House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rushing forward with a vote on President Biden’s multitrillion-dollar social welfare bill, despite budget scorers having determined that it adds $367 billion to the federal deficit.
Mrs. Pelosi plans to hold a Thursday night vote on the bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, so lawmakers can depart Washington for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“All that remains is to take up the vote – so that we can pass this legislation and achieve President Biden’s vision to Build Back Better,” said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat.
The rush towards a vote comes after the Congressional Budget Office released its in-depth economic analysis of the bill.
The nonpartisan federal agency found that the legislation would add more than $367 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years.
Philip Swagel, the CBO’s director, said that sum could shrink to $160 billion after taking into account Mr. Biden’s new tax enforcement procedures.
The analysis contradicted Mr. Biden’s frequent boast that his plan for a historic expansion of the social safety net was “fully paid for.”
“If Democrats think their social spending plan won’t add to the deficit, then I have an ocean-front property in West Virginia to sell them,” said Rep. Carol Miller, a West Virginia Republican who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Despite the CBO’s revelations, Mrs. Pelosi is confident she will secure passage of the bill.
“Build Back Better is a spectacular agenda for the future, with transformational action on health care, family care and climate that will make a significant difference in the lives of millions of Americans,” the speaker said.
Several moderate House Democrats, however, have made their support contingent upon the CBO’s analysis of the bill lining up with that of administration officials.
“We are taking into account CBO scores before we vote on any bill,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Florida Democrat. “It’s the responsible thing to get the best, nonpartisan estimate we can on the bill.”
Given Democrats have a narrow majority in the House, Mrs. Pelosi can only afford to lose three members of her conference on any particular vote.
At the moment, moderates are playing coy about how they plan to vote in light of the new data.
Even if the bill does pass the House, it likely will be dead on arrival within the Senate.
Mrs. Pelosi ensured as much by reinserting several costly provisions, including a $213 billion paid family leave program, that are opposed by moderate Senate Democrats.
Since the bill is moving via a budget reconciliation, which allows some spending measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass by a simple majority, the upper chamber has what is akin to veto power.
The House version of the bill is poised to be the largest expansion of the federal welfare state since the Great Society of the 1960s. If enacted, it will radically transform the relationship between employers and employees.
Apart from paid family leave, the bill offers four years of subsidized health insurance for low-income families in states that have yet to expand Medicaid. That’s on top of a $36 billion Medicare expansion to cover hearing services.
Outside of health care, the bill includes a one-year extension of the expanded child tax credit, which gives parents with kids under the age of 6 approximately $3,600 in direct payments annually.
The legislation also provides for six years of child care subsidies and universal pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds. To combat climate change, the package includes $320 billion in clean energy tax credits, along with $105 billion for environmental resilience programs and a Civilian Climate Corps.