WASHINGTON – After months of negotiations, the House is poised to vote Friday on two major aspects of President Joe Biden’s agenda: a $1.2 bipartisan infrastructure deal and a multi-trillion social services package with money for free preschool, tools to fight climate change and expanded hearing benefits for seniors.
A senior Democratic aide told USA TODAY the House will vote on both pieces of legislation and that congressional leaders who have been working to get enough support for the plans are feeling confident in their passage.
Democrats in the House were negotiating late into the night Thursday on the $1.85 trillion budget bill, which the administration calls the Build Back Better plan. The bill funds several progressive priorities like universal preschool, child care subsidies, eldercare, climate investments and housing.
The Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill – which is aimed at improving the nation’s highways, broadband internet and airports – in August. If it passes the House Friday, it will be sent to Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
The infrastructure legislation has been bottlenecked by negotiations over Biden’s larger budget proposal. House progressives held up votes on the infrastructure bill twice, worried they’d lose their leverage with negotiating the larger package if moderates scored a victory first by passing the infrastructure bill.
Biden originally pitched a $3.5 trillion budget bill, but the president and progressives had to scale back the budget spending bill to appease moderate Senate Democrats Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. However, the two senators have not publicly supported the proposal the House expects to take up Friday, suggesting possible changes in the legislation should it pass the House and go to the Senate.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Friday that GOP support for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal was dwindling, and there may be just a few Republican votes in support. He says that is due to that bill being tied with Democrats’ larger $1.85 trillion spending bill of liberal policies.
Democrats are pursuing votes Friday on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the spending bill to appease progressives in the party who insisted they happen simultaneously. No Republicans are expected to support the budget bill.
McCarthy said that tactic would drive away any Republican votes for the bipartisan infrastructure legislation: “They’re bringing it up as one bill.” The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed out of the Senate in August with 19 Republican senators voting for it.
Last week, a House aide familiar with the negotiations told USA TODAY last week there were upwards of 10 Republicans that would vote for a bipartisan infrastructure vote if a vote were to happen then.
– Savannah Behrmann
President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act include subsidized child care options and a four-week family leave proposal.
The plan would provide free universal preschool would to all 3- and 4-year-olds, an expansion the Biden administration says will include more than 6 million children. That program would be funded for six years under a $400 billion line item that also includes money for expanded child care benefits.
The 12-week paid family and medical leave proposal was taken out last week as part of the negotiations to scale back the price of the original $3.5 trillion plan to $1.85 trillion.
However, after an uproar from those within Democratic caucus and advocacy groups, leadership reinstated paid family and medical leave in the legislation, though it was scaled back to four weeks.
– Savannah Behrmann
President Joe Biden on Friday urged House members to vote “right now” for his $1.85 trillion domestic spending agenda and $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan as Democratic leadership prepare to take up both bills later Friday after months of negotiations.
“I’m asking every House member, every member of the House of Representatives, to vote ‘yes’ on both these bills right now,” Biden said. “Send the infrastructure bill to my desk. Send the Build Back Better bill to the Senate.”
Biden, who made the appeal while delivering remarks on a strong new jobs report, said he planned to return to the White House to make calls to lawmakers to urge passage of his signature pieces of legislation.
For weeks, progressive House Democrats have held up passage of the infrastructure package, which cleared the Senate with bipartisan support in August, until the Senate approves Biden’s more expansive “Build Back Better” bill, which includes universal preschool, subsidized childcare, home caregiving, climate initiatives and other progressive priorities.
– Joey Garrison
The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation released its initial analysis of Democrats’ spending bill the House aims to vote on Friday, finding it would raise $1.48 trillion in revenue over a decade.
It also said President Joe Biden’s plan would be unlikely to add to the deficit long term.
But a group of Democratic House moderates want a Congressional Budget Office score to be released on the legislation before they vote on it Friday. That score would similarly analyze the effect the legislation might have on revenue.
The group includes at least Reps. Jared Golden of Maine, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, and Stephanie Murphy of Florida. Golden told reporters Friday that without a CBO score, he would vote against the bill. Gottheimer and Murphy echoed those sentiments Thursday.
A House Democratic aide familiar with the process told USA TODAY a CBO score is weeks away.
– Savannah Behrmann
Democrats have touted the climate provisions in their budget spending bill they’re pushing to pass in the House Friday. The proposal includes $320 billion to expand tax credits over the next decade for utility and residential clean energy, clean passenger and commercial vehicles, and clean energy manufacturing.
It also includes $105 billion in “resilience” programs to ward off and prepare for extreme weather events such as wildfires and hurricanes made worse by climate change. And it creates a Civilian Climate Corps designed to deploy a force of young workers to help communities address the threat of climate change.
School lunches, IRS agents and HBCUs:The under-the-radar proposals in Biden’s budget plan
Some climate aspects in Biden’s original proposal were taken out to appease some moderates, including a $150 billion program that would have required electricity suppliers that do not transition fast enough to clean energy (4% increase per year) to pay a penalty.
The vote on the legislation, which has some of the most aggressive climate initiatives in modern history, would come just days after President Joe Biden emerged from the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit in Scotland, where he touted the proposal as “the most significant investment to deal with the climate crisis that any advanced nation has made, ever.”
– Savannah Behrmann