Biden signs bipartisan infrastructure bill into law

By Maureen Chowdhury, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0211 GMT (1011 HKT) November 16, 2021
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5:50 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Debt ceiling and economic bill looms as Democrats celebrate infrastructure bill win

From CNN's Daniella Diaz

While Democratic leaders took a victory lap today to celebrate President Biden signing the bipartisan infrastructure bill, other pressing issues remain for lawmakers when they return for session this week.

All eyes will turn to finishing negotiations on the separate multi-trillion dollar economic bill that would expand the nation's social safety net, as well as on government funding and the debt ceiling, which are both set to expire in early December.

In a letter to Democratic colleagues Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it is "likely" lawmakers will need to pass a continuing resolution — or a temporary extension in funding — to fund the government past Dec. 3, the current deadline.

It's unclear how Democrats will address the debt ceiling deadline after Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have repeatedly stated they will not help with legislation to raise the limit. Republicans have insisted that Democrats must act alone to address the debt limit through a process known as budget reconciliation, which would require no GOP support for passage.

Democrats have argued the issue is a bipartisan responsibility. While Democratic leaders have publicly dismissed the possibility of using reconciliation — arguing the process is too lengthy and unwieldy and that the risk of miscalculation would be too high — as the deadline looms, it could be the only way to address the issue without changing the filibuster, which Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has repeatedly opposed.

Biden's sweeping economic bill remains stalled, with moderate Manchin being the main holdout. He has raised concerns that the bill could add to the country's inflation woes, pushed back on provisions to reduce methane emissions, opposed a Medicare expansion, demanded changes to the tax provisions in the House proposal and resisted measures aimed at helping undocumented immigrants.

And in the House, a group of House moderate Democrats have said they won't vote for the economic bill without a final score from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO, the federal agency that provides budget and economic information to Congress, said last week it cannot give a definitive date for when it will have a final cost estimate score of the bill. But most Democratic lawmakers still want a vote on the bill this week.

"On a bill of this magnitude, this process takes time and patience," Schumer said in his letter Sunday. "Timing of consideration of the BBBA in the Senate will largely depend on when the House sends us the bill and when CBO finalizes their scores for all of the committees, which are needed to complete the 'Byrd Bath' process."

Read more here.

5:09 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Here's what is in the bipartisan infrastructure package that was just signed into law

From CNN's Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby

(Evan Vucci/AP)
(Evan Vucci/AP)

The bipartisan infrastructure bill has now been signed into law by President Biden. Congress passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package on Nov. 5, approving a signature part of Biden's economic agenda.

Here's a look at some key things that are in the package:

Funding for roads and bridges: The bill calls for investing $110 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects. That's significantly less than the $159 billion that Biden initially requested in the American Jobs Plan.

Included is $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation, according to the bill text. The White House says it would be the single, largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system, which started in the 1950s.

The deal also contains $16 billion for major projects that would be too large or complex for traditional funding programs, according to the White House.

The investments would focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

Also in the package is $11 billion for transportation safety, including a program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities, especially of cyclists and pedestrians, according to the White House. It would direct funding for safety efforts involving highways, trucks, and pipeline and hazardous materials.

And it contains $1 billion to reconnect communities — mainly disproportionately Black neighborhoods — that were divided by highways and other infrastructure, according to the White House. It will fund planning, design, demolition and reconstruction of street grids, parks or other infrastructure.

Money for transit and rail: The package provides $39 billion to modernize public transit, according to the text. That's less than the $85 billion that Biden initially wanted to invest in modernizing transit systems and help them expand to meet rider demand.

The funds will repair and upgrade existing infrastructure, make stations accessible to all users, bring transit service to new communities and modernize rail and bus fleets, including replacing thousands of vehicles with zero-emission models, according to the White House.

The deal will also invest $66 billion in passenger and freight rail, according to the text. The funds would eliminate Amtrak's maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor line and bring rail service to areas outside the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, according to the White House. Included in the package is $12 billion in partnership grants for intercity rail service, including high-speed rail.

