President Joe Biden on Thursday said China would “eat our lunch” on infrastructure if the U.S. doesn’t move on its own plan for rebuilding roads and bridges.
Biden made the comments in the Oval Office with a small, bipartisan group of senators. The president cited Chinese initiatives on rail and said Beijing is “working very hard” on producing cars with new technology.
Biden made infrastructure /zigman2/quotes/203179113/composite IGF -0.77% a priority during his White House election campaign last year, and is planning to ask Congress for a plan that “will make historic investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, innovation, research and development and clean energy,” according to recent remarks he made.
Biden was joined in the Oval Office by Sen. Tom Carper, the Delaware Democrat who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, as well as the panel’s top Republican, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland — who heads the Senate Small Business Committee — and Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, a former chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, also joined, according to the White House.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is quarantining after a member of his security detail tested positive for COVID-19, participated by phone.
More than 54,000 bridges across the U.S. are rated “structurally deficient” according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Roadways, ports and waterways are also disrepair. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released a report card in 2017 of infrastructure in the country and gave the nation a rating of D+. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 65% of major U.S. roads are rated as “less than good condition.”
Analysts say that U.S. infrastructure is dangerously overstretched, with a funding gap of more than $2 trillion needed by 2025, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.