Build Back Better’s Fate Uncertain


Build Back Better’s Fate Uncertain

December 21, 2021


As the holiday season arrives, Congressional efforts to pass the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) – the budget reconciliation package – before the end of the year have hit a massive roadblock. Since our previous post, Congress made some progress enacting President Biden’s agenda. The House passed both the BBBA and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. While the infrastructure bill was sent to the President’s desk and signed into law, the BBBA has come to an abrupt halt in the Senate, as Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has stated he will not support the bill. Negotiations on how the BBBA could be brought to the floor of the Senate for a test vote or reconfigured to meet Sen. Manchin’s requirements are very much ongoing. Even as that work continues it is worth a deeper examination of the BBBA and how it has evolved since passage in the House

Following House passage, Senate Democrats began to negotiate internally over changes to the Build Back Better Act to ensure every single Democratic Senator would support the package and vote ‘yes.’ Senate Democrats have also been working behind closed doors with the Congressional Budget Office and the Senate Parliamentarian to ensure that none of the provisions would violate the Byrd Rule which limits the reconciliation process to policies that directly affect spending inside a ten-year budget window. As part of this ongoing work to finalize the bill and ensure compliance, a new version of the agriculture provisions that includes some changes relative to the House-passed version was recently posted to the Senate Agriculture Committee’s website. In this post we discuss how the following food and agriculture portions of the Build Back Better Act have evolved.

Build Back Better Act: Agriculture and Nutrition Provisions

As anticipated, the topline funding for the Build Back Better Act had been negotiated down from $3.5 trillion to just under $2 trillion in spending as part of passing the bill in the House. That reduction was intended to secure the support from House and Senate moderates, including Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kristen Sinema (D-AZ) who had publicly balked at the size of the bill and some of the initial provisions. As part of reducing the overall topline to just under $2 trillion, a number of key non-agricultural climate components and major social program investment were eliminated, along with reduced spending on child nutrition programs. Overall, this package includes more than $90 billion in agriculture, forestry, rural development and nutrition investments. 

Thankfully, agriculture conservation spending, rural development, debt relief for “economically distressed borrowers,” and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged producers were spared major reductions in spending compared with what was originally proposed

Prior to the reduction of the topline from $3.5 trillion to just under $2 trillion in spending, the conservation investments stood at roughly $28 billion. In recognition of the important potential of conservation agriculture to play in mitigating climate change, the conservation spending received only a “hair-cut” and was reduced to $27.15 billion. Rural development investments also received only a small trim and were reduced from $18.69 billion to $18.3 billion. The package that passed the House includes roughly $12 billion in spending on debt relief for “economically distressed borrowers,” and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged producers. This is in line with the estimated $11-12 billion worth of spending that was originally proposed. 

Unfortunately, investments in agriculture research and child nutrition programs were not spared and saw significant reductions. Originally proposed at $7.75 billion, agricultural research investments saw about a 74% reduction to a total of roughly $2 billion. Originally proposed at a total of $35 billion, child nutrition investments were reduced by 71% to $10 billion. While it was not subject to the level of reductions that nutrition and research investments saw, forestry provisions were reduced by roughly 32% from $40 billion to $27.45 billion.

The changes included in the new Senate version of the agriculture provisions are not as extensive as the previous changes and are largely focused on addressing issues that have arisen with the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) “scoring” of the conservation program investments which are in the following section. As Senate Democrats modify the bill with with CBO and the Parliamentarian to re-finalize the bill it’s likely that further revisions will be made.

Below is further analysis of the following food and agriculture components of Build Back Better Act:

Conservation

The conservation investments of the BBBA were spared major reductions. On paper, the agricultural conservation section of the BBBA totals $30.45 billion with some of the programs receiving increases relative to what was originally proposed. However, the actual real world dollar amount is roughly $27.15 billion. This discrepancy is due to the way the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is “scoring” the conservation programs and the impacts of mandatory sequestration – an automatic annual reduction in mandatory funding that was part of the Budget Control Act of 2011.

This $27.15 billion in new conservation agriculture investments would represent a roughly 45% increase in funding for USDA conservation programs, relative to the 2018 Farm Bill projected cost at the time of enactment.

