The House moved toward a vote on President Joe Biden’s social safety net and climate plan Thursday night after a key analysis said it would add to budget deficits over a decade.
Following the release of the Congressional Budget Office estimate, House Democrats teed up a final vote on the legislation as soon as Thursday night. A handful of centrist House Democrats wanted to see the nonpartisan CBO’s projection of how the Build Back Better Act would affect long-term deficits before they voted for the plan.
The $1.7 trillion bill would increase the budget deficit by $367 billion over the years 2022 to 2031, according to the CBO. The figure does not include estimates for revenue raised by increased IRS enforcement of tax laws.
The Treasury Department has contended the provision will generate another $400 billion and pay for the plan. The CBO estimated it would lead to only $127 billion more in net revenue, leaving the bill’s spending short of being fully offset.
It was unclear whether the budget estimate assuaged the concerns of the five Democratic holdouts.
If the House passes the bill this week, the Senate aims to approve it before Christmas, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. If the Senate makes changes to the legislation, it would have to go back to the House for another vote.
Democrats touted a previous estimate from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation projecting the bill would not add to long-term budget estimates. But five Democrats — enough to sink the bill on their own in the House — said they wanted to see the CBO score as well before they backed the legislation.
Democrats have indicated they believe the nonpartisan scorekeeper could underestimate the money raised by pieces of the package, such as funding to boost IRS enforcement of existing tax laws.
The legislation aims to make child care more affordable, extend the enhanced child tax credit for a year, create universal pre-K, speed up the transition to green energy and expand Medicare and Medicaid. At least one part of the House plan — four weeks of paid leave for most Americans — could get cut once the bill goes to the Senate.
Along with the bipartisan infrastructure law signed this week, the package makes up the core of President Joe Biden‘s economic agenda.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.