Dakotas and western Minnesota Reps. Kelly Armstrong, Michelle Fischbach and Dusty Johnson on Friday, Nov. 19, all cast votes against the Build Back Better Act — the social spending cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s agenda — as the bill passed by a mostly partisan vote of 220-213.
Armstrong represents North Dakota in the House, while Johnson represents South Dakota. Fischbach's district is northwest Minnesota. All are Republicans.
“Democrats continue their reckless government spending spree by pushing through a partisan bill that will increase taxes, cause consumer costs to explode and usher in more government control over the lives of Americans,” said Armstrong.
The plan directs vast sums of money to social spending and more. The total $1.75 trillion package includes funding for universal pre-K, parental leave programs, climate change mitigation and more. It’s among the largest such spending packages in a generation.
That’s a significantly lower price than the bill’s debut earlier this year, when it was estimated to cost about $3.5 trillion. Intra-party haggling among Democrats, who have the barest of majorities in the House and Senate, have pared the bill back to its current form. As the bill advances to the Senate, it remains to be seen how many more changes will be required to mollify the moderates Biden needs to support the measure.
Its passage also represents a significant win for the president, whose legacy could hang on the bill.
In Minnesota, the delegation voted on party lines, with Democrats supporting the measure and Republicans against it.
The vote comes after the Congressional Budget Office released financial estimates for the bill, which sketch out a $160 billion increase to the federal deficit over the next decade — a figure that includes a $367 billion deficit from the bill’s programs, offset by potentially $207 billion in revenue from enhanced IRS enforcement. That number, while better than some Democrats had feared, is still higher than the White House’s previous insistence that the bill would pay for itself.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., lampooned those arguments on social media on Thursday, joking that he’s “no math genius,” but the cost of the bill is “way more than $0.”