Despite an official warning that it could add more than $350 billion to the nation’s deficit, House Democrats narrowly passed President Biden’s nearly $2 trillion social spending bill Friday over unified Republican opposition.
The 220-213 vote followed months of negotiations within the Democratic Party that cut the cost of Biden’s mammoth “Build Back Better Act” in half and multiple delays to win support from both the moderate and progressive wings of his party.
Democratic lawmakers cheered and chanted “Build Back Better!” in the chamber after the bill reached the 218-vote threshold needed for passage.
Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) summed up GOPers’ feelings by referring to the bill as “Build Back Broke” and telling Democrats, “Good luck in the Senate” while announcing the vote of one of her Republican colleagues as a proxy. Cammack’s remark was met with cheers from GOP lawmakers and boos from the other side of the aisle, with one Democrat shouting “You’re an embarrassment!” across the chamber.
White House deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates celebrated the House vote by tweeting “Let’s go BBBrandon!!!” in an attempt to repurpose the phrase that has been used by many Republicans as a stand-in for a more profane anti-Biden slogan.
Bates’ post was mocked by those on the right.
“Official Biden White House statement from Andrew Bates: ‘F Joe Biden,'” tweeted Steve Guest, special communications adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz. “I know the dysfunction in the admin is bad, and I know Biden’s approval rating is cratering, but this is next level.”
The cost of the bill has been the subject of furious debate. The Congressional Budget Office put the measure’s 10-year price tag at $1.68 trillion, while Democrats have cited a figure of $1.85 trillion.
However, independent analyses have pegged the true cost of the measure at close to $5 trillion if temporary programs and tax credits are extended through 2031.
Hours before the vote, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) delayed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) plans to bring the bill to the floor Thursday evening by using his “magic minute” to conduct a record-breaking, 8-hour-33-minute floor speech blasting the measure in addition to other progressive policies.
Only Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) broke ranks to side with the GOP in the closely divided House, where Pelosi could afford just three Democratic defections and still get the bill passed.
Biden’s signature spending plan faces an uncertain future in the evenly split Senate, where two moderate Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have repeatedly objected to various provisions and demanded that it not add to the country’s crushing debt burden.
During McCarthy’s marathon floor speech, he called the proposal “the single most reckless and irresponsible spending in the history of this country.”
“Never in American history has so much been spent at one time. Never in American history will so many taxes be raised, and so much borrowing be needed to pay for all this reckless spending,” the GOP leader said.
Following Friday’s vote, Pelosi took a swipe at McCarthy, saying she “didn’t even pay attention to the speech.”
“I don’t even listen to most of the speeches on the other side because they’re not fraught with meaning or effect,” she told reporters. “So I don’t … get bothered with that.”
CBO Says the Bill Will Be Costly
Biden has repeatedly claimed that his plan would be fully paid for by tax hikes on high earners and large corporations.
But shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said its analysis — which some moderates demanded to see before casting their votes — showed that Biden’s plan would add $367 billion to the budget deficit over 10 years.