Five Things You Didn’t Know Were In “Build Back Better”

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Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.As soon as Congress sent its $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to President Joe Biden’s desk on Friday, the media focus quickly shifted to the other, major piece of Democratic legislation still awaiting approval: the sprawling Build Back Better Act. That bill includes a host of progressive priorities—paid family and sick leave, public housing, child care, and universal preschool—along with $550 billion aimed at fighting climate change. 
Originally House Democrats had intended to pair the bill with the bipartisan infrastructure package, but opposition by moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to the bill’s price tag—roughly $1.85 trillion in its latest iteration—and ambitious scope led the Democratic leadership to uncouple the bills. With Build Back Better in limbo, six leading progressive Democrats resisted a vote on the infrastructure bill and ultimately voted no—with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) calling it “bullshit”—but there was enough Republican support to get it past the finish line. 
To pass Build Back Better, Democrats need every one of their members’ votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster—whether moderates sign on is anyone’s guess. But the legislation itself, for all the horse-trading about its future, contains some initiatives you probably haven’t heard about. ProPublica reporter Lydia DePillis went through the bill and noted plenty of under-the-radar items:
A safety net for new mothers

Preventing new moms from being cut off Medicaid for a year following a birth:
— Lydia DePillis (@lydiadepillis) November 6, 2021

More than $1 billion toward pandemic prevention

$1.3b for beefing up pandemic response capacity — stuff like the national strategic stockpile and domestic manufacturing of critical drugs/PPE/vaccine supples that were such a problem at the beginning of all this
— Lydia DePillis (@lydiadepillis) November 6, 2021

A huge grant to study the supply chain crisis

You’re worried about supply chains? Here’s $5 billion for the Commerce Department to study and strengthen manufacturing supply chains
— Lydia DePillis (@lydiadepillis) November 6, 2021

A commitment to mental health treatment and suicide prevention

Lots of money for mental health and suicide prevention, including $2.5 billion to address community violence and trauma interventions
— Lydia DePillis (@lydiadepillis) November 6, 2021

Nearly $100 million for programs to increase composting

$95 million for composting!
— Lydia DePillis (@lydiadepillis) November 5, 2021

Contributions from the other side
The five items above are just a small sampling of the current bill, which will undergo further revisions as it moves through the Senate. And here, from the other side of the aisle, are five amendments—all introduced by House Republicans—that almost certainly will not appear in the final version:
Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) proposes to…prevent the Build Back Better Act from doing anything!
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) is no fan of universal pre-K:
The bill provides nearly $79 billion to bolster the ability of the IRS to pursue high-income tax cheats.
Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) has a different figure in mind:
Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) aims to water down the bill’s environmental justice provisions and give the fossil-fuel industry a break:
Last but not least, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), evidently not a fan of wasting anyone’s time, gets right to the heart of the matter: