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Delays Ahead for Senate’s Consideration of Build Back Better Bill

By: John Conner

The Senate Finance Committee has released its portion of the Build Back Better Act containing the tax provisions as well as other updated legislative text. Meanwhile, in an announcement, committee Chair Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the committee had made “targeted improvements” in the 1,180-page portion of the act, which was passed in its entirety by the House on Nov. 19.

Comment: On Sunday, Dec. 19, Senator Manchin made it clear that, in its present form, there is no way that he can vote for the bill. He is concerned with the effect on the economy and the highest inflation rate just posted for the previous 40 years. Of special concern is the child tax credit which although proposed to be extended for just one year (i.e., 2022) is likely, in his opinion, to become a permanent part of the tax law. The impact of other provisions in the bill on the fossil fuel industry, which is a keystone part of his state’s economy, is also an issue.

Comment: Progressives continue to be insistent on the inclusion of a dramatic increase in the SALT limit (i.e., from the current $10,000 cap up to $80,000). Meanwhile, Sen. Sinema is adamant not only on no tax rate increases (i.e., as evidenced in the elimination of the proposed increase in the 21% corporate tax rate, as well as the individual marginal rates and taxation on the step-up of assets at death), but also that new “green tax incentives” be included in the law.

Comment: The key consideration here, perhaps, is that a number of these tax proposal ideas are agreed upon by the Democratic senators and, therefore, might still emerge as part of a compromise package contained in the law once Congress returns from their winter recess in January.

In addition to the various revenue-raising provisions in the bill, the Senate Finance Committee’s title (i.e., Title XII of the bill) includes provisions on non-tax matters including paid leave, health care, the environment, higher education, and trade.
Senate committees of Commerce, Small Business, Banking and Housing, and Veterans Affairs also are among committees that have released their portions of the Senate version of the Build Back Better Act, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated last week while also promising that progress was being made toward the ultimate passage of this legislation.

Sen. Wyden stated that his committee modified the House’s text of the bill with “technical and policy changes plus changes to comply with Senate budget rules.” Nevertheless, the chamber’s parliamentarian has yet to weigh in on rules compliance. For instance, certain proposals regarding immigration were originally part of the bill, but they had to be removed.