President Joe Biden praised the approval by Congress of his one trillion dollar infrastructure package cAs a “monumental step for the nation” after the Democratic rebels resolved a months-long standoff in their ranks to finally seal the deal.
“Finally, infrastructure week,” a beaming Biden told reporters. “I’m very happy to say that: infrastructure week.”
The House passed measure 228-206 Friday night, prompting prolonged cheers from the relieved Democratic side of the chamber. Thirteen Republicans, mostly moderates, supported the legislation, while six of the most left-wing members of Democrats, including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri, opposed it.
The passage of the bill, which promises to create legions of jobs and improve broadband, water supply and other public works, He sends it to the desk of a president whose approval ratings have dropped and whose nervous party received the chill of voters in the last week. out-of-year elections.
Democratic gubernatorial candidates were defeated in Virginia and made their way into New Jersey, two blue-leaning states. Those setbacks made party leaders, and moderates and liberals alike, impatient to produce powerful legislation and show they know how to govern. Democrats can’t afford to look messy a year before the midterm elections that could see Republicans regain control of Congress.
Biden said the lesson from Tuesday’s election was that voters “want us to deliver,” adding that Friday’s vote “showed that we can.”
“In a great article, we delivered,” he added.
The infrastructure package is a historic investment by any measure, one that Biden compares in its breadth to the construction of the interstate highway system in the last century or the transcontinental railroad of the previous century.
“This is a blue collar plan to rebuild America,” he said in his remarks at the White House.
His reference to infrastructure week was a blow to his predecessor, Donald Trump, whose White House declared several times that “infrastructure week” had arrived, just for nothing to happen.
Simply releasing the infrastructure measure for final congressional approval was like an adrenaline rush for Democrats. However, despite the victory, Democrats suffered a setback when they postponed voting on a second, even bigger bill until later this month.
That 10-year, $ 1.85 trillion measure bolstering health, family and climate change programs was sidetracked after moderates demanded an estimate of the costs of the sprawling measure from the Congressional Budget Office, which isn’t partisan. The postponement dashed hopes that the day would yield a two-gun victory for Biden with the passage of both bills.
But in an evening breakthrough brokered by Biden and House leaders, five moderates later agreed to back that bill if the budget office estimates are consistent with preliminary figures provided by White House tax analysts. and Congress. The deal, in which lawmakers promised to vote on the social and environmental bill by the week of November 15, was a significant step toward a House vote that could ultimately send it to the Senate.
Clearly elated by the bill’s passage, Biden had a lengthy conversation with reporters for more than half an hour on Saturday morning, joking that his chances of making the bill had been canceled multiple times before, only for him to could save him. He said he would wait to hold a signing ceremony until the legislators, Democrats and Republicans who voted for it, return to Washington after a week-long recess.
The president acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding his broader social and environmental spending package, saying “time will tell” if he can keep popular provisions like universal paid family leave in the final version. He did not say whether he has private guarantees from moderate Democrats in the House and Senate to pass the nearly $ 2 trillion bill, but said he was “sure” it would get the votes.
“We will pass this in the House and we will pass it in the Senate,” he said. When asked why he thought that, Biden said he had met the lawmakers during the negotiations.
Biden predicted that Americans would start to feel the impact of the infrastructure bill “probably starting in the next two to three months as we get shovels on the ground. But the full impact of the legislation will likely take decades to fully materialize.
He added that he will visit some ports that would benefit from the legislation in the next week as his administration frantically tries to ease supply chain disruptions that are driving up consumer goods prices ahead of the holidays.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that for programs that are expanding, it would be easy to spend the new money, but it would take longer to get new initiatives in place.
“There are a lot of applications on my desktop – figuratively speaking, they are digital – but we have about $ 10 billion worth of applications for a show that only has $ 1 billion,” he told CNN. “This is not just a short-term stimulus bill.”
Biden said the investment would be seen in 50 years as “when the United States decided to win the competition of the 21st century” with a rising China.
President and First Lady Jill Biden delayed plans to travel to their home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on Friday night. Instead, Biden spoke to House leaders, moderates and progressives.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Biden even called his mother in India, although it was not clear why.
“This was not to bribe me, this is when everything was done,” Jayapal told reporters. The legislator said her mother told her that she “kept screaming like a child.”
In a statement, five moderates said that if the fiscal estimates of the social and environmental bill pose problems, “we remain committed to working to resolve the discrepancies” to pass it.
In return, the Liberals agreed to back the infrastructure measure, which they had spent months holding hostage in an effort to pressure moderates to back the larger bill.
The day marked a strange détente between the moderate and liberal wings of the Democrats that party leaders hope will continue this fall. The rival factions had spent weeks accusing each other of jeopardizing the success of Biden and the party by exaggerating their hands. But on Friday night, Jayapal suggested that they would work together in the future.
Democrats have struggled for months to seize their control of the White House and Congress by promoting their top priorities. That has been difficult, in part because of the slim majorities of Democrats and bitter internal divisions.
“Welcome to my world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. “We are not a closed party.”
Democrats’ day turned tumultuous early after a half-dozen moderates demanded the budget office’s cost estimate of the extensive package of health, education, family and climate change initiatives before voting for it.
Party leaders said that would take days or more. But with voting delayed on Friday and lawmakers leaving town for a week-long break, those budget estimates should be ready by the time the vote takes place.
The infrastructure measure was approved by the Senate in August with bipartisan support.
As for the social and environmental package, the approval of the House would send it to the Senate, where it faces certain changes and more Democratic drama. That’s mainly due to demands by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to contain the costs of the measure.
Moderates have forced leaders to cut the roughly 2,100-page measure to about half its original size of $ 3.5 billion. Republicans oppose it being too expensive and bad for the economy.
The package would assist large numbers of Americans to pay for health care, parenting, and home care for the elderly. It has $ 555 billion in tax breaks that encourage cleaner energy and electric vehicles. Democrats added provisions in recent days to restore a new paid family leave and work permit program for millions of immigrants.
Much of the cost of the package would be covered by higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.