Nov 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

House passes Biden's social spending bill

Nancy Pelosi: Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Democrats on Friday succeeded in their months-long quest to pass a behemoth social spending bill, but the legislation still needs to be hammered out by the Senate before it can become law.

Why it matters: The $1.75 trillion bill would tackle a host of Democratic priorities on health care, education and climate change and is a centerpiece of President Biden’s economic agenda.

  • If it ultimately passes the Senate, it will be the most significant expansion of the social safety net by the government since the 1960s.
  • Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) gave a marathon floor speech that forced Democrats to move the vote from Thursday to Friday, but only temporarily delayed its passage.

What they’re saying: The bill is "monumental, it's historic, it's transformative, it's bigger than anything we've ever done," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during a press conference shortly after the vote on Friday.

  • "We had so much agreement within the bill ... And then whatever comes out in the Senate, we'll be working together with them so that we have agreement when it comes back to us."
  • "The biggest challenge was to meet the vision of President Biden," Pelosi said.

What’s next: The bill now heads to the Senate, where moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) still have outstanding concerns about the package.

  • Debate over several provisions, chief among them paid leave, is expected.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday morning did not give an indication of a timeline once the bill reaches the Senate. "We're going to keep working on this important legislation until we get... it done," he said in a speech on the Senate floor.

  • "Most of what is in there will survive, and it will be great," Pelosi said in a press conference earlier this month.

How it happened: The bill passed 220-213. The vote was largely along party lines with Maine Rep. Jared Golden as the sole Democrat to vote against the bill.

  • A small group of moderate Democrats — enough to keep the bill from passing — had demanded a score from the Congressional Budget Office before voting on the bill.
  • They brokered a deal with progressive Democrats on the eve of the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, assuring that they would vote in favor of its passage once the score is released, no later than the end of Nov. 15.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will add $160 billion to the deficit over 10 years, though the White House contends it would be fully paid for.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a quote from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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