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‘A Presidency-Defining Week’ As Joe Biden Celebrates Infrastructure Win

‘A Presidency-Defining Week’ As Joe Biden Celebrates Infrastructure Win

President Joe Biden hailed the passage of his $1 trillion infrastructure package as a “monumental step forward for the nation” after fractious fellow Democrats resolved a months-long standoff in their ranks to seal the deal.

“Finally, infrastructure week,” the beaming President told reporters. “I’m so happy to say that: infrastructure week.”

 (Photo by Frederic J. Brown / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

The House passed the measure 228-206 late Friday, prompting relief from the Democratic side of the chamber. Thirteen Republicans, mostly moderates, supported the legislation while six of Democrats’ most progressive and far-left members opposed it. An editorial in The Guardian calls this a “Presidency-defining week” for Joe Biden.

The infrastructure package is a historic investment by any measure, one that President Biden compares in its scope to the building of the interstate highway system in the last century or the transcontinental railroad the century before. He called it a “blue collar blueprint to rebuilding America.” The President predicted Americans would begin to feel the impact of the infrastructure bill “probably starting within the next two to three months as we get shovels in the ground.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said there’s a “pent-up demand to get going” on public works. The new dad told CNN he’s already received $10 billion worth of applications for a certain program that only has $1 billion in it. “This is not just a short-term stimulus bill.”

As for the social and environment package, House passage would send it to the Senate, where it faces certain changes and more Democratic drama. That’s chiefly because of demands by Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to contain the measure’s costs. Moderates have forced leaders to slash the roughly 2,100-page measure to about half its original $3.5 trillion budget. Republicans oppose it as “too expensive and damaging to the economy”.

The package would provide large numbers of Americans with assistance to pay for health care, raising children, and caring for elderly people at home. It’s got $555 billion in tax breaks for cleaner energy and electric vehicles. Democrats added recent provisions restoring a new paid family leave program and work permits for millions of immigrants.

In a statement, five moderates said that if the fiscal estimates on the social and environment bill raise problems, “we remain committed to working to resolve any discrepancies” to pass it. In exchange, liberals agreed to back the infrastructure measure, which they’d spent months holding hostage in an effort to press moderates to back the larger bill.

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