President Joe Biden celebrated his biggest legislative accomplishment with a large-scale signing ceremony at the South Lawn of the White House, as he promised to promote $1.2 trillion legislation as an example of his administration’s ability to get things done.
The event on a chilly November day drew lawmakers, governors and mayors from both parties, but it also created a bit of a split screen moment for cable news, given the ongoing trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. CNN and MSNBC went to Biden’s remarks, but Fox News stayed with the trial, featuring the infrastructure signing in a small box.
NBC News and ABC News did special broadcast reports.
“Too often in Washington, the reason we don’t get things done is because we insist on getting everything we want,” Biden said before about 800 people. “With this law, we focused on getting things done.”
The signing ceremony drew a handful of Republicans in the Senate, including Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who delivered remarks. Also speaking was Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), whose support will be essential as Biden and Democratic leaders move on to the next part of their agenda: A larger, $1.75 trillion bill to boost the social safety net and to fight climate change. That is proving to be a lot more of a heavy lift for the White House, as it is unlikely to get any Republicans in support and instead will have to rely on narrow Democratic majorities.
The infrastructure legislation provides tens of billions for revitalizing rail and public transportation, highways and freeways and water sources. Perhaps most important to the entertainment industry, now focused on a streaming future, is a $65 billion outlay to build out internet access throughout the country, whether in rural areas or via expanded subsidies for low-income users to afford service.
Biden is underwater in the polls, meaning that more Americans disapprove than approve of his job as president. The infrastructure bill, meanwhile, polled at 63% support, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked at Monday’s briefing about the gap between Biden’s support and the popularity of the legislation, and she said in part that it could have been due to the nature of getting passed in the Senate and House.
“You don’t design communications strategy around infighting in the Democratic Party,” she told reporters.
Biden plans to visit New Hampshire on Tuesday to promote the bill, with one of the focuses being job creation.
“Today I want you to know, we hear you and we see you,” Biden said in his remarks. “The bill I am about to sign into law is proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results. We can do this. We can deliver real results for real people.”
When Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, his then Vice President Biden told him that it was a “big f–ing deal,” a remark that was caught on a hot mic. On Monday, it was Rep. Don Young (R-AK) who got caught telling Biden that he went too long in his speech. “We were wondering when you were going to stop for a moment. We damn near froze to death.”
“I know what you mean,” Biden responded. “It is the only reason I did stop.”
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