Biden Celebrates Infrastructure Win, Even if Harder Victory Is Ahead


In his final efforts to assemble votes for the infrastructure bill, he had asked skeptical members of his party on Friday to trust that he had cut quiet deals that would assure passage of some form of the social policy bill the week of Nov. 15. That is when Congress is scheduled to be back from a weeklong recess.

Asked on Saturday whether he had gotten assurances from moderates in the party that they would also vote for the sprawling social policy bill — with its funding for universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, paid family leave, child-care tax credits and extensive climate change programs — Mr. Biden refused to give details.

“I’m not going to get into who made what commitments to me — I don’t negotiate in public. But I feel confident.”

To win over votes later this month, Mr. Biden added some elements intended to appeal to Democrats in parts of the East Coast and California — including wealthier taxpayers. Changes enacted during the Trump administration made it impossible for taxpayers in those states to deduct from their federal taxable income more than $10,000 paid in state and local taxes. The new deduction, at least as the legislation stands now, would raise that limit to $80,000.

Before the House will take that up, however, moderates are demanding an independent assessment of the bill’s true cost. That will take until at least the middle of the month — and may well decide its fate, or whether it would be even further scaled back.

Once the Build Back Better act is passed — or not — there is a third element of Mr. Biden’s economic revival effort that he has spoken about rarely in recent months — but is perhaps the most radical in its vision of how the government invests in future technology. It is the so-called China bill, essentially a package of industrial-policy investments, including more than $50 billion in the semiconductor industry, research in quantum computing and artificial intelligence, and a series of other technologies that essentially mirror Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” initiative.

But when asked about the bill on Saturday during a speech that had turned into a lengthy news conference, Mr. Biden declined to say when it would come up in the House. It has already passed the Senate by a strong bipartisan majority, a testament to how competing with China’s military and technological investments is one of the few issues that brings Republicans and Democrats together. But the bill’s focus on technology does not give it the same political appeal, for Mr. Biden or members of the House, that rebuilding bridges and roads holds.


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