US House advances Biden's Build Back Better agenda

Vote was 220-212 with no Republicans supporting the measure

The House voted to move forward on a package that would advance Mr Biden's ambitious plan to expand social programmes. AFP

The US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to advance key parts of President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion budget framework after reaching a tentative compromise between moderates and progressives over which elements should take priority.

The House voted to move forward on a package that would advance Mr Biden's ambitious plan for trillions of dollars to expand childcare and other social programmes, championed by the party's progressive wing.

Mr Biden thanked Democrats for “coming together so that we can make a difference in people's lives” and noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “masterful” in her negotiations to move the negotiations forward.

At a press conference on Tuesday aimed at addressing concerns over the August 31 exodus from Afghanistan, the president also gave remarks on the legislation.

“We're building an America that competes with the rest of the world,” said Mr Biden.

“My goal is to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not just the top down and that’s what we’re on our way to doing.”

Mr Biden also talked about the success of the American Rescue Plan and falling unemployment rates.

“We're making a historic investment that’s going to cut taxes and improve the position of the American family for long-term growth,” he continued.

During his remarks, Mr Biden also pledged to start taxing large corporations and encouraged Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

Congress agreed to vote by September 27 on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, a priority for moderate Democrats.

Democrats have little room for error as they try to approve the two spending initiatives in the House and Senate, where the party holds razor-thin majorities.

The House vote to move forward with the package passed 220-212, with no Republicans supporting the measure.

“These negotiations are never easy,” said Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern after his panel approved the deal. Members of the House briefly returned to Washington this week during their scheduled summer break to vote on the measures.

Ms Pelosi said her chamber would work with the Senate to nail down the details of a larger $3.5tn budget with increased spending for social programmes such as childcare and education while raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

Senate Democrats plan to pass the budget using a manoeuvre that circumvents the chamber's normal rules requiring 60 of the 100 senators to agree to pass most legislation.

“It remains for us to work together, work with the Senate, to write a bill that preserves the privilege of 51 votes in the Senate,” Ms Pelosi said. “So, we must work together to do that in a way that passes the House and passes the Senate. And we must do so expeditiously.”

Updated: August 25, 2021, 4:23 AM