Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. In A Rare Bipartisan Vote, US Senate Passes $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill
The Senate gave overwhelming bipartisan approval on August 11 to a $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, delivering a key component of President Joe Biden’s agenda. The vote, 69 to 30, was uncommonly bipartisan. The yes votes included Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and 18 others from his party who shrugged off increasingly shrill efforts by former President Donald Trump to derail it. “This historic investment in infrastructure is what I believe you, the American people, want, what you’ve been asking for for a long, long time,” President Biden said from the White House as he thanked Republicans for showing “a lot of courage.” Senator McConnell, who publicly declared that his priority was stopping the Biden agenda, said in a statement that “I was proud to support today’s historic bipartisan infrastructure deal and prove that both sides of the political aisle can still come together around common-sense solutions.” The measure faces a potentially rocky and time-consuming path in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a majority of the nearly 100-member Progressive Caucus have said they will not vote on it unless and until the Senate passes a separate, even more ambitious $3.5 trillion social policy bill this fall. That could put the infrastructure bill on hold for weeks, if not months.
2. Ebrahim Raisi Inaugurated As Iranian President
Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in as the new President of Iran on August 5 during an inauguration ceremony in the country’s parliament. The 60-year-old cleric is Iran’s eighth president since the 1979 revolution. The inauguration came two days after Raisi received the endorsement of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who previously served as the Iranian President from 1981-1989. Raisi’s victory in June’s presidential election was seen as notably lacking by observers, as a record number of reformist candidates were barred from standing by the Guardian Council.
In his inaugural address, Ebrahim Raisi appealed to conservative values and laid out his foreign policy beliefs during his inaugural address. “I will dedicate myself to the service of the people, the honor of the country, the propagation of religion and morality, and the support of truth and justice,” Raisi said during the ceremony. Raisi also promised to stand up against regional and western adversaries. “Wherever there is oppression and crime in the world, in the heart of Europe, in the US, Africa, Syria, Yemen, Palestine,” Raisi said. “The message of this election was resistance against arrogant powers.” At the same time, Iran’s new President promised to improve relations with other countries in the Middle East. “I extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to all countries in the region, especially our neighbors,” Raisi said, while adding that there is “no obstacle” to improving strained ties with Saudi Arabia.
3. US Economy Adds 900,000 Jobs, Unemployment Falls To 5.4% During The Month of July
Job growth in the US rose in July at its fastest pace in nearly a year despite fears over the Coronavirus Delta variant and a tightening labor supply, the Labor Department reported on August 6. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 943,000 for the month while the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The payroll increase was the best since August 2020. Most economists expected 845,000 new jobs and a headline unemployment rate of 5.7% for July, thus the overall jobs gains exceeded their expectations. However, estimates were diverse amid conflicting headwinds and tailwinds and an uncertain path ahead for the economy. Additionally, average hourly earnings also increased more than expected, rising 0.4% for the month and are up 4% from the same period a year ago, at a time when concerns are increasing about persistent inflationary pressures. “The data for recent months suggest that the rising demand for labor associated with the recovery from the pandemic may have put upward pressure on wages,” the BLS said in the report, though it cautioned that the Coronavirus impact is still skewing data and wage gains are uneven across industries.