WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Saturday touted the passage of a $555 billion infrastructure bill late Friday night, hailing a significant, if delayed, win that came after weeks of internal party infighting capped by a scramble of last-minute negotiations.
Biden said he is also confident that a separate $1.75 trillion safety net package will pass the House and the Senate. He praised House Democrats for clearing a procedural hurdle on that legislation, which would dramatically expand some government programs, like those serving parents and children, and would invest significantly in clean energy.
Biden said the bills will have a direct effect on the current economic struggles many Americans are facing by creating union jobs, repairing crumbling roads and bridges, expanding broadband internet access and helping communities withstand the effects of climate change. The benefits will not only have a direct impact on people's daily lives, but also help the U.S. become more competitive globally, he said.
"I truly believe that 50 years from now, folks are gonna look back and say this was the moment, this was the period in this year and the next couple years when Americans decided to win the competition of the 21st century, to get in the game, full bore," Biden said.
The infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate in August, still needs Biden’s signature before it goes into law. Biden said he is planning to have a bipartisan signing ceremony at the White House when the members involved in passing the bill can attend. He made the remarks before heading to his home in Delaware for the weekend.
The advancement of the bills is a much needed victory for Biden after a string of setbacks at home and abroad over the last three months. His approval rating has dropped 7 points since August, with just 42 percent of adults saying they approve of Biden’s overall job as president, according to an NBC News poll.
White House officials blamed Congress' inability to act sooner on Democrats' losses in Tuesday’s elections and hoped the measures give their party something to run on in the 2022 midterm elections.
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"They want us to deliver," Biden said of voters. "Last night we proved we can. On one big item, we delivered."
Biden said he spent a lot of time working with members to get them on board, making the case that no bill is going to solve all the problems or have exactly what they want. He also said he spent a lot of time having to build relationships with members and get them to trust him after years of being out of office.
Six Democrats voted against the measure, and 13 Republicans voted in favor. The Democratic opposition was from progressive members who were unhappy that the bill was being voted on before passage of a $1.75 trillion social safety net spending bill.
"'I've been able in the Senate to put things together when people said they couldn't be put together just by making the overwhelming point that they can't have all you want, it's a process," Biden said. "There's no one piece of legislation that is going to solve everybody's problems."