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Analysis-With infrastructure vote, Congress gives Biden long-needed jolt of good news

EconomyNov 06, 2021 08:16AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the October jobs report at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 5, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo

By James Oliphant and Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With this week's election results in New Jersey and Virginia suggesting that voters are souring on Democrats, President Joe Biden badly needed a jolt of good news. And on Friday, he finally got a little.

The U.S. House of Representatives, controlled by his Democrats, passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill to repair the nation's airports, roads and bridges -- three months after the Senate -- sending the bill to Biden's desk for signature into law.

On top of that, a sweeping $1.75 trillion social-spending and climate bill that is a centerpiece of Biden's presidential campaign, passed a procedural hurdle in the House, though it remains unclear when it will get a final vote.

That came the same day the government reported a better-than-expected more than 500,000 jobs were added last month, suggesting the economic rebound is gathering pace.

Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) also said its experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 had shown dramatic results. The stock market soared in response.

Biden became president in January and got off to a strong start, passing a $2 trillion economic stimulus package and rushing out vaccines to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

His administration has successfully delivered at least one dose of vaccine to about 80% of the population, and has overseen strong economic growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq all hit a string of record high closes this week.

But the White House has watched with concern as Biden’s approval ratings have dropped steadily amid the ongoing pandemic, higher inflation, a chaotic pullout from Afghanistan and months of bickering among Democrats in Congress over the infrastructure and social spending bills.

The alarm truly sounded this week when Republican Glenn Youngkin edged Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the race for governor of Virginia, a state that Biden won by 10 percentage points a year ago. In New Jersey, Democratic Governor Phil Murphy narrowly won reelection over Republican Jack Ciattarelli in a unexpectedly tight contest.

In both races, suburban and independent voters who were critical to Biden’s victory gravitated toward the Republicans, a warning sign ahead of next year’s midterm elections, when control of Congress will be at stake.

'FRUSTRATED WITH INACTION'

The results showed voters are losing patience with Democrats, a source close to the White House said.

"If voters are frustrated with inaction, the obvious response is to be more decisive and pass bills," the source said. "There's a strong consensus about that across the party."

Matt Bennett, vice president of Third Way, a moderate Democratic think tank, said it was crucial to produce results that at-risk congressional Democrats can show their constituents ahead of the midterm elections.

"The bickering over details sends a signal that we don’t know how to govern," Bennett said.

The White House has been eager for the infrastructure bill to clear the House since it passed the Senate in August with 19 Republicans voting along side 50 Democrats. It had been on hold in the House as progressives tied its fate to the social spending package.

Its passage comes at a propitious time for Biden. The current presidential approval tracking poll by Reuters/Ipsos shows that about 48% of U.S. adults approve of Biden’s performance, with respondents listing the economy as their top concern.

Priorities USA, a group that supports Democratic candidates, warned in a memo this week that "voters are frustrated, skeptical, and tired — of COVID, of economic hardship, of school closings, of higher prices and stagnant wages, of unaffordable prescription drugs and health care and more.

"Without results (and effectively communicating those results), voters will punish the party in power," chairman Guy Cecil said.

But progressives within the party will not be mollified until the House – and then the Senate – pass the $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" bill, which contains provisions for education, child care and prescription drug pricing, among others.

But even if it clears the House, which is not a given, the bill will face obstacles in the Senate, which will make significant changes.

Polls continue to suggest that Americans are uncertain whether that bill will benefit them. In a poll released by Emerson (NYSE:EMR) College this week, 39% of respondents thought it will have a negative impact on their lives, while 34% said it will have a positive impact.

Third Way’s Bennett argued that congressional candidates will need ample time to sell the bills' merits to skeptical constituents.

"Selling big legislation often takes time," Bennett said. "When voters begin to hear a consistent narrative about what the bill means for them, they slowly start to like it. But we are going to need almost all of next year to make that happen in time for the midterms in November."

Analysis-With infrastructure vote, Congress gives Biden long-needed jolt of good news
 

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Comments (15)
James Pattison
James Pattison Nov 06, 2021 2:53PM ET
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Buy btc… inflation will continue to burn hotter… wages are being outpaced by price inflation… we are low in a debt to gdp downward spiral…
Rodney Dangerfield
Rodney Dangerfield Nov 06, 2021 12:22PM ET
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after my analysis... it is obvious Republicans and Democrats are owned and you're screwed
Dave Jones
Dave Jones Nov 06, 2021 11:53AM ET
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that was a party political message brought to you by the democrat party...full disclosure?
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Nov 06, 2021 11:00AM ET
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California jacked up car registration 2,3x to fix infrastructures 3 years ago. Nothing gets fix or build. All money goes to unions n pension. Gov workers retire at 55 with a generous pension while they jack our retirement age requirement up and crappy 401k
Leon Kelly
Leon Kelly Nov 06, 2021 10:22AM ET
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From 3.5 to 1Trill..That's a haircut
Delonte Crosby
Delonte Crosby Nov 06, 2021 10:22AM ET
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we know why it is a  haircut cause  one side  wants to be  cheap with the money in congress.
James Pattison
James Pattison Nov 06, 2021 10:22AM ET
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Delonte Crosby its not their money… its money they steal from the people
ZS Beck
ZS Beck Nov 06, 2021 9:22AM ET
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Every state should pay for they own roads and bridges, through state tax.We are paying alrady enough tax for it.
Kurt Craig
Kurt Craig Nov 06, 2021 8:53AM ET
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Go do your journalism...how much 9n this boondoggle is actually going to airports, roads and bridges?
Ben Chod
Ben Chod Nov 06, 2021 8:48AM ET
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LONG COMMODITIES:
Bryan Spalter
Bryan Spalter Nov 06, 2021 8:23AM ET
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debt shmet and inflation was gonna run wild anyways. if trump did this everybody would would be like omg what a great president! yall a trip
Franco Dominguez
Franco Dominguez Nov 06, 2021 7:56AM ET
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more and more debt every american owe 87,000 to gov
Co Gonz
Co Gonz Nov 06, 2021 7:53AM ET
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yes more debt sounds about right- bring on the inflation!
Randy Randy
randy00 Nov 06, 2021 7:52AM ET
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They didn't mind 4 years of inaction with trump.
Roberta Garrett
Roberta Garrett Nov 06, 2021 7:52AM ET
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And the 7T in money printing!
jason xx
jason xx Nov 06, 2021 7:34AM ET
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How come there wasn't one article saying they were voting on this Friday. People knew Thursday all the infrastructure stuff was going up. Scam
Pedro Trost
Pedro Trost Nov 06, 2021 6:58AM ET
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America doesnt want or need more debt especially to please these progressive nut cases. To say they lost races because they haven’t gotten anything done is ridiculous. But let them keep digging themselves a even bigger hole.
Jurgen Daub
Jurgen Daub Nov 06, 2021 6:58AM ET
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the hole has a big sign on it that spells REPUBLICAN SH..HOLE
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Nov 06, 2021 6:22AM ET
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Another propaganda attempt to ameliorate fascist regime in DC.
jason xx
jason xx Nov 06, 2021 6:22AM ET
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Sure you Said that wgmhen chump spent money too huh? C u c k
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd Nov 06, 2021 6:22AM ET
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jason xx  Feeble attempt to mislead, certainly coming from dem party faithful. Rep presidents never spent the same huge of money, wasted by demofascists.
Jurgen Daub
Jurgen Daub Nov 06, 2021 6:22AM ET
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another lie in the wall
 
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