The Memo: Biden beats Trump again — this time in the Senate

President BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE defeated former President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE once again on Tuesday, this time on infrastructure.

Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill was passed by the Senate with the support of 19 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.).

Those Republican members shrugged off a barrage of statements from Trump in the days leading up to the vote. The former president had lambasted the bill and derided any Republicans who would vote for it as RINOs, or Republicans in Name Only.


Biden’s ability to bring them on board was not just a rebuke to Trump. It was also a vindication of the president’s own long-held belief — derided even by many on his own side during the 2020 presidential primaries — that American politics still carries within it the potential for bipartisan consensus.

Biden emphasized the point during a celebratory news conference with Vice President Harris in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

“There are no Republican bridges or Democratic roads,” Biden said. “This is about us doing the real hard work of governing; it’s about democracy delivering for the people.”

The bipartisan measure still faces obstacles as the debate moves to the closely divided House. It remains unclear if the bill will be altered or when it will get a vote on the House floor. Regardless, Tuesday was a big day for the White House. 

Biden, who often hearkens back to his 36 years of service in the upper chamber — and the comity he was able to find with ideological opponents — began his remarks by paying tribute to the group of senators from both parties who had stitched the deal together.

Those senators, Biden enthused, had done “what they told me they would do ... I want to thank them for keeping their word.”


Later, Biden even singled out McConnell for praise — though being lauded by a Democratic president could easily hurt more than help the Senate minority leader with conservative voters. 

Biden’s style is diametrically opposed to that of Trump in almost every respect. Trump won the White House in 2016 in part on the promise to incinerate Washington’s “business as usual” traditions. After four chaos-filled years, the nation turned back to the mild-mannered Biden as someone capable of righting the ship — and getting things done.

The most striking element of Tuesday’s vote was how little Trump’s attacks seemed to matter.

Among those Republicans joining McConnell in voting for the bill’s passage were frequent Trump golfing partner Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress McCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case MORE (R-S.C.) and stalwart conservative Sens. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Lobbying world The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-N.D.) and Jim RischJim Elroy RischOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Top GOP senators want joint review of Afghan visa process Biden pick for China envoy raises concern over nuclear buildup MORE (R-Idaho).

More predictably, GOP Trump-skeptics like Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Emanuel defends handling of Chicago police shooting amid opposition to nomination Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHouse passes bill to expand workplace protections for nursing mothers Democrats look for plan B on filibuster Senate will vote on John Lewis voting bill as soon as next week MORE (Alaska) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyIn Montana, a knock-down redistricting fight over a single line Trump-backed bills on election audits, illegal voting penalties expected to die in Texas legislature The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government MORE (Utah) also voted in favor of the legislation.

This came despite at least seven recent statements from Trump arguing desperately for a “no” vote.

Even on Tuesday morning Trump was keeping up the pressure, ripping McConnell as “the most overrated man in politics” and complaining about the Kentuckian’s purported willingness to “give Biden a victory.”

On Saturday, Trump had been even more hyperbolic, complaining that passage would help “the Communist Democrat Party” and “will be a big victory for the Democrats and will be used against Republicans in the upcoming elections.”

But even as the vote neared, some Republicans brushed aside Trump’s comments with unusual nonchalance.

When Maria BartiromoMaria Sara BartiromoJudge: Request for Tucker Carlson personnel files is 'intrusive' The Memo: Fall in white population could add fuel to nativist fire A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate MORE of Fox News asked Cramer about Trump’s opposition to the bill on her “Sunday Morning Futures” show at the weekend, Cramer shot back: “He didn’t give one reason why it’s bad other than it’s Joe Biden’s.”

Of course, the Republican willingness to find compromise with Democrats might prove to be confined to the issue of physical infrastructure, which tends to be popular with voters. 

A far more wide-ranging $3.5 trillion Democratic proposal will likely struggle to get any GOP support at all. And even the current package could face more fervent Republican opposition in the House, where the political dynamics of deeply conservative districts reward fiery expressions of fealty to Trump.


It would also be premature to suggest that Senate passage of the infrastructure bill means Trump’s overall hold on the GOP is waning. 

The former president remains the front-runner to win the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, should he run. Just last week, his endorsement helped lift coal lobbyist Mike Carey to victory in the GOP primary for a House seat in Ohio. The latest fundraising figures revealed that Trump has a political stockpiled $102 million.

But for all the sound and fury from Trump, voters presumably still want politics to work — and for politicians in Washington to be able to agree on how to repair dilapidated bridges and potholed roads.

Biden took a huge step toward that goal on Tuesday — and left Trump out in the cold.

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage.