Biden hails passage of $1.2T infrastructure package, calling it 'monumental step forward'


President Biden on Saturday celebrated the hard-fought passage of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, calling it “a monumental step forward for the nation.”

“We did something that’s long overdue,” Mr. Biden said, taking a victory lap at the White House.

The long-sought victory is a major legislative win for Mr. Biden who spent months wrangling over how to bring together Democratic progressives and centrists behind the bill.

It was repeatedly on the verge of collapse, but the Democratic Party’s dismal performance in two state elections Tuesday became a call to action spurring lawmakers to forge ahead on the long-delayed bill.

Just hours before the package was approved late Friday, Mr. Biden was working the phones to secure its passage. He called into a three-hour meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to encourage them to support the vote and made similar overtures to moderates.

A bipartisan group of senators negotiated the bill this summer, but it languished for months amid Democratic infighting. Progressives held it hostage, demanding the measure be voted on alongside a second, massive social spending bill.

The measure passed 228-206 with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle joining most Democrats. Only six Democrats — all among the party’s farthest left members — opposed it.

The infrastructure bill reauthorizes existing federal infrastructure programs for five years and includes $550 billion to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports, and broadband connections.

It marks one of the most significant investments in the country’s infrastructure in years. Roughly $110 billion is allocated to replace and repair roads, bridges, and highways and $66 billion will bolster railroads, the nation’s largest rail investment since the creation of Amtrak.

An additional $55 billion is allocated to improving the nation’s water supply and replacing lead pipes. Another $60 billion will shore up the nation’s power grid and expand internet access across the country.

The bill also includes several provisions to combat climate change. The package allocates $7.5 billion to build a national network of electric vehicle charging stations with another $50 billion to respond to extreme weather emergencies such as drought or wildfires.

Democrats will now focus on getting Mr. Biden’s massive social spending bill across the finish line. The $1.75 trillion spending bill will fund a universal pre-kindergarten program, boost climate change initiatives, expand healthcare subsidies and increase taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations.

On Friday, the House adopted a procedure rule establishing guidelines for a floor debate on the social spending package.

As part of the truce to pass Mr. Biden’s infrastructure bill, moderates agreed to back the social spending bill if a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office is consistent with the numbers the White House has provided.

The agreement means House lawmakers would vote on the bill no later than Nov. 15 and then send it to the Senate where its fate is uncertain.

Democrats hold a slim majority in the upper chamber and it’s expected to face stiff opposition from Republicans. Centrist Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have already objected to the measure’s cost and some of its provisions.

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