Rather unexpectedly, the 117th Congress is shaping up to be one of the most productive in recent memory. A new compromise reached by Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could prove to be its most significant achievement yet.
After months of often-acrimonious debate over President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, Democrats have apparently ditched the sobriquet in favor of the substance. The new deal, intended to be passed along party lines in accordance with the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules, would accomplish nearly all of the most important goals of Biden’s initial proposal without its most controversial baggage. It would offer some $433 billion in new spending, bring in $739 billion in revenue and reduce deficits by $300 billion over a decade.
Promisingly, the proposed spending is well focused. A summary of the deal Democrats put out on Wednesday says it would offer fully $369 billion for climate and energy proposals, the most urgent parts of Biden’s original $3.5 trillion proposal. That should turbocharge the administration’s plans to reduce carbon emissions and lay the groundwork for a clean energy economy, while avoiding some of its less defensible outlays. The new bargain would also put $64 billion toward extending COVID-era subsidies for Obamacare health insurance, thus helping millions of Americans avoid significant premium increases.