clearn.png
Wednesday January 19th, 2022 8:34PM

Dems' sweeping social, climate bill passes divided House

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats brushed aside months-long divisions and pushed their expansive social and environment bill through a sharply divided House on Friday, as President Joe Biden and his party moved closer to capitalizing on their control of government by funneling its resources toward their top domestic priorities.

The House approved the legislation by a near party-line 220-213 vote, sending the measure to a Senate where cost-cutting demands by moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and that chamber’s strict rules seem certain to force significant changes. That will prompt fresh disputes between party centrists and progressives that will likely take weeks to resolve.

Even so, House passage marked a watershed for a measure remarkable for the breadth and depth of the changes it would make in federal policies. Wrapped into one bill are far-reaching changes in taxation, health care, energy, climate change, family services, education and housing. That 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.

Biden hailed the vote as “another giant step forward" for the country.

He called out as he left a military hospital where he'd undergone a colonoscopy and physical: “Great physical and a great House of Representatives vote."

Democrats gathered in front of the House chamber, many arm in arm, as the final roll call ticked down. “Build Back Better," many chanted, using Biden's name for the measure. Their cheering grew louder as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveled the vote to a close.

Republicans had little to celebrate, but showed some feistiness. “Good luck in the Senate," taunted Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida.

The House vote also gave Biden a momentary taste of victory, and probably relief, during perhaps the rockiest period of his presidency. He’s been battered by falling approval in polls, reflecting voters’ concerns over inflation, gridlocked supply chains and the persistent coronavirus pandemic, leaving Democrats worried that their legislative efforts are not breaking through to voters.

“If you are a parent, a senior, a child, a worker, if you're an American, this bill's for you,” said Pelosi, underscoring Democrats' efforts to impress the public.

Maine Rep. Jared Golden was the only Democrat to vote no.

Biden this week signed a $1 trillion package of highway and other infrastructure projects, another priority that overcame months of internal Democratic battling. The president has spent recent days promoting that measure around the country.

Final approval of the bigger bill, which had been expected Thursday, was delayed when Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., delivered an eight and one-half hour broadside criticizing Biden, Democrats and the bill, the longest speech ever made in the House. When he finished his remarks near dawn, the House recessed briefly before resuming its work, dozens of members designating colleagues to cast their votes.

Standing and referring occasionally to a binder on his desk, McCarthy shouted and rasped hoarsely at times. Democrats sporadically booed and groaned as McCarthy glared back, underscoring partisan hostility only deepened by this week’s censure of Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., for threatening tweets aimed at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

McCarthy, who hopes to become speaker if Republicans capture the chamber in next year’s elections, recited problems the country has faced under Biden, including inflation, China's rise and large numbers of immigrants crossing the Southwest border. “Yeah, I want to go back,” he said in mocking reference to the “Build Back Better” name Biden uses for the legislation.

House rules do not limit how long party leaders may speak. In 2018, Pelosi, minority leader at the time, held the floor for just over eight hours demanding action on immigration. Until McCarthy's speech, hers was the House's longest ever.

Friday's vote came after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the package would worsen federal deficits by $160 billion over the coming decade. The agency also recalculated the measure’s 10-year price tag at $1.68 trillion, though that figure wasn’t directly comparable to a $1.85 trillion figure Democrats have been using.

The 2,100-page bill’s initiatives include bolstering child care assistance, creating free preschool, curbing seniors’ prescription drug costs and increasing efforts to slow climate change. Also included are tax credits to spur clean energy development, bolstered child care assistance and extended tax breaks for millions of families with children, lower-earning workers and people buying private health insurance.

Most of it would be paid for by tax increases on the wealthy, big corporations and companies doing business abroad.

The measure would provide $109 billion to create free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. There are large sums for home health care for seniors, new Medicare coverage for hearing and a new requirement for four weeks of paid family leave. The family leave program, however, was expected to be removed in the Senate, where it’s been opposed by Manchin.

There is also language to let the government issue work permits to millions of immigrants that would let them stay in the U.S. temporarily, and to save $297 billion by letting the government curb prescription drug costs. The fate of both those provisions is uncertain in the Senate, where the chamber’s nonpartisan parliamentarian enforces rules that limit provisions allowed in budget bills.

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

In a scorekeeping quirk, CBO officially estimated that the overall legislation would drive up federal deficits by $367 billion over the coming decade. Agency guidelines require it to ignore IRS savings when measuring a bill’s deficit impact, but it acknowledged that the IRS savings would ease budget shortfalls by a lower $160 billion.

Biden and other Democratic leaders have said the measure would pay for itself, largely through tax increases on the wealthy, big corporations and companies doing business abroad.

Both parties worry about deficits selectively. Republicans passed tax cuts in 2017 that worsened red ink by $1.9 trillion, while Democrats enacted a COVID-19 relief bill 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 frequent GOP attacks was a provision boosting the limit on state and local taxes that people can deduct from federal taxes, which disproportionately helps top earners from high-tax coastal states.

