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Biden Announced A Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. What Happens Now?


President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators have reached a deal on infrastructure. It's big, but it is not as big as Biden hoped.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Let me be clear. Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal. That's what it means to compromise. And it reflects something important. It reflects consensus.

KING: But whether that consensus turns into a bill that he'll sign is not clear yet. Biden said yesterday he won't sign this into law unless it's paired with another bill that addresses broader parts of his infrastructure proposal and would include money for health care, child care and climate change, among other things.

NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez is following this story. Good morning, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

KING: So the president said in that tape there that neither side got exactly what they wanted. What is in this plan?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, so overall, it's a roughly $1.2 trillion plan. Some of it is money that Congress was already on track to spend. But there's about $550 billion in new spending. A big chunk of the money is for transportation projects, like roads and bridges. There's also money for broadband and water pipes. As you note, Biden didn't get everything he wanted. His proposal - or his initial proposal included better wages for home care workers. There was also money for housing and climate.

KING: And because of that, there's still a long way to go before any roads or any bridges get built. So how significant is this really?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, I mean the infrastructure plan is a key pillar of Biden's economic agenda. And his team is excited. Yesterday, I saw Biden's top economic adviser, Brian Deese, at the White House fist-bumping with the commerce secretary and others just before Biden was to speak. You know, and part of that is because Biden says he got two-thirds of the funding that he wanted. And that's significant. But he also got something else that's really important to him, a bipartisan compromise. What we saw yesterday really at the White House was a rare sight, a group of Republican and Democratic senators standing shoulder to shoulder, proud of working together. And, you know, it may be a bit - a premature victory lap for Biden. But this is an example he will be able to point to of bipartisanship in action. And it's something he wants to see for other priorities like police reform.

KING: What is happening with police reform?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, Republican Senator Tim Scott and Democratic Representative Karen Bass and others have been trying to work out a deal on a bill. And Biden had hoped it would happen by the May anniversary of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. Derek Chauvin is set to be sentenced for Floyd's murder today. Last night, the lawmakers said they had agreed on a framework for a deal. But there are no details yet. And they said, it would probably take a few more weeks to get a final proposal together.

KING: OK. So bipartisanship is happening in some areas. But the president says that progressive Democrats asked him - discouraged him from compromising with Republicans. What is he telling them?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, Biden emphasized yesterday that he won't sign the infrastructure bill unless it's passed in tandem with spending on his other economic priorities. Remember that Democrats used their narrow majority and special budget proposal to call it reconciliation back in March. That's how they got the $1.9 trillion COVID aid package passed. And the progressive wing of the party was pushing to do that again, to put aside compromise and pass a big spending bill without any Republican votes. Biden says, though, that he plans to do the things on two tracks.


BIDEN: I'm not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest I - that I proposed. I proposed a significant piece of legislation in three parts. And all three parts are equally important.

ORDOÑEZ: He says he still plans to use reconciliation for the other parts of his economic agenda. And that includes things like universal preschool and expanded child care.

KING: So where does the deal struck yesterday go from here?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, there's a lot of heavy lifting left to go. Biden says he doesn't know for sure that they'll even have enough support. But he says, it's hard to imagine Democrats not supporting the deal. And he says he thinks Congress can hold these votes before the end of September. So we can expect we will be following the ups and downs of this for weeks to come.

KING: OK. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez. Thank you, Franco.

ORDOÑEZ: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Morning Edition
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.