Biden’s social and climate plan is set for a House vote after analysis shows it adds to the deficit

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  • Democrats move toward a vote Thursday night on President Joe Biden’s social safety net and climate plan.
  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Build Back Better Act will add $367 billion to the budget deficit over a decade, but does not account for the revenue raised by the increased IRS enforcement of tax laws.
  • Five Democratic holdouts wanted to see CBO scores before voting for the bill.
  • If the House passes the law, the Senate may approve a different version of it.

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The House moved toward a vote Thursday night after a critical analysis on President Joe Biden’s social safety net and climate plan said it would add to the budget deficit in a decade.

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The $1.7 trillion bill would increase the budget deficit by $367 billion between 2022 and 2031, The Congressional Budget Office estimated Thursday. This figure does not include estimates of revenue raised by increased IRS enforcement of tax laws, which the Treasury Department has argued would add another $400 billion and offset the plan’s expense.

After the report was released, House Democrats cast a final vote on the legislation as soon as Thursday night. A handful of centrist House Democrats wanted to see the nonpartisan CBO’s launch to see how the Build Back Better Act affected the long-term deficit before voting for the plan.

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It was unclear whether the budget estimate assuaged the concerns of the five Democratic holdouts.

The Senate aims to approve the legislation before Christmas, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said this week. If the Senate changes the bill, it will have to go back to the House for another vote.

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Democrats defied a previous estimate of the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, in which estimates of the bill would not be added to long-term budget projections. But five Democrats – enough to sink the bill on their own in the House – said they also want to see CBO scores before backing the legislation.

Democrats have indicated they believe the non-partisan scorekeeper may be underestimating the money raised by pieces of the package, such as money to boost IRS enforcement of existing tax laws.

The legislation aims to make child care more affordable, extend the increased child tax credit for one year, create universal Pre-K, accelerate the transition to green energy, and expand Medicare and Medicaid. At least part of the House plan — four weeks of paid leave for most Americans — could be cut after the bill goes to the Senate.

Along with the bipartisan infrastructure law signed this week, the package is the core of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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