Elect;House Narrowly Passes Biden’s Social Safety Net and Climate Bill

But just hours later, Democrats filed into the chamber, joking about the lack of sleep. And if Democrats feared the political consequences, it was not evident from the final tally, which reflected support among those from the most competitive districts.

The only Democrat who opposed the bill, Representative Jared Golden of Maine, did so after raising concerns this month about the inclusion of a provision that would generously increase the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes paid, from $10,000 a year to $80,000.

Understand the U.S. Debt Ceiling
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What is the debt ceiling? The debt ceiling, also called the debt limit, is a cap on the total amount of money that the federal government is authorized to borrow via U.S. Treasury bills and savings bonds to fulfill its financial obligations. Because the U.S. runs budget deficits, it must borrow huge sums of money to pay its bills.

When will the debt limit be breached? After Senate leaders agreed to a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling on Oct. 7, the Treasury estimated that the government can continue borrowing through Dec. 3. The deal sets up yet another consequential deadline for the first Friday in December.

Why does the U.S. limit its borrowing? According to the Constitution, Congress must authorize borrowing. The debt limit was instituted in the early 20th century so the Treasury did not need to ask for permission each time it needed to issue bonds to pay bills.

What would happen if the debt limit was hit? Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress that inaction on raising the debt limit could lead to a self-inflicted economic recession and a financial crisis. She also said that failing to raise the debt ceiling could affect programs that help millions of Americans, including delays to Social Security payments.

Do other countries do it this way? Denmark also has a debt limit, but it is set so high that raising it is generally not an issue. Most other countries do not. In Poland, public debt cannot exceed 60 percent of gross domestic product.

What are the alternatives to the debt ceiling? The lack of a replacement is one of the main reasons the debt ceiling has persisted. Ms. Yellen said that she would support legislation to abolish the debt limit, which she described as “destructive.” It would take an act of Congress to do away with the debt limit.

The action — after months of time-consuming maneuvering over the bill — was fueled in part by an eagerness among lawmakers to wrap up their work and leave Washington for their weeklong Thanksgiving recess. It came about eight months after Mr. Biden unveiled the first part of his domestic policy agenda, and after several near-death experiences for the package that have exposed deep divisions within his party.

The vote showed remarkable Democratic unity, given the struggle to get to it. A group of moderate and conservative holdouts, wary about the size of the bill, had held out for an official estimate before they would commit to supporting it.

But after the release on Thursday of section-by-section assessments from the Congressional Budget Office, the official fiscal scorekeeper, most were swayed. White House officials met privately with the group Thursday evening to walk them through the administration’s analysis and the budget tables, according to a person familiar with the discussion.

“While I continue to have reservations about the overall size of the legislation — and concerns about certain policy provisions that are extraneous or unwise — I believe there are too many badly needed investments in this bill not to advance it in the legislative process,” said Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida, a key centrist, in a statement announcing her vote.

For Democrats, the bill is perhaps the last significant opportunity to push through their domestic policy ambitions: an array of environmental provisions, federal support for education and child care, and the fulfillment of a longtime campaign promise to tackle the soaring cost of prescription drugs.

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