House passes Biden's massive spending bill

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 2:29 PM ET, Fri November 19, 2021
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2:22 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

The spending bill now faces an uncertain path in the Senate

From CNN's Clare Foran, Manu Raju and Morgan Rimmer

The moon, with a partial lunar eclipse, is seen behind the dome of the Capitol in Washington, DC, early on November 19.
The moon, with a partial lunar eclipse, is seen behind the dome of the Capitol in Washington, DC, early on November 19. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

The House today passed President Biden's sweeping $1.9 trillion spending bill, known as the Build Back Better Act – a major piece of legislation that would transform the nation's social safety net, despite being whittled down to roughly half its original size amid infighting between the party's moderate and progressive wings.

Now the bill must be taken up by the Senate, an effort that will put party unity to the ultimate test.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement after the House passed the bill that the Senate “will act as quickly as possible to get this bill to President Biden’s desk and deliver help for middle-class families.”

Schumer said they’ll take it up, “As soon as the necessary technical and procedural work with the Senate Parliamentarian has been completed.”

Senate Democrats have no margin of error to approve the legislation and key lawmakers — most prominently moderate West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — have expressed concerns over elements of the plan as policy fights loom on the horizon.

Manchin told CNN on Thursday that he has not decided whether to support voting to proceed to the Build Back Better bill, the critical first vote to take up the measure in the Senate. Any one Democratic defection would stall the effort.

"No," Manchin said when asked if he had made a decision to vote to proceed. "I'm still looking at everything." The comments reflect that Manchin is still not on board with the legislation and signal the tough road ahead for Democrats.

The West Virginia Democrat said that he wants to see the final numbers from the Congressional Budget Office and changes made to the bill. "I just haven't seen the final, the final bill. So when the final bill comes out, CBO score comes out, then we'll go from there," he said.

Manchin also reiterated his concerns about inflation. "Everyone's concerned, they should be concerned about inflation, because it's real. Inflation is real," he said. "So we got to make sure we get through this the best we can, and put no more burden on them."

A fight is also brewing over a controversial tax provision that some progressives have decried as a giveaway to the rich.

Earlier this month, House Democrats came to an agreement to deal with state and local tax deductions after Democrats from the Northeast and West Coast had pushed to loosen the caps imposed by the 2017 tax law. Under the SALT deal, deductions would be capped at $80,000 per year over a nine-year time span.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, on Thursday railed on the House provisions dealing with the state and local tax deductions, calling it "wrong" and "bad politics."

1:13 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

White House highlights provisions in Build Back Better Act after House passage

From CNN's From Betsy Klein

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The White House continued to tout the House passage of President Biden’s sweeping Build Back Better Act on Friday, with press secretary Jen Psaki highlighting its provisions as she kicked off the daily briefing. 

She ticked off a list of items in the bill, including funding for pre-K, childcare, and health insurance, as well as provisions lowering prescription drug prices and housing costs.

The bill, she said, “reduces the deficit by $112 billion over 10 years,” noting that economists have analyzed that “the President's agenda will not contribute to higher prices” amid high inflation.

The White House, she said, is “looking forward” to the bill moving through the Senate.

12:55 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

How Democrats plan to pay for the sweeping spending bill

From CNN's Tami Luhby and Katie Lobosco

After months of negotiations, the House passed the Democrats' sweeping $1.9 trillion budget reconciliation package on Friday.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would transform the nation's social safety net despite being whittled down to roughly half its original size amid infighting between the party's moderate and progressive wings.

The Democrats fractured over measures to cover their original sweeping $3.5 trillion spending proposal.

Initial plans to make companies and well-off Americans pay by raising the corporate tax rate and the top marginal individual income and capital gains rates were scuttled by Democratic moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

The party then floated a billionaire tax on the capital gains of the super-wealthy, but that quickly withered after resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another key Democratic moderate, and several others in the Senate and House.

Biden and congressional Democratic leaders ultimately settled on a mix of corporate and individual revenue raising measures, along with two prescription drug provisions.

