Despite concerted efforts to get Democrats’ $1.75 trillion-plus Build Back Better Act passed before the end of the month, the timeline for Senate consideration of the budget reconciliation bill is effectively sliding into 2022.

The White House all but confirmed the new timeline, as President Biden said late Dec. 16 that his talks with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., about the bill will continue into next week. With the legislative steps required to bring the bill to the floor – finalizing agreements and legislative text, along with consulting with the Senate Parliamentarian – there is likely not enough time to bring the bill close to passage before the end of December.

“My team and I are having ongoing discussions with Senator Manchin; that work will continue next week,” President Biden said in a statement. “It takes time to finalize these agreements, prepare the legislative changes, and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote. We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead; Leader Schumer and I are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible.”

This is just the latest setback for the bill, which passed the House of Representatives in November. Congressional Democrats had reached a deal that cut the price tag for the bill from $3.5 trillion to around $1.75 trillion. President Biden said that Sen. Manchin has “reiterated his support for Build Back Better funding at the level of the framework plan,” in conversations to bridge current differences.

There is a lot at stake for tech and cyber items in the legislation.

The version of the bill that passed the House includes $5 billion in supply chain resiliency investments and billions more for IT modernization. Among the modernization funding, the House-passed bill includes an amendment offered by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., that features $250 million in funding for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) as part of a larger $500 million proposal to advance IT modernization programs. Connolly hailed the impact TMF has had at MeriTalk’s TMF Forward event Dec. 16.

One key reason congressional Democrats were looking to pass the bill by the end of the year is it also includes an extension of the Child Tax Credit, which is set to expire at the end of the year. Without passage of the Build Back Better bill, it is unclear whether there is any plan to work on legislation for an extension of the provision.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.