That was clearly the message Mr. Biden wanted to send. His White House staff developed the event with the kind of stagecraft usually reserved for political conventions or campaign events. Flags from each state flapped in the background as Mr. Biden, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and a union worker from North Carolina, strode to the lectern as “Hail to the Chief” played.
Now, the challenge for the president is to convince voters that passage of the legislation actually matters to their lives — that it is not just a Washington abstraction, debated in the halls of Congress but with little impact on them.
The Infrastructure Bill at a Glance
Transportation. The proposal would see tens of billions of dollars in new federal spending going to roads, bridges and transportation programs. Amtrak would see its biggest infusion of money since its inception, and funds would be allocated to programs intended to provide safe commutes for pedestrians.
Climate. Funding would be provided to better prepare the country to face global warming. The Forest Service would get billions of dollars to reduce the effects of wildfires. The bill includes $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid to allow it to carry renewable energy.
Resources for underserved communities. A new $2 billion grant program is expected to expand transportation projects in rural areas. The bill would also increase support for Native American communities, allotting $216 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for climate-resilience and adaptation efforts.
That effort begins in earnest immediately.
The ceremony on Monday will be followed by a burst of presidential travel aimed at showing the American people real examples of how the new law will pump money into the economy and provide good-paying jobs by upgrading roads, bridges, lead pipes, broadband and other infrastructure.
On Tuesday, Mr. Biden is expected to travel to New Hampshire, where he will speak at a bridge over the Pemigewasset River, which is in critical need of rehabilitation. The next day, he will visit a General Motors electric vehicle assembly plant in Detroit to showcase the billions of dollars to be spent on upgrading electric charging stations around the country.
“Now is an opportunity for the president, the vice president, our cabinet,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday, “to be out in the country, connecting the agenda, the impacts on people’s lives, moving beyond the legislative process to talk about how this is going to help them. And we’re hoping that’s going to have an impact.”
History suggests the president and his team have their work cut out for them.
Former President Barack Obama campaigned around the country during his first term in office, telling Americans that the Affordable Care Act would “bend the cost curve” for health insurance and improve coverage. But early glitches in the Obamacare website and opposition from the newly formed Tea Party made the law toxic in many places for many years.
After Mr. Trump passed tax cuts early in his tenure, he hosted a similar celebration (though without the bipartisan sheen) and then failed to sell it to the broader public. Throughout his tenure, the tax cuts remained a largely partisan victory.