ILTA Monthly Newsletter

Build Back Better Bill Held Up in Senate

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Following a turbulent December on Capitol Hill, the future of President Biden’s $1.7 trillion Build Back Better spending package is currently unknown. An already-pared down version of the bill passed the House of Representatives on November 19 largely by a party-line vote. The landmark legislation hit a major roadblock this month though, as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) publicly stated he could not support its passing during an unconventional December 19 Fox News interview.

Manchin said that between ongoing inflation, the national debt, "geopolitical unrest," and the COVID-19 pandemic, the bill being pushed by his fellow Democrats was too much. The West Virginia senator had previously raised multiple concerns about the legislation, wanting to cut the bill down in several areas, including paid family leave, a methane fee on emissions from energy producers, and a Medicare expansion to cover hearing costs. He was also seeking changes to some provisions in the tax portion of the bill.

Manchin's support for the spending plan, focused on expanding the nation's social safety net, reducing Americans' childcare and health care costs, and climate change is necessary for Democrats to pass this legislation using a budget reconciliation, meaning it would only need 51 votes to pass. Because Democrats maintain razor-thin control of the upper chamber with 48 Democrats and two caucusing Independents, Manchin’s disapproval means there is no realistic way forward without conceding to the Senator's concerns or voting on the components independently as separate bills.

Democrats are now stuck mulling over any form of compromise. The Build Back Better bill was meant to be a considerable feather in President Biden’s cap going into the 2022 election season alongside the earlier $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. Expect the conversation to ramp up again when Congress returns to Washington D.C. in mid-January.


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