Under the House version, most middle-income families with children would get a tax cut in 2022 — thanks to an expanded child tax credit — and those without kids would generally see little change in their tax bills, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Overall, nearly 40% of households would see a tax cut and nearly 19% would pay more in 2022 than they do now, according to the analysis. However, about 70% of those earning more than $1 million a year would enjoy a tax cut.

Here a look at some of the key measures to cover the plan:

Corporate taxes: The bill would put in place a 15% minimum tax on the corporate profits that large companies report to shareholders, not to the Internal Revenue Service. This would apply to companies with more than $1 billion in profits. The legislation also includes a 1% surcharge on corporate stock buybacks.

Also, it would impose a 15% minimum tax, calculated on a country-by-country basis, that American companies pay on foreign profits, consistent with an agreement Biden recently won among 136 countries. The provisions would yield an estimated $814 billion, the Joint Committee on Taxation said.

Taxes on the rich: The wealthiest Americans would pay a 5% surcharge on income above $10 million, and an additional 3% levy on income above $25 million.

Next year, about 30,000 tax filers are expected to make $10 million or more, according to the Tax Policy Center. About 12,000 of them are likely to earn at least $25 million.

The bill would also close the loopholes that allow some affluent taxpayers to avoid paying the 3.8% net investment income tax on their earnings. And it would continue the limitation on excess business losses. This measure would raise $640 billion, the committee estimates.

IRS enforcement: The bill would beef up IRS enforcement so that it can ensure that people are paying what they owe to Uncle Sam. The new enforcement measure would focus on Americans with the highest incomes, not those earning less than $400,000 a year.

The CBO estimates that the provision would raise revenue by $207 billion — far less than the $400 billion that the Treasury Department had projected. But White House officials have been arguing for weeks that the numbers would not line up due to methodological differences, criticizing the way the CBO accounts for the indirect effects the enhanced enforcement would have.

Read more about the costs and payment measures here.

12:31 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

The spending bill is expected to undergo major revisions in the Senate

From CNN's Clare Foran, Kristin Wilson and Daniella Diaz

The Build Back Better bill is expected to undergo major revisions in the Senate as Democrats who have expressed concerns over aspects of the package are likely to demand significant changes.

That would then require the House to vote again — on a final version of the legislation — in the coming weeks before it goes to President Biden's desk.

Senate Democrats need all 50 members of their caucus to support the bill in order to pass it under a budget process they are using to advance the measure without GOP votes known as reconciliation. That makes the task for Democrats particularly difficult since it means there can be no defections and passage will require total unity.

In an early sign of the impending efforts to change the bill, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said in a statement after the House vote that the Senate will "strengthen" the bill.

"I applaud Democrats in the House of Representatives for uniting to pass the Build Back Better Act. The Senate has an opportunity to make this a truly historic piece of legislation. We will listen to the demands of the American people and strengthen the bill," Sanders tweeted.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement after the House vote that the Senate "will act as quickly as possible" to take up the legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi downplayed the potential for significant changes to the legislation in the Senate.

"Ninety-some percent of the bill was written together, House, Senate, White House. There were some differences at the end, and we'll deal with those as we go forward," Pelosi said at a press conference after the House vote.

"We'll see where we need to, shall we say, reconcile our differences, but at the end of the day we will have a great bill," she said.

Read up on what the Democrats' sweeping social spending plan might include once passed here

11:33 a.m. ET, November 19, 2021

House Democrat: "Everybody's determined" to send spending bill to Biden's desk before Christmas

Rep. Debbie Dingell speaks at a press conference at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 2.
Rep. Debbie Dingell speaks at a press conference at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 2. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Senior Whip Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, expressed confidence that the sweeping $1.9 trillion spending bill will be passed in Congress before Christmas. 

“I think that everybody's determined to make that happen,” she said on CNN.

Dingell said she spoke with President Biden when he went to Michigan this week, and he told her he has spent nearly 100 hours speaking with moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin this year. 

“I think the President will continue to work very closely with the two senators,” Dingell said, referring to Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who have pushed back against elements of the bill.

Dingell said that she doesn’t think there will be huge alterations to the Build Back Better Act to get it through the Senate. 

