‘Sheriff Joe’ Biden to name coordinator to oversee $1 trillion in infrastructure bill

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said he would appoint a coordinator next week to oversee spending under a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, a role similar to one he held under former President Barack Obama that earned him the nickname “Sheriff Joe.”

Biden told reporters he had called his Cabinet members together to hammer home the need to ensure that the funding, and $1.75 trillion in a separate social and climate measure still working its way through Congress, were used wisely.

“One of our biggest responsibilities is to make sure the money is used efficiently and effectively,” he said at the start of a meeting. “If we do it right, we know what it’ll mean … we’ll create millions of new jobs and grow the economy.”

Biden said he would sign the infrastructure measure on Monday at a bipartisan ceremony, potentially outside, and expressed confidence that it would improve U.S. competitiveness versus China and other countries, while easing inflation that has spiked in recent months.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the person who would oversee implementation of the newly passed U.S. infrastructure bill would come from outside the administration, but gave no further details.

Biden often talks about his role overseeing implementation of a $787 billion stimulus act while serving as vice president under Obama, a measure that he said resulted in less than .2% waste and fraud.

“Friends started calling me Sheriff Joe … because I made it a point every day to stay on top of how exactly the money was spent, what projects were being built, and what projects were not being built, and how it was functioning,” he said.

Biden earlier this year named former long-term economic adviser Gene Sperling to oversee implementation of $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, and named Jeff Zients, a former Obama official, to head his administration’s overall COVID-19 response.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

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