How much Joe?! Biden is mocked after botching announcement for ‘over a billion, three hundred million, trillion, three hundred million dollars’ investment in major rail projects across the country – as he retells debunked Amtrak anecdote AGAIN

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Written By Maya Cantina

Joe Biden botched his big announcement about rail investment on Friday, declaring that the federal government would spend ‘over a billion, three hundred million, trillion, three hundred million dollars’.

The president was in Las Vegas, unveiling $8.2 billion in new federal funding for 10 major passenger rail projects across the country. Among them is a new line from the Nevada city to Los Angeles, which when completed – potentially as soon as 2028 – can carry over 11 million passengers a year, powered entirely by renewable energy.

Biden mocked his predecessor for repeatedly promising Infrastructure Week, but failing to deliver.

‘Trump just talks the talk. We walk the walk,’ said Biden, speaking at a hall for unionized carpenters.

‘He likes to say America is a failing nation. Frankly, he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. I see shovels in the ground, cranes in the sky. People hard at work rebuilding America together.’

Joe Biden on Friday announced $8.2 billion in investment in railways – but stumbled over the sum

But he stumbled over the cost of the project, tripping over the millions and billions in his speech.

He also repeated his oft-told story about how frequently he traveled on Amtrak.

Biden spent years commuting between his Delaware home and Washington DC, and told how a member of the train crew told him he had read that Biden reached the million-mile mark on Air Force Two.

But, the employee, Angelo Negri, said, they knew he had actually traveled further on Amtrak.

Biden told the crowd: ‘He said, ‘Big deal, Joey.’ He said, ‘We just had a retirement dinner in Newark, New Jersey… You know how many miles you’ve ridden?’

‘I said, ‘No, Ang.’

‘And he said, ‘1,000,327 miles. I don’t hear any more about the Air Force.’

‘Well, guys, I — I’m a rail guy, not a joke.’

The story was debunked years ago: The million-mile mark on Air Force Two was not reached until September 2015, and Negri had retired from Amtrak in 1993. Negri died in May 2014, before the milestone was reached.

Biden told the crowd of union employees at a carpentry factory that, unlike Donald Trump, he 'walked the walk'

Biden told the crowd of union employees at a carpentry factory that, unlike Donald Trump, he ‘walked the walk’

Not yet seen in the US, the technology will grant the train the ability to traverse the desert in just two hours as opposed to the usual four or five. The cash infusion, meanwhile, is unprecedented for a private firm, and comes months after the Florida company asked for it

Not yet seen in the US, the technology will grant the train the ability to traverse the desert in just two hours as opposed to the usual four or five. The cash infusion, meanwhile, is unprecedented for a private firm, and comes months after the Florida company asked for it

Biden also used his visit to Las Vegas to address this week’s shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, that killed three people and wounded a fourth.

Biden again called for Congress to act on an assault weapons ban.

‘I’m not going to rest until we do all we can to prevent more families and more communities from being torn apart by gun violence,’ Biden said.

Friday’s trip was planned before the shooting and Biden’s focus on train service is little surprise for a president who is a big passenger rail advocate.

Biden has championed several major federal spending investments in passenger rail travel, including last month when he announced $16 billion in federal investments for rail travel along the busy Northeast Corridor.

Making high-speed rail a reality in California won’t be easy, though, since its first-in-the-U.S. project has long been plagued by extended deadlines and cost overruns.

The infrastructure could be completed in time for the 2028 Olympics

The infrastructure could be completed in time for the 2028 Olympics

A rendering of the high-speed California-to-Las Vegas train, which will make stops in Rancho Cucamonga, Hesperia, Victor Valley, and Las Vegas. It connects to an existing commuter line that extends to Los Angeles

A rendering of the high-speed California-to-Las Vegas train, which will make stops in Rancho Cucamonga, Hesperia, Victor Valley, and Las Vegas. It connects to an existing commuter line that extends to Los Angeles

Travelers will make the journey at speeds of roughly 200mph, along routes that follow preexisting highways through the arid Nevada desert

Travelers will make the journey at speeds of roughly 200mph, along routes that follow preexisting highways through the arid Nevada desert

The plan has been funded by some prior federal grants, as well as a bond fund approved by voters in 2008, and revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade climate program. But that adds up to a total far below the project’s estimated costs, now at more than $100 billion.

California Republicans have long been critical of the project, but even some state Democrats have become more vocal in their skepticism.

Construction and land acquisition is underway in the Central Valley. But Brian Kelly, the project’s CEO, has long said a fresh infusion of federal cash is an important part of advancing the project.

The Biden administration had previously signaled support for the project when it restored nearly $1 billion in federal money that the Trump administration tried to revoke.

Asked about rising costs and growing delays on the high-speed line, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledged in a call with reporters: ‘They are facing a lot of the challenges that come with being the very first at anything.’

He added: ‘For all of these projects, we would not be funding them if we did not believe they can deliver.’

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