As part of the overall reduction from $3.5 trillion to just under $2 trillion, the agriculture conservation portion was reduced from the original $28 billion to $27.15 billion. Leadership then allowed the agriculture committees to go back in and increase spending for all mandatory conservation programs that are subject to sequestration by roughly 5.7% to make up for the over $1.2 billion in real world reductions to conservation funding that would occur over time due to sequestration.  

This additional funding is in line with the advocacy of members of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, who have argued that if the topline is reduced, agriculture should be spared from reductions. Farm programs, including conservation programs essential to addressing climate change, are routinely already cut by approximately 7% annually due to previous extensions of the mandatory sequestration of farm programs as offsets in previous legislation. In part due to NSAC’s advocacy, Leadership listened and factored the impacts of sequestration on conservation programs into their bill. 

In addition to sequestration impacts, the initial CBO score for the bill raised concerns about the ability the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Agricultural Watershed Easement Program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program to spend all of the allocated funding within the 10 year budget window and therefore scored those provisions as spending roughly $3.5 billion dollars less in the real world when compared to the on-paper rate of spending. This scoring provided the Senate Agriculture Committee an on-paper surplus of $3.65 billion with which they chose to increase Conservation Technical Assistance by $2.15 billion and Climate Hubs by $50 million. The remaining $1.45 billion was allocated to debt relief ($1 billion) and research and forestry programs including the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative ($75 million), the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research ($75 million), and the Forestry subtitle ($300 million).

CBO has since released a new updated score based on the latest version of the agriculture title which includes the latest changes. Curiously the new CBO score shows discrepancy between the on-paper rate of spending and the real-world estimate, growing to roughly $5 billion, rather than shrinking as was intended. This will most likely precipitate further changes to how funding is allocated within the agriculture title. The discrepancy between real-world estimates and on-pager figures is important. Any of the funding that CBO scores or estimates that will not be spent inside the 10-year budget window is essentially lost to efforts to use the funding as pay-for to build baseline during the 2023 Farm Bill.

Altogether, this is why on paper the conservation subtitle appears to have been increased to $30.45 billion. However, as noted above, the actual real world on-the-ground spending total, after sequestration and CBOs “scoring” is factored in, is roughly $27.15 billion in total conservation investments.  As Senate Democrats continue to work with CBO and the Parliamentarian to modify the bill it’s likely that further revisions will be needed.

The vast majority of the spending in the conservation title contains what are sometimes called in policy circles “guardrails”-associated policy language that is intended to ensure the funding is targeted in a certain way. 

In this case, the conservation title includes numerous “guardrails” focused on ensuring that the increased direct spending to various USDA conservation programs will address climate change. While the specific language varies slightly from program to program, most of the investments include “guardrails” targeting the funding for climate change, such as the following:

“agricultural conservation practices or enhancements that the Secretary determines directly reduce soil or nutrient losses or greenhouse gas emissions, or capture or sequester greenhouse gas emissions, associated with agricultural production.”

Of the $27 billion, the largest single allocation of funding is $9 billion in new funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This would represent roughly a 50% increase in program funding with $8.2 billion of the $9 billion in spending allocated to Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 through FY 2026. As discussed in a previous post, the agriculture committees structured many of the investments to create the opportunity to use the funding as a “pay-for” to build the farm bill baseline in the 2023 Farm Bill. The overall “guardrail” for the EQIP section funding reads as follows: 

“The funds shall be available for 1 or more agricultural conservation practices or enhancements that the Secretary determines directly reduce soil or nutrient losses or greenhouse gas emissions, or capture or sequester greenhouse gas emissions, associated with agricultural production.”

In addition to the language above, there is another important “guardrail” that waives the existing statutory requirement that 50% of all EQIP funds go to practices relating to livestock production. 

From a climate change mitigation perspective, this is a partial win. It is not as strong as many in the sustainable agriculture community would have liked, but in combination with the specific targeting language mentioned above, it could drastically limit new funding support for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Existing set-asides for beginning and socially disadvantaged producers are retained as part of this new funding. 

