Biden to speak after infrastructure wins

Following the Senate passage of his infrastructure bill and budget resolution
Originally Published: 11 AUG 21 11:47 ET

(CNN) — President Joe Biden is set to deliver remarks from the White House Wednesday afternoon addressing his recovery agenda following the Senate passage of his infrastructure bill and a budget resolution encompassing much of the rest of his domestic legislative goals.

According to the White House, Biden will discuss his “Build Back Better agenda that will lower costs for working families, generate economic growth, and create jobs.” Later Wednesday, the President will virtually meet with a group of governors, mayors, and other state and local officials to discuss the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.

The speech comes after Biden marked a major step toward getting one of his most ambitious legislative goals — a dual track infrastructure package that includes more than $4 trillion in spending — closer to reality. On Tuesday, the Senate passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan package and then early Wednesday morning Democrats pushed through a $3.5 trillion budget resolution. Both pieces of legislation are based on the President’s infrastructure framework.

The $1.2 trillion package, called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, includes $550 billion in new federal spending over five years. It invests $110 billion in roads, bridges and major projects; $66 billion in passenger and freight rail; $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid; $65 billion to expand broadband internet access; $39 billion to modernize and expand transit systems; and $7.5 billion to build a national network of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

And in the sweeping $3.5 trillion resolution, Democrats point to investments in four categories: families, climate, health care, and infrastructure and jobs. Among other provisions, the measure seeks to establish universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds and make community college tuition-free for two years. It calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps, adds new dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare coverage and would make a “historic level” of investment in affordable housing. The resolution also aims to lower the cost of prescription drugs and provide “green cards to millions of immigrant workers and families.”

Now, the legislation heads to the Democrat-controlled House, which is cutting its recess short to consider the resolution.

It’ll still be some time before Biden is able to see both plans on his desk for his signature, but the passage of the resolution sets up the process for Senate Democrats to pass the sweeping budget reconciliation package in the fall.

House progressives have warned they won’t vote for the bipartisan bill without the reconciliation package, and — despite pressure from moderates to get the bipartisan package passe — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t planning to speed up the bipartisan track.

And West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has already raised “serious concerns” about the price tag of the $3.5 trillion package, signaling that Democrats may later pare back the proposal.

Biden’s ambitious first-year legislative agenda has notched one other major win so far — the passage of his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill earlier this spring. But there are still other previously set legislative goals the White House has yet to accomplish.

For example, civil rights leaders and Democrats have lobbied for congressional leaders and Biden to get legislation passed and end the filibuster which has made it impossible for Democrats to move forward with voting rights legislation because their slim majority in the Senate isn’t enough to overcome GOP opposition.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson also urged Biden to include voting rights in the infrastructure bill saying fair voter access is a critical function of the country’s democracy.

And the prospects for policing reform, another key issue Biden wanted the Congress to address, have dimmed.

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