President Biden on Friday focused on implementing his agenda over the past two years during a meeting with governors from both sides of the aisle, calling for governors to focus on the work that has already been done as he faces a divided Congress.
“One of the things we have to do this year is we have, in a sense, almost too much to work with because we got to get done what we already passed, not even talking about new legislation, just what has already been passed,” he said during the National Governors Association (NGA) winter meeting at the White House.
The president is working with a divided Congress for the first time in his presidency, and passing anything from his agenda will be an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled House.
“I think we have a lot to cover and, quite frankly I think the success for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, is in part going to be measured by not what else we get done or pass but whether we’re able to implement what we’ve already done,” Biden said.
The president in the meeting touted the infrastructure bill and CHIPs and Science Act, which both passed with bipartisan support. He focused on the importance of working across the aisle in his remarks, echoing his State of the Union address earlier this week, which called for Congress to act on policies that can get support from Democrats and Republicans.
“I just think that one of the things that we have a chance to do this year is disprove that … we’re just a broken system, that we’re just divided, just based on extremes in both parties and we can’t get anything done,” Biden said.
He also said that while a lot of legislation has been passed, “I think we have to finish the job.” The president said he wants to “finish the job” a dozen times in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, giving a nod to an expected reelection bid.
Thirty-seven governors from states and U.S. territories attended the meeting on Friday. Biden joked with the group that legislation over the last two years, notably the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill, has sent almost too much funding to states.
“I know it’s a problem having to deal with all the money we’re sending you, I understand that,” he said.
Vice President Harris acknowledged the investments made to combat climate change from the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as the infrastructure law.
“We delivered on many of these needs by making transformative investments … and it includes our work to implement the largest investment in climate in our nation’s history. We calculate that — in addition to $370 billion that was part of the Inflation Reduction Act — overall we’re probably looking at about $1 trillion that will hit the streets of America,” Harris said.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R), who is the vice chair of the NGA, told Biden and Harris at the meeting that he is in a room full of “the get stuff done caucus.”
“Governors get stuff done,” Cox said.