Equilibrium & Sustainability

Democrats see Friday vote as likely for Biden bill

House Democrats are eyeing a Friday vote on the $1.75 trillion climate and social benefits package at the heart of President Biden’s domestic policy agenda.

Party leaders are racing to approve the bill and send it to the Senate before the weeklong Thanksgiving recess, which begins this weekend, and some are still floating the idea that the legislation could receive a vote as early as Thursday.

But members of the Democratic whip team, after huddling with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other party leaders in the Capitol basement Wednesday morning, emerged predicting the vote is more likely to come Friday.

“We’re being told there’s almost no way we’ll be back here [to vote on the Build Back Better Act] on Thursday,” said one of the lawmakers, relaying the message from leadership. “We’re planning for Friday.”

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, left open the possibility that the vote could still happen Thursday — depending on when a series of cost estimates emerge from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“The fulcrum is just waiting for the CBO score, which has been suggested that could be maybe tomorrow,” Neal said. “We’re on the precipice.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had said Tuesday that debate on the massive social spending and climate package would begin Wednesday.

That plan has been scrapped as Democrats move Wednesday to vote on a resolution punishing Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), through censure and removal from his committee seats, for promoting an animated video depicting himself engaging in violence against Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

“Obviously, we have to deal with that first,” said Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.).

Others said the larger factor in pushing the Build Back Better debate to Thursday was related to the debate over the CBO cost analysis. The budget office has already released the estimates related to those provisions of the package under the jurisdiction of nine separate committees, but a handful of moderates are awaiting several more reports — including those covering the crucial Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce components — before they’ll support the legislation.

The CBO had indicated earlier in the week that those final reports would be released by day’s end on Friday, but Democrats are hoping for a quicker timeline.

“They’re coming, they’re dribbling out,” said Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.). “They’re saying it’s possible tonight but more likely tomorrow.

“We’ll probably vote on it on Friday.”

Aris Folley contributed.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Build Back Better Climate change Jerry McNerney Joe Biden Juan Vargas Nancy Pelosi Paul Gosar Richard Neal Steny Hoyer

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