Friday, November 19, 2021

House Democrats Pass Build Back Better (VIDEO)

Straight party line vote, just like Obamacare. Most of the bill's big spending is temporary, thus a Republican Congress will surely refuse to reauthorize the law's gargantuan social policy giveaways --- and that's if it passes the Senate, which is no sure thing. Not a single Democrat can defect. 

At USA Today, "House passes Biden’s Build Back Better bill, sending measure with free preschool, climate initiatives to the Senate."

And the New York Times, "Kevin McCarthy Speaks for More Than Eight Hours to Delay a House Vote."

More here, "House Narrowly Passes Biden’s Social Safety Net and Climate Bill":

WASHINGTON — The House on Friday narrowly passed the centerpiece of President Biden’s domestic agenda, approving $2 trillion in spending over the next decade to battle climate change, expand health care and reweave the nation’s social safety net, over the unanimous opposition of Republicans. The bill’s passage, 220 to 213, came after weeks of cajoling, arm-twisting and legislative legerdemain by Democrats. It was capped off by an exhausting, circuitous and record-breaking speech of more than eight hours by the House Republican leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, that pushed a planned Thursday vote past midnight, then delayed it to Friday morning — but did nothing to dent Democratic unity.

Groggy lawmakers reassembled at 8 a.m., three hours after Mr. McCarthy finally abandoned the floor, to begin the final series of votes to send one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in half a century to the Senate.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened the final push with what she called “a courtesy to” her colleagues: “I will be brief.” She then put the House’s actions in lofty terms.

“Under this dome, for centuries, members of Congress have stood exactly where we stand to pass legislation of extraordinary consequence in our nation’s history and for our nation’s future,” she said, adding, the act “will be the pillar of health and financial security in America.

The bill still has a long and difficult road ahead. Democratic leaders must coax it through the 50-50 Senate and navigate a tortuous budget process that is almost certain to reshape the measure and force it back to the House — if it passes at all.

But even pared back from the $3.5 trillion plan that Mr. Biden originally sought, the legislation could prove as transformative as any since the Great Society and War on Poverty in the 1960s, especially for young families and older Americans. The Congressional Budget Office published an official cost estimate on Thursday afternoon that found the package would increase the federal budget deficit by $160 billion over 10 years.

The assessment indicated that the package overall would cost slightly more than Mr. Biden’s latest proposal — $2.1 trillion rather than $1.85 trillion.

It offers universal prekindergarten, generous subsidies for child care that extend well into the middle class, expanded financial aid for college, hundreds of billions of dollars in housing support, home and community care for older Americans, a new hearing benefit for Medicare and price controls for prescription drugs.

More than half a trillion dollars would go toward shifting the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels to renewable energy and electric cars, the largest investment ever to slow the warming of the planet. The package would largely be paid for with tax increases on high earners and corporations, estimated to bring in nearly $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Savings in government spending on prescription drugs were projected to bring in another $260 billion, though a scaled-back measure to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for some medications was estimated to save only $79 billion, far less than the Democrats’ original $456 billion proposal would have.

“This bill will be transformational, and it will be measured in the deeper sense of hope that Americans will have when they see their economy working for them instead of holding them back,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the House majority leader, said Thursday during what was supposed to the closing debate.

The fact that the bill could slightly add to the federal deficit did not dissuade House Democrats from proceeding to vote for it, in part because the analysis boiled down to a dispute over a single line item: how much the I.R.S. would collect by cracking down on people and companies that dodge large tax bills.

The budget office predicted that beefing up the I.R.S. with an additional $80 billion of funding would bring in just $127 billion over 10 years on net. That is far less than the $400 billion the White House estimates it would bring in over a decade, both through enforcement actions and by essentially scaring tax cheats into paying what they owe.

The legislation is moving through Congress under special rules known as reconciliation that shield it from a filibuster, allowing Democrats to push it through over unified Republican opposition in the Senate...