President Joe Biden delivers remarks on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package on Dec. 8, 2021, at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority in Kansas City, Missouri. (Allison Kite/Kansas Reflector)
WASHINGTON — Governors from throughout the country, including Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, met with President Joe Biden on Friday at the White House to hash out the best way to implement the billions of federal dollars flowing to their states from both bipartisan and Democratic legislation.
Biden, who typically meets with the governors when they are in Washington, D.C., for their annual winter meeting, urged the governors to work with his administration to implement several bills enacted during the last Congress and to dispel the narrative that the two political parties never work together.
“I think the success for all of us — Democrats and Republicans — is in part going to be measured not by what else we get done or passed, but whether we’re able to implement what we’ve already done,” Biden said.
“I know it’s a problem having to deal with all the money we’re sending you. I understand that,” Biden said, seemingly half joking.
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, chairman of the National Governors Association, said the laws represented “game changing investments in our country” that the governors were in the midst of implementing.
The bipartisan infrastructure law, the semiconductor manufacturing and science bill, and Democrats’ signature health care and climate change legislation, Murphy said, were all helping to boost jobs and address issues states had been facing.
Increases in funding for mental health care and maternal health care were also welcomed by the governors, Murphy said, noting that much of what the NGA works on is bipartisan.
“I think there’s a certain pride that we have in the National Governors Association that notwithstanding our political parties or differences, we can consistently come together and disprove the narrative that politics has gotten completely divisive,” Murphy said.
Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, vice chairman of the NGA, noted that before Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris joined the meeting, the governors had a chance to talk with several Cabinet secretaries about federal programs and issues in their states.
“I will just remind you that you are in a room full of — my wife said I can’t use my farm words — so, the get-stuff-done caucus. Governors get stuff done,” Cox said. “So we are partners with you in getting that stuff done and we look forward to working closely with you.”
Harris spoke directly about the federal government’s climate change initiatives during the portion of the meeting that was open to reporters, telling the governors that none of the work could get done without their collaboration.
“It will be your leadership that allows us to invest in families, in workers, collaborate with the private sector and do the work that is not only about meeting the direct needs when it comes to the climate crisis and extreme weather conditions; but what we uniquely can do as the United States of America to be a model for the world, around how we invest in our people and invest in our future,” Harris said.
She also noted the challenges of climate change and extreme weather are a turning point for the country.
“We do think of this moment as being a moment in the history of our nation, where it is not about incrementalism,” Harris said. “It is truly about jumping to a new plateau.”
Governors in attendance, according to the White House:
- Gov. Lemanu Mauga, American Samoa
- Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado
- Gov. Ned Lamont, Connecticut
- Gov. John Carney, Delaware
- Gov. Lou Leon-Guerrero, Guam
- Gov. Josh Green, Hawaii
- Gov. Brad Little, Idaho
- Gov. JB Pritzker, Illinois
- Gov. Eric Holcomb, Indiana
- Gov. Laura Kelly, Kansas
- Gov. Andy Beshear, Kentucky
- Gov. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana
- Gov. Janet Mills, Maine
- Gov. Maura Healey, Massachusetts
- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan
- Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota
- Gov. Greg Gianforte, Montana
- Gov. Jim Pillen, Nebraska
- Gov. Phil Murphy, New Jersey and NGA Chair
- Gov. Chris Sununu, New Hampshire
- Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico
- Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York
- Gov. Roy Cooper, North Carolina
- Gov. Doug Burgum, North Dakota
- Gov. Arnold Palacios, Northern Mariana Islands
- Gov. John Stitt, Oklahoma
- Gov. Tina Kotek, Oregon
- Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico
- Gov. Daniel McKee, Rhode Island
- Gov. Henry McMaster, South Carolina
- Gov. Bill Lee, Tennessee
- Gov. Albert Bryan, US Virgin Islands
- Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah and NGA Vice Chair
- Gov. Phil Scott, Vermont
- Gov. Jay Inslee, Washington
- Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin
- Gov. Mark Gordon, Wyoming
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