On Monday, March 14, President Joe Biden spoke at the National League of Cities’ Congressional City Conference, addressing the largest in-person audience of his presidency so far. Biden’s speech reflected the concerns local leaders are hearing on the ground from their communities and highlighted opportunities for federal investments to help cities, towns, and villages across the nation. A full transcript of Biden’s remarks is available here.
Four Takeaways from His Speech:
1. The American Rescue Plan Act Helped Cities Bounce Back
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law one year ago, providing $65.1 billion in investments to local governments to help recover from the COVID pandemic. President Biden highlighted the dire situation local governments faced before this law passed, as municipalities had to lay off employees and residents were hurting from the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
The ARPA local recovery funds helped cities bounce back. President Biden shared how cities used these funds to help people keep their homes, put municipal employees back in jobs, and train people for new jobs.
NLC is tracking thousands of projects across the country made possible by ARPA funds, each addressing a community’s specific needs. Through our partnership with Brookings Metro and the National Association of Counties (NACo), we recently launched the Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker. This online resource compiles information from local governments to offer a detailed picture of how large cities and counties are deploying SLFRF dollars. The tool tracks more than $18 billion in SLFRF investments across 152 local governments.
“One year after signing this law, our cities, our towns, and our rural communities are roaring back.”President Joe Biden
2. Federal Investments Going Directly to Municipalities
As a former local leader himself, President Biden recognizes the importance of the federal-local partnership. During his remarks, President Biden highlighted the direct and essential role local governments play in protecting the public health, safety and welfare of our communities. By providing investments directly to cities, towns, and villages through ARPA, local leaders were able to address the unique problems facing their communities and target aid where it is needed.
“But you all know it better than I do: A big part of the reason we’re so successful is because the Rescue Plan went directly to you without having to pass “Go,” without having to go to the statehouses.”President Joe Biden
3. It is the Infrastructure Decade
Cities, towns, and villages are ready to rebuild with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). In his remarks, President Biden shared how this historic bill will strengthen our nation’s infrastructure, including removing lead pipes and strengthening broadband across the country.
As President Biden said, “It’s now time for cities and towns to get ready.” Local leaders should begin to find opportunities in this historic bill that match the needs of their community. You can start by using our interactive Infrastructure Insights Dashboard. The White House also has a guidebook to help you get started, available here.
“Everybody knew — and you heard from my Secretary a little bit earlier — America was falling behind on infrastructure. We used to be number one in the world; we’re now number eight. But now, not only has Infrastructure Week finally arrived, we’re talking about infrastructure decade, not week.”President Joe Biden
4. Workforce Training is Still Needed
To complete the long list of infrastructure projects in communities across the country, we need a workforce that is trained and ready. President Biden highlighted this need and urged local leaders to start planning now for those workforce needs, and to invest in workforce training in their communities. He shared how ARPA funds can be used to invest in workforce and create “new pathways to better jobs through union-based apprenticeships and on-the-job training.”
“Build the strong, diverse workforce you need to take on these infrastructure jobs so the families in your communities can deal themselves into this booming economy.”President Joe Biden
Invest In Your Workforce
Learn more about how local governments are using ARPA funds to invest in the workforce.