Will the Senate do the Same?
This past Friday, November 19th, the U.S. House passed the Build Back Better Act, following major opposition by House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
This legislation has been one of the Biden-Harris administration’s most talked about and anticipated social safety pieces of legislation and, if passed by the Senate, will include funding for training, technical assistance, research, evaluation, and data collection on the strategies that are most effective at reducing community violence and ensuring public safety, while also supporting the research on community violence’s impact on demographic categories, along with funding for climate change initiatives, universal pre-K, the extension of the child tax credit, and paid family and medical leave. Under the bill, expansion to Medicare would include covering hearing benefits and extending Medicaid coverage for an estimated four million individuals. It would also lower prescription drug costs and reduce premiums in the Affordable Care Act.
Congressman Al Green (TX-09) called the legislation a turning point for America, especially because the U.S. is one of the only industrialized nations in the world that fails to provide some form of guaranteed paid parental and family leave.
“This legislation will create millions of good-paying jobs, strengthening the working families who are the backbone of our country,” Congressman Green proudly shared. “It is a far-reaching bill with enormous investments in families, health care, and the environment. This bill will implement four weeks of universal, permanent paid parental, family, and medical leave. It is a milestone that will allow women to advance in the workforce, boost worker productivity, and help employers attract top talent. Under the Build Back Better Act, family and childcare costs will also be reduced dramatically, as it establishes universal pre-school for all three- and four-year-olds. It will also reduce child hunger by investing in child nutrition programs and expanding free school meals. I am gratified to know that all babies will now have the same start in life, since pre-k will be available to all children. My vote for this bill is a vote for our children and for our future.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) stated that she voted to pass the Build Back Better Act to meet the needs of millions of Texas’ and American families by creating good-paying union jobs, cutting taxes, and lowering costs, as well as to address the surge of violence seen throughout America through critical investments in community-based violence intervention programs.
“I am proud to support the President’s Build Back Better framework, which will deliver transformational investments in our families, our workers, and our climate while forging monumental progress For The People,” Congresswoman Jackson Lee boldly proclaimed. “The Build Back Better Act will be transformative for nearly every Texas family: delivering historic investments that meet their needs in the wake of the pandemic and will ensure that all can share in the benefits of a growing economy now, and for generations to come.”
Congresswoman Jackson Lee also pointed out several other key components of the bill in a statement released after the bill’s passage in the House. She stated:
“As Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, I have always fought to reform the criminal justice system to benefit the victims of crime and the wrongfully accused. I fought for funding in the Build Back Better Act to address the rise of crime throughout America and to intervene in the cycle of violence which is too often tragically seen in our cities. The Build Back Better Act will $2.5 billion invest in training, technical assistance, research, evaluation, and data collection on the strategies that are most effective at reducing community violence and ensuring public safety, while also supporting the research on community violence’s impact on demographic categories.”
“Community violence intervention programs have proven to be a wise investment in cities across the country. Each year, taxpayers spend tens of millions of dollars on medical care, first responders, ambulances, police, and criminal justice services related to gun violence. The resources the Build Back Better Act will devote to community violence intervention programs will dramatically reduce homicides, which will not only save countless lives, but also save the money of American taxpayers.”
“Childcare is a major strain for families in Texas, where the average annual cost of a childcare center for a toddler is $9,428, meaning that a Texas family with two young children would on average spend 21% of their income on childcare for one year. The lack of affordable options also makes it difficult for parents, and especially mothers, to remain in their jobs, contributing to the 26.1% gender gap in workforce participation between mothers and fathers in Texas. The Build Back Better framework will enable Texas to provide access to childcare for 2,011,503 young children (ages 0-5) per year from families earning under 2.5 times the Texas median income (about $205,204 for a family of 4), and ensure these families pay no more than 7% of their income on high-quality childcare.”
“The Build Back Better Act will enable Texas to expand access to free, high-quality preschool to more than 588,286 additional 3- and 4-year-olds per year and increase the quality of preschool for children who are already enrolled.”
“In Texas, 766,000 uninsured adults fall in the Federal Medicaid expansion gap; and 15% of these uninsured adults are Black, and 55% are Latino. The Build Back Better Act will help these Texans by providing free medical insurance to nearly one million uninsured Texans under the Affordable Care Act. I fought for this addition because the Governor’s decision to not to expand Medicaid cost the lives of 2,920 Texans aged 55-64 from 2014 to 2017 alone. The coverage gap has also meant that 98,000 children in Texas are without coverage because Medicaid expansion is unavailable. Today, about 35%, a plurality, of uninsured adults in the national coverage gap reside in Texas. Now, thanks to the Build Back Better framework, medical insurance will be provided for free under the Affordable Care Act.”
“Prior to the pandemic, 15% of children under the age of 18 in Texas lived in poverty. The Build Back Better framework will bolster financial security and spur economic growth in Texas by reducing taxes on the middle class and those striving to break into it. The framework will extend Child Tax Credit (CTC) increases of $300/month per child under 6 or $250/month per child ages 6 to 17. This will continue the largest one- year reduction in child poverty in history. And critically, the agreement includes permanent refundability for the Child Tax Credit, meaning that the neediest families will continue to receive the full Child Tax Credit over the long run. The framework will also provide a tax cut of up to $1,500 in tax cuts for more than 1.5 million low-wage workers in Texas by extending the American Rescue Plan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion.”
“18% of children in Texas live in food insecure households, harming their long-term health and ability to succeed in school. The Build Back Better Act will ensure that the nutritional needs of Texas’s children are met by expanding access to free school meals to an additional 1,642,000 students during the school year and providing 3,631,226 students with resources to purchase food over the summer.”
“The Build Back Act will set the United States on course to meet its climate targets—a 50-52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030—in a way that creates good-paying union jobs, grows domestic industries, and advances environmental justice.”
“The Build Back Better framework also makes generational investments in higher education, workforce training, affordable housing, nutrition assistance and more.”
“Democrats’ visionary plan will rebalance our economy, helping working families and communities of color succeed, while ensuring the wealthiest few and big corporations pay their fair share. And as it advances justice, equity and opportunity, this plan will ensure America can outcompete any nation on earth, for decades to come.”
“For far too long, Texas’ families have been held back by soaring costs – from childcare to health care to education to the climate crisis and more. I understand the importance of paid family leave and fought hard to ensure that it was not left out of this once in a generation legislation. To unleash the full potential of every worker and family in our state, Democrats are seizing this once-in-a-century moment to Build Back Better our economy. Democrats’ Build Back Better framework – which we will soon enact into law – will deliver for Texas’ families, with millions of good-paying jobs, historic middle class tax cuts and lower costs, so parents can thrive and succeed.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrated the bill’s passage as well.
“We, this Democratic Congress, are taking our place in the long and honorable heritage of our democracy with legislation that will be the pillar of health and financial security in America,” stated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
As stated, this legislation is now headed to the Senate, where they must pass it and send it to President Biden’s desk for signature.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Build Back Better Act legislation would increase America’s budget deficit by $367 billion through 2031, but Congressional leaders point out that due to the IRS increasing its collection efforts and enforcement of taxes, there would be a continued decrease relative to the strain on the budget.