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Biden signs infrastructure bill into law after delay

 
Washington, Nov 16 (IANS) US President Joe Biden has signed a bipartisan $1 trillio infrastructure bill into law after months of delay amid Democratic infighting over a social spending package.

"Here in Washington, we've heard countless speeches and promises, white papers from experts, but today we're finally getting this done," Biden said on Monday at a signing ceremony at the White House attended by members of Congress, Governors and Mayors.

"So my message to the American people is this, America's moving again, and your life is going to change for the better," he said.

Biden has tapped former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a senior White House adviser to coordinate the implementation of the infrastructure bill.

The bill includes $550 billion in new spending on infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, passenger rails, drinking water and waste water systems.

The rest of the infrastructure package involves previously approved spending.

The Senate approved the bill in August, but progressive House Democrats held it up for months, demanding a vote on a larger social spending package, but eventually failed.

The House of Representatives finally approved the infrastructure bill earlier this month after progressive and moderate House Democrats agreed to take up the $1.75 trillion social spending package no later than the week of November 15.

It is not clear whether both chambers of Congress have enough votes to pass the social spending package as some lawmakers become more concerned about rising inflation pressures.

"By all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not 'transitory' and is instead getting worse," Joe Manchin, a key moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia, said recently.

"From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real and DC can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day," Manchin said.

The consumer price index (CPI) rose 6.2 per cent in October from a year earlier, the strongest annual gain in over 30 years, the Labour Department reported last week.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Sunday that controlling the Covid-19 pandemic was key to taming inflation.

"The pandemic has been calling the shots for the economy and for inflation. And if we want to get inflation down, I think continuing to make progress against the pandemic is the most important thing we can do," Yellen told CBS News.

"I would expect that if we're successful with the pandemic to be sometime in the second half of next year, I would expect prices to go back to normal," she said.

--IANS
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