WASHINGTON (AP) – The moody house handed President Joe Biden a landslide victory Friday in approving a nearly $ 2 trillion social and environmental bill as Democrats threw back controversy that had stalled the move for months and thwarted attempts to sell their priorities voters.
Legislators approved Law 220-213 as all but one Democrats backed it, overcoming unanimous Republican opposition. The move is now heading to the Senate, where change is inevitable, and the debate between frugal moderate Democrats and progressives pushing for bold policy changes will reignite.
For now, Democrats were happy to shake off a depressing period of year-to-year electoral setbacks, a sharp drop in Biden polls, and public discontent with inflation, supply chain disruptions and the pandemic. All of this, as well as hideous internal divisions within the party, left voters with little idea of how legislation could help them, polls showed.
“First of all, it puts us on a better path to rebuilding our economy than ever before by rebuilding America’s backbone of working people and the middle class,” Biden said in a statement.
He told reporters at the White House that he expected the law to “take some time” to get through the Senate, but stated, “I will sign it. Period.”
Legislation, one of the most expensive in recent years, is widespread. He is changing tax, health, environment, education, housing and other policies, supporting low- and middle-income families, helping the elderly, and fighting climate change.
Most of this amount will be paid by raising taxes for the highest paid incomes of the population of the country, the largest corporations and companies doing business abroad. This includes new additional taxes on people earning more than $ 10 million a year and a minimum corporate tax.
Because of its size, scope, and status as a symbol of what the Democrats stand for, each party thinks the package will help in next year’s midterm elections, when Republicans have a solid chance of seizing control of the House and Senate.
“Hey, hey, goodbye,” sang GOP MPs, taunting the Democrats during the vote. Republicans call the move a waste of money that will exacerbate budget deficits, overheat an inflation-ridden economy, and show voters that Democrats cannot stand up to growing government.
Democrats regard the 2,100-page law as overdue and a long-term boost for a huge chunk of the country.
The bill “will be the backbone of America’s health and financial security,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California. “If you are a parent, elderly person, child, worker, if you are American, this account is for you.”
Build Better, the Democrats chanted, hugging and jumping happily in the front of the room as the roll call rolled. That is the name Biden called the bill – an addition to his other domestic priority, a $ 1 trillion bipartisan package of broadband, road and other infrastructure projects that he signed this week.
In the latest dose of Congressional party anger, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republic of California, postponed his pending approval of the latest bill on Thursday, when he unleashed eight-hour, 32-minute harsh criticism against the legislature, the president, and the Democrats.
McCarthy glared at the way Democrats booed and groaned during the longest speech in House history, in which personal insults were directed at Pelosi. As a minority leader in 2018, she set the previous record by speaking eight hours and seven minutes on immigration.
“I don’t know if this is a farewell tour,” McCarthy said of recent trips to Europe for Pelosi, who some think may be serving her final term in Congress. “If so, I want a T-shirt.”
Most of the bill’s spending comes from a huge amount of new spending, although there are also hundreds of billions of tax credits to meet certain goals.
It has over $ 500 billion in clean energy projects, plus tax breaks for utilities switching to less polluting fuels and people buying electric vehicles. There’s money for child care, vocational training, housing, free preschool for ages 3 and 4, home care for seniors, and new hearing benefits for Medicare recipients.
The people and government would also save money on new caps on prescription drug prices, though these are modest provisions compared to the tougher requirements favored by most Democrats. Expanded tax credits will be provided for families with children, for some low-paid workers, and for people purchasing private health insurance.
In words that have helped garner the support of legislators in high-cost coastal states, the bill will increase federal contributions that people can collect to pay state and local taxes. The reserve, which will mostly benefit the wealthy, will be worth more than $ 220 billion over the next five years, making it one of the most expensive programs under the law.
The measure will also fund a new requirement for four weeks of paid family leave and create temporary work permits so millions of immigrants can stay in the United States for up to ten years. Both will face an uncertain fate in the Senate.
A 50-50 split in this chamber, plus solid opposition from the GOP gives each Democrat a veto. Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., who helped cut the 10-year cost of the bill from the previous $ 3.5 trillion, has opposed the family leave clause. And a Senate lawmaker enforces rules that make it difficult to incorporate policy-critical provisions such as major changes in immigration law.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will worsen projected budget deficits, already huge, by $ 160 billion over the next decade. That would be more if it weren’t for $ 207 billion in estimated additional tax levies from increased IRS audit spending on mostly wealthy people.
Both sides are selectively concerned about scarcity. Republicans pushed for tax cuts in 2017, causing the red ink to degrade by $ 1.9 trillion, while Democrats passed a COVID-19 relief bill this year at the same price.
Maine Rep. Jared Golden, one of the more conservative Democrats in Congress, was the only one from his party not to vote.
The Responsible Federal Budget Committee, a non-partisan organization that advocates budget constraints, estimates the bill would cost nearly $ 5 trillion unless Democrats make some interim provisions that are more affordable. For example, tax breaks for children are only extended by one year, although Democrats would make them permanent if they could.
AP Congress correspondent Lisa Mascaro and AP writer Farnush Amiri contributed to this report.