Five Things You Didn’t Know Were in “Build Back Better”

And five Republican amendments that are dead on arrival.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty

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As soon as Congress sent its $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to President Joe Biden’s desk on Friday, the media focus quickly shifted to the other, major piece of Democratic legislation still awaiting approval: the sprawling Build Back Better Act. That bill includes a host of progressive priorities—paid family and sick leave, public housing, child care, and universal preschool—along with $550 billion aimed at fighting climate change. 

Originally House Democrats had intended to pair the bill with the bipartisan infrastructure package, but opposition by moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to the bill’s price tag—roughly $1.85 trillion in its latest iteration—and ambitious scope led the Democratic leadership to uncouple the bills. With Build Back Better in limbo, six leading progressive Democrats resisted a vote on the infrastructure bill and ultimately voted no—with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) calling it “bullshit”—but there was enough Republican support to get it past the finish line. 

To pass Build Back Better, Democrats need every one of their members’ votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster—whether moderates sign on is anyone’s guess. But the legislation itself, for all the horse-trading about its future, contains some initiatives you probably haven’t heard about. ProPublica reporter Lydia DePillis went through the bill and noted plenty of under-the-radar items:

A safety net for new mothers

More than $1 billion toward pandemic prevention

A huge grant to study the supply chain crisis

A commitment to mental health treatment and suicide prevention

Nearly $100 million for programs to increase composting

Contributions from the other side
The five items above are just a small sampling of the current bill, which will undergo further revisions as it moves through the Senate. And here, from the other side of the aisle, are five amendments—all introduced by House Republicans—that almost certainly will not appear in the final version:

Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) proposes to…prevent the Build Back Better Act from doing anything!

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) is no fan of universal pre-K:

The bill provides nearly $79 billion to bolster the ability of the IRS to pursue high-income tax cheats.

Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) has a different figure in mind:

Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) aims to water down the bill’s environmental justice provisions and give the fossil-fuel industry a break:

Last but not least, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), evidently not a fan of wasting anyone’s time, gets right to the heart of the matter:

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and billionaire owners wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

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