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Biden calls infrastructure bill a "once-in-a-generation" investment after House sends it to his desk

House passes $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill
House passes $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill 02:47

The House late Friday night passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that represents a key piece of President Biden's domestic agenda, following a day of Democratic discord over the infrastructure bill and the even larger social spending bill. 

On Saturday, the president called it a "once-in-a-generation investment that's gonna create millions of jobs, modernize our infrastructure, our roads, our brides, our broadband, a whole range of things, to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity."

He also said it puts the U.S. on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st century.

Thirteen Republicans voted to pass the infrastructure bill, while six Democrats voted against it. The House floor erupted in cheers upon the bill's passage.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill now heads to the president's desk. Mr. Biden said he won't sign it into law this weekend — "because I want people who worked so hard to get this done, Democrats and Republicans, to be here when we sign it" — but that a formal signing ceremony will be held "soon."

The bill includes $550 billion in new spending on the nation's physical infrastructure and has been praised by Mr. Biden as the largest investment in roads, bridges, ports, water and rail in decades. The measure provides $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for railways. It also provides $65 billion for broadband infrastructure deployment and $55 billion for clear water investments.

The vast majority of jobs that will be created, Mr. Biden said, won't require a college degree. "This is a blue collar blueprint to rebuild America, and it's long overdue," Mr. Biden said on Saturday.

Biden praises passage of the infrastructure bill 34:36

A White House official confirmed Mr. Biden and Pelosi talked after the vote, and they spoke at least four times Friday as they coordinated and made many calls to members throughout the day.  

The House also passed a rule on the Build Back Better bill that will allow for a vote on that bill later this month. Democratic leadership had initially hoped to pass both bills Friday, but internal disagreement halted that plan. Progressives have been threatening to tank the infrastructure bill without passing the Build Back Better Act, while moderates have been threatening to not vote for the bill without further assurances that it will be fully paid for and won't hurt the economy. 

The rule passed at 221-213 at 12:40 a.m. Saturday. The House adjourned at 12:42 a.m.

Shortly after 10 p.m., several House moderates released a statement saying they would vote for the Build Back Better Act in its current form once they receive more information from the Congressional Budget Office. Their statement was meant as an assurance to progressives, who want to make sure the social spending bill also passes. Soon after, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal released a statement saying progressives would back the infrastructure vote given the commitment from moderates. 

"Tonight, members of the Progressive Caucus and our colleagues in the Democratic Caucus reached an agreement to advance both pieces of President Biden's legislative agenda," Jayapal said. "Our colleagues have committed to voting for the transformative Build Back Better Act, as currently written, no later than the week of November 15. All of our colleagues have also committed to voting tonight on the rule to move the Build Back Better Act forward to codify this promise."

If the House passes the Build Back Better Act, which would broaden the social safety net and combat climate change, it's not clear yet what its fate will be in the Senate. This week, the House restored paid family and medical leave, a proposal that was in the original framework but was removed under pressure by key Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. While he says he supports paid leave, he doesn't think it belongs in a bill that will be passed through reconciliation with only Democratic votes, as Build Back Better will be. 

Manchin has also demanded to see further details about how the social spending bill will affect the debt and inflation before supporting it. His other criticism of the legislation is that it contains 10 years of revenues but in some cases is funding programs that will end in one to six years — "that's not the true cost," he told MSNBC Thursday.

The reappearance of paid leave is not the only major addition to the bill. The latest version also increases the cap on the deduction of state and local taxes (known as SALT) from $10,000 to $72,500 (or $36,250 in the case of an estate, trust or married individual filing a separate return), and extends the higher cap through 2031, instead of 2025. Another provision of the bill would allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. prior to January 1, 2011, to apply for a legal classification known as "parole," which would shield them from deportation and grant them work permits. 

The votes for both bills come on the heels of a sobering loss for Democrats in Virginia, where Republican Glenn Youngkin prevailed in the governor's race in a state Mr. Biden won by 10 points just a year ago. Democrats also came close to losing the governorship in heavily Democratic New Jersey. 

Ed O'Keefe, Fin Gomez, Melissa Quinn, John Nolen, Zak Hudak and Camilo Montoya Galvez contributed to this report. 

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