By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two years after President Joe Biden signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law, his administration has launched 40,000 projects aimed at rebuilding America, according to his infrastructure czar, Mitch Landrieu.
The White House wants Biden to gain maximum credit for the projects to help him in his fight for re-election, with a year to go until Election Day.
Landrieu spent more than an hour with reporters on Thursday to talk up the benefits of the infrastructure law ahead of the Nov. 15 anniversary. A former mayor of New Orleans, Landrieu is expected to step down soon after working a year beyond his original pledge to spend one year leading the infrastructure effort.
Landrieu, barred by the Hatch Act from saying much about politics, summed up the choice he feels voters will be faced with between Biden and a Republican opponent:
"Somebody's going to be blowing smoke. Somebody's going to bringing receipts," he said.
Biden regularly travels to sites that will benefit from the law, including a visit to his home town of Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday to tout Amtrak funding, and a trip to the Brent Spence Bridge spanning Ohio and Kentucky. The administration has put signs at construction projects across the country boasting about Biden's role in securing the funding.
Despite the information campaign, Biden's approval rating is hovering around 40%, near the lowest level of his presidency, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll. And he repeatedly gets low grades for his handling of the economy, fueled in part by frustration over high food and energy prices.
BY THE NUMBERS
Landrieu said thus more than $400 billion in projects has been announced, covering 40,000 projects in more than 4,500 communities in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Native American tribal areas.
Landrieu said he personally has traveled to 130 cities, towns and communities impacted by the law, logging more than 110,000 miles.
The project list is a long one, covering airports, bridges, roads, constructing more recharging stations for electric vehicles, getting high-speed internet to get more people on the internet, and on and on.
How long will it take to finish all 40,000? Landrieu estimated between three and five years.
"Some will get done really soon, some like the Hudson River Tunnel (for New York and New Jersey) will take a long time. Our task is to make sure they remain on budget."
(Reporting By Steve Holland)