Biden to Pittsburgh to push infrastructure improvements as local bridge collapses

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The White House has not said whether Biden will visit the collapsed bridge.

Just hours before President Joe Biden traveled to Pittsburgh to emphasize improvements needed to the country’s infrastructure, a bridge collapsed in the area on Friday morning, coincidentally presenting Biden with an opportunity to announce how his bipartisan infrastructure bill would provide funds for much-needed repairs provides.

Biden was scheduled to make remarks Friday at 2 p.m. ET at Carnegie Mellon University, a few miles from the collapsed bridge near Pittsburg’s Frick’s Park. According to local authorities, ten people were injured.

The White House didn’t say if Biden would visit the collapsed bridge, but he was briefed on the situation.

“The President was briefed on the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh. Our team is in touch with state and local officials on the ground as they continue to gather information on the cause of the collapse. The President is grateful to the first responders who rushed to help the drivers who were on the bridge at the time. The President will proceed with the trip scheduled for today and will remain in touch with officials on the ground for any additional assistance that we can provide,” the White House said in a statement.

While the president’s domestic agenda has taken a back seat over the past week amid threats from Russia at the Ukrainian border and major Supreme Court news, Biden’s performance has put his victory in passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill back in the spotlight.

The legislation would allocate $1.63 billion in federal funding to Pennsylvania for bridges alone, the third-highest number for any state. Pennsylvania has 3,353 bridges in poor condition, second most to Iowa, according to administrative data. The bridge program will provide $27 billion nationwide.

Pennsylvania, Biden’s home state, has long been a political symbol state for him.

Pittsburgh was where he announced his 2020 candidacy, and Keystone State eventually secured his presidency. He also revealed what became the bipartisan infrastructure bill there last March.

But several of Pennsylvania’s top-flight Democratic nominees told ABC News that while they support the president and his policy efforts, they also will not attend Friday’s event in Pittsburgh, citing “scheduling conflicts.”

A campaign spokesman for Attorney General Josh Shapiro – who is likely to become the Democratic gubernatorial nominee – told ABC News the attorney general is “focused on the issues affecting families in Pennsylvania” but will not be in Pittsburgh on Friday.

“Like every American, Josh wants our President to be successful, and we will continue to welcome President Biden to his home state of Pennsylvania as he promotes small businesses and jobs saved by America’s bipartisan bailout plan and the tens of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania, created by the bipartisan infrastructure law,” said the campaign spokesman.

Lt. gov. John Fetterman, a front-runner in the Democratic Senate primary, told ABC News, “It’s great that President Biden is coming to Pittsburgh to talk about infrastructure. If infrastructure is Elvis, then Pittsburgh is Graceland. It’s great to come to the city that helped build America to talk about rebuilding America. I will be in Harrisburg on Friday to meet with Democrats from across the Commonwealth on the State Committee to discuss the 2022 midterm election.”

Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Penn., who is running for state Senate, will meet with Biden.

With the Pennsylvania primary months away, the unfavorable poll numbers looming over the Biden administration could have an impact on how Democrats will campaign with the president.

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