On November, 19th, 2021, the Build Back Better Act was passed in the House of Representatives, advancing the legislation to the Senate, where debate is expected to begin on Monday, December 13th. 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 in the Senate, 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 agenda promises change. We must demand that the Senate 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: $380 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. With the passage of Build Back Better, low-income parents would not have to pay for childcare and those with higher income would have costs capped at 7 percent of income. The plan also provides free pre-K for all 3 and 4 year old's, which research suggests has a positive impact on math achievement scores, enrollment in honors courses, and grade retention;
- Nutrition: $10 billion for child nutrition, providing year-round access to food to 29 million children. The bill includes funding to improve the nutritional quality of school meals and invests in nutrition-security for children during the summer months;
- Healthcare: $130 billion to expand Medicaid and reduce premiums for Affordable Care Act coverage. The bill allows Medicare to negotiate with manufacturers to lower prescription drug prices for as many as 10 expensive drugs and instates an annual $2,000 cap on how much seniors must pay for drugs out of pocket. The bill also expands Medicare to cover hearing benefits and closes the Medicaid coverage gap in the 12 non-expansion states by allowing people to purchase subsidized coverage in the ACA Marketplace;
- 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%;
- Reducing Income Inequality: Raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations. The House-passed legislation would raise taxes on the nation’s highest earners by $640 billion over a decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
- Climate: $555 billion in climate spending. The bill provides tax credits to encourage people and c companies to invest in electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines. The Justice40 initiatives ensure that 40 percent of the benefits from these initiatives will be invested into disadvantaged communities' 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 demand that the Senate pass the Build Back Better Act, with all its comprehensive investments included.
Call your Senators today and urge them to support all provisions of the Build Back Better Act!