House panel advances $3.5T spending bill
The House Budget Committee has advanced the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending plan as party leaders set their sights on teeing up the package for a vote in the lower chamber this coming week, despite brewing intraparty divisions.
The Democratic-led committee passed the package in a 20-17 vote on Saturday afternoon, piecing together the chunks of legislation approved by 13 House committees earlier this month that make up the spending plan, an essential cornerstone of President Biden’s economic agenda.
Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) joined Republicans in voting against advancing the legislation, citing concerns about the pace at which his colleagues are moving to advance the spending plan. Democrats hope to pass the package using a process called reconciliation that allows them to bypass the Senate GOP filibuster.
The defection underscores the obstacles leadership faces as it tries to unite different factions of the party amid spending negotiations.
Democrats have moved quickly to craft the multitrillion-dollar spending package as a Monday deadline to vote on a separate, bipartisan infrastructure package quickly approaches.
In recent weeks, Democrats in both chambers have disagreed over planned Medicare expansions, the child tax credit, drug pricing reform and how to pay for the entire reconciliation package.
During the markup, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (Ky.) and other Democrats focused on popular party-backed items in the massive package, including its “investments in child care, health care, higher education, universal pre-K” and housing that he said “will lower costs and expand opportunities for working families.”
“And it will create millions of jobs for American workers,” he added in opening remarks. “This reconciliation package provides resources at the scale needed to finally tackle the climate crisis, strengthen our resilience, and protect our communities.”
However, Republicans bristled during the markup over the spending plan, which they panned as reckless, arguing it would hurt the country’s economy as it continues to recover amid the ongoing pandemic.
Rep. Jason Smith (Miss.), the top Republican member on the committee, blasted the spending plan at the start of the markup, stating the time the panel used to convene on Saturday would be better spent by Democrats to focus on the nation’s debt ceiling amid a looming deadline.
Unlike previous markups of the legislation held in various committees earlier this month, the panel did not hear amendments. The committee instead allotted an hour of time each to the majority and minority parties for remarks.
The package now heads to the House Rules Committee, and leadership is expected to make further changes to the measure before it’s brought to a vote in the lower chamber.
Updated 6:12 p.m.