House adopts Dem’s broad social and climate package – NBC Chicago
Democrats ruled out months-long divisions on Friday and pushed through their sweeping social and environmental bill in a heavily divided House, as President Joe Biden and his party moved closer to capitalizing their control of government by channeling its resources towards their main national priorities.
The House approved the legislation in a vote close to the 220-213 party line, sending the measure to a Senate where moderate Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va.’s demands for cost cuts, and the strict rules of that chamber seem certain to force significant changes. This will lead to new disputes between the centrists and the progressives of the party which will likely take weeks to resolve.
Even so, the passage through the House marked a turning point for a measure remarkable for the breadth and depth of the changes it would bring to federal policies. Far-reaching changes in taxation, health care, energy, climate change, family services, education and housing are all rolled into one bill. It shows the Democrats’ desire to achieve their goals while controlling the White House and Congress, a dominance that could end after next year’s midterm elections.
Biden hailed the vote as “another giant leap” for the country.
“Most of all, it puts us on track to rebuild our economy better than before by rebuilding the backbone of America: workers and the middle class,” he said in a statement.
Democrats gathered outside the chamber, many arm in arm, as the final appeal was in full swing. “Build better,” chanted many people, using Biden’s name for the measure. Their cheers intensified when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi closed the vote.
The Republicans didn’t have much to celebrate, but they were fiery. “Good luck in the Senate,” quipped Florida Rep. Kat Cammack.
The House vote also gave Biden a momentary taste of victory, and possibly relief, during perhaps the most difficult time of his presidency. He was beaten by a drop in approval in the polls, reflecting voters’ concerns about inflation, blocked supply chains and the lingering coronavirus pandemic, leaving Democrats worried their legislative efforts were failing. voters.
“If you are a parent, a senior, a child, a worker, if you are an American, this bill is for you,” Pelosi said, highlighting Democrats’ efforts to impress the public.
Maine Representative Jared Golden was the only Democrat to vote no.
Biden this week signed a $ 1 trillion package of highway and other infrastructure projects, another priority that overcame months of internal Democratic struggle. The president has spent the last few days promoting this measure across the country.
Final approval of the bigger bill, which was expected on Thursday, was delayed when Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Gave an eight-and-a-half-hour speech criticizing Biden, the Democrats and the project. of law, the longest speech ever given in the Loger. When he finished his remarks around dawn, the House suspended briefly before resuming its proceedings, with dozens of members nominating colleagues to vote.
Standing and occasionally referring to a filing cabinet on his desk, McCarthy would scream and moan at times in a hoarse voice. Democrats booed and whimpered sporadically as McCarthy glared back at them, underscoring the partisan hostility that was only heightened by this week’s censorship against Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, for threatening tweets targeting the representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y.
McCarthy, who hopes to become a speaker if Republicans capture the chamber in next year’s election, spoke about the problems the country has faced under Biden, including inflation, China’s rise to power and a large number immigrants crossing the southwest border. “Yeah, I want to go back,” he said, mocking the name “Build Back Better” that Biden uses for legislation.
The rules of the House do not limit the speaking time of party leaders. In 2018, then-minority leader Pelosi stood up for just over eight hours to demand action on immigration. Until McCarthy’s speech, his was the longest in the House.
Friday’s vote came after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the program would worsen federal deficits by $ 160 billion over the next decade. The agency also recalculated the price of the 10-year measure to $ 1.68 trillion, although that figure is not directly comparable to the $ 1.85 trillion figure used by Democrats.
Initiatives in the 2,100-page bill include strengthening childcare assistance, creating a free preschool, reducing the costs of prescription drugs for the elderly, and increasing efforts to slow climate change. Also included are tax credits to boost clean energy development, increased support for childcare and extended tax breaks for millions of families with children, working poor and people who shop. private health insurance.
Most of it would be paid for by tax increases on the rich, big corporations, and companies doing business abroad.
The measure would provide $ 109 billion to create a free preschool for 3 and 4 year olds. There are significant sums for home health care for the elderly, new Medicare coverage for hearing, and a new requirement for four weeks of paid family leave. The family leave program, however, was to be abolished in the Senate, where it encountered opposition from Manchin.
There is also language for the government to issue work permits to millions of immigrants that would allow them to stay in the United States temporarily, and save $ 297 billion by letting the government cut prescription drug costs. . The fate of these two provisions is uncertain in the Senate, where the non-partisan parliamentarian of the chamber applies rules that limit the provisions allowed in finance bills.
In a major but expected difference with the White House, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill added $ 80 billion to increase IRS tax enforcement would allow it to collect $ 207 billion in new revenue over the course of of the next decade. That meant net savings of $ 127 billion, well below the White House’s more optimistic estimate of $ 400 billion.
In a pointing oddity, the CBO officially estimated that comprehensive legislation would push up federal deficits by $ 367 billion over the next decade. Agency guidelines require her to ignore IRS savings when measuring a bill’s impact on the deficit, but she acknowledged that IRS savings would reduce budget deficits by 160 billions of dollars.
Biden and other Democratic leaders said the measure would pay off, in large part thanks to tax increases on the wealthy, big corporations and companies doing business overseas.
Both sides are selectively worried about deficits. Republicans passed tax cuts in 2017 that worsened red ink by $ 1.9 trillion, while Democrats enacted a COVID-19 relief bill this year with the same price tag.
Republicans have said the latest legislation will hurt the economy, give tax breaks to some wealthy taxpayers and make the government bigger and more intrusive. The GOP’s frequent attacks were a provision raising the limit on state and local taxes that people can deduct from federal taxes, which disproportionately helps high earners in high-tax coastal states.
Moderate Democrats were reassured by the CBO figures.
Florida Democratic Representative Stephanie Murphy, a leading centrist, backed the measure, saying the latest figures showed the legislation “is fiscally disciplined.”
Vice President Kamala Harris’ decisive vote gives Democrats 50-50 control of the Senate. This leaves the Democrats with no votes, which gives Manchin enormous weight in the upcoming negotiations. The amended bill is expected to come back to the House before going to Biden’s office.
The non-partisan Private Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which advocates budget restraint, estimated that the overall cost of the bill would be close to $ 5,000 billion if Democrats had not made some of its programs temporary. This includes the child tax credits that Democrats extended for just one year, making their prices seem lower, even though the party wants those programs to be permanent.
PA Congresswoman Lisa Mascaro and journalist Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.