On September 27th, 2021, the Build Back Better Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY). The Build Back Better bill builds upon the American Rescue Plan by providing countless investments that will uplift our economy after the devastating effects of COVID-19. The bill will be passed through budget reconciliation, which is a process that allows the bill to bypass the Senate filibuster and requires only a simple majority to pass.
The agenda contains a multitude of transformative investments. It has been described by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as the "most consequential piece of legislation for working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor since [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] and the New Deal of the 1930s." Amid a pandemic that has contributed to staggering levels of income inequality, this $3.5 trillion agenda promises change. While it is likely that spending will be reduced, we must demand that Congress holds firm in its commitment to invest in vulnerable communities. Now is the time for bold action. Sweeping investment is necessary to bring about meaningful recovery for Americans who have been laid bare by the pandemic. We must ensure that key provisions, like the following, are included:
- Childcare: $450 billion in childcare and universal pre-k funding. According to the First Five Years Fund, families currently pay $10,000 on average per year per child on childcare. Under this plan, a family of four making $100,000 with children ages 3 and 5 would pay between $1,000 and $2,000 a year for childcare, significantly reducing cost. The plan also provides free pre-K for all 3 and 4 year old's, which research suggests has a positive on math achievement scores, enrollment in honors courses, and grade retention;
- Education: Two years of free community college for all students. As a result, enrollment at 4-year public universities and community colleges would rise by roughly 18 percent, leading to almost 2 million more students enrolled in college;
- Healthcare: Establishing a federal Medicaid program by 2025 in the 12 non-expansion states, which would help the 4 million uninsured Americans gain coverage and close the Medicaid coverage gap;
- Tax Credits: Extending the American Rescue Plan improvements of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) through 2025. This credit will help about $65 million children nationwide, roughly 90% of U.S children, and has the potential to reduce the child poverty rate by 40%;
- Paid Family and Medical Leave: Up to 12 weeks of universal paid family and medical leave for all U.S workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a minimum standard of paid family leave, and research suggests that nearly 30% of women leave the workforce when they have a child;
- Reducing Income Inequality: Raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations. According to the House Committee on Ways and Means, this plan raises the corporate tax rate to 26.5% and raises the top marginal individual income tax rate to 39.6%. According to the Center for American Progress, this increased revenue would “dramatically reduce racial disparities in income and wealth and enable policymakers to forge the transition to a clean energy economy that will produce new jobs and a healthier planet;”
- Climate: Implementing the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which promotes carbon-free energy by incentivizing every utility supplier with a federal grant when they supply a certain percentage of clean energy each year. If a company fails to supply this annual rate of clean energy, they face financial penalties. The plan also includes electrical vehicle tax incentives, heat pump rebates, and the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps. If passed, Democrats say that the U.S. would be on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
As a Matthew 25 Church, we are called to act boldly and compassionately to eradicate systemic poverty. Speaking out in favor of policies that will make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans is essential to this call. It is more critical than ever that we take action and demand that the Build Back Better Agenda be passed, with all its comprehensive investments included.
Contact your members of Congress today and urge them to support these provisions of the Build Back Better Agenda!