WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Joe Biden on Monday signed into law a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill at a boisterous ceremony at the White House, sealing a major accomplishment of his first term after weeks of negotiations in the House culminated in a bipartisan vote.
Biden welcomed lawmakers from both parties, from Congress and from state and local governments, to celebrate the passage of the bill and tout what he insisted would be the transformational ways it would improve day-to-day life for many Americans.
Biden used the bill signing to highlight a rare instance of bipartisanship at a polarized time in U.S. politics, even as former President Trump and other conservatives were suggesting House Republicans who voted for the bill should be challenged in primaries or stripped of committee assignments.
After weeks of talks and two trips to the Capitol from Biden, the House voted on the infrastructure bill earlier this month, passing it with a final tally of 228-206, with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure, and six progressive Democrats bucking Biden and party leaders to oppose it.
The Senate passed the bill three months earlier in August, with 19 Republicans joining Democrats to move it to the House. The legislation languished there for weeks as progressives sought assurances on the other key piece of Biden’s economic agenda — a social spending bill focused on climate, child care and health care programs that Democrats intend to pass without GOP support through budget reconciliation.
The $1.2 trillion bill, which contains roughly $550 billion in new funding, will provide for new investments in roads, bridges and railways around the country. White House officials have also said it will allow for the replacement of lead pipes to provide clean drinking water to communities, establish a network of electric vehicle charging stations and help expand internet access for swaths of the country that do not have it.
Biden has tapped former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) as a senior White House adviser to coordinate the implementation of the bill, which cuts across several government agencies.
Democrats are hoping that officials will be able to get some projects up and running quickly so the public feels the impact of the legislation, which could help Biden and his party politically ahead of the midterms.
Biden’s approval ratings have been sinking for several weeks and it’s unclear thus far whether the president will see a bump from the infrastructure bill becoming law.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted after the infrastructure bill passed the House found that 41 percent approve of Biden’s handling of the presidency, while 53 percent disapprove, a new low for Biden in the survey.
Attention will now shift to the fate of a $1.75 trillion proposal that is contains many of the priorities of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, including funding to combat climate change, efforts to expand health care access and child care assistance, as well as money toward education and housing programs.
If the House passes the reconciliation bill, it will likely be tweaked in the Senate, where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has expressed reservations about moving too quickly with such a major piece of legislation.