1 of 8
Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
Vice President Joe Biden greets longshoremen while touring the Port of New Orleans to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

NEW ORLEANS — Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the nation is on the verge of resurgence thanks to the White House's decision to buttress the sagging American economy seven years ago with stimulus spending.

During stops in New Orleans and Memphis to tout the importance of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Biden toured the Port of New Orleans and a regional freight rail facility east of Memphis.

Biden called the $787 billion in stimulus funding an essential trigger that allowed the U.S. economy to recover from recession. Seven years later, he said, the money helped modernize transportation, energy and health care and made the nation more competitive.

"We've gone from crisis to recovery; we're now on the verge of resurgence," Biden said during a speech at the Port of New Orleans, with oceangoing ships churning by on the Mississippi River behind him.

"We knew we had to do something, something really consequential, to begin to turn our economy around and — yes, not a dirty word — stimulate, stimulate growth and, more importantly, private investment back into the economy," he said.

At the port, the vice president visited a new crane system aimed at speeding up and expanding the port's capacity to load containers from ships onto trains and trucks. The $24.7 million project received $16.7 million in stimulus money, port officials said.

Biden then traveled to Tennessee for a tour of the Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility. Just east of Memphis in Rossville, the facility features lifts and heavy vehicles that load and unload shipping containers onto and off semitrailers and trains. The $125 million facility, which opened in 2012, is partly funded by a $52.5 million stimulus grant.

"We've gotta have a better, more efficient way to maintain transportation and move cargo in the United States as the years go by," Biden said in Memphis. "We're behind the curve. We're just starting to get caught up."

After Memphis, Biden headed to St. Paul, Minnesota, to promote another project supported with stimulus funds.

Sainz reported from Memphis.