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Harris Visit, Labor Secretary's Call Part Of Biden Team Push In Badger State

Vice President Harris Swears In Bill Nelson As NASA Administrator
Drew Angerer
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Getty Images
Vice President Kamala Harris arrives for a ceremonial swearing-in of new NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in her ceremonial office at the White House complex on May 3, 2021 in Washington, DC, a day before she is set to make her first trip to Wisconsin as vice president.

Vice President Kamala Harris is due in southeastern Wisconsin Tuesday afternoon. She's expected to promote the Biden administration's economic development agenda during a visit to UW-Milwaukee.

That agenda includes the recently passed American Rescue Plan — the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill. Also, the recently proposed $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs bill and what's called the American Families plan that was announced just last week. Wisconsin Republicans like Sen. Ron Johnson and the state's GOP House members have generally called the proposals too large.

But during a conference call with Midwest news reporters Monday, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said the Biden team still hopes for a dialogue with congressional Republicans.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Holds Media Briefing With Labor Secretary Marty Walsh
Drew Angerer
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on April 2, 2021 in Washington, DC.

"We can have good, honest conversations with each other and not simply saying, 'It's too big or I don't like it.' There's aspects to this plan that everyone likes. I think you'd be hard pressed to find somebody who says, 'I don't want to see new infrastructure. I don't want to see new broadband. I don't want clean drinking water. I don't want job training,'" he said.

The $1.8 trillion American Families Plan would include money for universal preschool, Pell Grants for university students and paid leave for workers with new children or a family illness. That assistance would be phased in to provide up to $4,000 per month. Higher taxes on the wealthy would pay for much of the spending. Walsh said it's time to go beyond what some communities or states offer in the way of paid leave.

"The pandemic has put a big spotlight on families that are caregivers and taking care of their loved ones in their home. So, I think it's very popular among Americans. As the bill gets filed and goes before Congress, I'm sure there will be changes to it. But the basic premise of it is 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave," he said.

After President Biden's speech to Congress last week, Wisconsin GOP House member Bryan Steil said, "Policies that bail out mismanaged states, and increase taxes do not help families and workers."

In a statement sent to WUWM, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Andrew Hitt said Harris "is coming to Wisconsin to promote Biden's wasteful $6 trillion tax and spending plan that will ruin the economic recovery and saddle children with insurmountable debt."

But Politico and other Capitol Hill publications are reporting the Biden team and its allies in Congress may not wait too much longer for acceptable GOP counterproposals before moving ahead.

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