Democrats in the U.S. House plan to soon take up another piece of President Joe Biden's economic agenda, a $1.85 trillion package focused on areas that include child care, universal preschool and climate change initiatives.
But even if the House does manage to quickly pass the legislation this month, known as the Build Back Better Act, challenges remain over in the Senate, where the support of moderate swing votes will be needed to pass the bill through a special procedural route that relies on the strength of Democrats' congressional majorities.
"This bill would be transformative for my constituents' lives," Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar said in a statement. "As we speak, we're seeing a startling rise in the cost of child care in Minnesota. I fought for universal child care in the Education & Labor Committee and as a result it is in this bill."
The uncertainty surrounding the package, which at one point came in at $3.5 trillion before it was cut down in an effort to gain enough support from moderates, was a major factor in Omar's decision to vote against the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the House earlier this month. She stated after her "no" vote that "I have been clear that I would not be able to support the infrastructure bill without a vote on the Build Back Better Act."
Even getting the $1.85 trillion bill through the House could be a challenge. It hasn't been lost on Omar that concerns from some moderate Democrats in Congress could endanger the fate of the Biden-led bill moving forward.
"It has been incredibly frustrating to watch a small faction of conservative lawmakers continue to delay and deflect on this bill," Omar said in a statement last week, referring to some members within her own party. "We have to remember: this is the agenda of the Democratic Party; this is the agenda of the President. Our message is clear: we need the Build Back Better bill and we need it now."
Republicans are adamantly opposed to the Democrats' legislation. In a statement earlier this month focused on Biden's legislative plans, Minnesota GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn charged that "President Biden and House Democrats are working to push the most radical and extreme agenda in American history." Hagedorn also added that "what is at our gates now is a Trojan Horse for the Democrats to force their socialist agenda on the American people."
But Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in a statement that "we now must act quickly to pass the Build Back Better Act to lower the price of prescription drugs, make child care more affordable, while also putting us on the path to a green energy future."
Klobuchar also pointed to her work on the major spending plan that has been an evolving process this year.
"It's time to put people first and make their lives easier by lowering their everyday costs," Klobuchar said. "That's why I've taken the lead to fight for provisions to the Build Back Better Act based on my legislation that will empower Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies so Americans can spend less on their medications and stop drug company price gouging."