By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to the key battleground state of Arizona and two other Western states next week as part of a travel blitz by senior administration officials touting recent economic gains and the anniversaries of key legislation.
Biden will visit Arizona, New Mexico and Utah from Aug. 7-10, after a week’s vacation in his home state of Delaware, to hail the work of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to combat the climate crisis and “unleash a clean energy and manufacturing boom,” an administration official said. Biden will also host an event at the White House on Aug. 16, the official added.
Senior White House officials and cabinet members will fan out across the country starting this week, and continuing through the August congressional recess, to mark the anniversaries of the IRA, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the PACT Act, which benefits veterans, the official said.
The U.S. economy grew at a faster-than-expected 2.4% annualized rate in the second quarter, and headline inflation has fallen sharply from the highs of 2022, pointing to a soft landing that could help Biden in the runup to the 2024 presidential election.
But economists say measures of underlying price pressures have moved more slowly and the personal consumption expenditures price index, stripped of food and energy costs, remains more than double the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.
The Biden administration has struggled to sell its message of economic progress to a skeptical American public and connect the dots from the legislation to future jobs and growth.
This summer’s travel sprint is part of its ongoing push to get that message out.
Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Wisconsin with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to highlight broadband infrastructure investments made possible by the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law signed into law 20 months ago.
The spate of recent legislation had boosted private investments sharply, the official said, with over $500 billion in manufacturing and clean energy investments announced since the CHIPS and the IRA were signed into law last year, and over $280 billion in infrastructure funding announced by the government.
This week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will also travel to Oregon to highlight wildfire defense grants made possible by the infrastructure law, and to Washington state to highlight climate-oriented investments in agricultural research.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi plan to visit Puerto Rico as part of ongoing efforts to rebuild a more resilient grid in the U.S. territory and lower energy costs.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will travel to central and southern Illinois to highlight investments in clean energy, as well as Houston, Texas, to participate in a ribbon cutting for the Houston Port, the official added.
Other cabinet members will visit Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Michigan and California, the official said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mark Potter)