On Friday, two weeks after it sent a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to President Joe Biden’s desk for signing, the United States House of Representatives narrowly passed the $1.85 trillion Build Back Better Act. If passed by the Senate, the social spending bill would be the largest expansion of the social safety net in half a century. The largest portion of the bill, $555 billion, will go toward fighting climate change — the largest-ever investment in climate action in U.S. history.
Unlike the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Build Back Better Act faces many obstacles before it lands on Biden’s desk, if Democrats manage to shepherd it there at all. Conservative and progressive senators remain divided over its scope, cost, and ambition. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia with connections to the coal industry, has successfully campaigned to shrink the bill and to eliminate a program of incentives and penalties that would have pushed the power sector to decarbonize by 2035. Despite the concessions, Manchin maintains that he has “a lot of concerns” about passing the bill. Senate Democrats need Manchin’s vote in order to pass the Bui... Read more