(WASHINGTON) – Democrats have sidelined monthly divisions and approached the House’s approval of its expansive social and environmental bill on Friday as President Joe Biden and his party approached a definite victory in their effort to use their government control to channel its resources to their . domestic priorities.
A final passage, which was expected Thursday, was delayed because Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Caliph, held it by an hours-long width criticizing Biden, Democrats and the bill. Most Democrats left the room after midnight with McCarthy still speaking, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Told reporters that leaders were scheduled for a move later Friday.
House approval was still expected during an almost party-line vote. That would send the measure to Senate where cost-cutting demands by moderate Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and the strict rules of that chamber seemed sure to force significant changes. This will spark new disputes between party centrists and moderates, which are likely to take weeks to resolve.
Even so, a House passage would mark a watershed for a measure remarkable for the scope and depth of the changes it would make in federal policies. Wrapped up in one bill were comprehensive changes in taxation, health care, energy, climate change, family services, education and housing. That underscored Democrats’ desire to achieve their goals while controlling the White House and Congress – a government that could well end after next year’s midterm elections.
“Too many Americans are barely succeeding in our economy,” Hoyer said. “And we just can’t go back to the way things were before the pandemic.”
House pass would also give Biden a momentary taste of victory, and probably relief, during perhaps the most rocky period of his presidency. He was hit by declining approval numbers in polls, reflecting voters ’concerns about inflation, blocked supply chains and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, leaving Democrats worried that their legislative efforts are not going through voters.
Biden this week signed a $ 1 trillion package of highway and other infrastructure projects, another priority that won months of internal Democratic fighting. The president has spent the last few days promoting that measure across the country.
McCarthy spent more than five hours on his feet, sometimes screaming or hoarsely. Democrats sporadically whistled and groaned as McCarthy looked back, underscoring party hostility only deepened by this week’s censorship of Deputy Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., For threatening tweets aimed at Deputy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y.
McCarthy, who hopes to become a speaker if Republicans seize the chamber in next year’s election, recited issues the country faced under Biden, including inflation, rising China and a large number of immigrants crossing the southwestern border. “Yes, I want to go back,” he said mockingly referring to the name “Rebuild Better” that Biden uses for the legislation.
House rules do not limit how long party leaders can speak. In 2018, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Caliph, at the time a minority leader, held the speech for more than eight hours demanding action on immigration.
The House is nearing a final vote after the impartial Congressional Budget Office said the package would worsen federal deficits by $ 160 billion over the next decade. The agency also recalculated the 10-year price of the measure at $ 1.680 billion, although that figure was not directly comparable to a $ 1.85 trillion figure Democrats used.
The initiatives of the 2,100-page bill include strengthening childcare assistance, creating free preschool, curbing the costs of seniors ’prescriptions, and stepping up efforts to slow climate change. Also included are tax rebates to stimulate clean energy development, enhanced childcare assistance and extended tax rebates for millions of families with children, lower-income workers and people buying private health insurance.
Most of it would be paid for by tax increases on the wealthy, large 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 large 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 departure program, however, was expected to be scrapped in the Senate, where it was opposed by Manchin.
There’s also a language that lets the government give work permits to millions of immigrants that would let them stay in the U.S. temporarily, and $ 297 billion in savings from letting the government curb the costs of prescription drugs. The fate of both of these provisions is uncertain in the Senate, where the chamber’s impartial MP enforces rules that limit provisions allowed in budget bills.
In one major but expected difference with the White House, CBO estimated that the bill added $ 80 billion to strengthen IRS tax enforcement would allow it to collect $ 207 billion in new revenue over the next decade. That meant net savings of $ 127 billion, well below the White House’s more optimistic estimate of $ 400 billion.
In a score-keeping oddity, CBO has officially estimated that the general legislation will increase federal deficits by $ 367 billion over the next decade. But the agency’s guidelines require it to ignore IRS savings when measuring a deficit-impact bill, and it acknowledged that the real impact of the measure would worsen deficiencies by $ 160 billion when calculating additional revenue the IRS would collect. .
Biden and other Democratic leaders said the measure would pay for itself, largely through tax increases to the wealthy, large corporations and companies doing business abroad.
Both parties are concerned about deficits selectively. Republicans passed tax cuts in 2017 that worsened red ink by $ 1.9 trillion, while Democrats implemented a relief bill on COVID-19 this year with that same price tag.
Republicans said the latest legislation would damage the economy, give tax breaks to some wealthy taxpayers and make government bigger and more intrusive. Drawing on frequent GOP attacks was a provision tightening the limit of state and local taxes that people can deduct from federal taxes, which disproportionately helps better wages of high-tax coastal states.
After months of negotiations, Democrats seemed eager to wrap it up and start selling the package home. They said they are planning 1,000 events across the country before the end of the year to present the benefits of the measure to voters.
Facing a uniform Republican opposition, Democrats were able to lose no more than three votes to prevail in the House, but moderates seemed reassured by the CBO figures. Some said IRS savings projections are always uncertain, others said the bill doesn’t have to pay for it about half a trillion dollars to encourage a cleaner energy need because global warming is an existential crisis.
Florida Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a senior centrist, said she will support the measure after the latest numbers showed the legislation “is fiscally disciplined” and “has a lot of positive elements.”
Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote gives Democrats control of the 50-50 Senate. That leaves Democrats with zero votes to spare, giving Manchin enormous leverage in an upcoming bargain. The changed bill should return to the House before going to Biden’s desk.
The impartial Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which preaches fiscal restraint, estimated that the total cost of the bill would be nearly $ 5 trillion if Democrats did not provisional some of its programs. For example, tax rebates for children and low-income workers are extended for just one year, making their price tags look lower, although the party would like those programs to be permanent.
AP Congress correspondent Lisa Mascaro and reporter Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.