WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives passed a massive social spending and climate change bill Friday morning, but as Americans deal with high inflation not seen for decades, few are convinced it will actually do anything to help them.
After months of in-fighting among House Democrats, all 2,100 pages of President Biden's huge spending bill will now be heading to the Senate.
Democratic leaders had expected to pass it Thursday but House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) filibustered for more than eight hours, delaying the vote until today. "You are spending more money than we spent to solve WWII, to win it. And you're proud of it. You're championing it," he said passionately reaching his arms up in the air.
Democrats say the Build Back Better bill will create free pre-K, increase child care assistance, cut drug costs for seniors, and slow climate change. "As we think of all of this progress, and it's very it's pretty exciting. This is historic. It is transformative. It will help us build back better with women and all those who had not previously had the full advantage," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters Thursday.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the bill adds $367 billion to the national debt over 10 years.
The Biden administration says it will make up some of that deficit by beefing up enforcement at the IRS to collect more money from tax evaders. They claim using more aggressive IRS efforts could cut the deficit down to $160 billion and could even cover the entire amount with cash from those who didn't pay enough in taxes.
It's a notion Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) rejects saying, "This idea that we're going to pay for it by going after tax cheats — based on long experience, CBO says that is not true. So if we're worried about inflation, just intuitively to me, pumping more money into this economy is going to increase the risk of stagflation."
The Committee for a Responsible Budget says the deficit numbers could go much higher. As written, the bill includes a number of sunsets and expirations to keep costs down.
If those temporary policies are made permanent, costs increase by as much as $2.5 trillion more than doubling the gross cost to $4.9 trillion.
It's a tough vote for Democrats in swing districts up for re-election in the upcoming midterms.
Leader McCarthy says Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is "burning down the House on her way out the door," referring to the number of House Democrats deciding not to seek re-election.
"Who can blame them for announcing retirement? They see the writing on the wall and they know this Democrat reconciliation bill will be the end of their majority and for many of them, the end of their congressional careers," he told reporters.
A Fox News poll asked Americans how they think the bill will affect their families. Just 27% say it will help, 31% say it will hurt, and 33% say it will make no difference at all.
The bill is likely to change significantly in the Senate where centrists like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) are already raising questions about the real cost and how it will affect already high inflation.