Here is some very welcome Friday morning news! The House of Representatives has passed the Build Back Better reconciliation bill by a vote of 220 to 213, with only one Democrat, Maine's Jared Golden, voting against it. Build Back Better will fight climate change and expand America's social safety net for working families, at least once it passes the Senate, possibly with some changes. But it oughta pass. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that President Biden called Speaker Nancy Pelosi to give her a thumbs up on what's likely to be the biggest legislative achievement of her career.
.@POTUS called @SpeakerPelosi this morning to congratulate her on the passage of Build Back Better.— Jen Psaki (@Jen Psaki) 1637333997
This is, as a wise guy once said, a big fuckin' deal. Celebratory noises, please!
House Democrats celebrate as the $1.75T Build Back Better Act passes the House 220-213.pic.twitter.com/56puVYdOFf— The Recount (@The Recount) 1637333488
Little CBO, Really Lookin' Fine
Build Back Better moved one foot closer to the finish line yesterday when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its "score" of the bill. House "moderates" had promised a couple weeks back that they'd vote to pass BBB if the CBO score was roughly in line with the White House's estimate that the new spending and new taxes would balance out. The CBO's estimate determined that the bill would add $367 billion to the deficit over 10 years, but also noted that its analysis didn't include new revenue that would come in as a result of increased funding for the IRS to collect unpaid taxes — a provision the Treasury has forecast would bring in $400 billion over the next decade.
CBO's own analysis predicted the figure would be lower, at $127 billion, still about $250 billion short, but the numbers matched up closely enough for literal government work — and here let us thank House moderates for not being jerks about the difference.
Kevin McCarthy Gets Gonged
That bit of business taken care of, the House prepared last night to pass Build Back Better, but it ran into another small roadblock in the form of a very small Republican, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who used his privilege to speak for eight and a half hours of nonsense. In fact, McCarthy actually set a record for the longest floor speech in House history, making it a bit like a good old talking filibuster in the Senate, except with no hope of actually stopping the bill. Instead of a filibuster, the House has a "magic minute" available to each party leader, meaning they get a minute of time to speak in debate, but it can extend indefinitely.
So McCarthy spent his 8.5-hour "minute" rambling about how nobody wants Democrats' extremely popular social policy spending, and Democrats are mad with power, and also the real costs of the bill will be equal to the amount already budgeted to feed Dick Cheney one live kitten every 20 minutes for the rest of his life, which may be artificially extended well into the next century. It was an unstructured stream-of unconsciousness ramble that served only to delay. It certainly didn't captivate any but the most diehard C-SPAN viewers, and even most Republicans in the chamber eventually peaced out.
But at least Democrats had fun heckling McCarthy, who set a record by saying nothing memorable at all for a very long time. A few highlights, compiled as a public service by the Daily Beast, plus a few more from the Twitters.
McCarthy started off by warning, "I have all night," to which several Dems shouted back "So do we!"
When McCarthy baselessly claimed the bill would cost $5 trillion, Democrats started yelling out increasingly large numbers. "$6 trillion!" one shouted, before another topped him with "$7 trillion!"—with more Democrats joining in with even more farcical projections.
When McCarthy said, "If I sound angry, I am," Democrats chimed in with a prolonged "awww" sound, like they were watching a baby do something cute.
At another point, McCarthy reminded the House that Rep. Abigail Spanberger (R-Virginia) had recently proclaimed, "Nobody elected Joe Biden to be FDR," prompting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to shout, "I did!"
Eventually, McCarthy, apparently running out of anything to fearmonger about, was reduced to a bad excuse for observational comedy, wondering whether McDonalds still has its dollar menu, and then, somewhere around 3 a.m. explaining that there's no such thing as baby carrots, because they're "just big carrots they chop up and charge you more." We swear we are not making this up.
We'll give the win to this tweet from Rep. Jamie Raskin of California:
I must admit Kevin McCarthy has accomplished one thing. America is no longer woke.— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@Rep. Jamie Raskin) 1637294600
Also too, this morning, just before the vote, Nancy Pelosi began her own "magic minute" by saying, "As a courtesy to my colleagues, I will be brief," to applause from Democrats.
Now Shut Up And Pass It
While we've already given you people a very detailed SUPER MEGA LISTICLE of what's in Build Back Better, let's quickly hit the top selling points again, shall we? We're all going to be hearing a lot about the $1.75 trillion top-line cost of the bill (over 10 years), but let's also holler at the media to focus on what we're getting for that:
- Serious climate action, including:
- big tax credits for purchasing electric vehicles
- funding to boost clean manufacturing technology
- upgrades to the power grid to accommodate more renewable power
- environmental cleanup and help to communities hit hardest by climate change
- Improved healthcare funding, which includes
- expanding Medicare to cover hearing care and hearing aids
- expanded premium subsidies for Obamacare health plans
- closing the gap between Medicaid benefits and Obamacare for people in the dozen states that didn't expand Medicaid
- expanded funding for home and community-based care for folks with disabilities and the elderly
- Paid family and medical leave (up to four weeks)
- Two years of universal pre-kindergarten for any parents who want it
- Affordable child care, with better pay for childcare workers
- Continuation of the expanded Child Tax Credit for most families with kids. This is the one that's vastly cutting child poverty
- Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to about seven million people previously excluded because they don't have kids
- Increased funding for public housing
- Expanded education funding, including more generous Pell Grants and year-round school meal programs
- A temporary increase in the cap on the State and Local Tax deduction (this one may be eliminated or pared back in the Senate)
This is pretty darned important stuff. Now let's move this sucker to the Senate and pass it there, no more damned delays!
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