WASHINGTON — President Biden’s spending bill, often called “Build Back Better,” passed in the House on Friday largely on party lines. Now the bill heads to the Senate, where it is expected to be pared down further.
Included in the $2.2 trillion bill is more than $500 billion for green energy and programs to combat climate change, hundreds of billions more for free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, housing, hearing aids for Medicare patients, four weeks of paid family leave and other programs.
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With the 50-50 Senate and Republicans universally opposed, Democratic leaders will need all 50 votes from their own party for the bill to pass in the chamber. Two Democrats, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, do not support the bill so far.
However, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois told NPR that he believes the Democrats will pass the bill before the end of the year.
“We put a lot of work and a lot of time in this,” Durbin said. “And hats off to Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats for what they achieved. Now it’s our turn and we’ve got to buckle down. And we have several things that are critical: military authorization, debt ceiling, continuing resolution. It’s going to be a busy December, but we’ve got to get the job done.”
Durbin spoke with NPR’s Weekend Edition about the negotiations that have already taken place with Manchin and Sinema, as well as what’s left to get their votes.
“They have made their mark on this bill, the one that passed the House and what is likely to pass the Senate,” Durbin said. “What I’ve said to my friend Joe Manchin over and over is, ‘Joe, you’ve made your mark on this bill. Probably more than any single senator. Now close the deal. Show us that there’s enough good in this bill that you can stand up and support it.’ I hope you will and Kyrsten as well.”
On Thursday, before the House passed the spending bill, Sinema spoke with The Washington Post about the bill. The Arizona senator did not say much about its contents, other than that it differed from President Biden’s initial framework.
“So, that’s not the agreement the president put out in his framework several weeks ago,” Sinema told the Post. “While I’m not going to comment on what’s happening in the House at this moment, I can just refer you back to the comments I made when the president put out his framework. … I’m looking forward to working with him to get this done.”
Manchin has said previously that he does not support the inclusion of the paid family leave in the spending bill. Both Manchin and Sinema have also noted their concerns about inflation and certain tax increases.
Gabriel Dunatov and Matthew Schuerman produced the audio interview.