Oct 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Pelosi says Build Back Better provisions a "top priority" if Democrats keep House

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wearing a green suit, white shirt and pearl necklace, at the National Accelerator Laboratory in California.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Josh Edelson/Pool/AFP via Getty Images.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Saturday said passing abandoned portions of the Build Back Better Act, as well as legislation to combat rising food and energy costs, would be a “top priority” if Democrats hold onto the House.

Why it matters: While House Republicans have heralded the “Commitment to America” as their roadmap for the majority, Democrats have been more muddled about their prospective legislative checklist.

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said a Republican majority's first bill would be to repeal $80 billion in funding to the Internal Revenue Service from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Driving the news: In a “dear colleague” letter to her caucus, Pelosi laid out the case for reelecting House Democrats just a few weeks before the midterm elections. In doing so, she offered a glimpse of Democrats' prospective agenda.

  • She listed several provisions of Build Back Better that didn't make it into the Inflation Reduction Act, including paid family and medical leave, an extension of the Child Tax Credit and universal pre-K, and measures to bring down the costs of child care, housing and home health care.
  • She also pointed to two bills House Democrats passed aimed at combatting alleged price-gouging by oil companies and strengthening domestic food and biofuel production.
  • "Enacting them into law is a top priority for a Democratic Majority in the next Congress," she wrote.

Between the lines: Rising inflation and gas prices pose a major challenge to Democrats on the campaign trail as polls show voters listing the economy as a higher priority than abortion – the issue upon which Democrats have pinned their hopes.

  • Pelosi's letter is aimed at cutting down Republicans' advantage on the economy. "Extreme MAGA Republicans have no record of lowering costs, no agenda to fight inflation, and no interest in fighting for working families," she wrote.

Yes, but: President Biden said Tuesday that the first piece of legislation he plans to send to Congress if Democrats keep control will be a bill to codify Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling overturned by the Supreme Court in June.

Reality check: Election forecasters rate Democrats as the underdogs to keep control of the House as Republicans need to flip just a handful of seats to take control.

  • Moreover, Democrats would have to net multiple Senate seats to bypass centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), whose opposition to Build Back Better blocked it from passing the evenly-divided Senate and becoming law.
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