McCarthy’s Record-Breaking Speech Forces Democrats to Delay Vote on Massive Spending Package

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
November 19, 2021 Updated: November 19, 2021

Democrats in the House of Representatives early Friday delayed a vote on President Joe Biden’s massive spending bill after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) took to the House floor for over eight hours.

Democrat leaders wanted to vote on the $1.8 trillion bill before the clock struck midnight, but McCarthy started speaking at 8:38 p.m. on Thursday and didn’t stop until 5:10 a.m. on Friday morning.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) informed members during the speech that the House would not hold the vote.

The chamber was set to reconvene at 8 a.m.

McCarthy broke a record set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in 2018. His speech was 8 hours, 32 minutes; hers was 8 hours, 7 minutes.

“I’m a competitive guy,” McCarthy said as the record was broken. “This one minute feels almost like eight hours now. I want to thank my colleagues for standing with me, for standing with their constituents, as we do everything in our power to stop this bill,” he added.

Some members of the House praised the Californian for continuing to speak.

“GOP Leader McCarthy is showing the American people what real leadership looks like. President Biden and Speaker Pelosi should take notes,” Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.) said in a social media post.

But Democrats jeered during the speech and panned the remarks.

“Never in the field of human conflict were so many words listened to by so few people. Good night America—on Friday we pass President Biden’s Build Back Better package and get back to work,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) wrote on Twitter.

Republicans disagree with major portions of the package, including the reinstatement of prior State and Local Tax deduction levels and a broad expansion of government programs.

“This bill promotes welfare without work, imposes unacceptable price controls limiting drug access for seniors, and stunts pharmaceutical innovation,” Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) wrote on Twitter.

Democrats say the bill would help struggling Americans.

The legislation “will make health care accessible and affordable for 2.2 million low-income uninsured Americans that exist in the Medicaid ‘coverage gap,'” House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on the House floor.

He also said it would help low-income Americans with child care and housing and “make clean air and plant life on this planet accessible and affordable for future generations by taking historic steps to combat climate change.”

Democrats can pass the bill without Republican support because the party holds a slim majority in the lower chamber.

The package’s fate is more uncertain in the Senate, where each party holds 50 seats but Democrats can break ties through Vice President Kamala Harris, the president of the chamber.

Democrats can ram the package through using reconciliation to lower the threshold from 60 to 50 but several Democrat moderates, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), have indicated they’re unsure whether they’ll back the bill.

Biden has urged Congress to pass the legislation. Congressmembers recently approved an infrastructure plan crafted with the help of the White House, with over a dozen Republicans in each chamber crossing the aisle.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.