Congress Budget

A man dressed as the "Build Back Better Bill" wears a sash saying, "on to the Senate," Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, as members of the House including Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., right, leave after voting on the bill on Capitol Hill in Washington. The expansive social and environment bill passed a sharply divided House along partisan lines, with every Democrat but one voting for it and every Republican voting against it. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Members of the Colorado House delegation voted along party lines Friday on President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Act, a nearly $2 trillion package Democrats are hailing as a groundbreaking social and environmental legislation and Republicans are denouncing the measure and its price tag.

The bill passed on a 220-213 vote, with only one Democrat voting against the measure and every Republican opposed.

Packaged as budget reconciliation legislation, the bill heads to the evenly divided Senate, where it's supported by both of Colorado's Democratic senators, U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, but which faces an uncertain fate.

“This is one of the most transformational bills the U.S. House of Representatives has ever approved,” said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat and the dean of the delegation, in a statement. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fundamentally transform our nation for the better. It’s an opportunity to provide real relief to millions of hardworking families. It will make health care and child care more affordable. It will make housing and higher education more accessible. And it will be the largest investment we’ve ever made to take on the climate crisis.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs agreed with DeGette that the bill could "fundamentally change America" but was quick to condemn it.

“I vehemently oppose the Democrat’s big government socialism bill," said Lamborn in a statement. Listing some of the bill's elements — including billions to combat climate change, funding to increase IRS enforcement and a tax cut that will primarily benefit very wealthy residents of New York, California and other states — Lamborn added: "This year, we have seen massive spending and record deficits. With out-of-control inflation and massive debt increases, the last thing our country can afford is more spending. This partisan bill must be defeated in the Senate.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, the Lafayette Democrat who played a central role in brokering a deal to pass the bill, noted that it contains his proposal to establish a 21st Century Climate Conservation Corps, along with funding for wildfire protection, watershed protection and public lands maintenance.

"The Build Back Better Act will also make historic and transformational investments in our Colorado families by cutting taxes for working families and lowering costs on things like health care, childcare and eldercare," he said. "As the father of a 3-year-old, I know firsthand what the high cost of childcare means for so many families throughout our nation."

U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, a Centennial Democrat, called the bill an investment in the American people.

"I’m proud to have voted for this once-in-a-generation package that will provide universal pre-K, increase access to child care and decrease the cost of prescription drugs,” Crow said in a statement. “This package will not only give a boost to our economy and working families, it pays for these benefits by closing loopholes and making sure big corporations pay their fair share in taxes.”

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican and former chairman of the Colorado GOP, railed against the legislation on Twitter after declaring that San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi "is a lame duck speaker."

"House Democrats just slammed through a partisan bill over 2,000 pages long — spending $4 trillion dollars, increasing the deficit by $360 billion, granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, and giving tax breaks for billionaires," he said. "All during an inflation crisis!"

Republicans seized on an estimate released Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that projected the package would add $367 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade, a number Democrats say is offset by an estimated $207 billion in additional tax collections resulting from more IRS spending on audits, mostly of the wealthy.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, compared the bill passed Friday to the "hard assets" funded by the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by Biden earlier this week.

"Today, the House passed a complimentary bill to invest in Americans — the human assets of our country, including children, families and workers. It also makes historic investments to ensure a clean energy future for all of us and takes real action in the fight against climate change,” he said in a statement.

“By investing in our people and our future, we can create good-paying jobs, support our growing economy, and ensure all Americans have the opportunity for a better quality of life. The benefits of this bill will be realized over the next five to ten years and will transform our nation for decades.”

"I voted NO on Brandon’s Busted Budget!" tweeted Silt Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, referencing a coded phrase used by conservatives to indicate their contempt for Biden.

After the bill passed the House, Bennet said that, coupled with the infrastructure bill, the legislation means "Americans will finally see themselves in the work we're pursuing in Washington."

“The Build Back Better Act will make the largest investment ever to fight climate change and protect America’s forests," he said in a statement. "It will make child care more affordable and preschool more available to millions of families across Colorado and the country. And it will continue the Child Tax Credit that has supported over 90% of kids in our state. The Senate now has an opportunity to strengthen the bill even further to support working families and grow the economy from the middle out.”

Gino Campana, a former Fort Collins city councilman and one of the Republicans challenging Bennet in next year's election, criticized the incumbent senator in a statement to Colorado Politics.

“Sen. Bennet and President Biden are ready to spend another $2 trillion, adding $367 billion to the debt without blinking an eye," he said. "Bennet has even admitted parts of the bill don’t ‘make any sense,’ but he will do as Biden commands and vote for it anyway, putting a leftist, radical agenda ahead of hardworking Coloradans."

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