© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The US Capitol Building at night from Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, US, October 24, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Selbiger/File Photo
Written by Susan Cornwell and McKinney Price
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After a day-long standoff, Democrats put aside divisions between progressives and centrists to pass a trillion-dollar package of highways, broadband and other infrastructure improvements, sending it to President Joe Biden to sign into law.
The vote of 228 to 206 late Friday is a major victory for Biden Democrats, who have wrangling for months over ambitious spending bills that make up the bulk of his domestic agenda.
The Biden administration will now oversee the largest upgrade of America’s roads, railroads and other transportation infrastructure https://www.reuters.com/world/us/roads-bridges-airports-details-bidens-1-trillion-infrastructure-bill-2021 -11-05 Within a generation, he promised that it would create jobs and boost the competitiveness of the United States.
Democrats still have a lot of work to do on the second pillar of Biden’s domestic program: the sweeping expansion of the social safety net and anti-climate programs. At $1.75 trillion, that package https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/whats-bidens-175-trillion-build-back-better-package-2021-11-05 would be the largest expansion of the American safety net since the 1960s. But the party struggled to unite behind her.
Democratic leaders had hoped the two bills would pass the House of Representatives on Friday, but delayed the measure after centrists demanded nonpartisan accountability for their costs — a process that could take weeks.
After hours of closed-door meetings, a group of centrists promised to vote on the bill by November 20 — as long as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found its costs were in line with White House estimates.
“Welcome to my world. This is the Democratic Party,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters earlier today. “We are not a cohesive party.”
The $1.75 trillion bill removed a procedural hurdle by a vote of 221-213 early Saturday, which will enable Democratic leaders to quickly schedule a final vote when the time comes.
The standoff came just days after Democrats suffered losses in a closely watched state election, sparking fears they could lose control of Congress next year.
The infrastructure bill passed with the support of 13 Republicans, fulfilling Biden’s promise to pass some bipartisan legislation. “Infrastructure Week” became a pun in Washington during his predecessor Donald Trump’s four years in the White House, when plans to focus on those investments were repeatedly disrupted by scandals.
“Generations from now, people will look back and know that this is when America won the economic competition of the 21st century,” Biden said in a statement.
Aiming to move forward
The party is eager to show it can advance the president’s agenda and fend off challenges in the 2022 midterm elections as Republicans will seek to reclaim control of both houses of Congress, which they lost to Democrats under Trump.
Congress also faces looming December 3 deadlines to avoid a politically embarrassing government shutdown and a catastrophic economic default on federal government debt.
With a very slim majority in Congress and opposition to a united republic, Democrats need unity to pass legislation.
The infrastructure bill, which the Senate passed https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-biden-infrastructure-idTRNIL1N2PH1MA in August with 19 Republican votes, would fund a massive modernization of America’s roads, bridges, airports, seaports and railroads. systems, with the expansion of broadband Internet service.
The Build Back Better package includes provisions for child care, preschool, aged care, health care, prescription drug pricing, and immigration.
It will boost the credibility of Biden’s pledge to halve US greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 during the United Nations climate conference https://www.reuters.com/business/cop to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Republicans uniformly oppose this legislation, viewing it as a dramatic expansion of government that would hurt business.
“This is probably going to be a very dark day for America,” said Republican Representative Glenn Grothman, who described the legislation’s provisions on childcare and preschool as a “Marxist” attempt to get the federal government to raise children.
The nonpartisan US Joint Committee on Taxes estimates that the social spending bill will raise $1.48 trillion in new tax revenue over the next decade, less than its $1.75 trillion cost.
Pelosi and other top Democrats said this failed to account for increased tax enforcement and savings from lower prescription drug prices.