Responding to chatter that Democrats are warming to the idea of breaking up the House-passed Build Back Better Act, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday the Senate would have to pass a new version and the House will then consider the legislation.
The mega-spending bill, which passed the Democratic-led House last month, includes new federal benefit programs and approximately $550 billion for climate-related initiatives. It also includes an extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit at an estimated cost of $1.6 trillion over 10 years.
"There's this talk about breaking it up," Hoyer, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, told reporters. "We passed a bill. It's now in the Senate. The process works by the Senate saying, 'Well, I agree with this or don't agree with that' or passing their own bill and then we have a conference on that or we agree on that."
Amid the speculation is that Congress could separately reinstate the enhanced, so-called Child Tax Credits, which helped needy families during the pandemic and that has shown some bipartisan support.
Congressional Democrats are looking to give Democratic President Biden a much-needed legislative win amid low polling numbers after one year in office.
"I think there are obviously some things in the bill that we passed that apparently can't pass the Senate, but I'm hopeful that we will pass Build Back Better in a form that the Senate can adopt and will adopt, under reconciliation, obviously, reconciliation is key to that because that allows you to pass it with 51 votes," said Hoyer, of Maryland.
"But when you talk about breaking up the bill, the Senate's hopefully going to come up with a package that they can pass, and then we will consider that."
Hoyer said the House and Senate would resolve any differences but "we can pass Build Back Better, not necessarily in the form that we sent it over there, but in a form that will make an extraordinary difference to the American people, to families, to education, to children, to health care, to climate."
He also said Democrats "have agreement on a large part of what is in the Build Back Better Act" and he hopes it will move it forward to passage and to President Biden's desk.