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Washington, DC — The House Budget Committee voted Saturday to pass the $3.5 trillion spending bill out of committee and send it to the House floor.
Rep. Scott Peters of California joined Republicans in voting against the bill, which passed 20-17. It was a necessary step before the bill passed to the full House for amendment.
Democrat leaders have struggled to pass President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, which includes numerous fiscal reforms to support education, health care, and childcare, address the climate crisis, and invest in infrastructure.
Several provisions of the bill, including those addressing drug prices and climate change, have been criticized by moderates who contend they go too far, whereas progressives argue that they already have enough compromises made. There is a unified opposition among Republicans. As a result of Saturday’s meeting, the House Budget committee could not amend what the other committees had already voted on.
In a statement Saturday, Nancy Pelosi reiterated her desire to bring both the massive economic package as well as a separate, bipartisan, roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill — which includes funding for roads and bridges, money for transit and rail, a broadband upgrade and an upgrade for airports, ports and waterways — to the House floor next week.
Progressives have said they won’t vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill without a broader economic package, which will still not be finalized until Monday.
As mentioned by Pelosi, Steny Hoyer said in a statement on Saturday that the House will vote on the package next week — even though members are deeply divided on its scope and disagree with the Democrats over the price tag.
“I intend to bring the Build Back Better Act to the Floor next week, as we move forward into help Americans build back better and stronger from this pandemic,” Hoyer said.
Although the White House and Democratic congressional leaders agreed on a framework for a “menu of options” to fund the bills earlier this week, Biden acknowledged Friday that negotiations on Capitol Hill had reached a “stalemate” as the sharp disagreements between moderate and progressive members of his party threaten to derail his plans.
According to the President, a deal with Democrats is a virtual certainty, and he plans to sign the $3.5 trillion infrastructure package and the bipartisan social safety net bill into law.
“Now we’re at this stalemate at the moment and we’re going to have to get these two pieces of legislation passed. Both need to be passed,” Biden told reporters Friday.
Democrats are scrambling to strike a deal while facing a series of deadlines this fall. Congress must also pass legislation by September 30 to fund the federal government and by mid-October to raise the debt ceiling in order to pay the country’s bills.
Senate Democrats want to pass a bill next week addressing both of those issues on a bipartisan basis. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has told them that if they want to pass new legislation costing trillions of dollars, they should raise the debt ceiling on their own.
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