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Democrats Signal Senate to Trim 10 Percent of Spending Bill, Another House Vote Inevitable

Newsweek logo Newsweek 11/21/2021 Christina Zhao
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) participates in a bill enrollment ceremony for legislation ending U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. © Alex Edelman/Getty Images House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) participates in a bill enrollment ceremony for legislation ending U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Democrats signaled Sunday that the Senate will pass the $1.7 trillion social spending bill with several priorities trimmed or removed—meaning the package that's key to President Joe Biden's domestic agenda will likely be sent back to the House for a final vote.

The Democratic-controlled House passed $1.7 trillion in new funding to expand the U.S. social safety net—known as the Build Back Better Act—in a 220-213 vote on Friday, with one Democrat crossing party lines to vote with Republicans against the measure.

The legislation now heads to the 50-50 split Senate, where Democrats still have to navigate major challenges with no room for error. For it to clear the chamber, Democrats expect that several provisions will likely be amended to satisfy Senator Joe Manchin and the Senate parliamentarians' arcane budget rules.


"The Build Back Better Act as passed by the House is not going to be the same when it comes back to the House after the Senate gets its hands on it," said Rep. Ro Khanna on MSNBC's The Sunday Show.

The legislation will pass the Senate with amendments but "it's going to be 90 percent" of the version passed by the House, with about 10 percent removed, the California Democrat added.

Senator Debbie Stabenow also said the House-passed social safety net and climate bill ​​will remain "mostly or overwhelmingly intact" after overcoming changes in the upper chamber.

Provisions that won't be removed include "lowering costs for families, and we're going to make sure we're tackling the climate crisis in a way that's going to create jobs," the Michigan Democrat said on MSNBC's The Sunday Show.

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Among its major priorities, the legislation includes $555 billion in funding for climate initiatives (the largest effort on the worsening issue in U.S. history), child care funding, university pre-K, and extension of health care subsidies.

The bill faces major challenges in the Senate and several provisions are expected to be cut down or removed entirely.

It will need to clear the so-called "Byrd Bath" process, under which the Senate parliamentarian will determine whether its individual components can fall under the budget process called reconciliation. The parliamentarian has scrapped Democratic attempts to include immigration provisions in previous legislation, so the ones included in the social spending bill may not make the final version.

For it to clear the Senate through reconciliation, the bill will need support from all 50 Democratic members. Manchin, a moderate West Virginia Democrat who opposes a paid family leave provision, has yet to fully endorse the package despite already having negotiated significant cuts, frustrating progressives.

The bill is expected to head back to the House for a final vote after several provisions are removed following Senate consideration. The lower chamber will then hold a final vote on the amended legislation.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

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