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Bullet policy · Jan 04, 2022

Build Back Better Legislation Stalled in Senate

The Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376, which the Democrats are trying to pass through the reconciliation process, failed to advance in the Senate prior to the holiday break after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that he would not support the $1.75 trillion spending package.

A draft version of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee’s section of the bill released last month restored significant R&D funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) that was not included in the pared down version of the bill passed by the House in November. The Senate draft includes $866 million for the DOE Office of Science, with $274 million set aside for Biological and Environmental Research. It also includes $5 billion for national laboratory infrastructure, which was stripped from the version passed by the House.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s section of the bill, also released in mid-December, incorporates scientific provisions that are similar to the House bill. It includes:

  • $200 million for Endangered Species Act recovery plans and $9.7 million for wildlife corridor conservation programs at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, USFWS would receive $250 million to address climate-induced weather events.
  • $100 million for the Environmental Protection Agency for air quality and climate research.
  • $65 million for the White House Council on Environmental Quality for environmental and climate data collection.
  • $50 million for the U.S. Geological Survey for grants and other financial assistance to water resources research and technology institutes, centers, and equivalent agencies.

Despite Senator Manchin’s opposition to the reconciliation bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to proceed with a procedural vote soon after Congress resumes in the new year. “Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the ‘Build Back Better Act,’ very early in the new year, so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” said Schumer. He also intends to continue working on the measure “until we pass a bill.”

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