The EQIP provision also increases the set-aside within EQIP for the Conservation Innovation Grants subprogram from $25 million per year to $50 million per year. However, that includes new language that directs the Secretary to prioritize “proposals that utilize diet and feed management to reduce enteric methane emissions from ruminants.” Reducing enteric methane emissions from ruminants is laudable but we will be monitoring this to ensure that the inclusion of this language does not result in the continued subsidization of certain animal agriculture production systems that are major drivers of agriculture-based greenhouse gas emissions. For the use of EQIP funds to meet the climate goals set by the Biden Administration, they must prioritize transitions to more climate-friendly systems based on grazing and perennial pastures. 

The bill also includes $4.1 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). This would represent roughly a 55% increase in program funding. Similar to EQIP, $3.35 billion of that funding is allocated to FY 2024 through FY 2026, to create the opportunity for the agriculture committees to build the farm bill baseline in the 2023 Farm Bill. In addition to targeting the funding to “practices or enhancements that directly reduce soil or nutrient losses or greenhouse gas emissions, or capture or sequester greenhouse gas emissions,” the CSP investment also includes language authorizing CSP “climate bundles” as proposed in the NSAC supported Agricultural Resilience Act and Farmers Fighting Climate Change Act

“State-specific or region-specific groupings or bundles of agricultural conservation activities for climate change mitigation appropriate for cropland, pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land, and producers transitioning to organic or perennial production systems.”

Most of the roughly $27.15 billion worth of new conservation investments is geared towards funding existing programs and initiatives, however, the conservation portion of the bill also includes funding for a new $5 billion cover crop program to be administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) under existing spending authorities. Under the new program, farmers would be paid $25 per acre, capped at 1,000 acres per farm, to establish “1 or more cover crop practices in advance of the applicable crop year”. 

Recognizing that a significant number of producers farm on land that they rent rather than own and that this can be a complication for farmers interested in cover crops, the program provides an additional payment of $5 per acre, capped at 1,000 acres, to landowners to establish “1 or more cover crop practices in advance of the applicable crop year”. The new FSA cover crop program also includes a prevented planting “top-off” payment, where producers who have relevant crop insurance can get a higher payment if they plant a cover crop on land that they were prevented from planting an insured crop on because of weather conditions. 

In addition to the investments above, the conservation portion provides $1.7 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, a roughly 38% increase in program funding, and $7.5 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a roughly 250% increase in program funding. The increased investment for RCPP includes climate change related “guardrails” and the option for the Secretary to prioritize projects that “leverage corporate supply chain sustainability commitments or utilize models that pay for outcomes from targeting methane and nitrous oxide emissions associated with agricultural production systems.”

The bill also includes a number of investments in technical assistance, such as $2.350 billion for conservation technical assistance through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), along with the authority for NRCS to utilize that funding for the purpose of entering into cooperative agreements with what are assumed to be non-USDA technical assistance providers. The bill also includes $100 million for NRCS work with the Regional Climate Hubs that provide information and technical assistance to agriculture and forestry stakeholders. Lastly, the technical assistance section also includes $600 million for NRCS to monitor, track, and collect data to assess and quantify carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions benefits associated with the investments discussed above. 

Conservation (in millions)
Program Original Proposal House Passed Senate Changes
Soil Conservation Assistance (Cover Crops) $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
Environmental Quality Incentives Program $9,000 $9,000 $9,000
Conservation Stewardship Program $4,000 $4,100 $4,100
Agricultural Conservation Easement Program $1,500 $1,700 $1,700
Regional Conservation Partnership Program $7,500 $7,500 $7,500
Conservation Technical Assistance through Natural Resources Conservation Service $200 $200 $2,350
Regional Climate Hubs $50 $50 $100
Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Quantification Program $600 $600 $600
Administrative Costs  $100 $100 $100
Total $28,000 $28,250* $30,450*
*This does not include the impact of mandatory sequestration on conservation program funding. The actual real world amount of funding or outlays that includes the impact of sequestration is roughly $27.15B

Research, Education, Extension and Urban Agriculture 

As noted above, agriculture research investments were not spared the axe. Originally proposed at $7.75 billion, agricultural research investments saw about a 72% cut, being reduced to a total of $2.15 billion. As part of cutting nearly $6 billion worth of proposed agriculture research investments, many proposed investments were eliminated altogether. All proposed investments in the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Economic Research Service were eliminated, and investments in research facilities and infrastructure were scaled back significantly when compared to research program spending. 

