Let’s start with the credit where credit is due department. North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis both voted for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that will provide resources for upgrades and repairs that are desperately needed. It’s the first large and significant truly bipartisan piece of legislation in decades. Burr and Tillis did the right thing for the country in supporting the bill. Good on them.
For Joe Biden, it’s a major victory. Not only will the bill positively impact America, Biden brought people together like he promised and beat the skeptics on both side who didn’t think such legislative action was possible. He made government work like it’s supposed to work, with compromise leading to results. The bill’s real impact could be the first step in a long slow process of getting past the increasing polarization that has defined the country and its politics for more than 30 years.
I don’t believe in kumbaya politics. The next bill to be debated, the budget, will pass with only Democratic votes if it passes at all. But I do believe that we need to get past the hyper-polarization that has left our federal government dysfunctional. That the two sides could come together to pass such a massive spending package for something so important gives me hope that we might be slowly edging into an era that is somewhat less rancorous.
The bill also gives me hope that the influence of Trump over the GOP might be waning. Trump, who couldn’t pass his own infrastructure bill, opposed the measure and criticized it when it passed. Republicans in the Senate largely ignored him. It was also another defeat in a string of them that includes his endorsed candidates losing in primaries.
Trump, in criticizing the Senate and the bill, may be finally misreading the room. More Americans want Congress to work than to fail. Trump’s criticism framed the debate as an us-versus-them issue, blasting McConnell for giving Biden a win, but I don’t believe most people see it that way. McConnell understands that obstructing a bill that would provide internet, fix roads and bridges, and provide jobs would likely backfire. Now, Republicans get to claim credit, too.
Overall, though, the bill was a big win for both Biden and the Democrats. They can show that they know how to govern. They get things done in contrast to Republicans who failed to pass their top priority, gutting Obamacare, despite controlling both houses of the Congress and the presidency. Of course, making your top priority scrapping legislation that had become popular in middle America was a bad idea to start in the first place. Still, the bill is a significant victory for Biden and the American people.