Pelosi: Vote on spending bill ‘hopefully will take place this afternoon’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said a vote on the Democrats’ social spending and climate package “hopefully will take place this afternoon.”
The timeline is ambitious. House Democrats had suggested the vote on the Build Back Better Act — the core of President Biden’s domestic policy agenda — would happen Friday, citing the need for lawmakers to review several still-outstanding cost estimates from Congress’s official scorekeeper.
But Pelosi, during her weekly press conference at the Capitol, said the House could vote on a new rule, and then final passage of the massive package, on Thursday, sending House lawmakers into the long Thanksgiving recess as scheduled.
The timeline hinges on the completion of an arcane Senate process, known as the “privilege scrub,” and the delivery of several outstanding cost-analysis reports from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which Pelosi said she hopes to have before 5 p.m.
Regarding the first, Pelosi said the Senate parliamentarian still has to review provisions from one committee and a piece from another committee. Once the House has that information, the House Rules Committee will then convene to send the final version of the bill to the floor, which will reflect the technical language changes — but “not any policy changes,” Pelosi emphasized.
“We’re awaiting the, just a few more, like, one more committee and a piece of another committee from the Senate for the scrub,” Pelosi said. “They expect by this afternoon to have the information we need from the Ways and Means Committee.”
“As soon as we get the scrub information we can proceed with our manager’s amendment to proceed to a vote on the new rules, the manager’s amendment, reflecting the scrub, not any policy changes, but just some technicalities about committee jurisdiction, etc.,” she added. “And then we will vote on the rule and then on the bill. Those votes hopefully will take place later this afternoon.”
The lower chamber is waiting to review two remaining CBO reports — the Ways and Means and Judiciary Committees — after a coalition of Democrats demanded that they review official information about the cost of the bill before holding a vote. The two outstanding reports, however, cover some of the largest provisions in the package, including prescription drugs and taxes. Moderate lawmakers are closely watching to see if the figures are significantly different from the numbers released by the White House and Democratic committees.
After House passage, the legislation will move to the Senate, which is expected to take up the legislation following the Thanksgiving break. Because the Senate is expected to make changes to the bill, the proposal will then return to the House for another, conclusive vote.
Given the ping-pong nature of the debate, the moderate holdouts, while insisting on reviewing all 13 provisional CBO estimates before voting this week, are not demanding the more comprehensive analysis that’s expected to follow. That report, which will gauge the interactions between the various provisions contained in the 13 separate sections, is more complex and therefore requires more time to put together.
“We’re not trying to get the interactive [report]. That would require quite some time and [we’d like to] cut the CBO a little bit of slack,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). “And we’re getting another bite at the apple after the Senate gets a chance to do its thing.”