President Joe Biden on Monday signed a historic $1 trillion bipartisan bill that he said will overhaul the nation’s infrastructure and boost the nation’s economy, which has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Touting the legislation as a job creator, the president said it was also an example of him fulfilling a campaign promise to reach across the aisle to get things done.
“Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results,” the president said during a signing ceremony on the White House lawn that was attended by more than 800 labor leaders, business executives, governors, mayors and mostly Democratic lawmakers.
The bill is expected to fund a plethora of infrastructure projects — including the expansion of broadband internet access and repairs to aging roads and bridges — over the next five years. California is set to receive about $3.5 billion to eliminate lead water pipes and take other steps to improve drinking water. It should also receive more than $80 million to help mitigate wildfires and other natural disasters.
The bill is smaller and less ambitious than Biden’s original $2.3 trillion proposal, which was trimmed to ensure Republican support in the Senate.
Though the White House invited all 32 Republican lawmakers who voted for the bill, only a fraction attended the ceremony on the White House lawn. Among them was Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio who said he hoped to work with Democrats on other bills that “advance the interests of the American people.”
Former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly failed to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure, blasted Republicans who backed this bill, directing particular ire at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Trump attacked McConnell in a statement over the weekend, calling the senator “Old Crow” and claiming the bill has given “Biden and the Democrats a victory just as they were falling off the cliff.” The former president added that Republican lawmakers who crossed the aisle are “greatly jeopardizing their chance of winning reelection.”
McConnell, who has defended his vote for the bill, shrugged off Trump’s criticism but did not attend the ceremony. The senator told a Kentucky radio station last week he had “other things I’ve got to do.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking before Biden, called on Congress to pass a $1.85 trillion bill that would expand the nation’s social safety net and address climate change.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said a floor vote on the measure could come as soon as this week.
If it passes the House, the bill will head to the Senate, where thorny policy issues related to immigration, paid family leave and tax deductions will need to be sorted out. Democrats are seeking to pass the legislation by using a process known as reconciliation that allows them to get around a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate.
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