Politics

The House battle over Build Back Better — 24 restless hours on the Hill

After months of legislating that exposed intraparty riffs, House Democrats began the day Thursday finally feeling confident they could pass their roughly $2 trillion economic and social spending package, sending it on to the Senate. House Republicans, however, had different plans.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks Thursday during her weekly news conference.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks Thursday during his weekly news conference.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Republicans continued to criticize the bill as a massive tax-and-spend government overreach that would exacerbate inflation with prices spiking at the pump and grocery store. Democrats dismissed these criticisms, arguing their bill would help working families better afford such things as child care and prescription drugs.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) is seen in the background as the committee prepares the Build Back Better Act for a vote Thursday.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Pelosi takes a phone call Thursday.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

While Democratic leaders and White House aides worked through the afternoon to ensure moderates concerned about increasing government debt would vote for the bill that evening, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) prepared a floor speech that would soon become the longest delivered in the House’s history as a final effort to stall the bill on its way to becoming law.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

McCarthy prepares for his speech ahead of the scheduled vote on Thursday evening.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

As floor debate began to wind down, McCarthy took a final stand and took advantage of a privilege afforded only to party leaders: unlimited time to speak, while their colleagues can only debate for one minute.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

The Washington Post

The sun sets on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Tensions between the two parties became visible as McCarthy continued to stall the process with his speech. Democrats dwindled in numbers as the hours went on, but those who stayed often taunted or laughed at him. McCarthy often shot back his own digs at Democrats and made clear he had no plans to stop talking.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

McCarthy walks back to his office after speaking continuously for over eight hours on the House floor.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

McCarthy began to speak at 8:35 p.m. and did not stop until 8½ hours later at 5:11 a.m., beating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s record for longest floor speech by 25 minutes. Democrats immediately recessed the House with the goal of reconvening for an early morning vote with no more barriers standing in the way of their ability to successfully pass the legislation.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Pelosi presides on the House floor Friday morning.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

This browser does not support the video element.

The Washington Post

Pelosi celebrates as Democrats pass the Build Back Better Act on Friday.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Democratic House members celebrate after the vote Friday.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

McCarthy leaves after the House passed the Build Back Better Act.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

More from the Post

House passes roughly $2 trillion spending package that would expand social benefits and fight climate change

A guide to all the ways the House spending bill would affect America

‘No one tells me what to do’: Sinema praises infrastructure, questions spending and inflation in wide-ranging interview

The latest from The Washington Post

Credits

Text by Marianna Sotomayor. Produced by Natalia Jiménez and Thomas Simonetti