Vote on Social Policy Bill Delayed as McCarthy Continues to Speak

WASHINGTON – House Democrats have postponed plans to pass their $ 1.85 trillion social policy and climate change bill until Friday morni...


WASHINGTON – House Democrats have postponed plans to pass their $ 1.85 trillion social policy and climate change bill until Friday morning, as the top House Republican held the speech with a record speech against President Biden and his program.

Party leaders remained convinced they had the votes to pass the legislation, after a final cost estimate seemed to appease centrist refractors, and as a week of Thanksgiving recess loomed. But shortly after midnight Friday, with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, showing no sign of relinquishing control of the House floor, Democratic leaders sent lawmakers home, intending to return. at 8 a.m. to end the debate and vote on the sprawling package.

“I don’t know if they think because they’re gone I’m going to stop,” vowed McCarthy, as Republicans sitting behind him applauded. “I’m not.”

Giving the floor shortly after 5 a.m., he spoke for eight hours and 32 minutes. It was the the longest continuous House speech in modern history, surpassing that of Representative Nancy Pelosi from California in 2018.

Now President, Ms. Pelosi had professed optimism that the House could pass the package on Thursday, a prospect that seemed likely until Mr. McCarthy took the mic at 8:38 p.m. – after months of painful negotiations within the party, and only one from their party, Representative Jared Golden of Maine, has publicly said he will oppose it.

But Mr McCarthy successfully extended a debate that was to last 20 minutes, delivering a dilatory, at times rambling speech, stuffed with Republican talking points against legislation and a Democrat-controlled Washington punctuated by riffs on history and taunts against the majority party.

For Mr McCarthy, he seemed destined to build a Republican base keen to regain control of the House in 2022 and assert himself as a leader shaping his party’s message, going through issues such as inflation and gas prices, border security, the chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and what he called an out of control Democratic majority.

“I know some of you are mad at me, think I have spoken too long,” he said, goading Democrats. “But I’ve had enough. America has had enough.

While the House has no equivalent to filibustering the Senate, Mr. McCarthy has used the so-called “magic minute” – a custom that allows House leaders to speak for as long as they want. wish during the indoor debate. Mrs. Pelosi famous used tactic when she was Minority Leader in 2018, speaking for just over eight hours about undocumented youth known as Dreamers.

It was reminiscent of former Rep. John A. Boehner’s famous speech in opposition to the Affordable Care Act in 2010, where he denounced the bill with a fiery “Hell no! »And rallied his reluctant minority behind his leadership. But while Mr Boehner’s speech lasted a few minutes, Mr McCarthy passed what his office said was his previous longest speech in the House of 20 minutes and 17 seconds. Sometimes his voice grew hoarse as he wavered between indignant condemnation and conversational reverie.

He laid out grievances beyond the sprawling climate, tax provisions and spending contained in the package, walked through a series of personal anecdotes, and spoke out against changes to House rules that allow voting by proxy, as increasingly frustrated and angry Democrats hooted and heckled him behind the back. from the room.

“It is a feat of epic proportions to speak for four hours straight and not produce a single memorable sentence, an original glimpse or even a joke,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, wrote on Twitter. “McCarthy thinks he’s got wit, but so far he’s proven he’s only half right.”

While Mr McCarthy denied them a triumphant vote on Thursday, Democratic aides noted that an early morning vote could guarantee a full day of media coverage. Instead, Ms. Pelosi’s office circulated press releases stating “McCarthy needs a reality check” and asking, “Is Kevin McCarthy okay?” “

Ms Pelosi is expected to deliver her own speech ahead of House votes on Friday.

“It’s pretty exciting. It’s historic; it’s transformative, ”Pelosi said Thursday morning. In a letter to caucus, she described the legislation as “a spectacular program for the future.”

While all but three Democrats remain united, Republicans are powerless to stop the House from passing the plan, which they have long refused to support because of its scope and breadth. Because the bill is being considered under special rules known as reconciliation that protect it from obstruction in the Senate, Democrats have bypassed the Republicans’ input and instead relied on their razor thin majorities. in both rooms to work out the package.

The Congress Budget Office published an official cost estimate Thursday afternoon which found that the package would increase the federal budget deficit by $ 160 billion over 10 years. The package would be largely funded by tax increases on top incomes and businesses, estimated at nearly $ 1.5 trillion over 10 years.

A group of moderate and conservative dissenters have repeatedly delayed a vote on the package, citing concerns about its cost and insisting on an official estimate before committing to backing it. But the Thursday outing section by section Congressional Budget Office evaluations, the official tax scorer, seemed to influence the most.

Democrats, who stuffed the bill with long-standing priorities and desired political changes, took turns highlighting the bill’s range of environmental provisions, an expansion of health care and support for the education and child care. Ms Pelosi spoke about areas of agreement Democrats have reached in the House and Senate: universal preschool, generous help with childcare costs, price controls on prescription drugs, and home health care for children. Older Americans.

If the bill passes the House, it will hit a tough road in the Senate, where Republicans will have a clear chance to come up with politically difficult amendments, each of which could unravel the delicate Democratic coalition behind it. Two centrist Democrats, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, have not pledged to support him, and a single defection would lower the measure in the equally divided chamber.

Some important provisions remain in force, including a measure to grant work permits and legal protection to large numbers of undocumented immigrants; funding for four weeks of paid family and medical leave; and a generous increase in the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes paid, from $ 10,000 per year to $ 80,000.

Liberals like Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent who is the chairman of the budget committee, have raised strong objections to the tax measure, which would amount to a significant tax cut for wealthy homeowners who itemize their deductions . Mr. Sanders and other senators are discussing limiting who can benefit from the increased deduction based on income.

After capping the deduction in their 2017 tax law, Republicans also highlighted the provision in their attacks on the legislation, including in Mr McCarthy’s speech. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, scoffed: “I’m almost impressed our colleagues have found a way to be so disconnected.

But Democrats in heavily taxed states like New Jersey and New York have demanded this provision as the price of their vote.

Ms Pelosi, who has declared herself a supporter of the tax provision, defended it on Thursday, saying it was “not about tax cuts for the rich” but about ensuring that state and local governments have the tax revenues they need to provide education, fire and rescue services.

Immigration may prove to be an even more dangerous flashpoint, given the politics around the issue since the rise of President Donald Trump. Democrats have had to reduce their ambitions, shifting from a pathway to citizenship to temporary protection against deportation for millions of migrants who are long-time citizens of the United States, as well as a provision allowing to recover green cards that have not been used in recent years.

The provision could eventually fall completely due to the reconciliation rules, although the parliamentarian has not yet weighed on the last plan.

Representative Veronica Escobar, Democrat from Texas, admitted Thursday that a path to citizenship is most likely lost for now, and she pleaded with her colleagues to end Republican attacks on what remains.

“We have to cross the goal line, we have to do it,” she said, promising, “I’m going to take it and run with it, and not stop until we have everything we need. need for these precious souls. “

Ms Pelosi has said on several occasions that she is not concerned that the bill will be introduced in the Senate or be substantially amended.

“The Senate will act as it pleases, but regardless, it will always be transformative and historic,” she said.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader who will have to take up the torch if the measure wipes out the House, on Thursday promised to complete the task.

“Creating jobs, cutting costs, fighting inflation, keeping more money in people’s pockets – these are things Americans want and need Americans and that’s what Build Back Better is doing. “, he declared in the Senate. “We will continue to work on this important legislation until we have done so.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reports.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Vote on Social Policy Bill Delayed as McCarthy Continues to Speak
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