House Advances Build Back Better Act, Sending Social Spending Bill to Senate

The House of Representatives passed President Joe Biden's Build Back Better legislation Friday, handing the commander-in-chief and the Democratic Party a major victory going into the Thanksgiving holiday.

The passage of the social spending and climate plan represents one of Biden's greatest achievements to date during his presidency, and comes just days after he signed into law his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure agenda.

In a statement released after the bill's passage, Biden thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House members who worked to get the legislation approved.

The president also said the bill "puts us on the path to build our economy back better than before by rebuilding the backbone of America: working people and the middle class."

Moderate Dems Resist Budget Resolution
The passing of the Build Back Better Act is seen as a victory for Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In this photo, Pelosi meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington on August 6. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

The $1.75 trillion legislative motion passed mostly along partisan lines, with a number of holdouts making the final tally 220 to 213. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke against the bill for over eight hours before the final vote.

The bill was pushed through despite a number of Democrats who had stated that they would wait to see the estimation of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) before voting.

That estimation was released Thursday evening, just hours before the vote, revealing that the CBO projected the Build Back Better plan would increase the deficit by $367 billion over a decade. However, based on the CBO data, the passage of the legislation would create an increase in tax revenue of $127 billion.

While the $127 billion is not at much as Biden had originally hoped for, it still represents the bigger picture for his administration.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said after the CBO report was released that "members of Congress have a unique opportunity to put our economy on a path to increased growth ... while ensuring we do not burden future generations with unsustainable debt."

The majority of the new revenue will be coming from taxes on the extremely wealthy due to tightening IRS restrictions, something that the president has stated is long overdue.

Despite never officially proposing a "wealth tax" during his 2020 campaign, Biden made including a rate increase a key part of paying for the Build Back Better bill.

Beyond taxation changes, the largest aspects of the bill can be seen in the funding allocated to various social and climate programs.

This includes what the White House calls "the largest effort to combat climate change in American history," with funding for clean wind and solar energy projects.

Build Back Better will "target incentives to grow domestic supply chains in solar, wind, and other critical industries in communities on the frontlines of the energy transition," the White House said. "[It will] conserve our public lands, bolster community resilience, and address the changing climate, all while putting good-paying union jobs within reach for more Americans."

In total, the bill allocates $555 billion to clean energy and climate change.

In addition to these green initiatives, a variety of social programs are accounted for in the budget.

At least $400 billion has been set aside for childcare and schools, with an additional $150 billion for safe housing and another $150 billion for home-based care.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer lauded the House's passage of the bill and stated that he wants to get it passed in his own chamber before Christmas.

However, if the Senate were to make any alterations to the bill, which experts have stated is likely to happen, then it would return to the House for yet another vote.

It is possible that the Senate could strike down a number of provisions within the legislation.

This includes the potential removal of paid family leave, as some senators have argued that Build Back Better is the wrong way to achieve this initiative.

Further controversy surrounds the SALT tax provision, which will increase the amount that higher-income individuals can deduct from their taxes. Opponents have argued that these deductions only benefit the rich, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that this is not true.

In his Friday statement, Biden struck a confident note about the legislation's future.

"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," he said.

Update 11/19/21 10:40 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to include comments from Biden's statement.