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With infrastructure vote, Congress gives Biden much-needed good news

WASHINGTON, Nov.6 (Reuters) – With this week’s election results in New Jersey and Virginia suggesting voters are going after Democrats, President Joe Biden was in dire need of good news. And on Friday he finally had a little. The Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill to repair the nation’s airports, roads, and bridges – three months after the Senate – by sending the bill to Biden’s office for signature. 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 did not be unclear when he will get a final vote. This happened the same day the government announced that more than 500,000 jobs had been created last month, which is better than expected, suggesting that the economic rebound is accelerating. Pfizer Inc also said its experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 has shown dramatic results.

The stock market has soared in response. Biden became president in January and got off to a good start, passing a $ 2 trillion economic stimulus package and rushing vaccines to fight the spread of COVID-19. Its administration successfully delivered at least one dose of vaccine to about 80% of the population and oversaw strong economic growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all hit a series of record highs this week. But the White House has watched with concern the steady decline in Biden’s approval ratings amid the ongoing pandemic, higher inflation, a chaotic pullout from Afghanistan, and months of feud between Democrats in the country. Congress on Infrastructure and Social Spending Bills.

The alarm bells really sounded this week when Republican Glenn Youngkin edged Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the race for governor of Virginia, a state Biden won by 10 percentage points a year ago. In New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy narrowly won his reelection against Republican Jack Ciattarelli in a surprisingly tight contest. In both races, suburban and independent voters who were critical to Biden’s victory turned to Republicans, a warning sign ahead of next year’s midterm elections, when congressional control will be at stake. “FRUSTRATED 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 answer is to be more decisive and pass bills,” the source said. “There is a strong consensus on this across the party.” Matt Bennett, vice chairman of Third Way, a moderate Democratic think tank, said it was crucial to deliver results that at-risk Congressional Democrats can show their constituents ahead of the midterm elections.

“The quarrels over the details send a signal that we don’t know how to rule,” Bennett said. The White House has been eager for the infrastructure bill to be cleared since it was passed by the Senate in August with 19 Republicans voting alongside 50 Democrats. He had been suspended in the House as progressives tied his fate to the social spending program. His passage comes at an auspicious time for Biden. The current Reuters / Ipsos presidential endorsement tracking poll shows that about 48% of American adults approve of Biden’s performance, with respondents citing the economy as their main concern. Priorities USA, a group that supports Democratic candidates, warned in a memo this week that “voters are frustrated, skeptical and tired – of COVID, economic hardship, school closures, higher prices and stagnant wages , unaffordable prescription drugs and healthcare and more. “Without results (and without effectively communicating those results) voters will punish the ruling party,” President Guy Cecil said. But progressives in the party will not be appeased until the House – then the Senate – passes 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 wipes out 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 do not know whether this bill will benefit them. In a poll released by Emerson College this week, 39% of those polled believed it would have a negative impact on their lives, while 34% said it would have a positive impact. Bennett of Third Way argued that congressional candidates will need enough time to sell the merits of the bills to skeptical voters. “Selling big legislation often takes time,” Bennett said. “When voters start to hear a cohesive story about what the bill means to them, they slowly start to like it. But we’re going to need almost all of next year for that to happen in time for the November mid-sessions.

(Reporting by James Oliphant and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis)

Photo: MANDEL NGAN AFP

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