In rare move, Obama signs two bills at White House ceremony

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It was a rarity at the White House these days — an actual bill signing ceremony, complete with Republicans and everything.

President Obama signed into law Tuesday the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, bipartisan legislation that will spend $12.3 billion on 34 infrastructure projects to boost U.S. ports and waterways.


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“I love signing bills,” Mr. Obama said, in what he has proclaimed a “year of action” to bypass Congress with more executive actions.

The president also signed a law authorizing the congressional Gold Medal for the 65th Infantry Regiment, a Puerto Rican military unit. Mr. Obama said “their courage made them legendary.”

As he signed the legislation, Mr. Obama commented to someone on stage with him, “my signature actually used to be pretty lame” until he had to sign bills regularly.

They were the 44th and 45th pieces of legislation signed by Mr. Obama this year, although most of those signings didn’t merit a ceremony. On this occasion, the president was accompanied by various lawmakers and other officials, including Republican Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Republican Reps. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania and Bob Gibbs of Ohio.

Mr. Obama said the ports legislation “hopefully sets a pattern” for Congress to act on more infrastructure projects.

“Traditionally investments in our infrastructure have received strong bipartisan support,” he said. “This hasn’t always been true in the last few years. Right now, we should be putting a lot more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure. There are a lot of guys with hardhats sitting at home. So we could really be doing even more.”

Among the projects authorized by the law are a deepening of Boston Harbor and the port of Savannah, Georgia, and restoration of the Florida Everglades.

Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the water resources act shows that legislation is better than presidential executive action, such as Mr. Obama’s unilateral move Monday to ease payments on student loans.

“This bill was passed by elected representatives who found common ground,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement. “The process can work, but it requires exactly the opposite approach from what the president did yesterday on student loans. Hectoring, lecturing, and eviscerating rhetorical straw men doesn’t get results — hard work does.”

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