Moderate Democrats were reassured by CBO’s figures.

Florida Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a leading centrist, backed the measure, saying the latest numbers showed the legislation “is fiscally disciplined.”

Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote gives Democrats control of the 50-50 Senate. That leaves Democrats with zero votes to spare, giving enormous leverage to Manchin in upcoming bargaining. The altered bill would have to return to the House before going to Biden’s desk.

The nonpartisan private Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which preaches fiscal constraint, estimated that the bill’s overall cost would be nearly $5 trillion if Democrats hadn’t made some of its programs temporary. That includes tax credits for children that Democrats extended for just one year, making their price tags appear lower, even though the party would like those programs to be permanent.

___

AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro and reporter Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tensions boil in Qatar between Mercedes and Red Bull
The most dramatic Formula One title fight in at least a decade further intensified when Christian Horner and Toto Wolff traded barbs at the Qatar Grand Prix
9:47AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Dems' sweeping social, climate bill passes divided House
A sharply divided House has approved the Democrats’ sweeping social and environment bill, a big victory for President Joe Biden
9:46AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Stocks open mostly lower, but tech companies edge higher
Stocks are off to a mostly lower start on Wall Street Friday, though gains for some big technology companies are sending the Nasdaq a bit higher
9:44AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Bowing to protests, India's Modi agrees to repeal farm laws
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he would repeal the controversial agriculture laws that sparked yearlong protests from tens of thousands of farmers and posed a significant challenge to his administration
9:07AM ( 47 minutes ago )
House moves toward OK of Dems' sweeping social, climate bill
Democrats have brushed aside monthslong divisions and are approaching House passage of their expansive social and environment bill
8:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
EXPLAINER: Why did Modi repeal India farm laws after a year?
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a surprise announcement that he will withdraw agriculture laws that triggered a year of farmer protests, in what is seen as a major climbdown by his government
6:35AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Biden praises Canada, Mexico as leaders discuss strains
President Joe Biden has joined with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to revive what used to be a North American tradition before the Trump presidency
10:42PM ( 11 hours ago )
No settlement for separated migrant families amid criticism
Migrants whose children were taken from them under former President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance border policy have not reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. government
5:24PM ( 16 hours ago )
Legal pot growers frustrated by illegal operations in Oregon
A licensed cannabis grower, a vineyard owner and a sheriff were among witnesses who testified this week before a committee of the Oregon Legislature, in an effort to seek help in stemming the proliferation of illegal grow sites in southern Oregon
4:22PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Europe's central banker: Not adding to pinch with rate hike
The head of the European Central Bank is doubling down on the message that it's no time to raise interest rates
9:08AM ( 46 minutes ago )
Rare first printing of US Constitution sells for record $43M
A rare first printing of the U.S. Constitution has sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $43.2 million, a record price for a document or book sold at auction
9:07AM ( 47 minutes ago )
Rare first printing of Constitution sells for record $43M
A rare first printing of the U.S. Constitution has sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $43.2 million, a record price for a document or book sold at auction
9:03AM ( 51 minutes ago )
AP Business
Macy's, Kohl's post strong results heading into holidays
Department store chains Macy’s and Kohl’s delivered strong results for the fiscal third quarter as shoppers go back to buying dresses and other goods that fell to the bottom of the shopping list when the pandemic struck
12:55PM ( 20 hours ago )
Macy's stocks it shelves and swings to third quarter profit
Macy’s swung to a profit in the third quarter and sales surged 36% as shoppers begin to buy dresses, luggage and other goods that fell to the bottom of the shopping list last year when the pandemic struck
8:15AM ( 1 day ago )
Macy's stocks its shelves and swings to third quarter profit
Macy’s swung to a profit in the third quarter and sales surged 36% as shoppers begin to buy dresses, luggage and other goods that fell to the bottom of the shopping list last year when the pandemic struck
7:55AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Stocks open mostly lower, but tech companies edge higher
Stocks are off to a mostly lower start on Wall Street Friday, though gains for some big technology companies are sending the Nasdaq a bit higher
9:44AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Biden to have routine colonoscopy, transfer power to Harris
The White House says President Joe Biden will briefly transfer power to Vice President Kamala Harris when he undergoes a “routine colonoscopy” at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
9:31AM ( 23 minutes ago )
US expands COVID boosters to all adults, final hurdle ahead
The Food and Drug Administration has opened up COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, letting them choose another dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
9:18AM ( 36 minutes ago )
Scientists mystified, wary, as Africa avoids COVID disaster
When the coronavirus first emerged last year, health officials feared the pandemic would sweep across Africa, killing millions and destroying the continent’s fragile health systems
9:16AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Protections for western bird will get new look under Biden
The Biden administration is considering new measures to protect a bird species once found across much of the U.S. West
9:11AM ( 43 minutes ago )