The US House of Representatives approved President Joe Biden’s Plan roughly $2 trillion social safety net and climate bill, sending the legislation to the Senate for consideration.
The sweeping social spending and climate package is considered a key pillar of Mr. Biden’s agenda.
Biden’s plan: Social and Environmental
The house passed the “Build Back Better” bill by a vote of 220-213, after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy delivered a lengthy floor speech to delay the final vote.
The bill includes $555 billion in clean energy and climate investments, $400 billion in funding for child care and free pre-school, $200 billion in child tax and earned income tax credits, and $150 billion in home care for elderly and disabled Americans, Xinhua news agency reported.
The bill represents “a giant step forward”, the president said in a statement. “Above all, it puts us on the path to build our economy back better than before by rebuilding the backbone of America: working people and the middle class.”
It also includes hundreds of millions of dollars to combat climate change and a provision that would allow the government to give work permits and deportation protection to undocumented immigrants.
Republican and other critics have said the bill is wasteful in nature and will contribute to increasing taxes and the already rising inflation as well as worsen the economic hardships for the people.
An infrastructure bill to fix more than US bridges
Mr. McCarthy’s marathon speech to delay the vote touched on topics ranging from Covid-19 booster shots and China to George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware river and how baby carrots are made.
“I don’t know if it’s a farewell tour,” McCarthy said of recent trips to Europe by Pelosi, who some think may be serving her last term in Congress. “If it is, I want a T-shirt.”
People, and the government, too, would save money from new curbs on prescription drug prices, though the provisions are modest compared to tougher requirements most Democrats preferred.
There would be extended tax credits for families with children, for some low-earning workers and for people purchasing private health coverages.
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, triumphantly brought down her gavel to mark the bill’s passage to enthusiastic applause throughout the chamber from Democratic members. There were chants of, “Build Back Better! Build Back Better.”
The bill is “monumental, its historic, it’s transformative, its bigger than anything we have ever done.” Pelosi said.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Biden’s plan would increase the budget deficit by $367 billion from 2022 to 2031, according to its report released Thursday.
Leadership had initially set their sights on passing the ambitious spending plan in September, but that plan was punted through October and into November as progressive warred with moderates over spending. “We’ve [had] exhaustive debate over months here about the bill. I think it’s been vetted from A to Z.” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House ways and Means Committee.
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