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Biden signs infrastructure bill into law at White House ceremony

President Joe Biden
Posted at 1:05 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 16:56:59-05

President Joe Biden celebrated his latest legislative achievement in a ceremony at the White House, even as his administration pushed for the passage of a second bill that will implement more aspects of his domestic policy.

"America is moving again, and your life is going to change for the better," Biden said prior to signing H.R. 3684 — the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — into law.

Touting the legislation as "a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America," Biden highlighted provisions that would rebuild America's roads and bridges, as well as expand public transportation and rail travel.

"You're going to be safer, and you're going to get there faster," Biden said.

The law will also replace lead pipes that are carrying drinking water across the country and expand access to high-speed internet.

In addition to fulfilling campaign promises to create more jobs, the Biden administration also fulfilled a promise to work across the aisle.

A total of 19 Republican senators and 17 Republican House members voted with Democrats to get the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed — the most bipartisan support a Biden-backed legislative package has received since he took office in January.

The House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this month by a tally of 228-206. In August, the Senate passed the bill by a tally of 69-30.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, spoke in support of the bill during the ceremony on Monday. He credited Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Democrat from Arizona, with opening a line of negotiation that was vital to his support.

"We got there because we were all committed to ultimately delivering a result," Portman said.

Biden thanked both Portman and Sinema Monday, calling Portman a "hell of a good guy" and Sinema "the most determined woman I know."

But the infrastructure package represents only a fraction of what Biden hopes to accomplish legislatively in the coming weeks. Lawmakers are currently debating a second bill — the "Build Back Better" plan — that focuses on social spending and combating climate change.

The "Build Back Better" plan would increase access to child care, decrease the costs of eldercare and cap prices on prescription drugs. It would be paid for through new tax hikes on multi-millionaires and businesses.

Biden originally proposed the infrastructure package and the "Build Back Better" plan as a single bill. After getting pushback from Republicans and moderate Democrats, Biden officials decided to split the bills into separate deals.

Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday that the infrastructure bill is just the starting point.

"This bill, as significant as it is, as historic as it is, is part 1 of 2," she said. "Congress must also pass the Build Back Better Act."

The "Build Back Better" plan faces a more narrow path to passage — as of Wednesday, no Republicans in either chamber have expressed support of the bill, and some moderate Democrats are withholding support until the Congressional Budget Office releases findings on the cost of the bill.

The Congressional Budget Office does not have a timeline of when the report will be done.