Politics

House Sends Biden’s Mammoth Spending Package To Senate With Provisions That Democratic Senators Oppose

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  • The House Friday morning passed its version of President Joe Biden’s spending package, sending the nearly $2 trillion bill to the Senate where it is likely to be picked apart by Democratic senators opposed to multiple provisions.
  • Included in the House bill are provisions on paid family leave, state and local tax (SALT) deductions, spending meant to mitigate the effects of climate change, and other items which have been met with resistance from Democratic senators whose votes are critical to passing the package in the 50-50 chamber.
  • The bill as written is the largest overhaul to the American social-safety net in decades, establishing or expanding programs including universal pre-K, Medicare expansions and price negotiations, the child tax credit and more.
  • “The Build Back Better Act will make transformational investments that will help more Americans access opportunities and achieve greater economic security,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said. “This is truly for the people.”

The House Friday morning passed its version of President Joe Biden’s spending package, sending the $1.7 trillion bill to the Senate where it is all but certain to be picked apart by Democratic senators opposed to multiple provisions.

Included in the House bill are provisions on paid family leave, state and local tax (SALT) deductions, spending meant to mitigate the effects of climate change, and other items which have been met with resistance from Democratic senators whose votes are critical to passing the package in the 50-50 chamber. (RELATED: Democrats Are Going All-In On The Largest Budget In History. Even With Congressional Majorities, Its Passage Is Far From Certain)

But despite the coming Senate hurdles and staunch Republican opposition — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke against the bill and Democrats’ “one-party rule” for over eight-and-a-half hours, blocking the bill from clearing the chamber Thursday night — House Democrats touted the budget as a win for families and the working class before it passed the chamber on a 220-213 vote. Maine Democratic Rep. Jared Golden was the only lawmaker to cross party lines, joining Republicans in voting no.

“The Build Back Better Act will make transformational investments that will help more Americans access opportunities and achieve greater economic security,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on the House floor Thursday to applause from his Democratic colleagues. “This bill is truly for the people. Not just those who have too much, but those who have too little.”

The bill as written is the largest overhaul to the American social-safety net in decades, establishing or expanding programs including universal preschool, Medicare expansions and price negotiations, the child tax credit and more. The House had moved toward a vote throughout the day Thursday, beginning the package in the morning and adjourning as lawmakers waited for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to score it.

The score, which moderate Democrats had insisted on before voting on the bill, came Thursday afternoon. The CBO estimated that the package would add $367 billion to the national debt over the next decade, not including $207 billion in revenue that could be generated from increased IRS enforcement. (RELATED: Republicans Agree With Democrats That Biden’s Budget Is ‘Transformational’)

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a moderate Democrat who had insisted on a CBO score before voting for the package, said she would vote in favor Thursday night. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a moderate Democrat who had insisted on a CBO score before voting for the package, said she would vote in favor Thursday night. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

While the analysis was enough to satisfy moderate Democrats, it bolstered Republican arguments that the massive bill would only worsen the national debt as America’s economic recovery already faced decades-high inflation and days after Congress authorized and Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. (RELATED: House Largest Infrastructure Bill In Decades To Biden’s Desk After 11th Hour Agreements)

“Every page of this all new Washington spending will be paid for from you, the American hard-working taxpayer,” McCarthy said in the beginning of his overnight speech, where he criticized the bill, railed against Democrats, and lamented everything from inflation to China to former President Jimmy Carter to McDonald’s dollar menu to Elon Musk.

“I want the American people to know, it will not be one-party rule in one year,” McCarthy later said, predicting that the GOP would take back the House in 2022.

When the House reconvened at 8 a.m. Friday, Pelosi spoke before the vote, urging her colleagues to pass the bill and quipped about McCarthy’s tactics. “As a courtesy to my colleagues, I will be brief,” Pelosi said.

Though House Democrats successfully passed the budget before leaving Washington for an extended Thanksgiving recess, the bill faces a rocky path through the Senate before it can arrive on Biden’s desk. Multiple Democratic senators, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have already opposed specific provisions, meaning that whatever bill emerges is all but certain to have changed from what cleared the House Friday.

Most of Sanders’ opposition has focused on the SALT provisions, which he and Republicans alike have criticized as little more than a tax cut for wealthy Americans who live in Democratic-leaning states.

“I think it’s bad politics, it’s bad policy,” Sanders told reporters Thursday regarding the SALT deductions. “Bottom line, we need to help the middle class, not the 1%.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a news conference about state and local tax deductions in early November. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a news conference about state and local tax deductions in early November. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Unlike Sanders, however, Manchin and Sinema have long objected to parts of the bill, with both of them vowing months ago to oppose its originally floated $3.5 trillion price tag. While Sinema already scrapped provisions raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans, Manchin has been outspoken against establishing paid family leave in the bill and has opposed several of the proposed climate change provisions.

“That’s a challenge. Very much of a challenge, and [top Democrats] know how I feel about that,” Manchin said earlier in November after news broke that House Democrats would include a paid family leave provision despite his opposition.

The Senate is set to take up the budget once it returns from Thanksgiving recess, coinciding with must-pass bills to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. (RELATED: Treasury Sec. Yellen: Raise The Debt Ceiling Or We Will Fall Back Into Economic Recession)

“On a bill of this magnitude, this process takes time and patience,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to Democrats Sunday. “We will update you regularly on these steps.”

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