WASHINGTON – The House Friday morning passed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill, a wide-ranging package of Democratic social spending priorities that includes free preschool, initiatives to fight climate change and affordable housing programs.
The legislation was approved on a 220-213 vote clearing a major hurdle for a plan that is the cornerstone of his sweeping domestic agenda to expand the nation’s social safety net, confront climate change, and help Americans bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This measure will now be sent to the Senate. It faces uncertain prospects.
The roughly $2 trillionpackage of progressive priorities would provide free universal preschoolfor three- and four-year olds, caps certain drug costs, boosts Pell grants for college tuition, expands family leave, and provides new hearing benefit for seniors. It would address climate change through billions in incentive programs while also spending money to electrify up to 165,000 U.S. Postal Service trucks and creating a Civilian Climate Corps. It also increases corporate taxes and beefs up IRS enforcement.
Biden called the House vote, in a statement, “another huge step forward in carrying my economic plan, to create jobs and reduce costs, make this country more competitive and give workers and the middle classes a fighting chance.”
More:Kevin McCarthy’s speech lasted into the night, pushing back House vote for Biden’s BuildBack Better bill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hailed the measure as “historic, transformative and larger than anything we have ever done before.”
She said, “We’re building back better,” before she voted. You can be a parent, senior or child. This bill applies to American citizens.
Democrats hugged, danced, and applauded after the bill was passed. A cheer of, “Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!” broke out.
McCarthy’s speech:Kevin McCarthy’s speech lasted into the night, pushing back House vote for Biden’s BuildBack Better bill
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The vote was supposed to take place Thursday evening but it was pushed into Friday morning following a marathon floor speech by GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy who railed against the bill as “another unnecessary spending binge.” His speech lasted more than eight hours, surpassing the record set by Pelosi for longest floor speech.
“Enough with Washington waste. Enough with the fraud, Washington abuse and Washington corruption,” he said in a speech that touched on the border, hypersonic weapons, competition with China, and inflationary prices.
The legislation, whittled down from an original $3.5 trillion price tag, was scaled back to appease moderate Democrats in the Senate — Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — who took issue with the cost of the bill and some climate, prescription drug and tax provisions.
Biden’s spending plan cost estimate:According to a congressional estimate, Biden’s Build back Better bill will increase the national debt
On Monday, Manchin, who has been at the heart of the negotiations, raised concerns about the amount of debt the bill would generate while existing government social programs are at risk. Sinema has been largely silent on whether she could support the latest version passed by the House.
Biden needs the support of all 50 Democratic senators – and Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote – to pass the bill without Republican support through a legislative process called reconciliation that bypasses a filibuster.
The House vote on the bill was delayed earlier this fall because House moderates expressed concern about the cost. A group of centrists blocked the legislation from coming up for a vote earlier this month because they demanded a Congressional Budget Office estimate of the bill’s cost be released first. On Thursday, the CBO released its projection that the bill would add about $160 billion in new federal debt over the next decade though Biden and White House officials continue to insist the measure would reduce the deficit over the next decade.
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One of the moderate House Democrats who wanted to see the CBO score, Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, said before the vote she would support the measure.
“There’s a lot to like in this bill. And as a pragmatic Democrat who wants my constituents to be satisfied, I will never let perfection become the enemy or good.” She said it in a Tweet.
Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, was the only Democrat to vote against the bill. He told the Bangor Daily News prior to the vote he would oppose the legislation due to a tax change he said largely benefits the wealthy.
CBO estimates that the bill’s 10-year costs will be $1.68 trillion. Biden and Democrats claimed that the bill would cost $1.85 Trillion.
Republicans rejected the measure because it was costly and misdirected. However, the White House insists that the bill can be paid for by a strengthened IRS enforcement.
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McCarthy spoke after hours of deliberation on the bill Thursday. Republicans claimed the bill didn’t address economic problems facing the U.S., while Democrats celebrated the bill’s historicity.
“With record high inflation and gas prices, supply chain shortages in what’s going to be the most expensive Thanksgiving on record, Democrats should focus on addressing real economic crises that are facing real Americans and real American workers every day,” Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler spoke on Thursday.
However, Jim McGovern (Massachusetts Democratic Representative) said that he was running for Congress in order to pass broad bills such as this.
“Republicans will never support this bill. Perhaps they are against expanding health care coverage. Perhaps they do not want insulin costs to be capped. They might not want education costs to be reduced. Family members get a tax deduction. Or workers given paid family and medical leave. They might not support President Biden’s ideas. He replied, “I’m not sure.” But I know this. Tonight, we have a chance to advance an historic bill that will truly change people’s lives for the better. This is why I ran for Congress.”
The uncertainty surrounding the Senate legislation was not resolved by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who indicated to reporters Wednesday that he wanted to cast his vote before the close of the calendar year.
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- Universal preschool to cover more than 6 million three- and four-year olds
- An expansion of Medicare coverage to cover hearing
- Several initiatives aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs, including insulin
- Subsidized health care for Americans with low income
- Climate change initiatives, such as electrification for the U.S. Postal Service fleet
- 4 weeks paid medical and family leave
- The child tax credit will be extended through 2022, at 300 dollars per month for children under 6 years old and 250 for those aged 6-17.
- To combat the warming effects, a Civilian Climate Corps was created
- More IRS agents will be needed to take down tax cheaters in the millions.
- Increased assistance for historically black colleges and universities
- This makes an additional 9 million kids eligible for free school lunches