The fight over President Biden’s Build Back Better social-spending bill has only just begun.
After months of wrangling, the $2 trillion budget-buster passed the House Friday on a slim 220-213 vote.
But in the Senate, Democrats are bracing for a bruising battle over a bill that some members of the party have hailed as a 21st-century New Deal that will spend billions on education, the environment, housing, and health care.
“The House bill will most likely take a haircut in the Senate,” a Capitol Hill insider told The Post. “Negotiations are now laser focused, with members discussing the things they want, the things they want to tweak, and those things they just want out.”
Democrats are expecting to go it alone in the evenly divided 50-50 Senate, the insider said, as the GOP stands solidly opposed.
“Not a single Republican will vote for this bill,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House minority whip, told Fox News Saturday.
Normally, bills need 60 votes to overcome the Senate’s filibuster rule that ends debate on a measure. With no support from the GOP, Schumer will have to rely on a process known as reconciliation, a special exception for budget-related legislation that permits passage with a simple Senate majority.
But the strict rules of the reconciliation process mean that the House’s version of Build Back Better will be coming in for major changes.
Reconciliation can only be used on bills that are budget-neutral — that is, will not increase the federal deficit over a ten-year period.
That’s why Build Back Better includes $80 billion for heavier enforcement by the IRS — and why the Congressional Budget Office’s conclusion that it will add $367 billion to the debt will force the Senate to do a major editing job.
Likely on the chopping block: the steep increase in the state and local taxes (SALT) cap, allowing wealthy taxpayers to deduct more from their federal returns — at an estimated cost of $285 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — along with paid family leave and universal preschool.
Moreover, the Senate’s “Byrd rule” means that no “extraneous matter” is permitted in a bill that passes under reconciliation rules: only spending and revenue items are allowed.
That could remove some of the House’s most cherished provisions — like an immigration overhaul that would grant a 10-year parole to millions of illegal immigrants. The Senate parliamentarian will ultimately decide which parts of the House’s bill can remain.
The debate will take weeks, with all of Congress now back home for a week-long Thanksgiving break.
“Christmas might be the 5-yard line,” the insider predicted, with a final vote by New Year’s Eve.
“It’s the Waterford ball or bust,” he said.
What’s in, what’s out of Biden’s Build Back Better
Climate programs: up to $570 billion in tax credits and spending, including $144 billion for renewable electricity, $7.5 billion for electric-vehicle charging stations, and a $7,500 credit for electric motorcycles
Child care: $382 billion for a new child-care entitlement program plus universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds
Paid leave: $206 billion for four annual weeks of federally funded family and sick leave
Child tax credit: $203 billion for a one-year extension of $250-per-child checks for most families
Home health care: $150 billion for in-home caregivers
Medicaid and other health care: $165 billion for Obamacare subsidies, hearing benefits, and caps on drug costs
Housing: $148 billion for public housing, rental assistance, and new tax credits
Education: $39.8 billion for Pell grants, funding for minority-serving colleges, and grants for illegal immigrants
Tax enforcement: $80 billion to expand the IRS and hire 80,000 new agents
Corporate taxes: $814 billion
Individual taxes: $655 billion on those earning $10 million or more
Out of BBB
Free community college
Medicare dental and vision coverage