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Harris touts infrastructure deal in NC transit talk

The vice president talked transit in North Carolina, touting the newly-passed infrastructure package as her office faces an exodus of top aides.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CN) — Amid staffing woes, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday to tout the new $1 trillion package passed in hopes of bolstering America’s infrastructure.

Congress signed the trillion-dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law last month, after lengthy, partisan debates.

"America is moving again because, ultimately, that's what infrastructure is all about: Getting people moving," Harris said to a crowd in the Queen City during her remarks on Thursday.

The vice president arrived in the state just after senior adviser and chief spokesperson Symone Sanders announced her plan to depart from Harris’ office by 2022. 

Sanders usually embarks with Harris from D.C. to events such as this but, as House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing earlier on Thursday, "It's natural for staffers who have thrown their heart and soul into a job to be ready to move on to a new challenge after a few years." 

"It's also an opportunity, as it is in any White House, to bring in new faces, new voices and new perspectives," Psaki added. 

Ashley Etienne, Harris’ communications director, left the office just a few days prior to the Charlotte trip. 

Before Thursday, Harris hadn’t visited Charlotte since taking office.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg accompanied the vice president on Thursday, expressing support for the infrastructure act’s end-result. 

As Buttigieg’s approval ratings seem to rise in recent polls, the Harris-Biden ticket is losing its appeal among some voters, poll data compiled by FiveThirtyEight shows. 

Several pundits have recently speculated that Buttigieg and Harris are considering entering themselves as rivals in 2024 presidential campaigns of their own should Biden not seek re-election. 

But the two have refuted the notion of any rivalry and displayed a united front to speak on the infrastructure plan.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and 12th District Congresswoman Alma Adams joined their fellow Democratic heavyweights in a tour of a transit center in Charlotte’s South End that houses operations for electric busses. 

After the tour — and a few horn-honks by a jesting vice president behind the wheel of a bus—Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles set formal remarks into motion.

“Finally, we can celebrate the long-promised infrastructure bill,” Cooper said, applauding the plan. 

“World-class cities like Charlotte deserve world-class transportation systems,” Harris said.

Due to the infrastructure package, North Carolina is slated to receive $910 million for public transit over the next five years, Harris told attendees.

Among other places, these funds could benefit areas like Charlotte, which has a proclivity for heavy traffic and is experiencing explosive population growth.

The Biden administration says the plan allocates more than $7 billion to repair thousands of miles of highway throughout the Tar Heel State. 

“Our bipartisan infrastructure law will make our country more competitive, it will make our communities more prosperous and it will deliver on our administration's commitment to equity," said Harris, who had last traveled to the battleground state in April.

During her Charlotte visit, Harris spoke on another Biden-backed piece of legislation — the proposed $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act.

"What we are doing with Build Back Better is saying we need to meet the needs of working families,” she said, “and we must address the current and immediate needs while not neglecting the needs that are quickly becoming a crisis for us."

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Categories / Government, Politics, Regional

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