Congress Should Reject the Extenders Approach to Build Back Better

For Immediate Release

According to news reports, the White House is floating a new framework for its Build Back Better reconciliation package that would shrink the gross cost to below $2 trillion, down from $3.5 trillion to $4.6 trillion, over ten years. The cost would appear to be lower on paper and would be achieved in part by scheduling some policies to expire early with arbitrary subsets. Specifically, the plan would apparently extend the expanded Child Tax Credit for only a single year and expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for only three years.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

These proposals don’t actually shrink the package; they just shorten it. Permanently extending the Child Tax Credit and ACA provisions alone would add more than $1 trillion to the cost of the bill.

Negotiators should start prioritizing, targeting, and finding creative ways to do more for less. Our illustrative $1.5 trillion and $2.3 trillion packages show how to do just that while funding the Administration’s major initiatives.

Relying on these gimmicks and games doesn’t make sense. The most ardent supporters of these policies should reject a framework that puts their long-term fate in jeopardy to make room for lower priorities. And advocates of fiscal responsibility should reject it because it will create immense pressure for further borrowing.

If the Child Tax Credit and health subsidies are the only expiring provisions in the bill, the full package could ultimately cost over $3 trillion and require over $1 trillion of borrowing, assuming unpaid-for extensions. Including additional expirations would balloon these costs further.

The Build Back Better plan is supposed to make new transformative investment, not create a new extenders package.

If policymakers think these priorities are important enough for the government to support, they shouldn’t push playing games with them.


For more information, please contact Kim McIntyre, Director of Media Relations, at

For additional content, please check out our FY 2022 Reconciliation Resources page or our papers and analyses:

Build Back Better for Less: Two Illustrative Packages

5 Ways to Improve the FY 2022 Reconciliation Package

Reconciliation Requires Tradeoffs, Not Gimmicks

Better Targeting in Reconciliation