Thankfully, NSAC’s core research investment priorities were not eliminated altogether. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program was provided $120 million, the Organic Research and Education Initiative was provided $60 million, the Agriculture Food and Research Initiative was provided $285 million, and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative was provided $60 million to carry out education, extension, and research relating to climate change. 

Previously, a significant amount of the research project investments were allocated to FY 2024 through FY 2026, so as to create the opportunity for them to build the farm bill baseline in the 2023 Farm Bill. This is no longer the case and is one of the consequences of the reduced research investments. In the current iteration, all of the following except one of the investments (1890s scholarships) are allocated as lump sums in FY 2022. However, that funding is not “one-year funding” and is therefore available until expended. We anticipate that the USDA will aim to expend all of the funding prior to Congress passing a new farm bill in 2023. 

The following chart details where the $2.15 billion investments are allocated and how that compares to what was originally proposed prior to the reduction of the topline from $3.5 trillion to just under $2 trillion. To fully understand the origins of the small increases included in the latest Senate version of the Build Back Better Act relative to the House-passed version of the bill, see the Conservation section above. 

Research, Education, Extension and Urban Agriculture (in millions)
Program Original Proposal House Passed Senate Changes
Research Facilities Act $3,650 $1,000 (all for Minority Serving Institutions) $1,000 (all for Minority Serving Institutions)
Research Equipment Grants $100 $0 $0
AGARDA $380 $30 $30
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research $540 $210 $285
Biomass Research and Development $5 $0 $0
Agriculture Research Service (includes LTAR & climate hubs) $250 $0 $0
Economic Research Service $45 $0 $0
National Agricultural Statistics Service $54 $5 (urban ag study) $5 (urban ag study)
Office of the Chief Economist Climate Office $16 $0 $0
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative $500 $210 $285
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education $500 $120 $120
Organic Research and Extension Initiative $200 $60 $60
Specialty Crop Research Initiative $200 $60 $60
Crop Protection and Pest Management Program $30 $0 $0
Genome to Phenome $20 $0 $0
1890s Centers of Excellence $15 $5 $5
Extension 1862s $600 $80 $80
Extension 1890s $126 $40 $40
Extension 1994s $40 $35 $35
Urban Ag REE $65 $5 $5
Urban Ag Office $124 $10 $10
1890s Scholarships $190 $100 $100
Tribal Scholarships $50 $15 $15
Multicultural Scholarships $50 $15 $15
TOTAL $7,750 $2,000 $2,150

Rural Development and Energy

As part of reducing the topline, rural development investments were decreased from $18.69 billion to $18.33 billion. In addition to reducing the overall rural development investment by roughly $300 million, the new proposed Rural Partnership Program was reduced by 80% from $3.8 billion to $837 million, the Rural Energy Energy for America (REAP) was decreased by 20% from $2.5 billion to $2 billion, and several other programs that were previously proposed to receive funding are no longer part of the bill. These reductions made it possible to include several other new programs with significant funding that were not included in previous iterations of the bill. That includes a new Rural Water Lead Removal Grant program funded at $970 million, and $2.8 billion for Electric Loans for Renewable Energy through section 317 of the Rural Electrification Act that includes loan forgiveness authority. 

While it is unfortunate that the funding for REAP, which provides grants and loans to farmers and rural businesses interested in making energy efficiency improvements and investing in renewable energy systems, was reduced, the $2.0 billion in new funding would amount to a 300% increase relative to the 2018 Farm Bill. Roughly $300 million of the $2 billion is set-aside to support underutilized renewable energy technologies such as distributed wind and geothermal which have had trouble competing for assistance from the program due to the relatively inexpensive cost of solar technologies. The bill also reduces the required grantee cost share from 75% to 50% of the total project cost. 

The following chart details where the $18.3 billion investments are allocated and how that compares to what was originally proposed prior to the reduction of the topline from $3.5 trillion to just under $2 trillion.