The funding is less than the $80 billion Biden originally wanted to send to Amtrak, which he relied upon for decades to get home to Delaware from Washington, DC.

Still, it would be the largest federal investment in public transit in history and in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago, according to the White House.

Broadband upgrade: The legislation provides a $65 billion investment in improving the nation's broadband infrastructure, according to the text. Biden initially wanted to invest $100 billion in broadband.

It also aims to help lower the price households pay for internet service by requiring federal funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan, by creating price transparency and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren't providing adequate service. It will also create a permanent federal program to help more low-income households access the internet, according to the White House fact sheet.

Upgrading airports, ports and waterways: The deal will invest $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports and promote electrification and other low-carbon technologies, according to the White House.

It is similar to the funding in Biden's original proposal.

Electric vehicles: The legislation will provide $7.5 billion for zero- and low-emission buses and ferries, aiming to deliver thousands of electric school buses to districts across the country, according to the White House.

Another $7.5 billion will go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the text.

Read more about what is in the package here.

4:46 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Biden signs infrastructure bill into law

(Evan Vucci/AP)
(Evan Vucci/AP)

President Biden just signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package into law in a rare bipartisan event attended by members of Congress, governors and mayors at the White House South Lawn.

"Most of all it does something truly historic," Biden said before signing the law. "I ran for President believing it was time to rebuild the backbone of this nation which I characterize as working people in the middle class. They are the ones who built the country. And to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, this law delivers on that long overdue promise in my view. It creates better jobs for millions of Americans."

What the bill will do: Once signed, it will deliver $550 billion of new federal investments in America's infrastructure over five years, including money for roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways.

The package includes a $65 billion investment in improving the nation's broadband infrastructure and invests tens of billions of dollars in improving the electric grid and water systems. Another $7.5 billion would go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the bill text.

CNN's Betsy Klein and Kate Sullivan contributed reporting to this post.

5:05 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Biden: Infrastructure bill is proof Democrats and Republicans can "come together and deliver results"

(Pool)
(Pool)

President Biden celebrated the massive bipartisan infrastructure bill, saying it "is proof" both parties "can deliver real results for real people."

"My fellow Americans, today I want you to know we hear you, and we see you," Biden said at a White House signing ceremony. "The bill I'm 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."

"And we're taking a monumental step forward to build back better as a nation," he said. 

Biden thanked Vice President Kamala Harris, his Cabinet members and Congress for helping pass the bill.

Biden also thanked and praised several senators who were key to the bill's passage, including Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Sinema of Arizona, who both spoke at the event.

Notably, Biden also thanked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who did not attend the signing ceremony, "for voting for this bill and talking at how useful and important it is."

"Here in Washington, we've heard countless speeches and promises, and white papers from experts. But today, we're finally getting this done. So my message to the American people is this — America is moving again. And your life is going to change for the better," he said.

Biden used a portion of his remarks to speak directly to the American people, saying this day "matters to you as well."

"I know you're tired of the bickering in Washington. Frustrated by the negativity and you just want us to use and focus on your needs, your concerns and the conversations that are taking place at your kitchen table," he said.

CNN's Kate Sullivan and Allie Malloy contributed reporting to this post.

4:09 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Harris on infrastructure bill: "We got it done, America"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

(Pool)
(Pool)

Vice President Kamala Harris noted the historic nature of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and delivering on a key promise President Biden made during his campaign.

"This is an historic day. In the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln started construction on the Transcontinental Railroad. In the middle of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt finished construction on the Hoover Dam. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act in the middle of the Cold War. And today — and today, President Joe Biden will sign the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law," Harris said during her remarks from the White House.

Harris continued, "From the very start of our administration, we were determined to follow through. Not just on our promise to invest in our nation's infrastructure but on the promises that the American people have heard for years now. And we would not be here today were it not for your leadership, Mr. President, from the very start you welcomed Democrats, independents and Republicans to meet with us in the Oval Office. You welcomed ideas. You welcomed debate. All in the service of getting this bill done. And here is what I know to be true, Mr. President: You are equal parts believer and builder. And because you are, we are all better off. On behalf of our nation, thank you, Mr. President."

