House Democrats pass $1.3 trillion deficit-funded immigration and welfare overhaul bill, defying the odds

The House passed a sweeping climate, social and criminal justice legislation on Thursday, defying several years of Republican opposition to overhauling the welfare system and building infrastructure.

The bill, which passed 241-186, is expected to be the most dramatic piece of legislation that House Democrats will send President Donald Trump this year. Democrats see it as a way to revive the fortunes of the party in Congress — the institution that has failed to pass meaningful legislation in the last two years.

After a contentious amendment process, the legislation came to nearly two dozen pages in length. At the end of the evening’s debate, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, smiled and shook hands with Republicans who had voted for the measure.

Republicans who voted for the bill — which now goes to the Senate — praised Democrats for pushing their agenda.

“This bill represents a bipartisan effort to confront our very serious problems,” said Rep. Phil Roe, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

But Republicans blamed Democrats for blocking the bill from going further.

“Now, many leaders are warning that it is a lost opportunity, but I do not think that is accurate,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “This is a critical first step to fix our broken infrastructure system. It would enable more Americans to get to work by constructing more and better roads, bridges, transit systems and high-speed rail.”

Although the House vote itself had been expected, the Republican presidential candidates joined in strong praise of the vote.

“An epic day of progress to move our country to a clean energy future,” tweeted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida tweeted: “Today @HouseDemocrats passed legislation to support clean energy jobs, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and bring millions of hardworking Americans out of poverty.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he would have more time to consider the bill later in the year.

“I look forward to working with the majority on their plan for final passage this year,” Ryan said.

Shortly after the measure passed the House, President Trump sent a tweet urging Republicans to accept the legislation because it would help the economy.

“Many Republicans will be voting for pro-growth bill in the House today,” he tweeted. “Impact on jobs and economy will be FANTASTIC!”

The bill adds to more than a dozen measures that Democrats have targeted as priorities for this session.

Trump has expressed support for the legislation, sending it to his desk earlier this month.

But there is little assurance that the bill will advance in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim majority.

Some moderate Democrats have indicated their support for the legislation. The GOP hopes to fast-track it with a budget reconciliation bill.

The Congressional Budget Office has said the cost of the legislation would fall $500 billion short.

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