Rural Development and Energy (in millions)
Program Original Proposal House Passed Senate Changes
Rural Water Programs $430 $97 $97
Rural Electrics’ Clean Energy Transition $9,700 $9,700 $9,700
Rural Water Lead Removal Grants $0.0 $970 $970
Electric Loans for Renewable Energy $0.0 $2,880 $2,880
Rural Energy Savings Program $200 $200 $200
Rural Partnership Program $3,870 $970 $970
Rural Equity Aid Act $390 $0 $0
Business and Industry Program $40 $0 $0
Rural Energy for America Program $2,555 $2,000 $2,000
Biofuels Infrastructure Program $960 $960 $960
RD Administrative Funding $545 $553 $553
Total $18,690 $18,330 $18,330

The package that passed the House includes roughly $12 billion in spending on debt relief for “economically distressed borrowers,” and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged producers. This is in line with the estimated $11-12 billion worth of spending that was originally proposed. Many of the summaries that have been released state the investment is $6 billion, not roughly $12 billion. This discrepancy is due to the fact that the agriculture committees are only noting what would be new spending. The debt relief section includes a re-allocation of roughly $6 billion in funding that was included in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged producers and race-specific debt relief for farmers of color that has been tied up in the courts over constitutional challenges. The Build Back Better Act uses funding from the ARPA originally targeted to debt relief for farmers of color to build a race-neutral debt relief assistance program for “economically distressed borrowers” and at-risk and limited resource farmers and ranchers. 

Debt Repayment

The new debt repayment program would write off 100% of outstanding USDA loan indebtedness for “economically distressed borrowers”. The provision includes a long and complicated list of criteria defining “economically distressed borrowers.” The USDA estimates that this will result in 85% of all socially disadvantaged borrowers receiving full direct loan debt repayment. 

For borrowers that do not fit the definition of “economically distressed,” eligible farm debt relief is also available. It is capped at $150,000 per farm/ranch (prior to efforts to reduce the topline for the entire package this was capped $200,000), minus the amount of payments (if any) the producer received from the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) or the Market Facilitation Payment (MFP) program. Both of those options are written in a way that does not include a cap on available funding. The USDA is also provided with an additional $1.02 billion for payments or loan modifications focused on at-risk and limited resource farmers and ranchers with guaranteed loans.  

In addition to the debt repayment programming, this section includes a number of other related investments targeted towards socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, most of which were included in the ARPA but were again included in the Build Back Better Act as part of building out a package of equity investments that will address concerns raised in litigation. That includes $200 million for technical assistance and financial assistance for underserved farmers and ranchers; $200 million to address land loss and improve land access, including addressing heirs property issues; $10 million to fund the equity commission that is being established by USDA;  $189 million to fund related agricultural research, education, and scholarships at 1890s and 1994 land grant universities and the Alaskan, Hawaiian, and insular institutions; $750 million in financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and foresters who have suffered discrimination in USDA lending programs; and lastly, $35 million for administrative costs to implement the debt relief and related provisions discussed above. 

Child Nutrition

As part of reducing the topline, child nutrition investments were decreased from $35 billion to $10 billion. The majority of the child nutrition investments are dedicated to overall expansions in access to free and reduced school meals and summer nutrition assistance. The bill would expand the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), allowing nearly 9 million more children to access meals during the regular school year. The bill also extends the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children Program for two more years. This program provides low income families with $65/month per child during the summer months to ensure that they continue to receive the adequate nutrition they would normally receive during the school year. 

One of the more interesting food systems and sustainable agriculture provisions of the bill is the inclusion of $250 million (originally proposed at $634 million prior to topline reductions) for a Healthy School Meal Incentives Demonstration Program, which includes farm to school related activities, such as local procurement and experiential education, as eligible activities. The bill also includes $30 million (originally proposed at $500 million prior to topline reductions) for school kitchen equipment grants which are essential to growing the capacity of schools across the country to cook healthy, from scratch meals featuring locally procured farm products. 

