In another test of the unwieldy congressional gridlock, the House on Thursday night narrowly passed legislation to overhaul the social safety net and support renewable energy research. The package passed on a 237-190 vote, one week after the Senate passed it unanimously.
The legislation, including a boost in social safety-net spending, was pushed by the former Vice President Joe Biden. The package would have extended for four years the Social Security Disability Insurance program and improved the work incentives in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which assists the poorest of the poor.
In a speech on the House floor, the newly elected House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said that while there had been “much partisan division,” there had been even greater “unfortunately unified support” on this bill.
Ms. Pelosi, a Democrat from California, called it a “fiscal conservative,” adding that it was, in many respects, “the best and most conservative solution to our nation’s needs.”
Biden said the Senate’s “majority leader, Mitch McConnell,” had called him in advance of the vote and had said, “It’s time for your program.”
McConnell and the Senate also supported the bill. Senate Republicans on Tuesday objected to the House’s measure, warning that it could have contributed to an election backlash against the GOP, following outrage over Republicans’ proposals to roll back the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m not trying to do this to create a political crisis. I’m not trying to tell my Republican friends who will never vote for me to vote for a program they support,” Biden said. “I’m simply trying to help the country.”