He expounded on grievances beyond the sprawling climate, tax and spending provisions in the package, meandered through a range of personal anecdotes and lashed out against changes to House rules that enable proxy voting, as increasingly frustrated and angry Democrats booed and heckled him from the back of the chamber.
“It is a feat of epic proportions to speak for four hours straight and not produce a single memorable phrase, original insight or even a joke,” Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, wrote on Twitter. “McCarthy thinks he is a wit but so far he has proved he is only half right.”
While Mr. McCarthy denied them a triumphant vote Thursday, Democratic aides noted that an early morning vote could guarantee a full day of news media coverage. Ms. Pelosi’s office instead circulated news releases declaring “McCarthy Needs a Reality Check” and wondering “Is Kevin McCarthy OK?”
Ms. Pelosi is expected to deliver her own speech before the House votes on Friday.
“It’s pretty exciting. This is historic; it is transformative,” Ms. Pelosi said on Thursday morning. In a letter to the caucus, she described the legislation as “a spectacular agenda for the future.”
If all but three Democrats remain united, Republicans are powerless to prevent the House from passing the plan, which they have long refused to support because of its scope and scale. Because the bill is being considered under special rules known as reconciliation that shield it from a filibuster in the Senate, Democrats have bypassed Republican input and relied instead on their razor-thin majorities in both chambers to craft the package.
The Congressional Budget Office published an official cost estimate on Thursday afternoon that found the package would increase the federal budget deficit by $160 billion over 10 years. The package would largely be paid for with tax increases on high earners and corporations, estimated to bring in nearly $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
A group of moderate and conservative holdouts repeatedly delayed a vote on the package, citing concerns about its cost and insisting on an official estimate before they would commit to supporting it. But the release on Thursday of section-by-section assessments from the Congressional Budget Office, the official fiscal scorekeeper, appeared to sway most.