How much Joe?! Biden is mocked after botching announcement for ‘over a billion, three hundred million, trillion, three hundred million dollars’ investment in major rail projects across the country – as he retells debunked Amtrak anecdote AGAIN
Joe Biden bungled his big announcement on railroad investments on Friday by declaring that the federal government would spend “over a billion, three hundred million, trillion, three hundred million dollars.”
The president was in Las Vegas unveiling $8.2 billion in new federal funding for 10 major passenger rail projects across the country. This includes a new line from Nevada City to Los Angeles, which when completed – possibly as soon as 2028 – could carry more than 11 million passengers a year, powered entirely by renewable energy.
Biden mocked his predecessor for repeatedly promising Infrastructure Week but failing to deliver.
'Trump just talks what he says. We walk the walk,” Biden said, speaking in a room for unionized carpenters.
“He likes to say that America is a failing nation. Honestly, he doesn't know what he's talking about. I see shovels in the ground, cranes in the sky. People who are working hard to rebuild America together.'
Joe Biden announced $8.2 billion in rail investments on Friday, but stumbled over the amount
But he stumbled over the cost of the project and stumbled over the millions and billions in his speech.
He also repeated his oft-told story about how often he traveled on Amtrak.
Biden spent years shuttling between his home in Delaware and Washington, D.C., and recounted how a member of the train crew told him he had read that Biden had reached the million-mile mark on Air Force Two.
But the employee, Angelo Negri, said they knew he had actually traveled further on Amtrak.
Biden told the crowd, “He said, 'Big deal, Joey.' He said, “We just had a retirement dinner in Newark, New Jersey… Do you know how many miles you drove?”
“I said, 'No, Ang.'
And he said, '1,000,327 miles.' I don't hear anything about the Air Force anymore.'
“Well guys, I…I'm a railroad man, no kidding.”
The story was debunked years ago: the million-mile milestone on Air Force Two wasn't reached until September 2015, and Negri had retired from Amtrak in 1993. Negri died in May 2014, before the milestone was reached.
Biden told the crowd of union workers at a lumber yard that, unlike Donald Trump, he was 'walking the walk'
The technology, which has not yet been seen in the US, will give the train the ability to cross the desert in just two hours, as opposed to the usual four or five. The cash injection is unprecedented for a private company and comes months after the Florida company requested it
Biden also used his visit to Las Vegas to address this week's shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which left three people dead and a fourth injured.
Biden again called on Congress to take action on an assault weapons ban.
“I'm not going to rest until we do everything we can to prevent more families and communities from being torn apart by gun violence,” Biden said.
Friday's trip was planned before the shooting and Biden's focus on rail service is no surprise for a president who is a strong advocate for passenger rail.
Biden has come out in support of several major federal investments in passenger rail, including last month when he announced $16 billion in federal investments for rail travel along the busy Northeast Corridor.
However, making California's high-speed rail line a reality won't be easy, as the first project in the US has long been plagued by extended deadlines and cost overruns.
The infrastructure could be ready in time for the 2028 Olympic Games
A view of the high-speed train from California to Las Vegas, which stops in Rancho Cucamonga, Hesperia, Victor Valley and Las Vegas. It connects to an existing commuter rail line that extends to Los Angeles
Travelers will make the journey at a speed of approximately 200 miles per hour, along routes that follow pre-existing highways through Nevada's arid desert
The plan is funded by some previous federal grants, a bond fund approved by voters in 2008, and revenue from the state's cap-and-trade climate program. But that amounts to a total well below the project's estimated cost, now more than $100 billion.
California Republicans have long been critical of the project, but even some state Democrats have become more vocal in their skepticism.
Construction and land acquisition are underway in the Central Valley. But Brian Kelly, the project's CEO, has long said that a new influx of federal money is an important part of moving the project forward.
The Biden administration had previously shown support for the project when it returned nearly $1 billion in federal money that the Trump administration tried to revoke.
Asked about the rising costs and growing delays on the high-speed rail line, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledged in a call with reporters: “They're facing a lot of the challenges that come with being the very first in anything.”
He added: “We wouldn't fund any of these projects if we didn't believe they could deliver results.”