‘America is on the move again’: Joe Biden signs hotly contested $ 1 billion infrastructure deal | Joe biden

President Joe Biden signed his hard-fought $ 1 billion infrastructure deal in front of a festive, bipartisan crowd on the White House lawn, declaring the new injection of money for roads, bridges, ports and more will make life “change for the better”.

The president hopes to use the infrastructure law to rebuild his popularity, which has taken a hit amid rising inflation and the failure to fully undermine the public health and economic risks of Covid-19.

“My message to the American people is this: America is on the move again and your life is going to change for the better,” he said.

However, the outlook is tougher for a new bipartisanship ahead of the 2022 midterm election as Biden returns to more difficult negotiations over his broader $ 1.85 billion social spending program.

With Monday’s bipartisan deal, 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 initial vision of infrastructure. Still, the administration hopes to sell the new law as a success that has bridged partisan divisions and uplifts the country with better drinking water, high-speed internet, and a move away from fossil fuels.

“Guys, too often in Washington, the reason we haven’t got this done is because we’ve insisted on getting whatever we want. Everything, ”Biden said. “With this law, we focused on getting things done. I ran for the Presidency because, in my opinion, the only way to move our country forward was 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.

“We see this as an opportunity because we know that the president’s agenda is very popular,” said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary. Voter education can go “beyond the legislative process to talk about how it will help them. And we hope that will have an impact.

Biden delayed signing the hotly contested infrastructure deal after it passed on November 5 until lawmakers returned from Congressional recess and could join in a bipartisan event.

Monday’s rally on the White House lawn was upbeat, with fanfare and catchy speeches, contrasting drama and tension as the fate of the package had been uncertain for several months. Speakers welcomed the measure to create jobs, fight inflation and meet the needs of voters.

Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who helped negotiate the package, celebrated Biden’s willingness to get rid of much of his original proposal to help rally GOP lawmakers. Portman even credited former President Donald Trump with raising awareness about infrastructure, even though the loser in the 2020 election has expressed intense opposition to the final deal.

“This bipartisan support for this bill stems from the fact that it makes sense to our constituents, but the center-out approach should be the norm, not the exception,” Portman said.

In order to reach a bipartisan agreement, the president had to reduce his initial ambition to spend $ 2.3 billion on infrastructure. The bill that became law on Monday actually includes around $ 550 billion in new spending over 10 years, as some of the spending in the package was already planned.

Senate GOP leader Mitch cConnell backed the deal, saying the country “desperately needs” the new infrastructure money, but skipped Monday’s signing ceremony, telling WHAS radio in Louisville , Kentucky, that he had “other things” to do.

Historians, economists and engineers have praised Biden’s efforts. But they stressed that a billion dollars was not enough to overcome the government’s failure for decades to maintain and modernize the country’s infrastructure.

“We have to be sober here about our infrastructure gap in terms of the level of investment… that this will not solve our infrastructure problems,” said David Van Slyke, dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Citizenship. public affairs. at Syracuse University.

“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 the climate crisis 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.

Biden tried unsuccessfully to tie the infrastructure package to passing a broader $ 1.85 billion package of proposed spending for families, healthcare, and a shift to renewables that could help deal with the climate crisis. 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 broader package, while retaining the more liberal branches of his party. Pelosi said in remarks upon signing the bill that the separate package would be passed “hopefully this week”.

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