Biden's Infrastructure Bill a Done Deal?
One of the most talked-about promises made in 2020 by then-candidate Biden was the need to begin fixing the nation's infrastructure. President Biden's promise was so important that even his campaign slogan (Build, Back, Better) used language that hinted at his urgency to get this type of bill done. This, of course, was a risky move to take as former President Trump himself ran on being the "infrastructure guy." However, because former President Trump had made little to no progress on infrastructure, President Biden's risk to run on this promise was ultimately successful. Six months into his term, President Biden is one step closer to making that promise a reality.
Built, Back, Pause?
There's no doubt about it; President Biden has had a difficult time getting every aspect of his bill accepted by even his fellow Democrats. Moreover, while Democrats are debating the reach of this infrastructure bill, Congressional Republicans are commenting that the price of the bill is simply too high, especially during a time when the economy is still trying to recover from the pandemic. This, of course, has placed obstacle after obstacle in President Biden's way. However, even those the President has been met with several challenges; he is still optimistic about the bill's future. So, does this mean that the infrastructure bill is good as done?
Slimming Down the Bill
As stated above, both Democrats and Republicans have called out issues with the bill being presented. This is why legislators of both parties have taken part in slimming down the bill. This includes both the red tape surrounding similar types of bills and the cost to make it worthwhile. However, even with these concerns, the Senate was able to pass a slimmed-down $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal on July 28th, 2021. the bill, which was passed by 17 Republicans and the rest of the Senate Democrats, included $550 billion in new money that will be used to repair or upgrade railways, public transit, bridges, roads, and waterways, to name a few. The rest of the bill that includes the other half has yet to be completed at the time of this article.
Democratic Leaders Celebrate
After the vote, both congressional Democrats and the White House celebrated the achievement. Although some may have been disappointed by the slimmed-down version of the new bill, others such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that he was not too concerned as a $3.5 trillion companion legislation would accompany the bill. This is possible both by the majority that Democrats hold in Congress as well as through the process of budget reconciliation. Those extra funds would go towards other projects such as education and climate. Schumer ended his new conference by commending those Republicans that chose to work with the President in doing something good for the American people. However, after Schumer began to walk away, a reporter's question was left unanswered as they yelled to the Majority leader that Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz, has vowed not to support the additional $3.5 trillion companion legislation.
Biden Faces House Opposition
On one side, you have those that are stating that the bill is good as done. However, the reality of the matter is that much of the agreements made are simply verbal agreements amongst the Budget Committee Democrats. There is no actual legal text that has been created, and thus any agreements have the possibility of instantly dissolving if one or two people do not like what they see. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema made this possibility known to Arizona Republicans as she commented that she would happily work with the majority leader in the coming months but that careful consideration of the contents of the bill must remain. Additionally, the word "months" has been seen by many as her vow to not vote on the bill as "months" does not align with the majority leader's timeline.
Two Roads for Democrats
As you may already know from the information above, this is not going to be an easy road for Democrats and President Biden. In fact, the road has become that much more difficult in the past few months. However, Democrats are not out of options, but they are down to a couple. The first one includes getting all 50 Senators from their caucus to agree and vote on the $3.5 trillion plan or risk looking better with the public and passing a bi-partisan infrastructure bill both in the House and Senate. The second being the most difficult for Democrats to achieve as tension are still high amongst the parties. In the end, the infrastructure bill, although touted as a victory, is still very much up in the air.