White House launches rural infrastructure tour

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The White House launched a rural infrastructure tour on Monday, which will send Biden administration officials into communities across the nation to tout the new infrastructure law ahead of the midterms.

The law stands as the White House’s number one legislative accomplishment, especially with a separate social spending and climate change measure known as Build Back Better on ice.

Officials will travel to dozens of rural communities in April to highlight the law is expected, covering the states of Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters on a call on Monday that the tour is intended for rural communities to know they are “not being left out of this historic bill.”

“It’s important for us to focus on rural America,” said Vilsack, who is not traveling on the tour yet since he tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. “It’s an important part of America. It is critically important to the mission of America.”

Others traveling on the tour include Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The administration also released on Monday a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Rural Playbook that breaks down opportunities for rural areas in the law as a resource for state, local, tribal and territorial governments.

It provides information on the “what, when, where, and how to apply” for funding under the law, according to the White House, and identifies more than 100 programs funded. The playbook builds on the guidebook the administration released in January to help state and local governments access funding from the law.

Throughout April, the administration will announce billions for rural areas including for water projects, flood mitigation, transportation, health care and tribal community grants, as well as new technical assistance programs for rural and tribal communities.

To kick that off, President Biden announced a $1 billion America the Beautiful Challenge on Monday. The public private grant program will be administered by National Fish and Wildlife Federation and support voluntary, locally led conservation efforts across the country.

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