Build Back Better Act heads to U.S. Senate
In This Section
December 03, 2021
By Kevin Bommer, CML executive director
After weeks of political wrangling between the various factions of Congressional Democrats, the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 19 passed the budget reconciliation bill commonly known as the Build Back Better Act (BBBA). In the end, the vote was party line, except for one Democrat who sided with the Republican opposition.
The legislation heads to an evenly divided Senate where some moderate Democrats have quietly tapped Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., to be the spokesperson for fiscal concerns that they have. With many of the provisions of BBBA more targeted toward social spending, in contrast to the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), it is all but certain that the Senate will remove some components of the bill to lower its overall price tag. Municipal interests advocated by the National League of Cities (NLC) include workforce development, housing affordability, and climate resilience.
The Senate’s parliamentarian may strike provisions that violate Senate budget reconciliation rules, but most of the bill is expected to be introduced intact in the Senate. Key provisions that are expected to be targeted for removal by Manchin and fellow Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., are paid family and medical leave and an increase in corporate income taxes.
Changes to the bill will affect its overall cost and revenue offsets, and they would also require the bill to go back to the House for approval. With no Republicans expected to support the bill, its passage in the Senate can only be secured with all 50 Democrats in support and Vice President Harris’s delivery of a tie-breaking vote.
Senate and House leaders are working to have all of this done before Congress leaves Washington in December. With so many moving parts, it is not yet clear if they will succeed. In the meantime, CML and municipalities are already looking at how IIJA funds will start to roll out and be available at the local level.