Biden signs $1.2T infrastructure bill week after it arrived on his desk

Biden signs $1.2T infrastructure bill week after it arrived on his desk

President Biden finally signed the long-anticipated $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Monday, surrounded by several members of Congress who sent the legislation to the president’s desk over a week ago. 

After waiting for Congress to return from recess last week in order for the members who helped pen the legislation to attend the signing, Biden signed the bill in front of a crowd gathered outside the White House, saying, “America is moving again.”

“We talked about having the best economy in the world. We’ve talked about asserting American leadership around the world with the best and the safest roads, railroads, ports airports. Here in Washington, we’ve heard countless speeches promised white papers from experts,” Biden said.

“But today, we are finally getting it done. And my message to the American people is: America is moving again. And your life is going to change for the better.”

“This law is a blue collar blueprint to rebuild America,” he said after touting several provisions of the legislation.

In addition to congressional leadership — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn — Biden was joined by a group of bipartisan lawmakers at the ceremony including but not limited to Sens. Mitt Romeny (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak), Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Chris Coons (D-Del.).

Multiple members of the House from both sides of the aisle, including New York Reps. Grace Meng (D), Hakeem Jeffries(D), Adriano Espaillat (D), Tom Reed (R) and Alaska Rep. Don Young (R) were also in attendance. Reed and Young were among the 13 Republicans who voted for the legislation.

President Joe Biden signing the infrastructure bill at a ceremony outside of the White House on November 15, 2021.
President Joe Biden signing the infrastructure bill at a ceremony outside of the White House on November 15, 2021.
Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Local and state leaders from across the country including Govs. Kathy Hocul (D-NY), Larry Hogan (R-Md), Janet Mills (D-ME) and Mayors Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, David Holt of Oklahoma City, Robert Garcia of Long Beach, LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans, Bill de Blasio of New York, and Keisha Bottoms of Atlanta also attended the signing. 

Additionally, several business leaders were also invited to the ceremony including Business Roundtable president and former president George W. Bush chief of staff Joshua Bolten.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, also known as the BIF, was passed by the House 228-206 late on Nov. 5 after 15 GOP members voted alongside the majority of the Democratic party. Six progressive members — Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rshida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — voted against the bill in a last-big effort to pass a larger $1.75 trillion social spending measure expected to be taken up this week. 

While Biden celebrated the bill’s passing the next day, he held off on signing the legislation last week as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress attended the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland — appearing to delay distributing the long-awaited infrastructure funding for a ceremony filled with pomp. 

The White House held the signing ceremony outside on the South lawn, leaving guests to endure particularly chilly temperatures and biting wind.

Moderate Sens. Manchin and Sinema were heavily involved in the negotiations for the infrastructure bill and larger social spending measure, helping bring the topline for the latter down from it’s original $3.5 trillion. 

Sinema touted her and Portman’s efforts to push the infrastructure legislation forward, saying Monday’s signing “is what it looks like when elected leaders set aside differences, shut out the noise and focus on delivering results on the issues that matter most to everyday Americans.”

Notably absent from the signing were the progressive members who voted against the measure, including Ocasio-Cortez, who last week appeared to praise its passing despite her vote “no.” 

“The president very much has put very high stakes on getting this agenda through … even the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, as we know, it took a very long time to get the votes in the House to get that,” she said at COP26. “The votes were secured on a promise for the [$1.75 trillion] Build Back Better Act and for a vote for the Build Back Better Act.”

Biden appeared to slam how long the negotiations went on for, saying “too often in Washington” things don’t get done because “we insist on getting everything we want.” 

“With this law, we focused on getting things done,” he said, adding, “I ran for president because the only way to move our country forward is through compromise and consensus.”

“That’s how our system works. That’s American democracy. And I am signing a law that is truly consequential, because we made our democracy deliver for the people.”

During the ceremony, Vice President Kamala Harris urged Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act, calling the infrastructure bill “part one of two.” Many members are waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to release its review of the costs and how they are paid for before putting it to a vote.

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