Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill was supposed to be an ambitious piece of progressive legislation that would be President Joe Biden’s signature legislative achievement.
Democrats hoped to push the bill quickly through while still holding narrow 50-50 control of the Senate and a slim majority in the House. But amid debate in the party on what priorities to include and how much the legislation should cost, the scope of the bill has been narrowed significantly.
When President Biden unveiled the latest iteration of his Build Back Better agenda, it came in at $1.75 trillion, compared to the $3.5 trillion Democrats originally envisioned. Biden touted funding for universal child care, $555 billion to address the climate crisis, and a surtax for the country’s wealthiest.
Even at a reduced price point, it still contained the largest climate and social investments in generations. Nevertheless, the bill has undergone numerous changes that have weakened many of Biden’s campaign promises: Free community college and expanded Medicare coverage were cut, for example. Extended funding for child care, pre-K programs, paid family leave, and climate change is still on the table.
Many of the bill’s cuts came at the request of moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who have consistently pushed back on the bill’s offerings, challenging their fellow Democrats' hopes to pass legislation that could be life-changing for millions of Americans.
“With no votes to spare in the Senate, everything hinges on what Manchin and Sinema will accept. ... And a great deal more intense negotiation lies ahead,” writes Vox’s Andrew Prokop.
Follow this storystream to stay updated on the reconciliation bill’s progress and Vox’s analysis of how these policies could impact you.