The reconciliation package once known as the “Build Back Better Act” continues to shrink, as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has backed away from his previous demands to include provisions addressing climate change and increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy that were until recently two major components of the already narrowed package.
Senator Manchin has tentatively agreed to a deal that would provide a two-year extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies – expected to cost $100 billion over the next 10 years – and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for medications, which would generate an estimated $290 billion in savings over the decade. However, Senator Manchin is also insisting that up to half of any funds generated from the package go towards deficit reduction, leaving significantly less money to spend on other priorities.
With the U.S. Senate slated to start a month-long recess on August 8 and the U.S. House out of session beginning August 1, time is running out for Senator Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to reach a final agreement on the reconciliation package. If they can reach an agreement on and pass the package before August recess, the House may return to session early to pass the package and send it to President Biden for his signature. Congress has a hard deadline of October 1 – when the new fiscal year begins – to enact the reconciliation package.
Enacting a reconciliation package without the $150 billion in targeted affordable housing investments included in the “Build Back Better Act” would be a significant missed opportunity. These resources – including $25 billion to expand housing vouchers to an additional 300,000 low-income households; $65 billion to preserve public housing for its 2 million residents; and $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve more than 150,000 units of affordable, accessible homes – are badly needed. These resources would help bridge the growing gap between income and rent, address the nation’s severe shortage of deeply affordable, accessible homes for people with the lowest incomes, and help ensure everyone has a safe, quality, affordable, and accessible place to call home.
Regardless of whether these vital investments are included in a final reconciliation package, such resources are too important – and too necessary – to give up on. NLIHC, our affordable housing champions in Congress, and advocates from around the country will continue to push for federal investments in affordable housing and homelessness programs targeted to those with the lowest incomes.