Biden hails infrastructure deal: A sign ‘democracy can function’
President Biden on Wednesday hailed a bipartisan infrastructure deal as a signal to the world that “our democracy can function, deliver and do big things” while acknowledging there remains “plenty of work” to get the bill passed.
“Of course, neither side got everything they wanted in this deal. But that’s what it means to compromise and forge consensus—the heart of democracy. As the deal goes to the entire Senate, there is still plenty of work ahead to bring this home. There will be disagreements to resolve and more compromise to forge along the way,” Biden said in a statement after the deal was announced by senators Wednesday afternoon.
“But the bottom line is—the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America that will help make our historic economic recovery a historic long-term boom,” he said.
The agreement represents a significant victory for Biden, who campaigned on his ability to work across the aisle and unify the country.
White House officials and senators have poured over the details of the agreement for the past month, after Biden and the bipartisan group agreed to an infrastructure framework at the end of June following a meeting at the White House.
The bill’s fate in Congress still remains unclear, despite the bipartisan support and the backing of business leaders and economists, which Biden noted in his statement.
Senators will first need to vote to move forward on debating the bill, text of which has yet to be released. That vote will need to overcome the 60-vote threshold needed to defeat the filibuster. Last week, a similar vote failed because GOP senators refused to move forward with debate before the negotiations were completed.
The Senate is voting Wednesday evening on starting debate on the bill.
The bipartisan group notched an agreement after the negotiations hit a rough patch earlier this week amid disagreements on several issues.
The final deal includes $550 billion in new spending, according to a White House fact sheet, including $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects and $55 billion to replace lead pipes, which the White House says amounts to the largest federal investment in public transit in U.S. history.
It also includes $11 billion for transportation safety programs, $66 billion for rail, $65 billion to expand broadband access and $73 billion to modernize the power grid.
The deal includes provisions to invest in climate-friendly technologies, including $7.5 billion to build a network of electric vehicle chargers and $2.5 billion for zero-emission buses that will be added to the school bus fleet.
The fact sheet does not detail how the deal will be paid for.
Democrats in Congress are also eyeing a $3.5 trillion budget bill to advance the remainder of Biden’s agenda, which they will look to move through reconciliation in order to pass it without Republican support. In order to pass, the reconciliation package will need every Democratic senator to support it.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), the lead Democratic negotiator on infrastructure who met with Biden one-on-one at the White House on Tuesday, indicated that she would vote to move forward to start debate on the budget resolution but would seek changes to its price tag.