By Jeremy Diamond, CNN
National security adviser Jake Sullivan reminded senior White House staff on Thursday of the stakes of passing the burgeoning $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, framing its passage as an “urgent national security imperative for the United States.”
The Senate is expected to vote Friday morning on the motion to proceed to the bill.
In a memo obtained by CNN, Sullivan argued that infrastructure and technology investments will be key to ensuring the US remains competitive on the world stage, especially in the face of a rising China. And he reaffirmed President Joe Biden’s belief that the US must demonstrate that democracies can deliver for their people — and that a bipartisan infrastructure deal can send that message.
“Passing this historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal into law is an urgent national security imperative for the United States,” Sullivan wrote in the memo to senior staff. “America can only compete and win globally if we prioritize rebuilding modern, resilient infrastructure and creating good jobs. Investment in American infrastructure — when coupled with other investments in innovation and technology – will determine our long-term competitiveness with China and the rest of the world. They are critical to building our position of strength.”
Even as the bill cleared that key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday, there were signs of the fragility of the endeavor as some progressives in the House grumbled about the compromise measure and a key moderate Senate Democrat said she was not yet ready to support the $3.5 trillion budget resolution that Democrats are seeking to pass on a parallel, partisan track.
Sullivan’s memo appeared designed to cut through the noise of that intra-party bickering with a reminder of the national security stakes and the potential benefits of a $1 trillion investment.
“A failure to invest in America threatens our national security,” Sullivan wrote, before listing ways in which the US falls short of China and other counties on key infrastructure measures.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal invests in physical infrastructure crucial to combat the climate crisis, creates good-paying jobs, and positions American workers, farmers, and businesses to compete in — and win — the race for the 21st century and beyond,” Sullivan wrote.
Sullivan also stressed Biden’s repeated warnings that the world is at an “inflection point” between picking democracy or autocracy as the best path forward, arguing that passing the bipartisan bill would demonstrate the power of democracies.
“The world is watching closely to see if we can come together to deliver results for American workers, families, and businesses, and make long overdue investments in our infrastructure and competitiveness,” Sullivan wrote. “Our competitors believe we will not, and as a result, are a nation in decline; it is our charge to prove them wrong.”
This story has been updated with further developments.
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Ali Zaslav, Manu Raju and Clare Foran contributed to this report.