After years in the shadows, the spirit of bipartisanship reappeared this week on a bright autumn afternoon in the United States capital.
During a ceremony attended by Republicans and Democrats, President Joel Biden enacted the ambitious bipartisan package of physical infrastructure for more than 1 trillion dollars, which will create millions of jobs and give a new stalemate on the path to a “green economy.”
On the rostrum, Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman spoke. After all, not only were the two parties crucial to approving the package, but the House of Representatives would not have been able to pass it without 13 Republicans joining the “Yes” column.
President Biden, whose popularity has dropped 12 percentage points from his peak during his presidency, is understandably pleased. The physical infrastructure plan is one of the two legislative jewels of his presidency, and his success will probably depend on whether the Democrats will retain control of Congress next year.
“I know you are tired of the bickering in Washington. Frustrated by negativity,” said Biden addressing the American public. “Today I want to tell you that we listen to you and we see you. This law … is proof that Democrats and Republicans can work together.”
The president is right. The overwhelming majority of the Trump-era bills passed without Democratic support. And the largest rescue initiative for the pandemic, approved in Congress last March, passed without Republican support. The fact that the physical infrastructure package has been tested with the support of both parties opens a window of hope that it is possible to advance a legislative agenda for the benefit of the American people.
And it is not for less. The package includes 110 billion for highways, 66 billion for high-speed Internet, 66 billion for passenger and freight trains, 65 billion for rebuilding the power grid, 40 billion for bridge repair, replacement and rehabilitation, 39 billion for the public transportation system, 25 billion for airport modernization, 17 billion for port infrastructure and 7.5 billion for the national network of electric vehicle chargers.
The budget allocation for public transportation, so important to the Latino community, is already paying off, because some localities have decided not to raise transportation prices thanks to federal support.
I wish that bipartisan spirit would revive again to win the approval of the second jewel in the crown, the social infrastructure initiative. The pandemic has deepened the inequality gap for the most vulnerable communities, which coincidentally correspond to those of essential workers. It is not an expense, but a long-term investment, so that no one is left behind.
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