Social and climate package approved: speech marathon delays stage win for Biden

Status: 19.11.2021 5:19 p.m.

The first hurdle has been taken. The US Congress has voted in favor of President Biden’s trillion-dollar social and climate protection package. But patience was required, because a Republican never stopped talking and broke a record.

After months of fighting, the Democrats under US President Joe Biden have agreed on a billions of billions of euros on social and climate change legislation. It was passed in the House of Representatives with a majority of 220 to 213 votes. The Democrats cheered after the vote. In a statement, Biden spoke of a “huge step forward”. Now it is the turn of the Senate, where there will probably be even bigger changes to the 2100-page legislative initiative.

According to calculations by the Budget Office of Congress, the package is worth $ 1.68 trillion. It includes multi-billion dollar programs on health, support for families and childcare, education and housing policy, and climate protection measures. It is to be financed largely with tax increases for the rich, large corporations and companies that do business abroad.

A budget deficit of 160 billion dollars looms

The Budget Office estimates that the package is likely to bring the federal budget deficit to $ 160 billion over the next decade. There should be weeks of negotiations in the Senate. The package is strictly rejected by the Republicans precisely because of its social and climate policy priorities.

The Democrats want to pass it as long as they have a majority in both chambers of Congress, but even in Biden’s party, ideas about the scope and content of the package diverge widely. For example, the moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is calling for cost cuts. But if they want to pass the law in the House of Lords of Congress, the Democrats cannot allow themselves a single deviator.

Original budget: $ 3.5 trillion

Originally, Biden had targeted a social and climate investment package worth $ 3.5 trillion (around 3.1 trillion euros). Moderate Democrats, however, resisted such high spending and forced the president to abandon parts of his plans during the negotiations. He finally cut the package by half to 1.75 trillion US dollars (1.54 trillion euros). There were again additions in the House of Representatives.

After months of internal party disputes, the infrastructure package was the first billion-dollar project to be adopted. Biden put it into effect this week with his signature.

Speech marathon in the US Congress

The vote on the Biden package was delayed for hours. The reason was the speech by the Republican minority leader in the Congress Chamber, Kevin McCarthy. He made ample use of the special right of the parliamentary group leaders in the US House of Representatives to extend their speaking time at will. McCarthy criticized the spending on the investment package as irresponsible and complained that the entire course of the president and his party was bringing the country to ruin.

Kevin McCarthy, Republican minority leader in the Chamber of Congress, broke Democrat Pelosi’s 2018 speaking record.

Image: EPA

He spoke from 8:30 p.m. to 5:10 a.m. – amid mockery and boos from the Democrats, who in between left the room frustrated. Without context, he commented on Biden’s spending policy and his travels to Europe, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Elon Musk, Abraham Lincoln, the Nobel Peace Prize and the work of art in his office. “I don’t know if they think I’m going to quit because they left. I don’t,” McCarthy said when the Democrats realized his tactic was working and began to leave the Chamber. “I really don’t speak to you. I speak to the American people.”

The “Magical Minute” allows speeches from one minute to several hours. McCarthy set a new record of almost nine hours and overtook the previous record holder, the current Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

In her speech marathon in 2018, she fought for an immigration law as a minority leader.

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