Biden’s sweeping infrastructure, social spending bills finally get a vote

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives were poised on Friday to adopt the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda: a $1.75 trillion social policy and climate-change bill and a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The two pieces of legislation represent momentous action by Biden and Congress, including the biggest upgrade of America’s roads, bridges and airports in a generation and the largest expansion of social programs since the 1960s.

After weeks of bickering between moderates and progressives, lawmakers were due to begin hours of debate on the “Build Back Better” social legislation, which Democrats intend to pass through the narrowly divided House and the Senate despite vehement opposition from Republicans.

The Democratic-controlled House was also expected to enact the Senate-passed infrastructure bill and send it on to the White House for Biden’s signature.

An affirmative vote would bolster the credibility of Biden’s pledge to halve U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 during the U.N. climate conference taking place in Glasgow.

Biden, who left for Europe last week for the climate conference and a meeting of G20 leaders without a deal on the legislation, spent part of Thursday night calling various House members and urging them to approve the $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill, a White House official said.

Friday’s legislative momentum follows a disappointing loss for Democrats this week in Virginia, where a Republican won the governor’s office in a state Biden won handily in 2020.

The party is eager to show it can move forward on the president’s agenda and fend off Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections when control of the House and Senate will be on the line.

The nonpartisan U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation issued a report scoring the “Build Back Better” legislation’s tax revenue provisions at $1.48 trillion over the next decade.

But top Democrats argued that the bill was fully paid for.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal said the committee’s analysis did not account for additional revenue from provisions intended to enhance the Internal Revenue Service’s tax collection and to lower the cost of prescription drugs for the Medicare healthcare program for the elderly.

(Reporting by David Morgan, Susan Cornwell and Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone and Alison Williams)

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