Congressional Budget Office to release cost estimate of Build Back Better

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Washington —The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will release its cost estimate of President Biden’s signature social spending plan, the Build Back Better Act, on Thursday, setting the stage for the House to move forward with a vote on the sweeping package in the coming hours.

Lawmakers began debate on the $1.75 trillion social spending and climate change package Thursday morning, and a vote for final passage of the bill will be a key step for lawmakers toward enacting the second pillar of Mr. Biden’s domestic policy agenda.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters lawmakers are still waiting on a final financial analysis of the package from the CBO, as well as remaining provisions of the bill to be analyzed by the Senate parliamentarian to ensure it complies with the basic requirements under budget reconciliation procedures.

Democrats are using the process known as reconciliation to fast-track the measure and avert a Republican filibuster in the evenly-divided Senate.

Lawmakers Work To Finish Business Before Thanksgiving Break
The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is seen on November 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. According to media reports, the House is expected to vote on U.S. President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda before lawmakers break for recess for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images


“As we think of all of this progress, it’s pretty exciting. This is historic, it is transformative, it will help us build back better with women and all those who have not previously had the full advantage,” the speaker told reporters during her weekly press conference.  

The CBO said Thursday it expects to publish its complete cost estimate of the social spending package by the afternoon, paving the way for the House to act. The analysis is crucial to unlocking support from moderate Democrats who earlier this month demanded to see the estimate before a vote on final passage in the House. 

The White House has already been preparing for a bad score, with deputy press secretary Andrew Bates on Wednesday saying that “there has been wide agreement on the part of everyone involved —  moderates, liberals, et cetera —  that CBO does not have experience analyzing revenue amounts gained from cracking down on wealthy tax cheats who are taking advantage of every honest taxpayer.”  

Democrats have for months been working to craft the social spending and climate change legislation, which is a signature piece of Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda. While the package initially boasted a $3.5 trillion price tag, the president released last month a revised, scaled-down proposal that was estimated at $1.75 trillion in response to concerns from a pair of moderate Senate Democrats over its size. 

Mr. Biden’s revamped package left out several key policies, such as free community college and 12 weeks of paid family leave, but the House’s version restored a limited version of the paid family leave measure, giving qualifying Americans four weeks of paid leave.

The House bill also raised the cap on the amount of state and local taxes that individuals can deduct from their federal taxes. 

Pelosi defended the changes to the SALT cap Thursday, and said the proposal is about “which states get the revenue they need to meet the needs” of their residents.

“We’re not going to have our states with their hands tied behind their backs” because of the 2017 tax reform bill enacted under former President Donald Trump, which limited the deduction, she said.

Pelosi has conceded the social spending package passed by the House will likely differ from the plan approved by the Senate, where Democrats have a fragile majority, but said the legislation that ultimately is sent to Mr. Biden’s desk will be “transformative and historic.”

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