WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden on Saturday hailed Congress’s approval of his $ 1 trillion infrastructure package as “a monumental step forward for the nation” after capricious Democrats allowed months of stand-off in their ranks to finally strike a deal.
“Finally, Infrastructure Week,” the beaming Biden told reporters. “I’m so happy to say this: Infrastructure Week.”
The House of Representatives passed Measure 228-206 late Friday night, which drew long applause from the freed Democrats. Thirteen Republicans, mostly moderate, supported the law, while six of the most left-wing Democrats, including Alexandria’s Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Corey Bush of Missouri, opposed it.
The approval of the bill, which promises to create legions of jobs and improve broadband, water and other public works, sends it to the table of a president whose approval rating has plummeted and whose nervous side received a cold stance from voters last week. interannual elections.
Democratic nominees for governor were defeated in Virginia and infiltrated into New Jersey, two blueness-prone states. These setbacks have prompted party leaders – both moderates and liberals – to impatiently pass effective legislation and demonstrate that they can govern. Democrats cannot afford to appear confused a year before the midterm elections, which could bring Republicans back into congressional control.
The infrastructure package is a historic investment by any measure, which Biden compares in breadth to the construction of an interstate highway system in the last century or a transcontinental railroad a century earlier.
“This is a blue collar plan to rebuild America,” he said in a White House speech.
His mention of Infrastructure Week was a blow to his predecessor, Donald Trump, whose White House had repeatedly stated that “Infrastructure Week” had arrived, but nothing happened.
Just freeing up an infrastructure measure for congressional approval was like an adrenaline rush for Democrats. Yet despite the victory, the Democrats failed when they postponed the vote on a second, even larger bill until the end of this month.
The $ 1.85 trillion 10-year measure to support health, family and climate change programs was rejected after the moderates demanded a cost estimate for the massive measure from the Congressional non-partisan budget office. The postponement dashed hopes that the day would bring Biden a double-leaf victory with the passage of both bills.
But in an evening breakout mediated by Biden and House leaders, five moderators later agreed to support the bill if budget management estimates match preliminary figures provided by the White House and Congressional tax analysts. The agreement, in which lawmakers promised to vote on the social and environmental issues bill by the week of November 15, was a significant step towards a House vote that could eventually send it to the Senate.
“In a few generations, people will look back and know that it was then that America won the 21st century economic competition,” Biden said in a written statement early Saturday.
President and First Lady Jill Biden have postponed plans to travel Friday night to their home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Instead, Biden spoke to House leaders who are moderate and progressive, said a White House spokesman, who described the conversations on condition of anonymity.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Washington, leader of the Progressive faction of Congress, said Biden even called her mother in India, although it is unclear why.
“This was not done to bribe me, it was when everything was done,” Jayapal told reporters. The MP said her mother told her that she “just kept screaming like a little girl.”
In a two-sentence statement, the five moderators said that if the budget estimates for the social and environmental bill cause problems, “we remain committed to working to correct any inconsistencies” to pass it. The top five include Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DNJ, a centrist leader who has repeatedly called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Calif., To call an earlier vote on the infrastructure bill this summer.
In exchange, the liberals agreed to support an infrastructure measure that they held hostage for months in an effort to get the moderates to support a larger bill.
The day marked a rare detente between the moderate and progressive Democrats, which party leaders hope will continue this fall. The rival factions in recent weeks have accused each other of jeopardizing the success of Biden and the party by outplaying their hands, and have expressed deep distrust of each other.
But on Friday night, Jayapal suggested that they move forward together.
“Let me tell you that we will trust each other because the Democratic Party is unanimous on this,” she said. “We agree that it is important for us to pay both bills.”
The agreement was signed after the White House issued a statement by Biden in which he explicitly called on Democrats to support both bills. “I am confident that within a week, starting November 15, the House will pass the Construction Improvement Law,” he said.
When party leaders announced earlier in the day that social and environmental measures would be delayed, the compromised plans covered the party with a new veil.
Democrats have spent months trying to take advantage of their control of the White House and Congress to advance their top priorities. This has been difficult, in part due to the Democrats’ small majority, due to acute internal divisions forcing the leaders of the House of Representatives to miss several voluntary deadlines for voting.
“Welcome to my world,” Pelosi told reporters, adding, “We are not a guerrilla party.”
Liberals have long demanded that two huge bills be voted together to put pressure on the moderates to support broader, more ambitious social measures.
Democratic Day turned tumultuous early after half a dozen moderates asked the budget office to budget for an extensive package of health, education, family and climate change initiatives before voting for it.
Party leaders said it would take several days or more. But with the vote delayed on Friday and lawmakers leaving town for a week’s hiatus, those budget estimates should be ready by the time the vote takes place.
The infrastructure measure was approved by the Senate in August with bipartisan support. The package provides huge sums for the construction of highways, public transport, broadband access, airport, drinking water and wastewater treatment, power grids and other projects.
As for the social and environmental package, the House bill will send it to the Senate, where it will face certain changes and more democratic drama. This is mainly due to the demands of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to limit the costs of this measure and to limit or abandon some of its initiatives.
The moderates forced executives to cut the roughly 2,100 pages to about half of its original $ 3.5 trillion. Republicans think it is too expensive and hurts the economy.
This package will help large numbers of Americans pay for health care, parenting, and home-based care for the elderly. The package will provide $ 555 billion in tax breaks while encouraging cleaner energy and electric vehicles. In recent days, Democrats have added provisions reinstating a new paid family leave and work permit program for millions of immigrants.
Most of the package’s cost will be covered by higher taxes for wealthier Americans and large corporations.
Associated Press contributors Lisa Mascaro, Farnush Amiri, Kevin Fracking, Amer Madhani, Alexandra Jaffe, Mary Claire Jalonik, and Brian Slodisko contributed to this report.