House passes $1.9T social spending bill; Louisiana delegation votes party line
Democratic President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion social spending package narrowly cleared the U.S. House Friday morning with Louisiana's delegation voting strictly along party lines.
Biden's "Build Back Better" bill funds a wide range of Democrats' social spending priorities, including free universal Pre-K, subsidized childcare, climate change initiatives and expansion of affordable housing. The vote was 220-213.
U.S. Rep. Troy Carter of New Orleans, Louisiana's only Democrat in Congress, was also the only member of the state's delegation to vote for the bill, hailing it as a foundation for tranformational change that will "reshape America."
"It's great day for the American people," Carter said in an interview with USA Today Network. "It sends a powerful message to the American people who want to see progress and know that their leaders care about them.
"To our friends on the other side: Shame on them for standing in the way."
Louisiana Republican U.S. Reps. Garret Graves of Baton Rouge, Clay Higgins of Port Barre', Mike Johnson of Benton, Julia Letlow of Start and Steve Scalise of Metairie all voted against the bill, as did every one of their GOP colleagues.
Johnson, vice chairman of the House Republicans, recorded his vote on paper rather than electronically.
"While we normally use the electronic vote option on the House Floor, I wanted to register this historic vote in my own hand," he tweeted. "Let history record clearly who stood today for freedom & responsibility, and who voted to march us down the dark road of government control & socialism."
"This legislation is going to result in us paying more to heat and cool our homes, cost more to refuel our cars and cause job losses in Louisiana," Graves said in a statement. "It will defund hurricane protection and coastal restoration. Instead, we’re going to drive up the deficit and give a tax break to millionaires and billionaires. These are tradeoffs I am not willing to accept and neither should you.”
On Thursday the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released its full cost estimate of Biden's bill, projecting the measure would add $160 billion to the national debt over the next decade.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had scheduled the vote Thursday night, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., delayed the tally with an 8 hour, 40 minute speech.
While such filibusters are common in the Senate, they are rare in the House.
The bill's fate in the Senate remains unclear. It will need all 50 Democrats to vote for the bill and Vice President Kamala Harris to break the tie using a process called reconciliation, which would bypass a potential filibuster there.
But two moderate Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have previously objected to its cost and certain provisions related to taxes and the energy industry.
Their objections forced Democrats to rollback the original $3.5 trillion price tag, stripping free community college and other priorities from the original package.
Manchin and Sinema haven't said whether they will vote for the House version.
Louisiana Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy will both vote no. Cassidy said this week he is "staunchly opposed" to the legislation.
USA Today contirbuted to this report.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.