CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — President Joe Biden on Wednesday turned his focus to pitching his proposed investments in families and education, using a visit to a community college in an Illinois swing district to highlight how his spending on so-called human infrastructure would boost the economy.
The president toured McHenry County College, a community college in Crystal Lake with a workforce development program and a child care center. He's trying to sell voters on his vision to invest in child care, health care, education and other important aspects of everyday life for Americans, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday on Air Force One.
Biden toured a metals lab at the community college, where he emphasized the need to invest in research and development to bolster manufacturing jobs.
"We've got the best folks in the world, we're just not investing the kind of money we should," he said.
The president also wants to put a renewed focus on the portions of his economic agenda that didn't make it into the bipartisan infrastructure deal that he backed in June. That package includes hundreds of billions of dollars of investments in roads and bridges, transit systems and broadband, but it constitutes only part of the $4 trillion in spending Biden has proposed in a broader plan to reinvigorate the economy and boost the middle class.
On Wednesday, the Democratic president took steps to highlight the rest, including his plans to invest in child care and workforce development programs and provide two years of free community college, universal prekindergarten and paid family and medical leave. He'll make the case that investments in such programs are needed to maintain America's economic growth and competitiveness globally.
He'll also highlight his proposals to establish a clean energy standard and invest in home care for seniors and affordable housing. And he'll speak about his plans to make permanent the expansion in the child tax credit and expanded health care premium subsidies from the COVID-19 aid bill.
Democrats plan to include much of this in a bill they hope to pass through a legislative maneuver that would require just a simple majority vote, skirting the 60-vote hurdle in an evenly divided Senate. Biden has said he would prefer that the two bills move through Congress together, and Democrats are hoping to make progress this month on both.
The Biden administration promoted its agenda on multiple fronts Wednesday.
First lady Jill Biden visited an elementary school in Washington to discuss how the trillions of dollars the president wants Congress to spend on families would pay for more affordable child care, preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, larger salaries for teachers and modern school buildings with safe drinking water, along with more teachers of color and more nurses and counselors to help students with their emotional and other needs.
"You and your students will continue to be one of our top priorities, not just in one legislative bill, but in everything we do," she said during a speech to a virtual meeting of the American Federation of Teachers union."
President Biden was greeted by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot when he landed in Illinois and was met at the community college by Gov. J.B. Pritzker; Illinois' two Democratic senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth; and Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood, who represents the district.
Biden won Illinois' 14th Congressional District by about 2 percentage points in 2020, and Underwood won reelection by less than that. Hers is one of the top-targeted seats in the nation and is emblematic of the kind of district Democrats will need to hold onto in the 2022 midterms if they hope to maintain control of the House.
AP reporter Darlene Superville contributed to this report from Washington.