Infrastructure bill’s passage opens a path to victory in 2022. Democrats should be encouraged by this breakthrough

The infrastructure deal struck late Friday evening gave Biden a desperately needed win. It represents an opportunity to regain control of the political narrative that the Afghanistan debacle in August had stripped from his grasp. Since that time, his presidency has taken a series of damaging hits, culminating in the party’s dispiriting losses in Tuesday’s elections. The deal reached between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic party had to happen for the party to have any chance of keeping its Congressional majorities in 2022.

The passage of the billion-dollar-plus infrastructure bill is the largest appropriation of its kind since the Eisenhower Congress gave America its interstate highway system in the 1950s. Infrastructural improvements in the country are desperately needed and, if handled well, will be greeted with enthusiasm by Democrats and Republicans alike. The size of this bill, in combination with Biden’s 1.9 tn American Rescue Plan passed last spring, and the likelihood that some version of the social infrastructural bill will pass Congress before the end of the calendar year, puts Biden’s ambition in New Deal-WWII territory. It will quiet critics of the FDR-Biden comparisons, at least for a time.

Gary Gerstle is Mellon Professor of American History at Cambridge and is writing The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order (2022). He is a Guardian US columnist.

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