US lower house approves Biden’s social spending bill

Washington, Nov 19 (EFE).- The United States House of Representatives approved on Friday the country’s most ambitious package of social spending since the 1960s, but President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

The vote in the Democratic-controlled house was 220-213.

One Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine, joined 212 Republicans in voting against the BBB legislation.

The bill calls for spending $1.75 trillion over 10 years on programs such as universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, new Medicare benefits and a one-year extension of the expanded child tax credits that have reduced child poverty by 25 percent.

Also included is $550 million to address climate change.

The bill goes now to the Senate, where its only chance of passing is through reconciliation, a procedure that allows legislation to be approved by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes usually required to move legislation through the upper chamber.

While Democrats are the majority for operational purposes thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’s constitutional role as president of the Senate, the Republicans hold 50 seats and would need just one Democratic defector to block the BBB Act.

The legislation has already been rolled back from the original proposal for $3.5 trillion over 10 years to satisfy objections raised by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has still not committed to supporting the reduced BBB.

Two weeks ago, the House voted 228-206 for a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in August.

Thirteen Republicans joined the Democratic majority in the House to ensure passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act despite “no” votes from six progressive Democrats.

Those progressives, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, opposed the bill in protest over the refusal by Manchin and other centrist Democrats to abide by an agreement that called for the infrastructure measure to be passed in tandem with the BBB. EFE afs/dr

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