Amid reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer may put the House-approved Build Back Better Act up for a vote in mid-December, a coalition of over 100 progressive groups on Thursday urged the New York Democrat to prevent any further cuts to the budget reconciliation package.
"The Build Back Better Act has already been cut drastically."
"As we move forward to getting this critical legislation passed out of the Senate, we, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to do everything in your power to preserve all of the critical investments included in the House-passed bill and reject efforts to further reduce or weaken the bill," the coalition's letter to Schumer says of the $1.75 trillion climate and social spending package.
"The Build Back Better Act has already been cut drastically, with some elements of the bill having been stripped entirely, namely Medicare expansion to dental and vision and the Clean Electricity Performance Program," the letter notes, "while others have been significantly weakened, such as the prescription drug negotiation plan, the immigration provisions that changed from citizenship to temporary status, and the slashing of funding for public and affordable housing, child care, education, paid leave, and other vital programs our people and our communities need."
Spearheaded by the Center for Popular Democracy, Indivisible, People's Action, and the Working Families Party, the letter follows House Democrats passing the Build Back Better package last month, after a few right-wingers in the party forced a delay and unpairing of the bill from bipartisan infrastructure legislation the Senate had approved earlier this year.
Democrats are using the budget reconciliation process to get the packagewhich contains several elements of President Joe Biden's campaign promises and commitments since taking officethrough the evenly divided Senate. It has long been held up by a few lawmakers, primarily Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who have fought to water down the bill and oppose abolishing the filibuster to pass other legislation.
The coalition letter warns Schumer that "in order to ensure that the budget's current investments offer tangible improvements to the lives of working and poor people and place the U.S. on a path towards clean energy, nothing else must be cut from the bill."
"We appreciate your efforts to enact bold investments in our communities to begin to solve some of our society's biggest challenges," the letter adds, "and now is the moment to do everything in your power to ensure that we get the best, most inclusive, reconciliation bill possible across the finish line."
The Hill reports that an unnamed source said the top Senate Democrat was privately telling people the package could be brought to the floor as soon as the week of December 13.
"As soon as the necessary technical and procedural work with the Senate parliamentarian has been completed the Senate will take up this legislation," he said during a Tuesday press conference. "Once that's complete, we're ready to move Build Back Better to the floor."
Schumer said on the chamber's floor Tuesday that "before we hit Christmas Day, it is my goal to have the Senate take action to debate and pass President Biden's Build Back Better legislation."
The letter and reporting on timing expectations come as new polling released this week by Data for Progress and Invest in America shows that the majority of U.S. voters across the political spectrum support the Build Back Act and want it signed into law by the end of the year.
Over half (52%) of all voters "believe it is urgent" that Congress pass the bill and 55% said it is "somewhat" or "very important" that it is signed by the year's end. Those figures are even higher80% and 82%for Democrats. Among Independents, the numbers were 54% for both questions.