Union, political leaders hail passage of job-creating bill but say the work’s not done until Build Back Better reconciliation package is also approved
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 8, 2021) — Just before midnight on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an elusive, historic and job-creating $1.2 trillion investment in the nation’s infrastructure. Already approved by the Senate, the bill will soon by signed into law by President Biden, who hailed the it as a “once in a generation” investment that would create millions of jobs and improve the domestic economy.
Although 10 Republicans crossed party lines to join Democrats in voting “yes” in approving the infrastructure package by a 228-206 vote, Washington Republican Reps. Jaime Hererra Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers all voted “no.” In doing so, they sided with Donald Trump who has decried the infrastructure investment that eluded his one-term presidency because it could help Democrats politically. All Washington Democrats voted “yes” on the infrastructure bill.
Washington state is expected to receive $4.7 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $605 million for bridge replacement and repairs, $1.79 billion to improve public transportation options across the state, and be eligible for additional funds for each as well. For more details about what Washington state would receive under the bipartisan infrastructure package, click here.
Over the weekend, union and political leaders hailed the infrastructure bill’s passage, but said the work is not done until Congress approves the “Build Back Better” reconciliation package that includes major investments in other Democratic priorities like child care, climate action, affordable housing, job training, and lowering health care and prescription drug costs. The Build Back Better package also includes elements of the PRO Act by creating actual penalties when employers violate the law to deny American workers their freedom to join together in unions.
Here are some of those leaders’ statements:
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:
“Victories like this are why we campaigned so hard for President Biden. Finally, at long last, infrastructure week is really here. Today’s final passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a monumental political and legislative accomplishment. After decades of delay and decline, America’s workers stand ready to rebuild our country. This $1 trillion investment in roads, bridges, transit, rail, climate change mitigation, electric vehicles, clean drinking water, high-speed internet, resilient transmission lines and more is centered around the creation of good union jobs.
“Yet there is still more work to be done. The Build Back Better Act will knock down the barriers that have prevented so many workers, especially women and people of color, from finding high-quality sustainable jobs. It will make quality child care and elder care available to relieve the burden families face in getting back to work. Investments in good, clean union energy jobs will help us fight climate change and protect our communities. Improvements to our immigration system will ease the burden for those who want to call America home. Wealthy individuals and corporations finally will pay their fair share in taxes. And for the first time, employers will be hit with real financial penalties for union-busting, making this the most significant advancement for the right to organize since passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.
“President Biden promised to be the most pro-union president in history — and today is another down payment on that promise. We are so close to making our economy fairer and safer for working people, and we can’t stop now. With the bipartisan infrastructure bill set to become law, the House and Senate must finish the job by sending the Build Back Better Act to President Biden’s desk.”
North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) President Sean McGarvey:
“The proud men and women of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) are ready to go to work. After decades of delay and decay, we applaud last night’s passage of the historic Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act by a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“As it is now sent to the President‘s desk for signature, we commend committed leaders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who negotiated in good faith and delivered for the American people. We would also like to note our gratitude for Republicans who put the country first and joined with their colleagues in resisting threats and politics as usual by voting in the affirmative to tangibly strengthen the country we all love. The opportunities provided by this act will redound to the benefit of Americans from all walks of life, and NABTU is committed to making that a reality for those currently in and those seeking to enter the unionized construction industry.
“Moreover, NABTU will remain eternally grateful to the President and for his entire Administration’s leadership on this generational accomplishment. President Biden’s ability to ultimately bring both sides together and deliver for working families ensures that his promise made, was truly a promise kept.”
“The bipartisan infrastructure bill will mean jobs, internet access for families who need it, and a whole lot more. It will put people to work in every part of our state and deliver a generational investment in public transit, broadband, our roads, bridges, ports, energy grid, and so much more—it’s a really big deal and it’s good news for Washington state.
“But I’ve said for quite some time now: we need both bills. We’ve got to rebuild and repair our roads and bridges—yes—but that newly paved road won’t do much good for a mom who can’t afford or find child care for her kids while she’s at work.
“This is a positive step forward and I am fighting to include paid leave and action on immigration as we work hard to finalize the Build Back Better budget in the Senate. At the end of the day, we are going to pass two important bills that will rebuild our infrastructure, invest in affordable housing, create jobs, and put money back into people’s pockets—we are lowering child care costs, prescription drug costs, home care costs, and so much more.”
“It is no secret that our infrastructure is crumbling across the country – from roads, railways, and bridges to public transit and ports – and our communities desperately need investment so that our economy can continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I support both the Build Back Better Act and the infrastructure bill and agreed with Democratic Leadership and the President that these bills should move together, as we indicated early on in this process. Linking these bills was important to help ensure that Congress could fulfill as much of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda as possible. After months of difficult negotiations, extensive progress has been made and the Build Back Better Act is on a path to advancing.
“In just the last few weeks, we have seen legislative text and reached agreement on the vast majority of the Build Back Better Act. I commend the leadership of Chair Jayapal and the Congressional Progressive Caucus in helping us get to this point. Based on this substantive progress, and because of the assurances that our colleagues provided us about their firm support for the Build Back Better Act, today I felt comfortable sending the bipartisan infrastructure legislation to President Biden’s desk”
“This popular legislation delivers on our promise to provide a historic, deeply necessary, and long overdue investment in our state’s roads, bridges, waterways, and public transit systems that will directly impact our communities while taking a first step to address the climate crisis and creating millions of good paying, union jobs. By investing more than half a trillion dollars in improving our infrastructure, making America’s largest ever investment in public transit, and providing the largest bridge funding since the mid-1900s, we will finally be able to send our communities, cities, and state the resources necessary to not only build back better but greener. There is still more work to be done to invest in families, and I will continue fighting for them while ensuring that this new infrastructure funding reaches projects throughout Washington.”