Will Biden's Social Spending Bill Pass This Week? Some Skepticism

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Nov. 15 2021, Published 10:36 a.m. ET

President Biden is inking his pen to give the infrastructure bill the final go-ahead. Now, the next piece of spending legislation on the agenda is the Build Back Better Act, Congress' social spending package.

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Will the social spending bill pass or will the government have to give the package more nips and tucks before pushing any new spending through?

Biden inks his pen for the infrastructure bill

On Nov. 15, Biden is set to sign the infrastructure bill into law after it passed through the legislative process. With $550 billion in new spending that rivals the New Deal era, U.S. railroads, broadband, utilities, and roadways are poised to get a boost.

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Next on the agenda: The Build Back Better Act

With the infrastructure bill ready to be enacted at the state and local levels, another bigger package is now on the agenda. The social spending bill, or Build Back Better Framework, consists of $1.85 trillion in domestic policy spending.

Some of the plan's key elements include:

  • Universal and free preschool

  • Childcare subsidies

  • Additional tax cuts for families with children

  • Rebates and tax credits for shifting to residential clean energy

  • Coastal restoration, forest management, and soil conservation

  • Reduced health care premiums through the Affordable Care Act

  • Prevents wealthy people and corporations from using excessive tax cuts that result in minimal true tax rates

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Will the social spending bill pass?

The social spending bill seems radical, but it's teeming with spending policy that could pad the blow of rapid inflation while bolstering the middle class. The bill is propped up by progressive Democrats who tried to stall the infrastructure bill as a way to build collateral for the domestic spending package.

Factors that could impact the social spending bill

Like most Democrat-led policies, Republican voters could easily cause a blockage. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) voted for the infrastructure bill but isn't certain the social spending bill will pass unphased this week. While the package expresses that it's fully paid for by reversals of former President Donald Trump's corporate and wealthy tax cuts, others aren't convinced of the legitimacy of those claims.

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Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) might be a Democrat, but he aligns his voting with Republican norms. He has pushed against elements of the social spending bill, especially paid leave for parents with newborns, an element that Democrats have only shrunk from 12 to 4 weeks but not eliminated.

House expected to vote on the bill soon, expert says social spending is a go

According to Biden's top economic adviser Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, the social spending bill will likely pass in its current $1.85 trillion form. The House is poised to vote on the bill this week, with Deese presuming that it will move through without qualm.

Deese's optimism is refreshing, but it took months for the infrastructure bill to escape stall mode and move into law. Perhaps the crushing blow of inflation, which increased 6.4 percent on a trailing 12-month basis as of October, is inspiring lawmakers to move more quickly.

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