The House of Representatives is in session and the members are wrapping up debate and some other business before intending to vote on the Build Back Better Act, the flagship piece of legislation of Joe Biden’s presidency so far.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on her feet now, promising a brief speech, to weary giggles around the chamber.
Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy spoke for a record 8.5 hours overnight. To be exact, Politico reports, he began his speech at 8.38pm on Thursday and didn’t stop until 5.10am this morning, thus missing the historic lunar eclipse.
Pelosi, in a white suit, is now going through some of the benefits of the legislation, promising to create good paying work. “Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, a four-letter word,” Pelosi just said, to weak applause. It’s clear lawmakers are exhausted, but there are also whoops and smiles throughout the Democratic side of the aisle.
The bill is designed, per the speaker, to improve social protection programs, with more support for children, free preschool education for children under the age of five and paid family leave, in ground-breaking spending. And programs to mitigate the climate crisis.
But Senate moderate Democrat Joe Manchin is against including paid leave in the legislation and if the House passes this bill shortly it faces a fresh storm when it goes back to the upper chamber. Manchin already forced the removal of the most radical climate change program from the bill.
Senate Republicans are, so far, united against it. And Democrats Manchin of West Virginia and one of Arizona’s Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema, are expected to try to reduce its top-line total of almost $2tn.
So it has a way to go. But Democrats in the House are buoyant over a bill that has been months in the making and now appears about to pass.