The House passes ‘monumental’ social safety net bill

Anthony Quintano/MGN

“This bill is monumental. It’s historic. It’s transformational. It’s bigger than anything we’ve ever done,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said about the House’s passage of the Build Back Better bill early Friday morning.

Despite House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s eight-hour-plus rant—which topped Speaker Pelosi’s in 2018—the Democrats passed along party lines President Biden’s social safety bill in the House. The bill’s passage keeps up the momentum from last week’s passage of Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The Democrats celebrated the hard-fought victory on the House floor, on the Capitol steps, and on social media. “Proud to cast my vote for Build Back Better in the House this morning,” tweeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). “Now we need the Senate to get this done. Tens of millions of working people are counting on you, senators. Don’t let them down.”

The BBB bill expands Medicare to include the coverage of hearing benefits and extends Medicaid coverage for an estimated four million individuals. It also lowers prescription drug costs, capping insulin costs to $35 per month, and reduces premiums in the Affordable Care Act.

The bill also includes: $150 billion for affordable in-home care for seniors and people with disabilities; $40 billion to expand Pell grants; $400 billion for free, universal pre-K; $200 billion for four weeks of paid leave; $150 billion for affordable housing; $200 billion for the child tax credit; and $555 billion for green energy and climate change initiatives.  

The wide-ranging bill also offers local media and newspapers tax credits for local print, online, and broadcast news outlets to employ journalists. As reported by NNPA Newswire, “The measure provides a credit of up to $25,000 to offset employment taxes during the first year for each employee. It provides an additional $15,000 per employee for the next four years.”

Though the White House has said the BBB bill will pay for itself, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the bill will increase the deficit by $160 billion over the next 10 years. The White House has countered the CBO’s findings by pointing out that the CBO score undervalues the bill’s savings by not taking into account the IRS’ increased collection and enforcement of taxes that would help decrease the budget.

Next, the Senate will have to pass the bill before President Biden can sign it into law. If the Senate makes any amendments to the text, the bill will have to be sent back to the House for reconsideration.

“For the second time in just two weeks, the House of Representatives has moved on critical and consequential pieces of my legislative agenda,” President Biden said. “Now, the Build Back Better Act goes to the United States Senate, where I look forward to it passing as soon as possible so I can sign it into law.”