Deluzio, Jeffries spotlight Biden’s infrastructure bill’s track record at Pittsburgh airport

PITTSBURGH — Heavy equipment rumbled in the background as two U.S. congressmen — Chris Deluzio (D-17th District) and U.S. House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) — stood before a compact group of reporters in a parking lot at Pittsburgh International Airport Monday afternoon and talked for nearly 10 minutes about a $1.5 billion project to modernize the facility, which both noted is being helped by the passage of President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure bill several years ago.

But when it came time for questions, it became clear that the reporters had something other than infrastructure in mind. Hours earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had issued a decision granting former President Donald Trump significant immunity from prosecution. For months, pundits and politicians had speculated about the court’s direction and how it would affect the upcoming election cycle. The 6-3 decision will likely delay Trump’s trial on charges he plotted to overturn his 2020 election defeat by Biden.

Presidential immunity extends to some official acts, Supreme Court rules in Trump case

Jeffries was asked for his thoughts on the ruling. His response began with a quick history lesson.

“In America, the founding principles first established in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1787 are that no one is above the law,” he said. “This is not a country of kings, monarchs or dictators; we are a democracy. And it is important to make sure that standard is enforced across the country. Ordinary Americans are held to that standard.”

Jeffries signaled to several union workers wearing tough hats standing nearby.

“Men and women or organized labor are held to that standard,” he continued. “We need to make sure that people in positions of influence are also held to that standard, that in America, no one is above the law. And it seems like the Supreme Court did not do justice to that standard in this unfortunate decision.”

Jeffries said the House Democratic Caucus has not yet taken a close look at the decision, but noted that it is just one of several recent Supreme Court rulings that his party finds troubling. He specifically mentioned the Chevron decision, released Friday, which overturns long-standing legal precedents and makes it harder for federal agencies to regulate areas such as the environment, health care and workplace safety.

“We will have to study and evaluate the decisions that have been made over the last few days, but they are deeply troubling and inconsistent,” he said, referring to congressional efforts to “provide a better quality of life for Americans.”

Then came questions about last week’s presidential debate and Biden’s lackluster performance. Did that bother Deluzio and Jeffries?

“I’ve been very clear about who I support in this race, and while it was a tough night, I think I’ve also heard Donald Trump lie probably 30 times,” Deluzio said. “I’ve heard him say he won’t commit to honoring the results of the (2024) election, and I still think he’s a serious threat to our freedom, to this democracy.”

Jeffries turned the discussion to what he called Biden’s successes, citing the bipartisan 2021 infrastructure bill as an example.

“This was one debate compared to the incredible record of success that President Biden has achieved in his 3 1/2 years in office,” Jeffries said. “We are creating millions of good-paying union jobs across the country, fixing our crumbling bridges, roads, tunnels, mass transit systems and airports, modernizing them for the future.”

Biden, he said, “puts people before politics, improves the lives of Americans, solves problems and achieves real results.”

Deluzio noted that he spent time with Biden in February, during the president’s visit to Darlington, Pennsylvania, and the village of East Palestine, Ohio, communities that were affected by the 2023 toxic train derailment.

Deluzio said that in meetings with local officials and first responders, Biden was “specific” and focused on “making sure that the people of western Pennsylvania and Ohio are saved and that the railroad is held accountable.”

One of the topics of the day was the congressmen’s support for organized labor unions – as evidenced by the presence of a dozen or so union workers dressed in safety vests and work boots.

“We recognize that in America, if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to provide for yourself and your family a comfortable life, buy a home, provide your children with access to quality health care, take a vacation every now and then and retire with grace and dignity one day,” Jeffries said. “That’s the American dream, and no organization has done more to promote that American dream than unions. That’s why our commitment is to continue to make sure that we create good-paying union jobs, and that’s what this airport project represents.”

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