The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) and the Build Back Better (BBB) Act are officially decoupled. Democrats spent last Friday engaged in intense negotiations to try to move both the BIF and the BBB bills forward. Things looked promising at the beginning of the day, but quickly unraveled. Democratic moderates had previously warned Congressional leadership that they would not vote on BBB without a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score to see exactly how much the bill would cost, and they did not back down.
Progressives still insisted that they were unwilling to vote on the BIF until the BBB was approved. It appeared that the dynamics that have been holding up votes for over a month still had not changed. At the end of the day, moderates drafted a letter to progressives pledging to vote on the BBB no later than November 15 and assured progressives that they would support the bill if the CBO score shows that there is no impact to the deficit. This de-escalated the situation. Here is where each bill currently stands:
Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF): The BIF (officially the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”) contains the “hard” infrastructure proposals in President Biden’s agenda. It does not include any funding for housing programs. While the Senate passed the BIF back in early August, the House finally passed it late last Friday, November 5. The House approved the BIF, sending it to President Biden for his signature. It passed the House with the support of most, but not all, progressives and 13 Republicans.
Build Back Better Act (BBB): The Build Back Better Act is a separate, $1.75 trillion bill that includes $150 billion for housing and community development programs. On Friday, the House approved a rule to bring the BBB to the floor for a vote. The rule passed along party lines with all Democrats voting in support. Congress is currently in recess and the BBB vote may happen the week of November 15. However, the CBO says it may be closer to Thanksgiving until they’re able to score the bill.
If the CBO score is consistent with the Democrats’ claim that the bill has no impact on the deficit, then the BBB Act should be able to pass the House along party lines. If it shows that it increases the deficit, there may be an issue. The text sent to CBO for scoring includes $154 billion in housing funding and a last-minute addition of housing tax credit provisions. The bill will not be changed while the CBO is analyzing it.
Although these two pieces of President Biden’s agenda have been intertwined over the past few months, they are now moving separately through Congress. The President is expected to sign the BIF into law this week. The pathway for the BBB Act is less clear as Congress waits on the CBO score.
To urge your legislators to pass the BBB Act with the $150 billion proposed for housing funds, visit NAHRO’s Action Alert Center.