The House Budget Committee met virtually Saturday for a series of procedural votes needed to move President Biden’s sweeping $3.5 trillion social-spending bill ahead for a full vote on the House floor.
“Are you guys out of your flippin’ minds?” Missouri Republican Rep. Jason Smith asked after he tried to delay the committee’s votes on what he called a “Frankenstein bill” that includes massive “handouts to the wealthy” and huge tax increases.
Democrats argued that the spending spree, known as the Build Back Better Act, is a necessity in the wake of coronavirus.
“We will not go back to pre-pandemic normal,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). “It is essential to the American people, and therefore it is essential that we get it done.”
The committee, made up of 21 Democrats and 15 Republicans, is not permitted to alter or amend the individual components of the 2,465-page spending bill — which will authorize huge new outlays in education, health care, social safety net programs, and components of the Green New Deal.
Democrats have been scrambling to pass the bill — the central element of President Biden’s legislative agenda — in recent days. While party moderates have increasingly expressed reservations over its broad scope and staggering size, progressives have threatened to hold hostage a separate bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill if the larger bill is delayed.
“This bill was thrown before this committee in the past 48 hours to meet an arbitrary, artificial and purely political deadline … because the majority needs to reconcile infighting within their own party,” Smith complained.