The Big Insight: There is room for bipartisan consensus on some areas covered in the Build Back Better Act.
The Build Back Better Act is expected to undergo revisions, and possibly be broken into smaller bills, now that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said he cannot support the current version. The massive bill has only Democratic support, but contains provisions dealing with issues including family leave, prescription drugs, immigration, Big Tech, and climate change where there appears to be room for bipartisan consensus. This means that rather than continue to pursue a Democrats-only solution, President Biden and congressional leaders could follow the model used to pass the infrastructure measure and seek a bipartisan deal to address these challenges.
1. Both parties have introduced legislation to address family leave.
The Democratic Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act would provide up to 12 weeks of partial income, while the Republican Protecting Worker Paychecks and Family Choice Act would expand access to paid family and medical leave by incentivizing employers to provide leave and deal with gaps in coverage. More than eight in 10 Americans, including 74% of Republicans, support some sort of federal family leave program.
2. Legislation backed by both parties would aim to lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors under Medicare Part D.
The Republican Lower Costs, More Cures Act would create a $3,100 out-of-pocket cap on Medicare Part D costs for seniors, while the House version of the Build Back Better Act would also cap out-of-pocket spending, among other provisions.
3. Earlier this year, 30 House Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the creation of a path to legal status for the more than 1.2 million undocumented farm workers in the U.S.
The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that the $1 trillion agriculture sector needs as many as two million workers each year. In 2019, 56% of California farmers reported being unable to find all the workers they needed over the last five years.
4. Members of both parties have supported antitrust legislation aimed at big tech companies.
The Build Back Better Act includes a $1 billion boost for antitrust enforcement intended to focus on continuing cases against Facebook and Google and possible new suits against Amazon and Apple. Earlier this year, House Judiciary Committee Democrats and Republicans agreed on several key antitrust proposals.
5. The Senate Climate Solutions Caucus consists of seven Republicans, six Democrats, and one independent. The House caucus has about three dozen Democrats and two dozen Republicans.
Legislators of both parties are focused on the pressing issue of climate change. Recent successful bipartisan climate legislation includes the Energy Act of 2020, introduced by Manchin and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), that, in Murkowski’s words, represented “the first modernization of our nation’s energy policies in well over a decade,” including investment in renewable energy, modernization of carbon capture infrastructure, and an expanded focus on energy storage.