President Joe Biden on Monday signed a trillion-dollar package for infrastructure improvements across the United States that will repair deteriorating roads and bridges, improve rail service, expand public transportation and widen broadband internet service.
Congressional lawmakers, state governors and city mayors – both Democrats and Republicans – watched Biden’s signing ceremony just outside the White House on a cool, sunny fall afternoon.
Biden’s signature on one of his key legislative proposals marked a rarity in politically fractious Washington: passage of a major initiative on a bipartisan basis. Nineteen Republicans joined all 50 Democrats to approve the measure in the Senate, while 13 Republicans voted for it in the House of Representatives even as six Democrats opposed it.
“Democrats and Republicans can come together and produce real results,” Biden said ahead of signing the legislation. “Today, we’re getting it done. America is on the move again.”
Even so, passage of the bill was politically perilous for Republican lawmakers, with some Republican congressional leaders opposed to handing the Democratic president a legislative win when his approval ratings have tumbled in the face of a three-decade-high increase in consumer prices.
Former President Donald Trump assailed Republican lawmakers who voted for the infrastructure spending even though he also favored new public construction in the country when he was in the White House but was unable to get it through Congress. He said Republicans who voted for Biden’s bill “should be ashamed of themselves.”
Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a vocal Biden opponent, characterized Republicans who favored the legislation as traitors and tweeted out their phone numbers.
Some opponents of the legislation called in death threats to Republican lawmakers who favored it.
Biden is also in the midst of a protracted debate over his nearly $2 trillion “human infrastructure” legislation that would be the government’s biggest expansion of the social safety net for Americans in five decades. The House is expected to vote on the measure later this week, and, if it is approved, send it to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain.
No Republican congressional lawmakers support the social safety legislation, meaning Democrats will have to approve it on their own.
The infrastructure bill includes $110 billion in funding for roads, bridges and other major construction projects, along with $39 billion to modernize public transit and make it more accessible to the disabled and elderly.
The measure includes $50 billion to improve infrastructure against the ravages of climate change and cyberattacks. Another $55 billion will replace old lead pipes still used in some U.S. drinking water systems and $65 billion will develop broadband infrastructure.
The legislation calls for $21 billion to remove pollution from soil and groundwater, job creation in energy communities, and a focus on economic and environmental justice. The legislation includes $73 billion to update and expand the power grid.