11:21 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me start by, first, saying a few words about Russia and Ukraine.
I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any — any — assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion. But — and it would be met with severe and coordinated economic response that I’ve discussed in detail with our allies, as well as laid out very clearly for President Putin.
But there is no doubt — let there be no doubt at all that if Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price.
It is also not the only scenario we need to be prepared for: Russia has a long history of using measures other than overt military action to carry out aggression in paramilitary tactics, so-called “gray-zone” attacks, and actions by Russian soldiers not wearing Russian uniforms.
Remember when they moved into the Donbas with “Little Green Men”? They weren’t — they were dealing with those who were Russian sympathizers and said that Russia had no — nobody in there.
Well, that includes “Little Green Men” in uniforms, as well as cyberattack.
We have to be ready to respond to these as well — and decisively — in a united way, with a range of tools at our disposal.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister said this morning that he’s confident of our support and resolve. And he has a right to be.
Now let me turn to the topic of the day:
By enacting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’ve demonstrated that Democrats and Republicans can actually work together to get something done. And by implementing it efficiently and effectively, we’re going to demonstrate that government also can work for people efficiently and effectively.
In just two months, the investments are underway to modernize our roads, our bridges, our ports, our airports, our rail, delivering high-speed Internet and clean water — and expand and modernize, as I said, rail — as well as strengthening the energy grid. And the list goes on.
Up until now, our nation has never fully made this kind of investment. In part — just the reason why we’ve had the whole problem with regard to supply chains.
But when we start moving stuff faster through our ports, when bridges don’t have weight restrictions, when there’s less traffic on our roads because there are more roads to travel on and people aren’t backed up bumper-to-bumper and more capacity in our rails, that’s how we resolve the supply chain problem and get goods to people and get them to them quicker and — quicker and cheaper.
And I know you’ve been all over the country, Mr. Mayor — former mayor, and my buddy — meeting with mayors and governors, county commissioners, Tribal leaders. And I — and like I did with the Recovery Act, which was a similar kind of operation. Because we need to stay on top of it.
I know you remember, Marty, as mayor, what it was like and how detail really matters.
And so, the detail matters, execution matters. And I’m looking forward to an update on where we are now and where we’re going from here.
So, thank you very much. And I’m going to turn it over to the guy who I asked to come out of retirement — not retirement — but come and take over this gigantic job for me.
MR. LANDRIEU: Mr. President, thank you so much. I’m honored. And thank you for having me.
You asked us to rebuild America with the largest infrastructure investment in generations in the country.
And this is the team, Mr. President, that you put together that has been, in the last 60 days, hitting the ground and getting things done.
This is actually the seventh meeting that we’ve had in the last 60 days. And each one of these individuals has been organizing not only their agencies, but their partners around the country to actually make this happen.
We’re actually spending a lot of time running to the fire, as we like to say, flushing out the very difficult problems that attended to anything that — this large — that hasn’t been done in a long time.
But you asked us not just to rebuild America, you asked us to rebuild a better America.
And a better America, from your perspective, is one that we’re following, which means good-paying union jobs. It means using products that are made in America so we can boost our domestic manufacturing, so that we can take the supply chains back and grow our independence and safety and security and lower costs for average Americans. It also means not doing anything without a sense of equity and an understanding that we can’t go forward if we can’t go forward together because diversity is this nation’s greatest strength. And then, also, thinking about the tremendous challenges we have with climate and resilience and sustainability to build back in a way so that we know, when bad things come, we’re tough enough to actually sustain whatever that is.
You also said to me when I first got here: Listen, the American people need to have our trust. And so, therefore, accountability and transparency is important. And that we need to make sure that we work with inspector generals and other people to regain the public trust. We’ve done all that stuff.
And then, finally, as you have reminded me: When you ran the Recovery Act, downline logistics, getting it right on the ground, where it matters with people where they live, is critically important.
And so, Mr. President, this is your team. We’re hard at work. We’re ready to get the job done. And we’re ready to continue to do the work that we’ve done in the last 60 days. So, thank you so much.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Well, let’s get to work.
11:27 A.M. EST