the budget of the Oregon Department of Transportation, among others.
Biden was originally scheduled to attend a Democratic fundraiser in southwest Portland following his remarks, at the Dunthorpe home of Win McCormack, owner of The New Republic. This event has been moved due to capacity issues, Willamette Week first reported.
While Thursday marks Biden’s first visit to Portland since becoming president, he has campaigned in the city before. In 2019, McCormack hosted Biden when the candidate was running for president.
And in 2014, Biden came to town to campaign for the re-election of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, making a memorable stop at Salt & Straw, an artisan ice cream shop in Alberta’s Arts District.
The itinerary for Thursday’s presidential ice cream, if it exists, had not been released Wednesday afternoon.