House passes Biden's $2 trillion Build Back Better package The measure was delayed by an all-night speech from GOP leader Kevin McCarthy. Centrist Democrats in the Senate have raised objections to some provisions that will likely alter the House-passed bill.

The House passes a $2 trillion spending bill, but braces for changes in the Senate

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

To other news now. After months of internal squabbles, House Democrats voted this morning to approve a far-reaching spending package that could total around $2 trillion.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY PELOSI: On this vote, the yeas are 220, the nays are 213. The Build Back Better bill is passed.

(CHEERING)

KELLY: It was passed, eventually, but the vote was delayed overnight as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy launched an eight-hour protest attacking not just the legislation but the core philosophy of the Democratic Party.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEVIN MCCARTHY: It is clear to us that this bill is wrong on the merits, and they have responded with a single word the American public have said - enough.

KELLY: McCarthy was not able to block the bill, but it may have helped him achieve some other political goals. NPR congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell is here to talk about those. She's been following the legislation.

Hey, Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi there.

KELLY: How did this finally come together? Because Democrats have been arguing over this bill, trying to pass this bill for months.

SNELL: Yeah, they actually originally hoped to pass this bill almost a month ago. You know, Democrats were very excited. Here's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi describing it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PELOSI: Build Back Better is a better agenda for workers, for families, for children and for our planet.

SNELL: You know, Democrats really did overcome a lot of differences within their own party to land on a bill that includes about $550 billion in incentives for companies and individuals to try to take steps to address climate change. There's also funding for universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, which is expected to affect about 6 million children. There's funding to make child care more accessible and more affordable and what could be the largest investment in housing in a generation. You know - but this bill isn't final. It's headed to the Senate, and some of the policies House Democrats really pushed for are expected to be removed by senators. You know, senators are really not entirely on board with plans to increase the cap on deductions for state and local taxes. You know, they say that change mostly benefits the wealthy. And Senator Joe Manchin in particular has specifically objected to a plan to give workers four weeks of paid leave. So it is still not final, but the cheering we heard when Pelosi called the vote, it just went on and on. Democrats were absolutely thrilled, and they see this as a huge step.

KELLY: Republicans not so thrilled. They went on fighting on this one with that very, very, very, very long speech from Kevin McCarthy. Did that strike you as a sign of how fired up the GOP is in this moment?

SNELL: Well, to give you an example, some Republicans stayed until the very end at 5 a.m. and they were cheering him as he went. Here's a little bit more of what he said just to get a feel for it.

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MCCARTHY: Every page of this new Washington spending shows just how irresponsible and out of touch the Democrats are to the challenges that America faces today.

SNELL: So some of the context here is that this has been a particularly bitter week for a group of House members who are clashing almost constantly. It is true that Congress often has tense moments between the two parties. But this year in particular has involved a level of distrust and just outright anger between Democrats and Republicans that I personally have never seen before. McCarthy was speaking to a group of Republicans who really feel Democrats have repeatedly abused the power they have in the House.

KELLY: That's who he was speaking to. What was he trying to say?

SNELL: A lot of this was about McCarthy echoing the frustrations of the party he leads and signaling to them that he's on their side. So Mark Meadows, the former congressman and former chief of staff under former President Trump, did an interview recently where he said if Republicans take back control of the House, Trump should be speaker and not McCarthy. And, you know, this is, to some degree, McCarthy trying to embrace Trump's political, you know, bases and also his tactics. To some degree, that's what he tried to show here. And it may have worked for now. Trump put out a statement supporting McCarthy today, but it's unclear if he can keep his party happy in the long term because Democrats do control the House, and there's not much Republicans can do to stop them right now.

KELLY: NPR congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell, thank you.

SNELL: Thanks for having me.

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