Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives are determined to vote on President Joe Biden’s massive $1.75 trillion Build Back Better spending plan in the coming week — but could still face a huge obstacle.
The Congressional Budget Office is still crunching the numbers on the controversial proposed social program and climate change plan — and will first need to deliver scores on the true costs of the 10-year spending plan.
And that could send some Democratic supporters running for the hills.
Lawmakers worked with CBO staffers for months to craft the bill, but have to return to the drawing table after negotiations on Capitol Hill cut the overall plan nearly in half.
“They’re in the middle of negotiations,” Keith Hall, former CBO director, told The Hill. “They’re thinking of things and if they keep throwing in changes, what seems to them sometimes to be a pretty modest change, CBO has to rerun their models and rerun everything.”
“And that, that can take a while,” Hall said.
Democrats have narrow support for the spending package, including tentative backing from progressives and centrists. A CBO score that suggests higher costs for the bill could prompt some supporters to back off — and the party cannot afford more than three defections in the House and none in the Senate.
In a statement last week, CBO Director Phillip Swagel noted that his office’s analysis of “the bill’s many provisions is complicated.”
“Other estimates will take longer, particularly for provisions in some titles that interact with those in other titles,” he said. “When we determine a release date for the cost estimate for the entire bill, we will provide advance notice.”
In a report last week, the non-partisan Policy Tax Center determined that the bill could raise taxes for middle-income households, despite Biden’s claims otherwise.
Nonetheless, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during the UN Climate Change Conference in Scotland last week that House Dems plan to pass the measure.
“Yes, we intend, that is our plan, to pass the bill the week of Nov. 15,” Pelosi said.
With the timetable on the Build Back Better Act advancing out of the House still unclear, the Senate will likely consider the National Defense Authorization Act this week. “Timing of consideration of the BBBA in the Senate will largely depend on when the House sends us the bill and when CBO finalizes their scores for all of the committees,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter Sunday.
With Post wires