The legislation was the product of intense negotiations spanning much of the first year of Mr. Biden’s presidency, and of the back-slapping, coalition-building politics the president has relished in a government career stretching back to the 1970s. Mr. Biden brokered agreements first with Senate Republicans, 18 of whom ultimately voted for the bill, and then with progressive Democrats in the House, who held up its final passage in order to raise pressure on centrists in Mr. Biden’s party to support the larger spending bill.
The Infrastructure Bill at A Glance
On Monday, Mr. Biden and other speakers pointed out that previous presidents have failed to broker large-scale infrastructure deals. Under President Donald J. Trump, “infrastructure week” became a running joke, as administration officials frequently promised to focus on the issue only to be derailed by a rolling series of scandals. Mr. Trump’s team never made a serious push for an infrastructure bill in Congress, choosing instead to focus on a large tax cut that passed in 2017.
Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who led his party’s side in the infrastructure talks, credited Mr. Trump on Monday for elevating the issue among Republicans. Biden didn’t mention it, instead he used the opportunity to talk about how Washington can overcome partisan conflict when there is policy agreement.
Although the package is smaller than the original proposal by Mr. Biden, $550 billion represents an increase in spending over current levels. Brookings Institution researchers believe that the money will raise federal infrastructure spending by half over five years. This would bring it almost on par with the New Deal infrastructure provisions under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. If Mr. Biden’s $1.85 trillion spending bill — which includes more money to combat climate change — also passes, they estimate the increased infrastructure spending will eclipse the New Deal.
That increase will challenge the government’s ability to spend money on time and effectively. Mr. Biden appointed Mitch Landrieu (the former mayor of New Orleans) to oversee the implementation of the infrastructure bill.
“Implementing a historic bill like this will test all of our management facilities,” said Adie Tomer, who leads infrastructure work at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program. The challenges, he said, include “hiring federal, state, and local officials to direct programming; finding enough skilled tradespeople to execute the work; and securing equipment and materials during a major supply chain crunch.”
Liberal economists criticize the package for not spending enough on climate. This is increasing the pressure on Mr. Biden as well as congressional Democrats to pass the social security bill. The bill is currently moving through a process that would allow party leadership to pass it with no Republican votes.
Source: NY Times