Much of Build Back Better Will Pass This Year, Hoyer Insists

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said Tuesday that he thinks that a significant part of Democrats’ Build Back Better package will become law this year, before the midterm elections.

“I’m of the belief that Build Back Better is going to pass,” Hoyer said in an interview with Politico. “It won’t pass as we sent it to the Senate, obviously. It will be changed, but that’s the legislative process.”

Hoyer also said he didn’t think Democrats could pass the bill in smaller pieces — or “chunks,” as President Joe Biden said last week — and instead should concentrate on the elements that can be included in a single major piece of legislation.

Hoyer noted that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), whose rejection of the version of the bill passed by the House has left the legislation in limbo, supports numerous provisions within the overall package. “The overwhelming majority of that piece of legislation is supported by 50 Democratic United States senators, and they’ve said so,” he said. “There are some things that they don’t support, and we haven’t moved ahead on that. But we need to keep working on that, and we need to get it done.”

What the bill could look like: So what could Manchin conceivably support? Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig highlights three areas:

* Health care: The Build Back Better bill passed by the House includes new subsidies for those buying health insurance through the federal exchanges, and Manchin included a similar provision in the now-withdrawn version he offered to the White House last month. In addition, Manchin has expressed interest in the bill’s proposal to allow the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices.

* Education: Democrats want to fund universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year olds, a plan Manchin supports.

* Climate: The House bill included more than $500 billion for climate-related initiatives, with a heavy emphasis on the use of tax credits to spur the transition to green energy. “The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else," Manchin said earlier this month. “There's a lot of good things in there.”

Plenty of turmoil ahead: Although some Democrats are hopeful they can push a large part of Biden’s agenda across the finish line in the coming months, there is considerable disagreement about the best way to proceed, and no small degree of anger over the failure to do so quickly. Some Democrats vented their anger at Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to Politico. “The level of malpractice is stunning. BBB is a once-in-a-10-year opportunity, and we f--ked it up,” one unnamed House aide said.

Another complication could come from across the aisle. As if Democrats didn’t have enough hurdles to clear internally, a conservative group is rolling out an ad campaign designed to pressure Manchin and fellow Democrat Sen. Jon Tester (MT) to oppose the Build Back Better bill. The Common Sense Leadership Fund is reportedly spending $1.5 million on ads warning about the “liberal agenda” promoted by the bill.

Even if Democrats in the Senate can come to an agreement with Manchin, it’s not clear that progressives in the House will accept a compromise bill. Optimistic as he may be, Hoyer admitted that the battle over the size and scope of the bill could be difficult. What happens in the House if the Senate passes a “skinny” bill to please Manchin? “Very frankly, we’ll have a decision to make,” Hoyer said. “Do we support that which the Senate can pass?”

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