Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Milwaukee on Monday for the second part of a trip to promote the administration’s infrastructure package – as the White House says it plans to do more to trumpet its achievements amid dire polling and legislative deadlock.
She visited a nonprofit to meet workers replacing lead pipes, one of the initiatives she has championed.
‘It is because of the work that you all are doing… that makes us all so excited….’ she told two plumbers who demonstrated how they removed lead pipes.
‘We just got a law passed and part of that law is to invest billions of dollars in lead removal.’
It is the second part of a trip that included announcing $1.3 billion in funding to prevent and restore damage from wildfires on Friday – before her team was disrupted by a positive COVID test.
It means several of her aides will have to travel back separately, missing the trip to Wisconsin.
A White House official said up to 10 million households still connect to water through lead pipes; 400,000 schools and childcare facilities are at risk of exposure to lead; and 24 million housing units have lead in their paint.
‘Because of inequitable infrastructure development and disinvestment, low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to these risks,’ said the official.
‘President Biden and Vice President Harris believe this is unacceptable and must change.’
Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in California on Friday with her husband Doug Emhoff on Friday. She flies to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Monday for the second leg of her trip
On Friday she talked about how the administration’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill would help tackle wildfires. On Monday it will be highlighting work to replace lead pipes as the White House tries to trumpet its achievements amid poor polling and deadlock on Capitol Hill
Harris spent Friday in San Bernardino with Gov. Gavin Newsom (left), meeting Forest Service staff and being briefed on wildfires, before heading to her Los Angeles home for the weekend
She heard from Deanna Branch who described how her young son suffered behavioral issues and ended up in hospital where doctors discovered dangerously high levels of lead in his blood.
‘So many moms are going through the same thing that I went through. So many little boys and girls are going through what Aidan went through,’ she said, her voice choking with emotion.
The vice president comforted her before beginning her own speech.
She said half of under-sixes were at risk.
‘Our children are going to school where they are potentially drinking lead-infused poisonous water,’ she said
‘What does this mean? It means that our children are sleeping in bedrooms that are coated with lead paint.’
She was joined on the visit by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and Rep. Gwen Moore.
It comes as Harris and Biden are expected to hit the road more. On Thursday, Harris will fly to Honduras to attend the inauguration of the country’s new president Xiomara Castro.
After being cloistered in Washington negotiating their doomed $2.2 trillion Build Back Better plan, officials have signaled that the administration has to do a better job promoting their successes, such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Both Harris and Biden have endured weeks of poor poll numbers.
A recent Economist/YouGov poll found only 39 percent of respondents gave Harris a favorable rating, compared with 54 percent who said she was not doing a good job.
It follows weeks of stories about dysfunction in her office and high-profile departures.
However, the new approach hit a COVID snag at the weekend.
Kamala Harris has endured terrible poll numbers as the Biden-Harris administration grapples with crises and amid reports of dysfunction in the vice president’s office
The vice president’s office has been hit by a string of resignations. Chief spokesperson Symone Sanders (l) left at the end of the year, part of an exodus that included communications chief Ashley Etienne and other officials in charge of crafting her image
Several of her aides were forced to abandon the trip after a member of the advance team tested positive for COVID-19.
Harris had arrived in California on Friday and spent the weekend at her home in Los Angeles.
But a White House official told DailyMail.com that members of the vice president’s staff traveled from Los Angeles International Airport to their hotel with a member of the advance team – which co-ordinates travel arrangements on the ground and includes volunteers. who subsequently tested positive.
The advance team co-ordinates travel arrangements on the ground and includes volunteers.
‘No members of the media were close contacts with this individual and the vice president was not a close contact with this individual,’ said the official.
‘The staff members will not travel with the vice president on Monday.
‘So her trip is still going forward but those staff members who were close contacts are not going to travel with her.’
On Friday, she visited San Bernardino, where she was given an aerial tour of areas affected by wildfires and unveiled 1.3 billion in funding for the US forest service.
Harris spelled out how infrastructure spending had helped deliver cash for protecting forests and property from wildfires.
‘So the work that president and I are doing is about meeting this moment, understanding that the climate crisis has almost everything to do with what we are seeing in terms of the crisis of wildfires,’ she said during a speech at the US Forest Service Del Rosa Fire Station.
‘It is about recognising that we cannot as a government or as a society, or people who care only respond in reaction to a moment of harm or danger.’
The money she said would help with preparedness and forecasting, as well as emergency responses.
White House aides chafe at the idea of a reset after high-profile departures in the vice president’s office or that the trip is part of selling Harris, rather than talking about an important issue.
‘As climate change increasingly fuels hotter, drier, and longer wildfire seasons, and development continues to expand in the wildland urban Interface, the proactive and preventative measures that are taken while fires are not burning become even more essential,’ said a White House official.