The vote was months in the making for the roughly $2 trillion measure, one of the most consequential bills in decades. Now it faces a difficult path in the Senate.

House Narrowly Passes Biden’s Social Safety Net and Climate Bill
The vote was months in the making for the roughly $2 trillion measure, one of the most consequential bills in decades. Now it faces a difficult path in the Senate.

The House narrowly passed the centerpiece of President Biden’s domestic agenda on Friday, approving $2.2 trillion in spending over the next decade to battle climate change, expand health care and reweave the nation’s social safety net, over the unanimous opposition of Republicans.

The bill’s passage, 220 to 213, came after weeks of cajoling, arm-twisting and legislative legerdemain by Democrats. It was capped off by an exhausting, circuitous and record-breaking speech of more than eight hours by the House Republican leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, that pushed a planned Thursday vote past midnight, then delayed it to Friday morning — but did nothing to dent Democratic unity.

Groggy lawmakers reassembled at 8 a.m., three hours after Mr. McCarthy finally abandoned the floor, to begin the final series of votes to send one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in half a century to the Senate.


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“Under this dome, for centuries, members of Congress have stood exactly where we stand to pass legislation of extraordinary consequence in our nation’s history and for our nation’s future,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, adding that the act “will be the pillar of health and financial security in America.”

The legislation still faces hurdles in the Senate, where it’s unclear whether moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will agree to some of the provisions included by the House. In short, the debate over President Biden’s signature plan to expand the social safety net isn’t over yet.

“The Build Back Better Act is fiscally responsible,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “It reduces the deficit over the long-term. It’s fully paid for by making sure that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share in federal taxes. It keeps my commitment that no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes. Leading economists and independent experts on Wall Street have confirmed that it will not add to inflationary pressures. Instead, it will boost the capacity of our economy and reduce costs for millions of families.”

Pelosi also celebrated the bill’s passage in the House.

“This bill is monumental. It is historic,” she told CBS News. “It is transformative. It is bigger than anything we have ever done.”

McCarthy wrapped up his remarks at 5:10 a.m. Friday, eight hours and thirty-two minutes after he began, eclipsing the eight-hour-seven-minute mark set by Nancy Pelosi in a 2018 speech about the “DACA” program for immigrants. Only a handful of representatives were still in the chamber. The House adjourned a minute later and was to reconvene at 8 a.m. Friday.

Shortly after midnight, House Democratic leaders told members to go home and return Friday morning ror a vote on the bill.

McCarthy’s high-energy speech, featuring a wide variety of attacks on Democrats and Pelosi, the House speaker, capped off a busy evening on Capitol Hill.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its cost estimate for the bill Thursday. Several moderate Democrats had said they wanted to wait for that score before they voted.

At least two of the moderates who were holding out for the CBO score said Thursday night that they would vote for the bill and another moderate, Congressman Henry Cuellar, of Texas, also indicated he would.

But Democrats’ margin on the measure remained razor-thin. Representative Jared Golden, of Maine, was still expressing reservations and, with the Democrats’ slim majority, they could only afford to lose three votes, since no Republicans were expected to support the bill.

The CBO said it would increase the deficit by more than $367 billion over 10 years. But the estimate did not include the revenue that could be generated from increasing IRS enforcement, which the CBO suggested would be $207 billion.

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