“Most of the programs in there will be as we know it,” she said. “There’ll probably be some discussion on taxes, paid family leave. But I think the bill as we see it will be very close to what we see cross the finish line.” 

When asked how Democrats will sell it to the American people amid inflation worries, Dingell said, “We do know that we got to do a better job of telling people what's in this bill.”

She added that House members will hold 1,000 events in the next few weeks to promote the bill to Americans. 

10:47 a.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Progressive caucus chair says she "feels very good" on how spending bill will return from Senate

From CNN's Sonnet Swire 

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters outside the Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 18.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters outside the Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 18. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal said she “feels very good about” the spending bill and that it will return from the Senate looking much like it does now, despite not being given assurances from Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema as she said she wanted.

“There was a framework that was agreed to,” Jayapal said on MSNBC minutes after the Build Back Better Act passed the House. “The vast majority of this bill is pre-conferenced with Sens. Manchin and Sinema. I have had my own conversations with them, but this is, again, a place where President Biden has shown tremendous leadership.”

“Now, there are a few things that aren’t pre-conferenced," she added. "We’ll have to work those out, but I believe, through my own conversations with those senators, as well as the President’s own commitment that he is confident that we can get 51 votes, we’re going to get this done and get it done before Christmas, hopefully in the first weeks of December. And people are going to see once again that government’s got your back — that Democrats in the House, the Senate and the White House delivered for them.”

Jayapal did not elaborate on what in the bill was not pre-conferenced.

11:39 a.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Top House Democrats say "historic" spending bill will affect generations of Americans

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a press conference after the House passed the Build Back Better Act at the Capitol on November 19.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a press conference after the House passed the Build Back Better Act at the Capitol on November 19. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top House Democrats spoke to reporters after voting to pass President Biden's sweeping spending bill.

"Today, we had the honor of participating in passing legislation for the people to build back better. As I always say, with women, for the children," Pelosi said.

She lauded Biden, saying that while the infrastructure bill was "was very, very important," it "was not the sum total of his vision."

Pelosi said she is most excited about family medical leave in this legislation.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called the Build Back Better Act a "historic piece of legislation."

"This bill will speak for itself to millions and millions and millions and millions of Americans whose lives will be made more secure, more richer in terms of quality of life, whose educational opportunities will be greater, and whose job opportunities will be greatly enhanced. And America's competitiveness in the world will be heightened for the 21st century," Hoyer said.

"It's big win for the people, for the average working men and women of America, for those who struggle every day and hope that somebody is on their side, somebody is listening to their pain and their struggle and their challenge," Hoyer added. "This bill is an answer."

Majority Whip James Clyburn said he thinks the act, combined with the infrastructure package and the American Rescue Plan Act, will address issues that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed in the US.

"I always talk about this being a great country. But the fact that we have not allowed this greatness to be accessible and affordable for all of our citizens, these three pieces of legislation accomplish that in a big way," he said.

10:27 a.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Biden applauds "giant step forward" with Build Back Better passage

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Biden applauded the House's passage of the Build Back Better Act Friday in a statement released by the White House, calling it a “giant step forward” for his agenda. 

“I thank Speaker Pelosi and the House leadership and every House member who worked so hard and voted to pass this bill. For the second time in just two weeks, the House of Representatives has moved on critical and consequential pieces of my legislative agenda,” Biden said in a statement. 

He continued, “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.” 


10:26 a.m. ET, November 19, 2021

No Republicans voted for the spending bill. Only one Democrat voted against it. 

From CNN's Clare Foran, Manu Raju and Morgan Rimmer

The final tally of the spending bill vote was 220 to 213.

Rep. Jared Golden of Maine was the only Democrat to vote against the bill and no Republicans voted for it.

Golden announced ahead of the final House vote that he would vote against the bill, citing the tax provision.

"Many of my colleagues argue this major line item is worth accepting to pass the rest of the bill," Golden said in a statement to the Bangor Daily News. "I disagree: the SALT giveaway in the Build Back Better Act is larger than the child care, pre-K, healthcare or senior care provisions of the bill."

Golden did not rule out voting for the final package in the future.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the legislation against criticism that wealthy Americans will benefit disproportionately as a result of the provisions.