Harris also thanked leaders in Congress who worked on the bill together and gained bipartisan consensus, as well as the support from "millions of Americans who believed that we could get this done."

"Well, we got it done, America," Harris said.

3:58 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

"This is a great day for America": Schumer and Pelosi applaud infrastructure bill 

(Susan Walsh/AP)
(Susan Walsh/AP)

In back-to-back speeches, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applauded the bipartisan infrastructure bill ahead of President Biden signing it into law.

"Today's signing is a major and historic step forward," Schumer said at the White House ceremony after thanking members of Congress who helped pass the bill and "reached across the aisle."

"We will keep working with you Mr. President to build on today's success, by passing the rest of your Build Back Better agenda in the weeks ahead," he added.

"This is a great day for America," Schumer said.

Pelosi used the top of her remarks to thank President Biden for his efforts and praised his "glorious vision" and commitment to bring this legislation forward.

"This is a great achievement, thank you Mr. President," Pelosi added.

3:55 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Sen. Sinema: "Senators who negotiated this legislation show how to get things done"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

(Pool)
(Pool)

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema celebrated the bipartisan nature of President Biden's infrastructure during her remarks from the White House.

"Our legislation represents the substantiative policy changes that some have said are no longer possible in today's Senate," the Arizona lawmaker said. 

Sinema was one of the key negotiators of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and is credited for helping the bill reach consensus with GOP colleagues.

"How many times have we heard we heard that bipartisanship isn't possible anymore? Or that important policy can only happen on a party line. Our legislation proves the opposite. And the senators who negotiated this legislation show how to get things done. The senators in our group of 10 effectively represented the needs of the regions we represent," she said.

Sinema noted how the passage of the infrastructure bill is proof that progress can be made in Congress.

"Delivering this legislation for the American people, this is what it looks like when elected leaders set aside differences, shut out the noise and focus on delivering results on the issues that matter most to every day Americans. I look forward to the work that we will all do together to implement this historic legislation," she said.

3:35 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Read excerpts of Biden's upcoming speech on the infrastructure bill 

Ahead of President Biden's remarks on the infrastructure bill, the White House released excerpts of the speech he will deliver before signing the legislation into law.

Read a portion of his remarks as prepared for delivery:

"For too long, we’ve talked about having the best economy in the world. We’ve talked about asserting American leadership in the world with the best and safest roads, railways, ports, and airports. Here in Washington, we’ve heard countless speeches, promises, and white papers from the experts.
But today, we are finally getting it done. And my message to the American people is: America is moving again. And your life is going to change for the better."

"Too often in Washington – the reason we don’t get things done is because we insist on getting everything we want. With this law, we focused on getting things done.
I ran for president because the only way to move our country forward is through compromise and consensus.
That’s how our system works. That’s American democracy. And I am signing a law that is truly consequential, because we made our democracy deliver for the people."

3:22 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

NOW: Bipartisan infrastructure bill singing ceremony begins at the White House

From CNN's Betsy Klein

The Biden administration is holding a signing ceremony at the White House for the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed in Congress earlier this month.

Once President Biden signs the bill, the law is set to deliver $550 billion of new federal investments in America's infrastructure over five years, including money for roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways.

The package includes a $65 billion investment in improving the nation's broadband infrastructure and invests tens of billions of dollars in improving the electric grid and water systems. Another $7.5 billion would go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the bill text.

Members of Congress, governors and mayors are expected to attend. Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who has been named a senior adviser and will oversee coordination of the bill's implementation on behalf of the White House, will also be present.

Landrieu, the White House said, "will oversee the most significant and comprehensive investments in American infrastructure in generations — work that independent experts verify will create millions of high-paying, union jobs while boosting our economic competitiveness in the world, strengthening our supply chains, and acting against inflation for the long term."

Read more about the signing ceremony here.