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Pramila Jayapal

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) speaks to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on November 18, 2021, where she reiterated her call for a vote on Democrats' flagship Build Back Better budget reconciliation package. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

'Let's Get It Done': House Set to Vote on Build Back Better Act After CBO Score Released

"It's time to invest in paid leave, child care, universal pre-k, home care, climate action, affordable housing, healthcare, immigration reform, and so much more. It's time to Build Back Better."

Brett Wilkins

Progressive U.S. lawmakers on Thursday evening looked forward to an imminent vote on President Joe Biden's flagship Build Back Better reconciliation bill after the Congressional Budget Office released its estimates for the sweeping package—an analysis that a few conservative Democrats demanded before they would support the legislation.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that it "estimates that enacting this legislation would result in a net increase in the deficit totaling $367 billion over the 2022-2031 period, not counting any additional revenue that may be generated by additional funding for tax enforcement."

The $367 billion figure does not account for the $207 billion that the CBO projects in Internal Revenue Service savings, "meaning CBO's effective estimate is $160 billion in new deficits," noted NBC News' Sahil Kapur. "Treasury estimates IRS enforcement saves $400 billion, which could satisfy Dems on pay-fors—if they trust it."

Responding to the CBO publication, President Joe Biden tweeted that the $1.75 trillion social and climate package "is going to lower costs, create jobs, and rebuild our economy."

"Let's get this done," the president said.

Progressives relished the prospect of passing the reconciliation package following the publication of the CBO estimate and confirmation by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that a vote would take place Thursday evening.

"Let's get it done," tweeted Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.).

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramilia Jayapal (D-Wash.) tweeted, "Now, let's vote this bill through the House and move one step closer towards making this transformational package law!"

Jayapal added: "It's time to invest in paid leave, child care, universal pre-k, home care, climate action, affordable housing, healthcare, immigration reform, and so much more. It's time to Build Back Better."

When a handful of right-wing Democrats earlier this month sabotaged plans to simultaneously pass the Build Back Better Act and a Senate-approved bipartisan infrastructure bill—fearing that decoupling the two would kill the bolder legislation's chances in the evenly split upper chamber—Jayapal struck a deal with the House holdouts to vote after the CBO finished its review.

Right-wing Democrat Stephanie Murphy of Florida said Thursday she would vote to approve the package after seeing the CBO figures.

"The bill is fiscally disciplined," she said in a statement. "There is a lot of good in this bill, and as a pragmatic Democrat who wants to deliver for my constituents, I am never one to let the perfect become the enemy of the good."

Obstructionist holdout Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) told CNN Thursday that he did not know whether he would vote for the measure when it reached the upper chamber.

"I'm still looking at everything," he said. "I just haven't seen the final bill. So when the final bill comes out, CBO score comes out, then we'll go from there."

CBS News reports:

Some of the CBO figures have come in lower than what the Biden administration estimated. The cost of universal pre-k and affordable child care would cost roughly $382 billion, the agency found. Both estimates put affordable housing-related costs at roughly $150 billion.

Other measures like the cost estimate for expanding Medicare to include hearing was nearly identical, with the CBO saying $36 billion and the White House saying $35 billion. The CBO also estimated that a four-week paid leave included in the House version of the bill would cost $205 billion. That provision was not included in the revised White House framework.

Popular drug pricing provisions of the package would save nearly $300 billion over the next decade, according to the CBO.

Meanwhile, Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took aim at a provision of the reconciliation package that would extend a $285 billion tax cut in the form of a higher cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, saying, "It's bad policy, bad politics."

The SALT deduction provision—now the second-costliest piece of the Build Back Better Act—is supported by several conservative Democrats in high-tax states like New York and New Jersey and would disproportionately benefit wealthier households.

Progressive lawmakers' calls for a vote came as new polling from Data for Progress and Invest in America found that 64% of voters—including 87% of Democrats and 63% of Independents—support the Build Back Better Act.


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