August 10, 2021

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Tuesday praised the courage of 19 Republicans who supported a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and said U.S. Senate passage of the legislation offered hope for resolving other thorny issues.

Biden said the agreement showed that bipartisanship was still possible in a politically polarized America and not a “relic of an earlier age,” as some have argued.

“I never believed that, and I still don’t,” the Democratic president told reporters. “Here on this bill, we’ve proven that we can still come together to do big things – important things – for the American people,” he said.

The Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday passed the massive infrastructure bill in a 69-30 vote.

But the measure must still pass the House of Representatives, where Democrats hold a slim majority and are already at odds over whether to ensure its quick passage or wait for passage of a companion Democrats-only $3.5 trillion measure.

Biden said making compromises was necessary for democracy to function, adding: “Today we proved democracy can still work and we have a lot more work to do.”

Work by a group of Democratic and Republican senators to hammer out the compromise went “beyond the headlines, beyond partisan sound bites, beyond the culture of instant outrage, disinformation and conflictive entertainment,” he said.

Asked if the deal offered lessons for other divisive issues, such as voting rights, police reform or LGBTQ rights, Biden said: “The lesson learned is being willing to talk and listen.”

He said it was vital to expose people to different views and listen to their concerns.

Vice President Kamala Harris said Biden’s approach had paid off.

“From the very start, you welcomed ideas, you welcomed debate,” she told reporters. “You were determined to bring all sides together and to deliver real results for the people of our nation.”

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)

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