Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) are reportedly closing in on an agreement over a significantly scaled-down reconciliation package that draws on last year’s “Build Back Better Act.” While details of the deal have not yet been released, reports indicate that Senator Manchin’s top priorities – lowering the cost of prescription drugs, offering energy- and climate-related tax breaks, and increasing taxes on corporations and the “super wealthy” to increase federal revenues – will be at the center of any final package.
Though details are still being finalized, Majority Leader Schumer is expected to discuss the plan with the Senate parliamentarian – who advises Senators on the complicated rules governing the chamber’s legislative process – as soon as this week. Schumer will likely then bring the bill to the Senate floor before members of the chamber leave on August 5 for the summer recess. However, it is still unclear whether other moderate Senate Democrats, like Senators Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), will support the renegotiated legislation.
Further complicating attempts to enact a reconciliation package, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced last week that he would reject a bipartisan bill to increase domestic semiconductor manufacturing if Democrats continued their plans to enact the reconciliation package. Meanwhile, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will be away from the Senate for a period of time as he recovers from a broken hip. Yet due to the even divide between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, every Senate Democrat will need to vote in favor of the reconciliation package if it is to be enacted.
Even if a deal is reached soon, it is possible that Democratic leaders will avoid announcing the deal until the end of July. This strategy would reduce the amount of time opponents have to raise criticisms of the bill and, by drawing the process out as close to Congress’s August recess as possible, would limit the time Republicans in the Senate have to offer amendments to the bill. (Under budget reconciliation, Senators are allowed to offer an unlimited number of amendments to a reconciliation bill during what is an often hours-long process known as “vote-a-rama.”)
While Democratic members remain optimistic that they will be able to reach an agreement and enact a reconciliation package, time is also running out – Congress will be out of session for the majority of August, and the current budget resolution expires when the new fiscal year begins on October 1. That leaves only two short weeks for advocates to continue weighing-in with their members of Congress on the importance of maintaining significant funding for targeted affordable housing investments in any reconciliation bill moving forward, including significant funding for NLIHC’s top policy priorities:
- $25 billion to expand rental assistance to more than 300,000 households. See how many vouchers your state would receive here.
- $65 billion to make critically needed repairs to public housing to preserve this valuable asset for its 2 million residents.
- $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve over 150,000 affordable, accessible homes for households with the lowest incomes. See NLIHC’s breakdown of how much each state would receive through the Housing Trust Fund here.
While the road to success is steep, this is not the first time advocates have pulled off the seemingly impossible and pushed Congress to maintain significant affordable housing investments in the reconciliation package. Email, tweet, and call your representatives and urge them to include these once-in-a-generation housing investments targeted to ensure people with the lowest incomes have a safe, quality, affordable, and accessible place to call home. Use NLIHC’s call-in script and advocacy toolkit to help create your own message to Congress!
Thank you for your advocacy!