WASHINGTON — House Democrats let out a cheer as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that President Joe Biden’s signature legislation, a $1.9 trillion social spending and climate change bill, had passed the chamber.
The vote was mostly along party lines, as expected. A single Democrat, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, voted with every Republican in opposition to the Build Back Better Act.
All six Georgia Democrats supported the bill, including U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, who was once among a group of moderates who slowed down passage of the measure over concerns about its price tag and timeline for approval. She later made clear she would vote in favor of the bill after some members of her party accused her of trying to tank it.
“I am proud to deliver this historic investment for Georgia,” the Suwanee Democrat said in a statement after Friday morning’s vote. “This legislation will address the long-standing needs of our communities by prioritizing our children’s well-being, expanding access to affordable health care, lowering the cost of higher education, and providing a responsible down payment in the fight against climate change.”
The legislation, HR 5376, now heads to the U.S. Senate, where it is likely to face drastic changes. That means even after the Senate approves it, the House may need to take another vote in the coming weeks.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has expressed concerns about provisions House members put in the bill, including paid family leave, an expansion of Medicare and a tax break that would benefit middle- and upper-income families. Another centrist Democrat, Arizona U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, has refused to say whether she would support the legislation in its current form.
In addition, the Senate parliamentarian could rule that certain items in the package, such as an immigration measure, are ineligible to be included if Democrats want to use a procedure that allows them to circumvent the filibuster and pass it without GOP support.
The bill also includes an extension of the child tax credit, Medicaid expansion in conservative states such as Georgia, tax credits to incentivize businesses and families to embrace green energy policies, and a plan to lower the cost of prescription drug prices.
The final vote was delayed Thursday night after Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy took advantage of a House tradition that allows top leaders to speak for an unlimited amount of time. He railed against the legislation and Biden’s administration for 8 hours and 32 minutes, setting a record for the longest continuous speech in chamber history.
U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde was among the lawmakers who sat behind McCarthy during the speech in a show of solidarity. After Friday’s vote, Clyde released a statement assailing the bill as a “liberal wish list” and predicting higher prices for goods and more inflation as a result.
“Allergic to logic, Speaker Pelosi rammed this pricey package through at a time when inflation is skyrocketing to its highest point in over three decades,” the Athens Republican’s statement said. “As Americans struggle to afford groceries, gas, and heating bills, Democrats are eagerly exacerbating the ongoing inflation crisis by injecting another $4 trillion into the economy.”
Even with challenges ahead, the mood from Georgia Democrats was jubilant as members began a weeklong recess for Thanksgiving.
“I am proud that so many of my policy priorities are included in the Build Back Better Act, including key investments in paid leave, childcare, early childhood education, affordable housing, (historically Black colleges and universities), health care, environmental justice, and so much more,” Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams wrote in a statement.
“I’ve lived through many of the same struggles facing Georgia’s families,” she continued. “Struggles that will be alleviated with the Build Back Better Act.”
How Georgia’s U.S. House delegation voted
The U.S. House voted Friday on HR 5376, a $1.9 trillion social spending and climate change bill known as Build Back Better. Here’s how members from Georgia voted:
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia
U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta
U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler
U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens
U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton
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