US President Joe Biden was set to sign into law a major win for his administration late Friday after the House of Representatives approved a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan.
The plan was months in the making, a cornerstone of the Biden administration and one that will see improvements in most of the country’s infrastructure.
Cheers and applause erupted on the Democratic side of the House floor when the vote was announced: 228 in favor, 206 against.
The bill contains hundreds of billions of dollars to improve roads and bridges across the US. It also approves tens of billions of dollars to improve the nation's electric and power structures, rail services, broadband expansion, water infrastructure, airports, and port infrastructure, while also providing money to increase access to electric vehicle charging stations.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen released a statement saying in part, 'The strength of a country's economy depends on the strength of its infrastructure, and with today's vote, we have ensured that the American economy will remain strong for decades to come.'
Biden canceled a planned visit to his home in the state of Delaware on Friday night to remain in the White House and sign the bill into law.
The bill went through months of unprecedented, sometimes bitter wrangling, not between Republicans and Democrats, but moderate members of the Democratic Party and the progressive wing of the party.
Progressives tried to use their crucial support of the infrastructure bill as leverage to get more of what they want in another Biden priority, the Build Back Better Act, which would expand the nation's social safety net and environmental policies.
Progressives wanted the two bills to be voted on at the same time but that plan fell apart. It left Biden calling progressive members Friday, urging them to pass the infrastructure plan alone, on a promise that their demand for more spending in the Build Back Better Act would be considered when it comes up for debate in two weeks.
Republicans and moderate Democrats say spending and taxing in the Build Back Better Act are too high.
In the vote, 13 Republicans crossed party lines to approve the measure with the Democrats, but six progressive Democrats voted 'no', apparently not trusting that their demands on the Build Back Better plan would be addressed.
Democrats seemed to acknowledge that high-profile losses in nationwide elections Tuesday added more urgency to resolve their differences and get the infrastructure bill passed.
But most observers feel that reaching an agreement on the Build Back Better Act will be more difficult.
'The easy part is done,' former Republican congressman Charlie Dent told MSNBC after the vote. On passage of the Build Back Better Act, he said, 'I'm skeptical.'
By Andy Roesgen in Chicago, United States