Forestry

Forestry provisions were reduced by roughly 32% from $40 billion to $27.45 billion. The following chart details where the $27 billion investments are allocated and how that compares to what was originally proposed prior to the reduction of the topline from $3.5 trillion to just under $2 trillion.

Forestry (in millions)
Program Original Proposal House Passed Senate Changes
Hazardous Fuels Treatments (Within the Wildland Urban Interface) $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Hazardous Fuels Treatments (Outside the Wildland Urban Interface) $4,000 $4,000 $4,000
Forest Restoration and Resilience Grants $9,000 $2,000 $2,000
Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Vegetation Management (Watershed Protection) $500 $400 $400
Vegetation Management $500 $400 $400
Legacy Roads and Trails $450 $450 $450
Forest Service Land Management Planning and Monitoring $350 $350 $350
Trail Maintenance $100 $100 $100
Capital Improvement and Maintenance $100 $100 $100
National Environmental Policy Act Reviews $100 $100 $100
Activities to reduce Human-Wildlife Conflicts on National Forest System Lands $50 $50 $50
Inventory of Old and Mature Forests   $50 $50 $50
Protection and Recovery of At-Risk Species $50 $50 $50
Post Fire Recovery Plans $50 $50 $50
Civilian Conservation Corps (National Forest System) $2,250 $0 $0
Forest Planning, Coordinating, And Monitoring Grants $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Grants to Aid in The Recovery and Rehabilitation Of Burned Areas $250 $250 $250
Grants to Expand Outdoor Access and Promote Tourism on Non-Federal Forested Land. $250 $175 $175
State Fire Assistance and Volunteer Assistance Programs $250 $150 $150
Implementation of State-Wide Forest Resource Strategies $250 $150 $150
Competitive Grant Program for Underserved Foresters to Carry Out Climate Mitigation or Forest Resilience Practices $250 $250 $250
Competitive Grant Program for Underserved Foresters to Participate in Emerging Private Markets $250 $250 $250
Competitive Grant Program for Foresters Owning Less the 2500 Acres of Forestland to Participate in Emerging Private Markets $250 $250 $250
Competitive Grant Programs for Payments for Private Landowners for Measurable Increases in Carbon $500 $500 $500
Healthy Forest Reserve Program $50 $0 $0
Collaborative Partnerships with National Association of University Resources Program $50 $0 $0
Activities to Improve Forest Carbon Monitoring Technologies $50 $50 $50
To Develop and Carryout Recommendations Regarding the Current Priorities and Future Needs of The Forest Inventory and Analysis Programs $100 $100 $100
Technology Enhancements for The Forest Inventory and Analysis Program $50 $50 $50
Wood Innovations Grants Program $1,000 $775 $775
Research Efforts to Increase Carbon Stocks on National Forest System Lands $50 $0 $0
Research on Climate Change and Weather Variability $50 $0 $0
Research on Climate Adaptation $50 $0 $0
Research to Assess the Quantity of Carbon Sequestration and Storage Accomplished By Different Forest Practices $50 $0 $0
Research on Greenhouse Gas Life Cycle Analyses of Domestic Wood Products $50 $50 $50
Forest Health Monitoring Program $50 $0 $0
Civilian Climate Corps (State and Private Forestry) $2,250 $0 $0
Forest Legacy $1,250 $1,250 $1,450
Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program $3,000 $2,500 $2,500
Community Forest and Open Space Program $100 $100 $200
Administrative funds $0 $200 $200
Total $40,000 $27,150 $27,450

Next Steps

With the Build Back Better Act budget reconciliation package having now passed the House and stalled in the Senate, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the path forward for the legislation. Much still depends on Senator Manchin (D-WV), Senate Leadership, and the White House but work is continuing at the staff level behind the scenes despite the looming holidays.  

Any modifications made to the Senate bill will require additional work with the Congressional Budget Office and the Senate Parliamentarian to rescore the bill and ensure that none of the revised provisions violate the Byrd Rule (for more information on the Byrd Rule and the overall reconciliation process check out our previous post). As a result, it is possible that some provisions of the package, particularly those that affect energy and climate change spending, will have to be changed further or eliminated. We will continue to update this blog to keep all of our readers up to speed with the ongoing BBBA process.


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