(CNN)House Democrats pushed back a vote on President Joe Biden’s plan to dramatically expand the social safety net after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stalled floor action with a record-breaking marathon speech that stretched into the early hours of Friday morning.
McCarthy, a Republican from California, started his speech at 8:38 p.m. ET, and stopped speaking early Friday morning after eight hours and 32 minutes, making his remarks the longest House floor speech in history.
McCarthy was able to hold the floor indefinitely under the procedures of the House, which say the majority leader and the minority leader get what’s called a “Magic Minute” at the end of floor debate, meaning they can speak for as long as they want. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used a similar tactic as minority leader in 2018, speaking for more than eight hours on the House floor in a speech about young undocumented immigrants, the previous record for a floor speech.
Former President Donald Trump issued a statement Friday afternoon praising McCarthy for his marathon speech.
“Great job by Kevin McCarthy last night, setting a record by going over 8 hours of speaking on the House Floor,” Trump said, adding in a statement that Democrats had committed “highest level of evil.”
The statement contrasts with some recent messaging from Trump’s allies. On Thursday, Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows criticized McCarthy, and suggested that Trump rather than McCarthy should be chosen as speaker of the House if Republicans win the majority in 2022.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, explained why Democrats delayed the vote into later Friday morning by saying McCarthy wanted to force passage of the bill “in the dead of night,” a politically charged description that has been used to criticize legislation in the past.
“We are going to do it in the day,” Hoyer said.
Now that the legislation has passed the House, it will face key hurdles in the Senate, with a fight looming over a controversial tax provision and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia still not on board.
As a result, Democrats are working hard to keep their fragile coalition of moderates and progressives united behind the package. The legislation has already been the subject of intense disputes between warring party factions in the House, and Democrats have no margin for error in the Senate.
The legislation will likely have to be altered, potentially significantly, to get every member of the Senate Democratic caucus to vote for it as key members raise major concerns with the contents of the bill.
What’s in the legislation
The Build Back Better Act represents a central part of Biden’s policy agenda and an attempt by congressional Democrats to go it alone without GOP support to enact a major expansion of the social safety net.
The House and Senate recently passed, and Biden then signed into law, a separa
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