On Friday, the United States House of Representatives narrowly passed the Build Back Better Act. The legislation, which responds to the needs of American families and addresses issues which were exacerbated by the pandemic., was recently unveiled by President Joe Biden.
A White House Press release states, “President Joe Biden believes that there’s no greater economic engine in the world than the hard work and ingenuity of the American people. But for too long, the economy has worked great for those at the top, while working families get squeezed. President Biden promised to rebuild the backbone of the country – the middle class – so that this time everyone comes along. The Build Back Better Framework does just that.”
Congressman Albio Sires (D-District 8) issued the following statement after the House passed the legislation. “I was proud to vote in favor of the Build Back Better Act to improve the lives of 8th District residents and people across the country,” said Rep. Sires. “This is a historic investment in our nation’s future that will provide benefits for years to come and support hard working families.” The Build Back Better Act meets the United States’ commitments to addressing the climate crisis, by transitioning to clean energy alternatives and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This transformational legislation will support economic growth by investing in the American people’s ability to afford their basic needs like health care, prescription drugs, childcare, housing, food and quality education.”
The bill awaits further action in the Senate.
A breakdown of some of the provisions in the Build Back Better Act can be found below.
Education and Families
The Build Back Better Act will deliver for every American family by addressing the most pressing problems confronting our country today. Build Back Better will extend the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for one year at the current raised monthly payment cap of $3,000-$3,600 per child, cutting child poverty. Universal free preschool will be established for over six million 3- and 4-year-olds, enabling parents to send their children to high-quality pre-schools of their choice. In addition, $10 billion will be invested to expand eligibility for children to receive free school meals and fund a nationwide program to provide healthy meals to children over the summer and when school is not in session.
Through this legislation, Pell Grant awards will be increased by $550 to help students pay the rising costs of a college education and expanding Pell Grant access to DREAMers. It also provides historic investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities, and minority-serving institutions to modernize research facilities, school infrastructure, and expanded financial aid to low-income students.
The Build Back Better Act establishes, for the first time, a paid leave program that provides workers with four weeks of paid family and medical leave. It also extends the American Rescue Plan’s expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for around 17 million low-wage workers, including cashiers, cooks, delivery drivers, food preparation workers, and childcare providers, and tripling the credit for childless workers.
The Build Back Better Act invests $150 billion in affordable housing, which will support the rehabilitation, and improvement of more than 1 million affordable homes, boosting housing supply and reducing price pressures for renters and homeowners. It will also expand rental housing vouchers to hundreds of thousands of additional families and invests in down payment assistance, enabling hundreds of thousands of first-generation homebuyers to purchase their first home. The bill invests in community-led redevelopments projects in historically under-resourced neighborhoods and funds the removal of lead paint from hundreds of thousands of homes. Finally, it incentivizes state and local zoning reforms to enable more families to reside in higher opportunity neighborhoods.
The Build Back Better Act includes a number of health care provisions that will reduce the cost of care and provide benefits to Americas across the country. Included in the legislation is the ability for Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a long-awaited reform that will save American seniors thousands in prescription drug prices each year. The Build Back Better Act reduces health care premiums for millions of Americans who get their health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace, providing insurance coverage to an estimated 3 million additional people. Further, the Build Back Better Act makes more historic investments in health by increasing tax credits for Americans caught in the ‘Medicaid Coverage Gap’ and by adding comprehensive hearing benefits to Medicare.
Approximately $550 billion of investments are dedicated to transitioning to clean energy initiatives in the largest federal effort to combat the climate crisis. These investments will be used to expand and extend clean energy tax, improve energy efficiency, and spur the transition to electric vehicle use. By deploying low and zero-emission technologies, this legislation will help the US stick to our commitment of reducinggreenhouse gas emissions.
This legislation conserves natural resources by permanently withdrawing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and federal waters in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf from oil and drilling, as well as reforming oil and gas fees for the extraction of natural resources on public lands.
In addition, this bill will respond to the needs of communities on the frontline of extreme weather events by strengthening community resilience to the climate crisis through forest management, wildfire threat reduction, and conservation. It will fund grants to support state and local climate pollution reduction plans and reduce methane and emissions and waste from oil and natural gas operations.
Th bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 220 to 213.
The bill, praised by Democrats, will likely face changes when it reaches the Senate. It comes with a price tag just shy of $2 trillion.
Opponents of the bill point to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office that says it would add about $376 billion to the national deficit between 2022 and 2031.