House Democrats Pass Historic Build Back Better Social Spending Bill

The House passed the Build Back Better bill on Friday. The legislation, which would significantly expand the social safety net and address climate change, includes provisions to reduce the cost of child care, create more affordable housing, and expand access to health care. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it will almost certainly undergo changes.

The $1.75 trillion legislation package, which passed 220-213, represents a large portion of President Biden’s domestic agenda. Republicans have strongly opposed the social spending bill. While Democrats had hoped to pass the bill on Thursday night, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy delayed the vote by delivering the longest speech in House history laying out his opposition to the bill. The speech lasted eight hours and 32 minutes.

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Included in Build Back Better are a number of Democratic priorities. It will benefit families by offering free, universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, representing the largest expansion of universal free education since the public high school system was established more than a century ago. It will also give families $300 per month in tax credits to help pay a child’s needs and ensure they pay no more than 7 percent of their income on child care.

The bill also invests in efforts to combat climate change with consumer rebates and tax credits for switching to clean energy and funds coastal restoration, forest management and soil conservation. It will additionally reduce prescription drug costs, close the Medicaid coverage gap, and lower health care premiums for millions of Americans by strengthening the Affordable Care Act. And it will invest in affordable housing and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for 17 million low-wage workers.

This week, the Congressional Budget Office released its projection on how the bill would affect the deficit. Although the legislation would increase the deficit by $367 billion, that total does not take into account increased revenue from stricter IRS enforcement. While the Treasury Department has estimated enforcement would bring in some $400 billion to help fund Build Back Better priorities, the CBO estimated it would increase revenue by only $127 billion. That deficit impact is similar to the impact estimated by CBO for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which recently passed Congress and was signed into law by the president on Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said this week that he hopes the Senate will pass the bill before Christmas.

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