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June 20, 2024
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Mitch Landrieu, Biden’s Infrastructure Czar, Moves to Presidential Campaign

WILMINGTON, Del. — Mitch Landrieu, the coordinator of President Biden’s ambitious infrastructure program, is stepping down from his post to help lead the president’s re-election campaign, the White House said in a statement on Monday.

“Mitch has always known that the real measure of success is not about scoring partisan points — it’s about building bridges, and fixing the problem at hand,” Mr. Biden said in the statement. He added, “Mitch has consistently demonstrated that when we work together, we can do big things.”

The $1 trillion infrastructure package that Mr. Biden pushed through Congress with bipartisan support in 2021 is among the key accomplishments that he hopes to sell to voters to win another term.

Mr. Landrieu will aim to rejuvenate a presidential campaign stumbling over lingering voter frustration about Mr. Biden’s performance and the economy. Natalie Quillian, the White House deputy chief of staff, will take over Mr. Landrieu’s duties overseeing the implementation of the infrastructure package.

”Mitch Landrieu brings unique and valuable experience to this fight,” Julie Chávez Rodríguez, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “His work at the White House to lift up how President Biden is investing in America and rebuilding the backbone of our economy is critical to our re-election effort.”

Mr. Landrieu, a former mayor of New Orleans and a former lieutenant governor of Louisiana, has been an indefatigable champion of public works projects across the country, coordinating the rebuilding of roads, bridges and other infrastructure. He has promoted the historic scope of the program and noted that the Biden administration was spending in Republican areas as well as in Democratic ones. He traveled 119,000 miles to nearly 150 cities as part of his duties since he was tapped for the position in November 2022, mostly by hopping from one commercial flight to the next.

Mr. Landrieu was also responsible for ensuring that local leaders put racial equity as the primary focus of their infrastructure investments. He occasionally negotiated with mayors and governors who disagreed with the president’s ideas about how best to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure in an equitable way. The decision of how to spend the funding largely falls to the states.

State and local officials have historically constructed roads and highways through Black communities, isolating them from parks or economic gain and destroying residential neighborhoods.

The White House said it had announced over 40,000 infrastructure projects across 4,500 communities in every state, territory and Washington, D.C., including the beginning of improvements to more than 135,000 miles of road, and expanded access to affordable high-speed internet for more than 22 million people. The president’s advisers describe the program as one of the most expansive in American history and repeatedly note that former President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Biden’s predecessor and a 2024 challenger, failed to pass such a spending package.

Yet the efforts have not politically benefited Mr. Biden as much as his allies had hoped it would. A poll by Monmouth University last month found that 52 percent of Americans disapproved of Mr. Biden’s handling of transportation and energy infrastructure.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Landrieu have said that the administration’s challenge is to highlight the benefits of an infrastructure package, even as many of the construction projects will take years to be completed.

“I’m a politician, so I want to get credit for everything that I do,” Mr. Landrieu said in an interview with The New York Times in November 2022. “But at the end of the day, what makes a great leader is saying that I’m going to invest deep, foundational money so that the public can benefit later on.”

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