Dems may plan vote on on infrastructure, Build Back Better bill as early as this week

Democrats in Congress have spent the last several days working towards passing the Build Back Better and infrastructure packages. Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff with an update on negotiations.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Democrats in Congress have spent the past several days working towards passing the Build Back Better and infrastructure packages.

    Lisa Desjardins joins me now for an update on these negotiations.

    So, hello again, Lisa.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Hi.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Back at it again.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, give us what the latest is. Does it look as if there's going to be action this week?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This is an important day. I'm going to say something I haven't been able to say in these many months of covering these two bills. I think it is possible, maybe even likely, that we will see a final vote on the infrastructure bill this week and a House vote on the Build Back Better bill first draft also this week.

    I'm going to get to why, but let me remind people what's at stake here in these two bills. First of all, the Build Back Better bill, as we have been describing it, includes universal pre-K, child care, housing, also includes major climate legislation, health provisions.

    The infrastructure bill — that's the bipartisan bill — has money for roads, bridges, replacing lead pipes around the country, and broadband. All right, so why now? This has been hung up for so long.

    There has been a shift in particular among House progressives, who wanted to wait for the Senate to take a full vote on Build Back Better before passing the infrastructure bill. Let me try and tick off what's happened here a little bit more clearly.

    Now, House progressives now say they are on board the current framework — it's not a full bill yet, but the framework — and, as a minimum starting point for this bill. They think anything the Senate adds will expand it. Previously, they wanted a guarantee that Senators Sinema and Manchin, the conservative moderate Democrats, would get on board. There's not that guarantee.

    Instead, they're saying they're trusting President Biden that he will get those votes. Other turning point happened late last week, Judy. I can report there was a meeting between Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and the progressive leader of the House, Pramila Jayapal. That was brokered by two other people who haven't heard a lot about, Joe Neguse, and also Brian Schatz, the senator.

    So, a lot of behind-the-scene motions. Basically, it's now moving ahead.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And it's — I mean, we're all kind of sitting back watching.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, Lisa, one piece of this that is now having an interesting set of developments, and that's prescription drug prices. Tell us what's going on there.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    We will talk a lot more about this in the days ahead, but I want to report on a deal that emerged today on prescription drug prices.

    First, they have agreed now, Democrats amongst themselves, a $35-a-month cap on insulin, very significant. Also, future drug prices for everyone would be capped to inflation. Medicare would be able to start negotiating just on 10 drugs to start, but that would include some of the most expensive ones.

    A lot of fine print in this deal. A lot of other issues still open, immigration, climate. We're going to be talking about this more, but things are starting to happen, it seems like.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So much to follow, but maybe this is a turning point.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes. We will see.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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