President Joe Biden enacted a $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan on Monday that provides funds for roads, bridges, ports, rail transportation, clean water, power grid, high-speed internet and more.
The plan promises to reach almost every corner of the country. It is a historic investment that the president compared to the construction of the transcontinental railroad and the Interstate Highway System.
The White House predicts that the investments will create, on average, around 2 million jobs per year over the next decade.
This is a developing story. The previous story is below.
President Joe Biden prepared to sign his $ 1 trillion infrastructure deal on the White House lawn on Monday, with a handful of Republican lawmakers on hand for what could be one of the latest protests of bipartisanship ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
The president hopes to use the law to rebuild his popularity, which has taken a hit amid rising inflation and the inability to fully shake off the public health and economic risks of COVID-19.
“My message to the American people is this: America is on the move again,” Biden said in prepared remarks released ahead of the ceremony. “And your life will change for the better.”
With the bipartisan agreement, the president had to choose between his promise to foster national unity and a commitment to transformative change. The final measure reduced much of his original vision to invest in roads, bridges, water systems, broadband, ports, electric vehicles and the power grid. Still, the administration hopes to sell the new law as a success that has bridged partisan divisions and uplifts the country with clean water, high-speed internet and a move away from fossil fuels.
“Too often in Washington – the reason we don’t get things done is because we insist on getting whatever we want,” Biden said in his prepared remarks. “With this law, we focused on getting things done. I ran for President because the only way to move our country forward is through compromise and consensus. “
Biden will be exiting Washington to sell the plan more widely in the coming days.
He plans to go to New Hampshire on Tuesday to visit a bridge on the state’s “red list” for repair, and will be heading to Detroit on Wednesday for a stop at the electric vehicle assembly plant in. General Motors, while other officials are also deploying across the country. The President visited the Port of Baltimore last week to highlight how legislated supply chain investments could curb inflation and strengthen supply chains, a major concern of voters facing prices higher.
“We see this as an opportunity because we know that the president’s agenda is quite popular,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday before the signing. Voter outreach can go “beyond the legislative process to talk about how it will help them. And we hope it will have an impact.”
Biden delayed signing the hard-fought infrastructure deal after it passed on November 5 until lawmakers returned from Congressional recess and can join in a booming bipartisan event. On Sunday night before the signing, the White House announced that Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans, would help manage and coordinate the implementation of infrastructure spending.
Monday’s rally on the White House lawn included governors and mayors from both parties and union and business leaders. In addition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the guest list included Republicans such as Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, Senator from Maine Susan Collins, New York Representative Tom Reed, Alaska Don Representative. Young and Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan.
In order to reach a bipartisan deal, the president had to more than halve his original ambition to spend $ 2.3 trillion on infrastructure. The bill that becomes law on Monday actually includes about $ 550 billion in new spending over 10 years, since some of the spending in the package was already planned.
The deal ultimately won the backing of 19 Senate Republicans, including Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. Thirteen House Republicans also voted for the infrastructure bill. An angry Donald Trump, the former president, issued a statement attacking “Old Crow” McConnell and other Republicans for cooperating in “a terrible Democratic Socialist infrastructure plan.”
McConnell says the country “desperately needs” the new infrastructure money, but skipped Monday’s signing ceremony, telling WHAS radio in Louisville, Ky. That he had “other things” to do .
Historians, economists and engineers interviewed by the Associated Press praised Biden’s efforts. But they stressed that $ 1 trillion was not enough to overcome the government’s decades-long failure to maintain and modernize the country’s infrastructure. The policy has essentially forced a compromise in terms of the potential impact not only on the climate, but on the ability to overtake the rest of the world in this century and remain the dominant economic power.
“We need to be sober here about our infrastructure gap in terms of the level of investment and keep our eyes wide open, that this will not solve our infrastructure problems across the country,” said David Van Slyke, Dean. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Biden also tried unsuccessfully to tie the infrastructure package to passing a broader package of $ 1.85 trillion of proposed spending on families, healthcare, and a switch to renewables that could help. to fight against climate change. This measure has yet to gain sufficient support from the narrow Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. Biden continues to work to appease Democratic skeptics of the larger whole, like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, while retaining the more liberal branches of his party.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz expressed concern in an interview with Fox News on Sunday that Republican support for the infrastructure law could ultimately lead Democrats to rally and support the Second Package.
“They gave Joe Biden a political victory,” Cruz said of his fellow Republicans. “He’s now going to roam the country bragging, watch this big bipartisan victory. And that extra momentum, sadly, makes it more likely that they’ll get their Democrats in shape and pass a multibillion dollar spending bill on top of that. that, which will include …
The infrastructure haggling has shown that Biden can still bring Democrats and Republicans together, even as tensions continue to mount over the Jan.6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump who mistakenly believe Biden is was not legitimately elected president. Yet the result is a product that may not address the existential threat of climate change or the transformative legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose portrait hangs in Biden’s Oval Office.
“Yes, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a big deal,” said Peter Norton, professor of history in the engineering department at the University of Virginia. “But the bill is not transformational, because most of it is more or less the same.”
Norton compared the limited action on climate change to the start of World War II, when Roosevelt and Congress reoriented the entire American economy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Within two months there was a ban on automobile production. Dealers had no new cars to sell for four years, with factories focusing on weapons and war material. To save fuel consumption, a national speed limit of 35 mph was introduced.
“The emergency we face today warrants a comparable emergency response,” Norton said.
There are several ways to analyze the size and scope of the infrastructure bill. The White House collaborators anchored their research on the historical benchmark of the construction of the interstate road network from 1957 to 1966. By this measure, Biden can correctly argue that the additional $ 550 billion in infrastructure spending would be more than double the cost of the road network once adjusted. by inflation.