AFL-CIO’s Liz Shuler calls it ‘one of the most transformative investments in our country’s history’
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 19, 2021) — The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday morning passed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill, a $1.75 trillion package of working family-friendly policies that include free preschool, lower prescription drug costs, new hearing benefits under Medicare, extended child tax credits, initiatives to fight climate change, affordable housing programs, immigration reforms, and new penalties to hold employers accountable when they violate workers’ rights to join together in unions.
The legislation was approved on a 220-213 vote with Washington’s congressional delegation voting along party lines. Democratic Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith and Marilyn Strickland voted “yes.” Republican Reps. Jaime Hererra Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted “no.”
“This bill is one of the most transformative investments in our country’s history,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler in a statement released Friday morning that several of the bill’s features. “And it will hold accountable employers who attempt to union-bust with real, substantive financial penalties, making this the most significant advancement for the right to organize since passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.”
The Build Back Better Act includes the following investments:
Universal Preschool for All 3- and 4-Year Old Children — $400 billion for childcare and universal preschool that expands access to free, high-quality preschool for more than six million children.
Affordable, High-Quality Child Care — $400 billion for universal preschool and high-quality child care that limits childcare costs to no more than 7 percent of income for families earning up to 250 percent of state median income. This will expand access to around 20 million children.
Paid Family and Medical Leave — $194 billion to provide four weeks of paid family and medical leave to people across America for the very first time.
Home and Community Based Care — $150 billion for affordable, high-quality care for hundreds of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities. This will allow people to stay in their homes and communities by strengthening an existing program through Medicaid and ending the backlog while improving working conditions for home care workers so they make $15 an hour.
Historic Climate Action — $555 billion for aggressively combating the worsening climate crisis. This includes clean energy tax credits ($320 billion), investments in climate resilience to address extreme weather and establish a Civilian Climate Corps ($105 billion), investments and incentives for clean energy technology ($110 billion), and clean energy procurements to provide incentives for the government to purchase next generation technologies ($20 billion).
Health Care, Medicare Expansion, and Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs — $165 billion for making health care more affordable and accessible for millions of people. This includes allowing Medicare to cover hearing benefits for the very first time ($35 billion) and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. It also includes Affordable Care Act tax credits ($130 billion) to cover three million people who would otherwise be uninsured and to make tax credits available through 2025 to four million uninsured people in uncovered states.
Affordable Housing — $150 billion for building, preserving, and improving more than one million affordable rental and single-family homes including public housing.
Extended Child Tax Credit — $200 billion for extending the highly-successful Child Tax Credit and extending the current expanded Earn Income Tax Credit for childless workers. This extends the Child Tax Credit’s monthly payments for more than 35 million households earning up to $150,000. It also makes the refundability of the Child Tax Credit permanent.
Humane Immigration Reform — $100 billion for humanely reforming the immigration system while protecting Dreamers, TPS recipients, and essential workers and easing the immigration backlog.
Leveling the Playing Field By Making Corporations and the Ultra-Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share — While not raising taxes on small businesses and anyone making less than $400,000, the legislation includes a 15 percent Corporate Minimum Tax on large corporations and a one percent surcharge on Corporate Stock Buybacks. It also invests in IRS enforcement and includes a Global Minimum Tax and other provisions to stop rewarding corporations for shipping jobs overseas. Additionally, it asks the highest income Americans to pay their fair share with a new surtax on multi-millionaires and billionaires and other provisions.
Higher Education and Workforce Development — $40 billion for reducing costs and expanding access to higher education and workforce development. This includes raising the maximum Pell grant, making DACA, TPS, and DED recipients eligible for Pell grants, providing support to HBCUs, HSIs, MSIs, and TCUs, and investing in workforce development.
Here is the full statement released Friday morning by AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:
“Generational economic change is in our sights with the House passage of the Build Back Better Act. This is a milestone for working people, and now the Senate must finish the job and send the Build Back Better Act to President Biden’s desk without delay.
“This bill is one of the most transformative investments in our country’s history. We know that for too long the status quo has benefited the wealthy few and left the majority without access to basic necessities, including high-quality, affordable child and elder care, health care, and housing. This legislation will knock down the barriers that have prevented so many workers, especially women and people of color, from finding high-quality sustainable jobs. The Build Back Better Act will remake and redefine our economy , and it is the largest-ever investment in clean energy, with domestic content and high labor standards required across the board. This is how we fight climate change the Biden way—with good union jobs.
“This legislation will improve our immigration system by easing the burden for those who want to call America home. And it will hold accountable employers who attempt to union-bust with real, substantive financial penalties, making this the most significant advancement for the right to organize since passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.
“Now it is the Senate’s turn to act. The AFL-CIO and its 12.5 million members are organizing, we are mobilizing, and we will not rest until the Senate passes the Build Back Better Act.”