Biden hails Senate passage of bipartisan infrastructure bill

Washington — President Biden hailed the Senate’s bipartisan passage of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Tuesday, saying its success “proved that democracy can still work” while urging lawmakers to push forward on a second, much larger spending plan.

The final vote in the Senate was 69 to 30, with 19 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in voting for passage. Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the vote, and said the bill showed that “we can work together in the best interest of all of the American people.”

“I want to thank the group of senators, Democrats and Republicans, for doing what they told me they would do. The death of this legislation was mildly premature, as reported,” the president joked at the White House later in the day. “They said they were willing to work in a bipartisan manner, and I want to thank them for keeping their word, that’s just what they did. After years and years of an infrastructure week, we’re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America.”

Mr. Biden especially thanked the 19 Republicans who voted for the bill, saying he had called most of them. 

U.S. President Joe Biden discusses Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill at the White House in Washington
President Biden discusses the Senate’s passage of the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill at the White House on August 10, 2021. EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / REUTERS

“For the Republicans who supported this bill, you showed a lot of courage. And I want to personally thank you for that, and I’ve called most of you on the phone to do just that. You have, and no doubt you will, disagree with me on many issues. But where we can agree, we should,” he said. 

The president and his team worked for months to secure the support of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. The legislation includes $550 billion in new spending to repair the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and waterways, and expand broadband infrastructure. The president on Tuesday particularly touted the number of union, blue-collar jobs that will be created by the legislation. 

“You’re tired of hearing me say it, I know. But this is a blue collar blueprint to rebuild America. We’re going to do all of this by keeping my commitment — we will not raise taxes by one cent on people making less than $400,000 a year,” Mr. Biden said. 

The bipartisan bill represents the first part of a two-track process. The second piece is a broader, “soft infrastructure” proposal that includes provisions to fight climate change and expand the social safety net, with a price tag of $3.5 trillion. That package can pass with only the support of Democrats using a process known as budget reconciliation, although all 50 Democrats would need to support it as Republicans aren’t expected to join them. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet scheduled votes on the bipartisan legislation, saying the lower chamber will take it up only after the Senate passes the $3.5 trillion package. Senators began debating the budget resolution that lays the groundwork for the measure on Tuesday.

Mr. Biden said he was confident that Democrats will remain united in support of both bills, and said he expects to be able to sign them sometime in the fall.