Child care, climate change and other provisions in Build Back Better bill passed by House

House Democrats are heading into the weekend with a victory after passing President Joe Biden's Build Back Better legislation Friday morning. Lisa Desjardins reports on the long debate that held up the bill until now, what's in the sweeping legislation, and what its fate may be in the Senate.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we have reported, House Democrats are heading into the weekend with a victory after passing the Build Back Better legislation in the House this morning.

    Lisa Desjardins has this report on a long debate and what's in the sweeping legislation.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

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

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    For House Democrats, loud cheers at the end of a long road, as, this morning, they passed President Biden's Build Back Better Act.

    The bill covers a host of major issues, combating climate change, providing universal preschool, while slashing child care costs for younger kids, expanding government health care coverage, and creating more subsidized affordable housing, in all, some $1.7 trillion in new programs and spending. Democrats provide money for that by increasing taxes on big corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

    Last night, after weeks of drama, the bill seemed on track for quick passage, until the last Republican to speak, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, took the floor.

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA):

    Every page of all this new Washington spending will be paid for or borrowed from you, the American hardworking taxpayer.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Technically given one minute to speak, as a party leader, McCarthy has the right to go as long as he likes. He turned that one minute into eight-and-a-half-hours speaking against the Build Back Better act, breaking the record set by Pelosi for the longest speech on the House floor.

    It made history and instantly Internet memes. From the House Cloak Room next to the chamber, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Instagram to mock.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY):

    Look at all of those different colored ties and haircuts. I have never seen a more diverse Republican Party than the one behind Kevin McCarthy right now.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    McCarthy spent until 5:30 in the morning, at times thundering in opposition to the bill.

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy:

    You're celebrating when inflation is at a 31 percent hike, gas prices, Thanksgiving, a border that in a few months breaks every record of the last three years combined.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Sizing up the tactic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent Democrats home and pushed the vote until daylight, when she got her turn to speak.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    And as a courtesy to my colleagues, I will be brief.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    After a jab at her Republican rival's speaking time, Pelosi responded.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    Much has been said on this floor, but the facts are these. Following the vision of President Biden, guided by the expertise and energy of our chairs, members and staff, we have a Build Back Better bill that is historic, transformative and larger than anything we have ever done before.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In the end, Pelosi lost only one Democratic vote, Jared Golden of Maine. On Twitter, he said the bill offered too much help for some of the wealthy and could be better. Golden's concerns foreshadowed the next tricky Democratic fight straight ahead, as the bill goes to the U.S. Senate.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And Lisa joins me after a night of not much sleep.

    So, let's talk about this, as you said, sweeping bill, $1.7 trillion. Let's break out some of the bigger pieces. Talk about, what's the largest thing in here?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    So excited to dig into this and explain it.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    At the top of the list of many large programs of this is child care. Combined, the child care and preschool programs together are $400 billion in this bill.

    Let's take people through that. So that's a big chunk right there. What they'd do, this would offer voluntary free preschool for every child in America ages 3 and 4. And, also, for the majority of families with kids up to age 5, it would cap their child care costs no greater than 7 percent of their income.

    That's a sea change. Now, one thing. States have to opt in to this program. It's a bit like Medicaid. So, there's a question of which states would, which states would not. But, Judy, this child care portion is on an Obamacare kind of scale, even larger than Obamacare potentially, even if states sign up.

    Republicans say that's a problem. They say it's a sweeping program, too much government. And they say it could hurt the child care industry if it's not done well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So I'm going to have you break out another piece of this. And that's climate change. We know what a priority that is for Democrats.

    What does the bill do to address that?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Judy, this bill has climate change in almost every section. There are 55, at least, different programs dealing with climate in this.

    But I want to talk about sort of overall some of the biggest items. Overall, this bill spends over $500 billion, $550 billion, to be exact, on climate. There are tax credits in here for energy efficiency in your home, in your workplace, new kinds of electric cars. Even electric bicycles are in here.

    There is a limit on methane gas that would go into effect in 2023. There would be a cost to industries that emit too much methane gas under the current form of the bill. We will have to see if this remains in it. Then there is also the Civilian Climate Corps. That's a big thing that Senator Bernie Sanders has wanted.

    Interesting, Judy, that is — that would be young people doing climate projects across the country. It would be part of AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps' budget right now, $1 billion, the budget for this, $15 billion. It would make AmeriCorps a much larger industry — a much larger department. It would change the nature of what it does.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And focused on climate.

    So, Lisa, this obviously comes with a price tag. And you were talking about that last night, but we now know more about the price tag. What can you tell us?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    We were just getting that information as we were going to air last night, so I'm really glad to be able to talk more about this.

    Now, this bill does add to the deficit, but it depends on who you talk to you. Let's go over what we talked about last night. Here's the Congressional Budget Office score that we talked about, $367 billion added to the deficit. That is from the main bill, the programs and the spending involved.

    However, there is a separate portion that CBO did not score along with that, which is stepped-up IRS enforcement, the idea of finding people cheating on their taxes. CBO estimates that that part of the bill could bring in over $200 billion. So, do the math, you add that all up, what do you get? According to CBO, a deficit of about $160 billion, not as much as that bigger number.

    Democrats, however, look at this. They say, that IRS number, too small. They think, actually, they will get more like $400 billion, maybe much more than that. So that's how they argue that this is paid for. They think that IRS number is shallow, and that the money will come in.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And they remind everybody it's over 10 years.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's correct.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So that's 160 divided by 10.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, we know you have been reading this 2,000-page bill.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What else has caught your eye?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    How much time do you have?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Hours.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    There's so much to talk about here.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Let's do it.

    There are a few things I want to highlight just to give people a sense of the scope of this, the big and small. Let me look — let me highlight a few things.

    There is a small amount of money in this bill, which is $50 million, large money to everyone else — in a bill like this, it's not that much — but it's to protect older forests around the country, things like the sequoias and older growth forests.

    Also, something that's in here that one of our producers, Tess Conciatori, spotted, payroll credits for local newspapers and journalists to try and encourage local news again.

    And then also something I want to talk about that I spotted, this would — this is an attempt in this bill to phase out sub-minimum wage for workers with disabilities. Judy, you and I have talked about this before. Since 1938, this country has allowed certificates, so that some employers can pay workers with disabilities sub-minimum wage, as low as $3, $4 an hour.

    This bill has incentives to try and pay those employers to raise the wages. It's a complicated debate, because they want to keep the number of jobs, while increasing those wages. This bill takes a stand. It's a bipartisan idea that's in here.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It's — I think a lot of people didn't realize that, that it could be below minimum wage.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now it goes to the Senate, and you will be reporting on that…

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I will.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    … after Thanksgiving.

    Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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