Democrats’ sweeping social climate bill passes in divided House

Democrats’ sweeping social climate bill passes in divided House

Washington – Democrats shrugged off months-long divisions and pushed their broad social and environmental bill through a sharply divided House on Friday, as President Joe Biden and his party came close to capitalizing on their control of the government by directing its resources toward their top domestic priorities.

The House approved the legislation by a quasi-partisan vote of 220-213, sending the measure to the Senate as cost-cutting demands by moderate Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va, and the strict rules of that chamber seem sure to force significant changes. This will create new rifts between centrists and progressives in the party that will likely take weeks to resolve.

However, the House pass marked a turning point in an action notable for the breadth and depth of the changes he would make in federal policies. One bill wraps up far-reaching changes to taxes, health care, energy, climate change, family services, education and housing. 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.


The House vote also gave Biden a temporary taste of victory, and perhaps relief, during perhaps the toughest of his presidency. It has been battered by low approval numbers in the polls, reflecting voter concerns about inflation, crowded supply chains and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which have left Democrats concerned that their legislative efforts are not being affected by voters.

“If you’re a parent, or an elder, or a child, or a worker, and if you’re an American, this is the law for you,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, emphasizing Democrats’ efforts to impress the public.

Biden this week signed a trillion-dollar package for highways and other infrastructure projects, another priority that has weathered months of Democrats’ internal fighting. The president has spent recent days promoting the measure across the country.

Final approval of the larger bill, which had been expected on Thursday, was postponed when minority leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, delivered an eight-and-a-half hour attack criticizing Biden, Democrats and the bill, the longest speech ever given in the United States. a house. When he finished his remarks near dawn, the council rested briefly before resuming its work, and dozens of members appointed their colleagues to cast their votes.


McCarthy would stand and occasionally point to a cover on his desk, yelling and shaking at times hoarsely. Democrats booed and groaned intermittently as McCarthy turned back, emphasizing that partisan animosity only deepened after this week’s reprimanding of Representative Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., for threatening tweets targeting Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DNY.

McCarthy, who hopes to become Speaker of the House if Republicans take control of the House in next year’s elections, has eased the problems the country faced under Biden, including inflation, the rise of China and large numbers of immigrants crossing the southwestern border. “Yes, I want to go back,” he said sarcastically, referring to the name “Building Back Better” Biden uses in the legislation.


House rules do not limit how long party leaders may speak. In 2018, Pelosi, the minority leader at the time, held the floor for just over eight hours to demand action on immigration. Until McCarthy’s speech, it was her longest speech ever in the House of Representatives.

Friday’s vote came after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the package would worsen the federal deficit by $160 billion over the next decade. The agency also recalculated the 10-year price of the measure at $1.68 trillion, although that figure is not directly comparable to the $1.85 trillion used by Democrats.

Initiatives for the 2,100-page bill include promoting childcare assistance, establishing free preschool, reducing prescription drug costs for seniors, and increasing efforts to slow climate change. Tax credits to spur clean energy development, enhanced childcare support and extended tax breaks for millions of families with children, low-income workers and people who buy private health insurance are also included.


Most of it will be paid for by tax increases for large, wealthy corporations and companies doing business abroad.

The measure would save $109 billion to create free daycare for 3- to 4-year-olds. There are large sums of money for home health care for seniors, new Medicare coverage for hearing aids and a new requirement for four weeks of paid family leave. However, the removal of the family leave program was expected in the Senate, as Manchin opposed it.

There is also language that allows the government to issue work permits to millions of immigrants that allow them to remain in the United States temporarily, saving $297 billion by allowing the government to reduce prescription drug costs. And the fate of those two items is uncertain in the Senate, where the nonpartisan MP is enforcing rules limiting provisions allowed in budget bills.

In one major but anticipated difference with the White House, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill added $80 billion to increase IRS tax enforcement that would allow it to collect $207 billion in new revenue over the next decade. That means $127 billion in net savings, well below the White House’s most optimistic estimate of $400 billion.


In an oddity of scoring, the CBO has officially estimated that the general legislation would increase the federal deficit by $367 billion over the next decade. The agency’s guidance requires it to disregard IRS savings when measuring the impact of the billing deficit, but it acknowledged that when IRS savings were included, the measure would increase the budget shortfall by $160 billion less.

Biden and other Democratic leaders have said the measure will pay for it, in large part through tax increases on the wealthy, large corporations and companies doing business abroad.

Both parties worry about selective deficits. Republicans passed tax cuts in 2017 that worsened red ink by $1.9 trillion, while Democrats passed a coronavirus relief bill this year at the same price.

Republicans said the latest legislation would hurt the economy, give tax breaks to some wealthy taxpayers, and make the government bigger and more intrusive. Drawing repeated GOP attacks was a condition that promoted limiting state and local taxes that people could deduct from federal taxes, which disproportionately help high-income earners from high-tax coastal states.


After months of talks, Democrats were eager to begin selling the package back home. Lawmakers said they plan 1,000 events across the country by the end of the year to deliver the benefits of the measure to voters.

In the face of opposition from a united republic, the Democrats could not have lost more than three votes to win the House, but the moderates seemed reassured by the CBO figures.

Florida Representative Stephanie Murphy, a prominent mediator, said she would support the measure after recent numbers showed the legislation was “financially disciplined” and “contains a lot of positive elements.”

The cut-off vote for Vice President Kamala Harris gives Democrats control of the Senate from 50 to 50. This leaves Democrats with no votes to spare, giving Manchin enormous leverage in the upcoming bargaining. The amended bill must return to the House of Representatives before going to Biden’s office.

The nonpartisan Special Committee on Responsible Federal Budget, which heralds fiscal constraints, estimated that the total cost of the bill would be about $5 trillion if Democrats had not made some of its programs temporary. For example, tax breaks for children and low-income workers are only extended for one year, making their prices appear lower, even though the party would like these programs to be permanent.



Associated Press congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro and reporter Fernoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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