WASHINGTON House Democrats approved their sweeping social spending and climate bill on Friday, taking a big step towards enacting the second half of President Joe Biden’s legislative program after signing the bill on infrastructure earlier this week.
The vote on the Build Back Better Act was held on an almost partisan basis, with all Republicans and one Democrat opposed. The legislation is now heading to the Senate, where changes are expected to get the 50 Democrats on board and avoid obstruction.
In remarks shortly before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Pelosi (D-Calif.) Called the Build Back Better bill “historic, transformative and more important than anything we’ve done before.” .
The $ 1.7 trillion in spending over 10 years is aimed at lowering the cost of health care, child care and other measures, including another year of monthly payments to parents, universal preschool and childcare. prescription drug reform. The bulk of the bill is devoted to tackling the growing threat of climate change, with several provisions aimed at boosting renewable energy.
Democrats swept aside a Congressional Budget Office analysis, concluding that the bill would not be fully paid by tax increases, as promised. They argued that the IRS enforcement provision of the bill would raise far more money than the analysis suggested.
Republicans focused most of their criticism on the overall cost of the bill despite deficit-funded tax cuts of more than $ 2 trillion in 2017, saying an increase in spending would make the price hike worse. which has ravaged consumer confidence in recent weeks, even against a backdrop of falling unemployment and rising wages. And they pointed out that Democrats made most of the bill’s agendas temporary as a budget gimmick.
“We don’t have billions of dollars to spend on programs that will never go away,” Minority Parliamentary Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) Said in a rambling eight-hour speech that began Thursday evening, delaying passage of the bill until early Friday. “The American people understand what this out of control spending will do, because they felt it from the very first bill you passed. You created inflation.
While Republicans indicated the CBO score was a reason to oppose the bill, moderate Democrats who opposed passage of the bill earlier this month due to a lack of tax officials joined their colleagues in voting to approve the measure.
However, some tax provisions of the bill remain unresolved despite the vote in the House. The House bill would increase a limit on federal deductions for state and local tax payments, a provision that would massively favor wealthy homeowners with high property taxes. The change was requested by a handful of Democrats in heavily taxed states like New Jersey, New York and California.
Republicans blasted the so-called SALT giveaway ahead of the vote. “That’s right, the biggest tax cuts go to multi-millionaires,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) Said.
Only one Democrat, Representative Jared Golden of Maine, voted against the bill because of the SALT provision. The congressman has not ruled out voting for him if he returns from the Senate with the changes he is seeking.
House progressives also don’t like the millionaire tax cut, but said the final version of the legislation would include a Senate version of the SALT provision that would bar households with incomes above a certain threshold from benefiting. of the deduction.
The expenditure side of the bill is not yet final either. Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), for example, has yet to pledge to vote for legislation that costs more than $ 1.5 trillion over 10 years. Manchin is worried about additional federal spending on inflation, which is on the rise and is contributing to higher prices for consumer goods.
The state coal senator is also said to be opposed to a proposed charge for methane emissions, as well as other climate measures included in the bill.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Meanwhile, says he wants to see the legislation “strengthened”. The version of the bill passed by the House extends Medicare as the senator has requested, but it does not cover the cost of new dental and vision benefits, as the Democrats originally proposed.
“The American people are overwhelmingly demanding that we extend Medicare to cover dental care, eyeglasses and hearing aids. This is what we need to do, ”Sanders said in a statement Friday.
The Senate is expected to consider the bill next month, after a week of Thanksgiving vacation. Whichever version of the bill passes – if Democrats are indeed able to unite around one – the House will have to approve it again before sending the bill to Biden’s office.
“As soon as the necessary technical and procedural work with the parliamentarian of the Senate is completed, the Senate will take up this legislation,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) said in a statement on Friday. “We will act as quickly as possible to get this bill to President Biden’s office and help middle-class families.”
The Huffington Gt