Kevin McCarthy (Republican from California), House Minority leader, held the floor Thursday night for many hours. He delayed voting on the Build back Better legislation.
House Television/Associated Press

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyScuttled Democrats’ plans to quickly pass their landmark climate and social spending bill Thursday evening with a speech that rambled for hours. The Democrats plan to vote on Friday morning.

McCarthy began speaking at 8:38 pm. He made bromides about Democrats’ stewardship and plans for new subsidies to child care and green energy.

“Never in American history has so much been spent at one time,” the California Republican said at the top of his speech. “This is the single most reckless and irresponsible spending bill in our nation’s history.”

McCarthy’s math is wrong. The bill’s cost would be a tiny fraction of those tax cuts by the GOP. Donald Trump– At least, according to official estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.

At times, he spoke out about the border, security, crime and inflation in China, Elon Musk (Hitler), Afghanistan, Russia, Turkey, and how America would be if Abraham Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated.

“Tonight, Kevin McCarthy previewed Republicans’ very best attacks against the deficit reducing, inflation crushing Build Back Better Act,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office said in a mocking press release. “As he hopefully approaches the end, we’re all left wondering: does Kevin McCarthy know where he is right now?”

The speech seemed designed to burnish McCarthy’s credibility with members of his own party, whom he hopes will elect him speaker if Republicans retake the House in the 2022 midterm elections. McCarthy often stopped during his speech in order to gaze down at Democrats engaging in their conversations inside the House chamber.

“Gas prices! Thanksgiving!”

Kevin McCarthy (R.Calif.), House Minority leader

Tradition in the House gives party leaders the power to talk for as long and as they wish. Pelosi (D.Calif.), spoke in support of a record-setting eight hours trying to force action on an immigration bill in 2018, and former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) used the so-called “magic minute” to deliver his infamous “hell no you can’t” speech against climate legislation in 2009.

McCarthy delved into many details of the Build Back Better Act, saying, for example, that the bill’s continuation of the expanded child tax credit, which pays parents as much as $300 per child per month, would worsen a labor shortage by “placing small-business owners into direct competition with the federal government’s unlimited printing press.”

He went off on some strange tangents as one would when talking extemporaneously for long hours.

“Just think for a moment that in America, children can’t play outside on their own property for fear of their safety from cartels and traffickers,” McCarthy said during an extended riff on crime and immigration in the 10 p.m. hour.

“I’m not talking about the cities where you defunded the police,” he said. “I’m talking about remote cattle ranches. This is where I believe every American could eventually retire, on their ranch. Build back ― going all the way back to the westerns, I guess. People have to fend for themselves.”

Sometimes, he spoke slowly. Sometimes loudly.

“You are spending so much money!” he yelled shortly after 11 p.m. “We spent less defeating Hitler, Mussolini and Japan than you’re spending tonight! Although we were able to spend less money, it was more expensive than what it cost us. And you’re celebrating it! You’re celebrating it when inflation is at 31%! Gas prices! Thanksgiving!”

While Democrats were unhappy with McCarthy’s performance, many of them made it clear they were eager and ready to vote. And many of them derided the GOP leader on Twitter ― as well as tout provisions of Build Back Better ― since that was about all they could do as they waited for him to finish.

The CBO’s official score was released by the CBO on Thursday. It had been an important demand for some more moderate Democrats. Democrats moved forward with their plans. CBO estimated that the bill will add over $100 billion to deficit in a decade. Democrats had insisted that the bill’s cost would be totally offset.

Before the legislation can head to President Joe Biden to be signed, it must be approved by the Senate.


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