The House on Thursday scheduled final passage votes on President Joe Biden’s sweeping social-safety net package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill for Friday morning after a flurry of last-minute intraparty negotiations led to compromise.
Democratic leadership had initially speculated that votes could happen Thursday, but Majority Leader Steny Hoyer instead notified that the House would reconvene Friday morning to vote on the bills. Speaker Nancy Pelosi minutes earlier announced that a deal had been reached and that the House Rules Committee would meet “shortly.”
Leadership spent most of Thursday ensuring that the bill had enough Democratic support to pass as soon as possible. They met with different groups of lawmakers repeatedly, ranging from those insistent on including provisions like immigration reform, which the Senate parliamentarian previously ruled against, to those insisting that the bill first be scored by the Congressional Budget Office.
“We’re going to pass both bills, but in order to do so we need to have votes for both bills,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during her press conference Thursday, refusing to give a set timetable for their passage.
The Joint Committee on Taxation released its score of the package Thursday, finding that at least $1.48 trillion of the bill would be paid for by its revenue offsets. Hours later, Pelosi in a Dear Colleague letter attempted to reassure members skeptical of the bill’s size that it was paid for.
“It is essential that the legislation is fully paid for and reduces the debt,” Pelosi said, adding that savings generated from reforms on prescription drug pricing and IRS enforcement — which were not included in the JCT score — were expected to raise another $650 billion.
In her letter Thursday night, Pelosi attached the White House’s preliminary estimate of budget’s cost.
If the legislation clears the House Friday, the Senate-passed infrastructure bill could land on Biden’s desk in a matter of hours, while the budget would face a more complicated path.
Included in the package were provisions establishing paid family leave and raising the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions, priorities that some Democratic senators have opposed.
Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, has repeatedly objected to SALT deductions, lamenting them as a tax cut for the rich.
“At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, the last thing we should be doing is giving more tax breaks to the very rich,” Sanders said Tuesday. “Democrats campaigned and won on an agenda that demands that the very wealthy finally pay their fair share, not one that gives them more tax breaks.”
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist who has already killed past pieces of the bill, doubled down against the inclusion of paid family leave after Democrats re-added it to the bill.
“That’s the first I’m hearing of it,” Manchin told reporters Wednesday when asked about Pelosi’s statement that said Democrats were set to resurrect the provision in the package. “That’s a challenge. Very much of a challenge, and [top Democrats] know how I feel about that.”
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