Biden unveils $500 million for Philly water upgrades as he touts infrastructure bill

Jonathan Tamari and Julia Terruso, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Political News

PHILADELPHIA — Standing in a green-tiled building that has treated Philadelphia’s water for more than a century, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday unveiled $500 million in funding for lead pipe replacements and other water service upgrades in the city as the pair aimed to show that their bipartisan infrastructure bill is delivering results.

At the Belmont Water Treatment Plant, Biden held what Democrats expect to be one of many events leading up to the 2024 elections in which the president and his allies demonstrate that his first two years in office have delivered tangible public benefits, even as gridlock takes hold in Washington.

“Every American deserves to be able to turn on their water tap or faucet and be able to drink clean water,” Biden said. But despite America’s wealth, “unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

Standing between filter tanks in a facility that has treated water since 1902, Biden noted that lead pipes are most prominent in older cities with aging infrastructure, and have the worst effects on the lowest-income residents. Roughly 160,000 lead service lines affect 10 million families in Pennsylvania, he said.

Harris spoke about meeting the mother of a Milwaukee 9-year-old who was hospitalized twice for lead poisoning.

“We have made access to clean water a priority for our administration’s national agenda,” Harris said, touting “the largest investment in America’s water infrastructure in history.”


Biden arrived in Philadelphia on the back of a robust jobs report that showed employers added 517,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate of 3.4% is the lowest in more than 50 years.

He pointed to the 12 million jobs added since he took office, saying that’s more in two years than any other president had seen in a full term.

“That’s the strongest two-year growth in history, and by a long shot,” Biden said in Philadelphia.

His stop in Philly, just days before his State of the Union speech Tuesday, signals how Biden and fellow Democrats plan to approach the run-up to next year’s election. Knowing they’re unlikely to secure major legislative victories with the newly divided government in Washington, Democrats plan to unspool a steady stream of infrastructure projects and other benefits they say will flow from the bills they passed in the first two years of Biden’s tenure.


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