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Infrastructure signing was a big win for Biden — and a missed opportunity

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
President Joe Biden, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris, takes part in a signing ceremony for H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15, 2021.
President Joe Biden, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris, takes part in a signing ceremony for H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15, 2021.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Monday was a triumphant day at the White House when President Biden signed the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law.

There were cheers, selfies, remarks from Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and rousing rhetoric from the president.

“The bill I’m about to sign into law is proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results,” Biden said yesterday.

But the day was also a reminder that Biden’s victorious moment on infrastructure could have taken place back in September. Or in October. Or even right before Democrats lost in Virginia.

Yes, tying the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the larger “Build Back Better” social-spending legislation ended up creating more progress for Democrats on the latter legislative item (though you still don’t have Sen. Joe Manchin’s, D-W.Va., 100 percent buy-in).

Yet what it also accomplished was creating such a chaotic, contentious and confusing process for Democrats that it took time and energy away from other things (like the pandemic and the economy).

Indeed, it reminds us somewhat of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which a popular goal (U.S. withdrawal) ended up getting overshadowed by a chaotic process.

Make no mistake: Yesterday was a big win for Biden and Democrats — one they’ll campaign on in 2022.

But it also was a missed opportunity.

Biden being able to tout bipartisanship, the government’s ability to work and common-sense solutions back in September — instead of mid-November — could have limited the new president’s rough last three months to just one.

Not taking anything for Granite

President Biden heads to North Woodstock, N.H., where he will tout how the new infrastructure law helps to repair roads and bridges — like New Hampshire’s NH 175 bridge.

Biden’s remarks are scheduled for 2:25 p.m. ET. Tomorrow, he heads to Michigan.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

60 percent: The portion of Americans who say they want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade, per a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, while 27 percent say it should be overturned.

63,480: The final vote margin between Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia.

60 percent: The Covid-19 case increase in Vermont over the last two weeks, as deaths increased 52 percent from 19 to 29 over that same period.

47,236,064: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 156,312 more since yesterday morning.)

767,289: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1297 more since yesterday morning.)

442,005,260: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,445,647 more since yesterday morning.)

30,067,444: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 728,478 since yesterday morning.)

58.8 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

70.6 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

Beto’s math problem in Texas

Beto O’Rourke’s announcement on Monday to run for governor against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott gives Democrats a candidate with considerable name ID, fundraising potential, and energy to campaign across the Lone Star State.

But he has a math problem in Texas.

In 2018, the best political environment for Democrats in the past decade, O’Rourke lost his Senate race against Ted Cruz by about 2.5 percentage points, 50.9 percent to 48.3 percent, the best showing for a top-of-ticket Texas Democrat in almost 30 years.

Then in the 2020 presidential election, which saw record turnout, Joe Biden lost the state by 5.6 points, 52.0 percent to 46.4 percent.

So for Beto to win in Texas — or to just keep it close — he needs a much more favorable political environment than Democrats face right now; he needs to find new voters who didn’t participate in 2020; and he needs to win over some of the 5.9 million Texans who voted for Trump (versus 5.3 million who voted for Biden).

And all at a time when the GOP is making gains among Latinos in the state.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The White House says President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s met virtually amid the rising tensions between the two countries.

The new bipartisan infrastructure deal moves money from the Treasury as it is already taking “extraordinary measures” to stave off a default.

The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case will begin deliberations Tuesday.

Pfizer will allow low-income countries to access its license to produce its Covid-19 pill, as Merck did earlier this year.

Russia tested a missile that can hit a satellite in orbit, leading to condemnation from the U.S.