Senator Manchin Lays Out Potential Framework for New Reconciliation Package

In an interview following President Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) laid out a potential framework for a revised reconciliation package that could win his support. Senator Manchin’s proposal focuses on building federal revenue through prescription drug savings and tax reform. The resulting revenues would be used to help pay for programs to reduce the federal deficit and fight inflation and to enact new climate change and a very limited number of social spending programs. Any proposal to alter the tax code could hit resistance from Senator Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), who has been staunchly opposed to efforts to reform the individual and corporate tax codes.

The slimmed-down package – now being referred to by the White House and congressional leadership as  “Building a Better America” – might also be met with some resistance from progressive democrats in the House and Senate, who are interested in enacting as many of the policies included in the “Build Back Better Act” as possible. However, Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, signaled that she and her colleagues are open to continuing negotiations. Senator Manchin in December thwarted congressional democrats’ hopes of enacting the $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better Act,” an historic economic recovery package that included over $150 billion for investments in affordable housing and community development (see Memo, 12/20/21). The bill included robust funding for NLIHC’s HoUSed campaign’s top policy priorities, including:

  • $25 billion to expand rental assistance to an additional 300,000 households.
  • $65 billion to preserve public housing for the nation’s almost 2 million public housing residents.
  • $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to construct, preserve, and operate more than 150,000 new units of affordable, accessible housing for households with the lowest incomes.

Democrats are using a process called “budget reconciliation” to move the spending plan through Congress. The process would allow the bill to pass the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes typically required in the chamber. However, with an evenly divided Senate, every Democratic senator’s vote is needed if the bill is to be enacted.

The specific programs that could receive funding in a revamped Building a Better America bill have yet to be determined. It is essential for advocates to continue urging their members of Congress to protect and advance the historic affordable housing investments that were included in the Build Back Better Act in any new reconciliation package. As homelessness increases and millions of the lowest-income renters struggle to stay housed, we cannot let Congress miss this historic opportunity.

Take Action

Your members of Congress need to hear from you about why investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund are essential to your community and why they must remain in any budget reconciliation package. Breaking housing investments off into a separate bill is unacceptable.

Thank you for your advocacy!