WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday addressed a bipartisan group of governors at the White House — including Gov. Kathy Hochul — urging them to tap into federal funding to address the "challenges out there," including an uptick in gun violence, aging infrastructure and a shortage of affordable child care.
"We are at an inflection point," Biden said in remarks to members of the National Governors Association. "We have an opportunity. America is one of those nations, I think the only nation, that's come out of every crisis stronger than it went into the crisis … and I think that's where we are again."
Biden, speaking from the White House East Room, told the gathering "we have a chance to sort of restate and reassert our world leadership on a whole range of issues and lead the world on everything from the environment to dealing with the issues of immigration."
The president, who is set to travel to New York City on Thursday for a meeting with Mayor Eric Adams to discuss reducing gun violence, told the group of 30 governors on hand that they should direct money states received from last year’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to hire more police officers.
"I made it clear we should use these funds to combat violent crime as well, including hiring additional police officers, investing in community violence interventions that are proven to work in communities," Biden said.
Hochul in a statement after the meeting said she raised her support for bipartisan legislation working its way through Congress aimed at boosting the country's economic competitive edge over China, particularly in the technology sector. Last summer the U.S. Senate passed a $250 billion measure that would provide incentives to manufacturers to build or improve computer chip production plants in the United States. The House is considering a similar measure.
"I advocated for the passage of a final economic competitiveness package to strengthen the semiconductor industry, address supply chain issues, and create jobs in New York and across the country in this vital field," Hochul said.
Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke at the event, urging governors to ensure "that all people who are eligible to vote have the ability ... to vote and access to the ballot."
Harris’ remarks come after a failed push by the White House and congressional Democrats to pass voting rights legislation that would have created national standards around voting. The pair of packages pushed by the White House were meant to counter laws passed by GOP legislatures in more than a dozen states limiting access to voting.
"I would ask that in this coming year we work together to ensure that all Americans who are eligible to vote actually have meaningful access to the ballot," Harris said.