Size of Budget Reconciliation Package Expected to Shrink

  • by AGD Washington Advocacy Representative
  • Oct 19, 2021
On October 11, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a "dear colleague" letter outlining her perspective on the path forward for the Build Back Better Act, the "human infrastructure" package expected to total between $1.5 – $3.5 trillion in spending on a broad range of programs. In the letter, she noted that members of Congress are urging her to focus the scope of the package, potentially signaling that certain provisions of the initial framework may be cut from the final bill.

While Congressional Democrats have a tentative deadline set for the end of the month to pass a bipartisan infrastructure and the Build Back Better Act, stalled negotiations between Democratic leaders and the moderate and progressive wings will almost certainly push this deadline into later the year. The crux of the debate continues to be over the topline spending figure for the package, with moderate Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Sinema (D-AZ) holding firm on their desire to reduce the overall cost to be nearer to a $1.5 trillion amount.

However, progressives are adamant about ensuring their wide range of social spending priorities are included in the package, including expanding Medicare to include dental, hearing, and vision benefits. Further details on what is ultimately included in the Build Back Better Act will likely emerge in the coming weeks, as Congress has a limited number of legislative days between now and when it leaves the Thanksgiving holiday.

Impact on General Dentistry: AGD opposes any proposals to expand Medicare to include dental benefits and continues to convey that message to members of Congress. AGD hopes that policymakers will realize that these expansion proposals have the potential to undo and reverse decades of progress that dentistry has made in improving and preserving the oral health of our senior citizens.