Rep. Jayapal on Build Back Better Act: 'We're Going to Get It Passed Next Week'

By Susan Jones | November 10, 2021 | 7:59am EST
"Every Republican is committed to defeating this (Build Back Better) bill because we know how much damage it will do to our economy and our nation," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said as he displayed the massive draft copy in September. (Photo: Screen capture)
"Every Republican is committed to defeating this (Build Back Better) bill because we know how much damage it will do to our economy and our nation," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said as he displayed the massive draft copy in September. (Photo: Screen capture)

( - President Biden's Build Back Better Act "is now a $2.1 trillion bill” that contains “all of our progressive priorities,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the House Progressive Caucus, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Tuesday night.

"And, Rachel, we're going to get it passed next week. And that wouldn't have happened six weeks ago, five weeks ago, if the Progressive Caucus hadn't stood up strong to say, this is what we are going to do. No one left behind."

Jayapal (D-Wash.) listed some of what's in part two of the Democrats' big-government agenda: "[U]niversal childcare, universal pre-k, biggest investment in housing, a real half-a-trillion-dollar investment in taking on climate change, making sure we protect our immigrants. These are all the major things -- health care, Medicare expansion, lowering the cost of prescription drugs. These are all the things that are in the Build Back Better Act.”

Jayapal said the House was set to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act last Friday. Only the bipartisan bill passed. She explained why that happened:

At the last minute, there were six Democrats who said that they needed more fiscal information from the Congressional Budget Office and that they needed a little bit more time. And I'll tell you, Rachel, our members of the Progressive Caucus were so strong, they were willing to continue to hold it up (bipartisan bill).

But we had a caucus-wide discussion. And we decided that what we needed to do was to show momentum by passing the infrastructure bill, but if and only if we got an absolute rock solid agreement from the six that they would vote for this bill as soon as the Congressional Budget Office got that information to them, but no later than next week. And that is the agreement that we finally agreed to.

I believe -- and I'll tell you, they made a commitment to me, one on one. They made a written statement. They also made a commitment to the president that they did not believe that any information would change substantially from what had already been provided, and that we would pass the bill next week.

And, you know, negotiation is always tough. But there's a moment where you just have to decide whether it is going to get you close enough to what the original prize was. And what was the original prize? It was to pass the Build Back Better Act through the House...

Maddow asked if the six moderate Democrats waiting for the CBO score might change their minds about supporting Build Back Better, if the cost is more than advertised:

"Well, the really good news is that we got a lot of fiscal information from the joint committee on taxation and from the white house that actually mapped out and said, this is how much it costs, this is what the investments are, this is what the revenue will be," Jayapal responded:

And what they said is, we just want a few more tables from the CBO actually verifying this information that we got. So what our written agreement says is that -- their written statement says this -- that as long as it turns out to be approximately ballpark what the White House has already given us, that they will be fine.

And if there is a discrepancy, that they will work expeditiously with us to fix that discrepancy. The president committed that if there was a discrepancy, that he would work very quickly with us to fix it and to make sure that we, you know, we raise the revenue.

But Rachel, everyone I have talked to -- I don't think we would have made this deal, let me be clear, if we thought there was going to be a discrepancy.

Everyone we have talked to has said that the CBO, you know, whatever the tables are that we are going to get are going to be the same as what the White House has represented the costs and the revenue to be. So I feel confident. And let me say that we asked the white house multiple times, are you sure that these numbers are going to match up? And they did say, yes, we are very certain of that. And so, I think we're going to be fine.

Look, I think that at the end of the day, sometimes you just need to make sure that you're not getting so stuck in your promise that you don't see that actually this is now a $2.1 trillion bill, and we are going to have every single one -- but perhaps we will lose one, I'm not sure about one of the members, voting for this bill, which means we get a very strong vote from across the Democratic Caucus on this bill to send to the Senate. And again, with all of our Progressive priorities that we had articulated almost six months ago.

In a statement on Tuesday, CBO Director Phillip Swagel said the Congressional Budget Office "is in the process of preparing a cost estimate for the current version of H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act. He said the analysis of the bill's "many provisions is complicated, and CBO will provide a cost estimate for the entire bill as soon as practicable."

"We anticipate releasing estimates for individual titles of the bill as we complete them, some of which will be released this week. Other estimates will take longer, particularly for provisions in some titles that interact with those in other titles. When we determine a release date for the cost estimate for the entire bill, we will provide advance notice."

Rep.  Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee,said on Wednesday he doubts the CBO will find that the Build Back Better Act is fullly paid for, as Democrats insist that it is.

"I think the IRS (tax revenue) numbers will fall far short, the drug pricing numbers may do that as well, and I predict Democrats in the House will be scrambling for either more revenue, less spending, or more likely -- you know Washington -- more budget gimmicks,” he told Fox Business.

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