Build Back Better Passes House, But It’s Not a Done Deal

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That’s how many Democrats voted against the Build Back Better social program and environmental bill in the House of Representatives Friday, showing that the party’s solidarity—it will need every Democratic vote to get the bill through the Senate—is fragile. 

The bill establishes a universal free pre-kindergarten program, extends this year’s expansion of the child tax credit for another year and expands clean energy tax credits, among numerous other provisions. It passed the House by a vote of 220-213. Just one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine, voted against, and Republicans were united in opposition.

Just one Democratic holdout could be enough to kill the bill in the narrowly divided Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a deciding vote in the event of a 50-50 party line result.

Friday’s vote followed months of negotiations among Democrats over the bill, which outlines spending of $1.7 trillion over 10 years. All but $160 billion of it would be paid for by new revenue, including taxes on corporations and ultra high-income earners, and increased IRS enforcement against tax cheats, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office released Thursday.

One potential source of trouble for the bill: Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who insisted on trimming it back from its original $3.5 trillion price tag. 

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  1. The White House. “Remarks by President Biden on the Build Back Better Agenda and the Importance of Investing in Child Care.” Accessed Nov. 19, 2021.

  2. Office of the Clerk, US House of Representatives. “Vote Details.” Accessed Nov. 19, 2021.

  3. Congressional Budget Office. “Summary Table.” Accessed Nov. 19, 2021.

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