Joe Biden Really Doesn’t Like LaGuardia Airport

The vice president took another jab at the New York City airport’s aging infrastructure on Wednesday.

National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
July 9, 2014, 12:33 p.m.

La­Guardia Air­port does not have a fan in Joe Biden.

The vice pres­id­ent used New York City’s second-largest air­port to make his case for in­vest­ment in U.S. in­fra­struc­ture on Wed­nes­day, and it wasn’t pretty.

“If you were blind­folded and I dropped you in an air­port in the middle of New York and I dropped you in an air­port in the middle of Beijing, you sure as hell wouldn’t pick La­Guardia as be­ing in the United States,” the vice pres­id­ent said, ac­cord­ing to press pool re­ports.

Biden made the com­ments at a meet­ing of 75 gov­ern­ment and busi­ness of­fi­cials to dis­cuss the High­way Trust Fund, which is ex­pec­ted to run out of re­sources for trans­port­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture by Au­gust. The gath­er­ing was hos­ted by the White House Busi­ness Coun­cil.

He piled on. “The greatest city in the world with the air­port struc­ture it has now? C’mon guys,” he said. “How long can that last? How long can we con­tin­ue to be in that po­s­i­tion?”

This isn’t the first time Biden has slammed the air­port’s aging fa­cil­it­ies, nor is it his first men­tion of blind­fold­ing people. In Feb­ru­ary, the vice pres­id­ent said that if a blind­folded per­son were taken to Hong Kong’s air­port and asked to name their loc­a­tion once they could see, they would say: “This must be Amer­ic­an; it’s a mod­ern air­port.” Not so in the U.S. “If I took you and blind­folded you and took you to La­Guardia Air­port in New York, you must think, ‘I must be in some third-world coun­try.’ “

New York City May­or Bill de Bla­sio was not happy with Biden’s snub. “La­Guardia, ob­vi­ously, needs an up­grade,” he said back then. “But that be­ing said, the air­port man­ages an ex­traordin­ary amount of traffic, and the people who work there make it work un­der very dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances, and so as a proud New York­er, I didn’t like that com­ment, and I think it was not the right way to talk about it.”

La­Guardia is in­deed in need of re­pairs. Its op­er­at­or, the Port Au­thor­ity of New York and New Jer­sey, is plan­ning to spend $3.6 bil­lion on an over­haul, ac­cord­ing to Time.

No air­port, however, holds a candle to Biden’s fa­vor­ite train ser­vice, Amtrak. The vice pres­id­ent said Wed­nes­day that he has taken 8,000 trips through Amtrak between his home state of Delaware and Wash­ing­ton. Biden is “Amtrak Joe” through and through, not “Air­port Joe.”

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