Senate Democrats May Still Cut Out Huge Parts Of Biden’s “Build Back Better” Spending Bill

The House passed Joe Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” budget reconciliation spending bill a couple of weeks ago, after months of negotiations and pressure from Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The horse-trading in the evenly split Senate has now begun, and the bill may be facing an even more difficult path there.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have already taken public positions against different parts of the bill and announced their intention to rework its provisions before supporting it. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) cannot afford to lose a single vote on the bill if he hopes to see it get passed in some form to likely be sent back to the House as amended.

Pelosi did her best job at selling the bill to the Senate, saying that “ninety percent” of it was written in conjunction with the White House and Senate before being passed by the House. She predicted the bill might see minor changes, but “nothing major,” in her opinion.

Several significant areas may be in store for some significant revisions in the Senate, however.

Manchin has said several times that he opposes including paid family and medical leave in the spending bill. He has left the possibility that he would support a bipartisan bill for paid leave down the road. The House bill already has significant cuts to the original proposal made by the administration. Manchin has said he will not support the additional debt the program would cause.

Manchin has also said that the “Hyde Amendment” is an absolute necessity for him to support any version of the spending bill. The Hyde Amendment is the language included in every federal budgetary bill since the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that prohibits federal funding of abortions in almost all situations. The House bill excluded the amendment in the version it passed.

The House bill also reinstates state, and local tax (SALT) deductions from federal taxes capped at $10,000 per year during the Trump administration. The House bill raised the cap to $80,000 per year. The measure benefits the highest earners in high-tax states like New York, California, and New Jersey.

Sanders has called raising the SALT cap “bad politics,” as it helps the “one percent” instead of the middle class. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) has said that SALT deductions give the “wrong people tax breaks.”

Manchin has also objected to various “Green New Deal” provisions in the bill. He and Tester have ruled out supporting a carbon tax as a part of the Clean Electricity Payment Program included in the package. Manchin also objects to electric vehicle purchase tax credits and has said that he will require all climate change programs to be “paid for” without additional taxes.