Senate To Consider 'Build Back Better' After Thanksgiving Break

Taxes, paid leave and immigration are three parts of the legislation that could be cut or significantly changed in the Senate.
Posted at 12:42 PM, Nov 26, 2021

The Senate is set to consider President Biden's signature "Build Back Better" legislation after the Thanksgiving break, and there are a few provisions that could be on the chopping block.

Taxes, paid leave and immigration are three areas that could be cut or significantly changed in the Senate — either by members or by the Senate parliamentarian. 

On taxes, the House version of Build Back Better raises the state and local tax deduction maximum. This allows some Americans to pay less in federal taxes when they live somewhere with high local taxes, like California or New York. Critics, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, say it's a tax break for the rich. 

"At a time when Democrats are correctly demanding that the wealthy finally start paying their fair share of taxes, it would be absurd and hypocritical to provide the richest people in this country with massive tax breaks," Sanders said.  

On paid leave, the House approved four weeks of paid family and medical leave — a major Democratic priority. But in the evenly divided Senate, every Democrat needs to be in agreement. And Sen. Joe Manchin has said he does not support paid family leave as a part of Build Back Better.  

"People should be able to have family leave as they need it, but we should be paying into it, same as we do for Social Security. It's employer/employee participation. I'm talking to my Republican colleagues and friends, and my Democrats. We can work a bill out in the regular process that doesn't put a burden on taxpayers," Manchin said.  

And Immigration reform is another big Democratic priority. The House's bill gives undocumented immigrants who were in the country before 2011 the ability to live and work in the U.S. for up to 10 years.  

But that section could get stripped out if the parliamentarian says it doesn't adhere to the Senate's reconciliation rules. Democrats are using the special legislative process to push this bill through Congress without any Republican support.  

Initially, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't want to pass a bill that couldn't survive in the Senate. But she left that strategy behind, and appears ready to keep negotiations going. 

"Whatever comes out of the Senate, we'll be working together with them so we'll have agreement when it comes back to the House. I have absolutely no doubt," Pelosi said. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he wants to pass Build Back Better before Christmas, but that could be an ambitious timeline considering that Congress also needs to deal with government funding and the debt ceiling next month.