President Biden fulfilled a major campaign promise Monday, signing into law a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that he calls a "once-in-a-generation investment" that will “rebuild crumbling infrastructure, create good-paying jobs, and grow our economy.”
In remarks on the South Lawn of the White House just before signing the legislation, the president acknowledged that the measure was long overdue and much-needed: "Today, we’re finally getting this done!" Biden exclaimed. "So my message to the American people is this -- America is moving again, and your life is going to change for the better."
The bill-signing marked the culmination of months, first, of negotiations between Senate Republicans and Democrats to produce a more traditional infrastructure package that both parties would be able to support and, second, of waiting for enough progressive Democrats in the House to get behind it. It passed the Senate with the help of 19 Republicans in August and the House 10 days ago with the help of 13 Republicans.
Biden tried to thank everyone who had a hand in what is a badly needed win for his administration, making special mention of the bill's bipartisan support.
"Red states, blue states, you all contacted me, you all said you were for this, you all stepped up," said Biden, "and more than 375 mayors -- Democrats and Republicans."
One of those Republican mayors who backed the process and the final measure is Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. Holt, who attended the ceremony today, co-chaired a US Conference of Mayor's effort pushing for an infrastructure package.
"Mayors and cities have been fighting for infrastructure funding for the better part of a decade," Holt said in an interview Monday in Washington. "Mayor Cornett, my predecessor, probably came to the White House six times across Democratic and Republican administrations to advocate for a package like we’re seeing signed today."
Holt says there is a lot in this package that will help all cities, but he sees it being especially beneficial for Oklahoma City, given its size.
"620 square miles, one of the largest cities in the United States," said Holt, "so that really brings to mind for me the 60 percent of this bill that goes to roads and bridges -- that will be useful for Oklahoma City. Also the public transit dollars, we always struggle to provide public transit across 620 square miles, so having a federal partner would be awesome."
Oklahoma's congressional delegation -- both Senators and each member of the House -- voted against the package, citing its cost and arguing that it's not paid for as the administration insists. Holt says that doesn't bother him.
"I’m just glad it passed," Holt said. "To me, I just focus on what’s the right thing to do. I recognize there’s politics in Washington...whoever had to vote for it or against it is immaterial now, we’re getting the infrastructure dollars that our city needs."