House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks on Thursday. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

California lawmakers were at the center of Congressional proceedings Thursday night and into Friday morning as a record eight-hour-plus speech by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield delayed passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better Act.

The tactic was meant to send a statement about Republican opposition to the $1.75 trillion social and climate spending bill, but McCarthy hinted that he also wanted to beat the previous record set in 2018 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

McCarthy spoke for 8 hours and 32 minutes, besting Pelosi’s 8 hours and 7 minutes during a legislative battle over immigration reform.

“I’ve had enough. America has had enough,” McCarthy said in his speech that cataloged a list of Republican grievances, some related to the bill and some not.

Democratic Rep. Sara Jacobs of San Diego presided over the chamber from 1 a.m. to 5:12 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday as McCarthy droned on, speaking about everything from his deli in Bakersfield to the pullout from Afghanistan.

“Outside this chamber, the world moves on. Young kids are asleep and parents are trying to get some work done, teachers are preparing for tomorrow, nurses and care workers are still on shift,” she tweeted. “This bill is for all of them and more and we’ll get it done.”

The vote was originally scheduled for Thursday evening after the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan arbiter, released a cost assessment of the bill, which several moderate Democrats said they needed before they would vote.

Following McCarthy’s delaying tactic, voting on the bill began at 8 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday morning, with passage occurring just before 10 a.m. on a party-line 220-213 vote. Only Republican Darrell Issa among the San Diego County delegation voted against the legislation.

The bill is in addition to the more than $1 trillion infrastructure investment legislation that Biden signed into law this week.

The new bill provides free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, boosts coverage of home-care costs for the elderly and disabled, significantly lowers the cost of some prescription drugs such insulin, expands affordable housing programs and increases grants for college students. It also contains numerous measures to address climate change, including incentives for clean energy.

The two measures comprise the twin pillars of Biden’s domestic agenda and would be on top of the $1.9 trillion in emergency coronavirus pandemic aid that Biden and his fellow Democrats pushed through Congress in March over a wall of opposition from Republicans.

Democrat House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called the bill “transformational,” adding that its success “will be measured in the deep sense of hope that Americans will have when they see their economy working for them instead of holding them back.”

The legislation now goes to the Senate, where every Democrat must vote in favor for it to pass.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.