DemDaily: What the Build Back Better Act Means For You

November 22, 2021

The US House of Representatives has passed President Biden's roughly $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act, potentially the most consequential and transformative social spending bill since the Great Society and War on Poverty in the 1960s.

The bill, which was cut down from an original $3.5 trillion proposal, aims to tackle climate change, health care and the nation’s social safety net over the next decade.

The bill’s passage last Friday came after weeks of debate and was delayed an extra day after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spoke for a record eight-plus hours, exercising a custom called the “magic minute” which allows party leaders to speak without time constraints when they are granted their "minute" of floor time.

Regardless, the bill passed 220 to 213, with all Republicans and one Democrat, Congressman Jared Golden (D-ME), voting against the legislation - registering his opposition to the increase in the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes.

“Under this dome, for centuries, members of Congress have stood exactly where we stand to pass legislation of extraordinary consequence in our nation’s history and for our nation’s future... With the passage of the Build Back Better Act 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.” - Speaker Nancy Pelosi

The Breakdown

Climate and Clean Energy: $555 billion: Together with the bipartisan infrastructure law, it makes the most significant investment in our fight against the climate crisis ever by creating jobs that build a clean energy future for our children and grandchildren.

It includes investments and incentives for electric vehicles, including $100 million in grants for states to build up electric vehicle infrastructure, and offers funding for high speed rail, hazardous fuel reduction, forest management, coastal restoration, and soil conservation.

It also includes funding for the reduction of greenhouse gases, and provides funding for lead remediation grants and replacement of lead water lines. Includes a provision to create a Civilian Climate Corps to take part in environmental and climate projects. Increases fees on the oil and gas industry and provides equipment upgrade incentives for fuel companies and distributors to support the sale and storage of biofuels.

Universal Preschool and Childcare: $400 billion: Provides universal pre-Kindergarten for all 3-and 4-year-olds. Under the plan, states will receive federal funding to support a phased-in expansion of income eligibility during FY2022 – FY2024. It also offers support for child care costs – families earning less than $300,000 per year would spend no more than 7% of their income on child care; offers tax credits of up to $300 per child, per month.

ACA Credits and Medicare: $165 billion: Reduces Healthcare Premiums for individuals covered through the Affordable Care Act.

Expands Medicare coverage to cover hearing aids; provides funding for maternal health, community violence, disadvantaged farmers, nutrition and pandemic preparation; places a cap ($2,000) on Medicare Part D out-of-pocket costs for seniors and places a cap of $35 per dose for insulin; establishes a Medicare drug negotiation program.

Child Tax Credit: $200 billion: Extends the Child Tax Credit for another year; one that is already helping the families of more than 61 million children and getting us closer to cutting child poverty in half this year.

Housing: $150 billion: Funding to increase housing affordability by building new rental and single-family homes and providing rental and down payment assistance.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported the act would raise more than $1.2 trillion in the form of increased IRS tax enforcement and other revenues, but that overall spending would lead to a net cost of approximately $160 billion over the next decade.

Home Care: $150 billion: Provides funding designated for a Medicaid program to support home health care.

Immigration: $100 billion: Individuals living in the US prior to January 2, 2011 would become eligible for renewable parole grants for five years after paying a fee and completing security and background checks.

Worker Training and Higher Education: $40 billion: Makes education beyond high school more affordable by increasing the value for Pell Grants and providing funding for grant programs and expanded federal financial aid for eligible students with DACA, Temporary Protective Status and Deferred Enforcement Departure status. It also invests in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic- and other Minority-Serving institutions.


SALT Cap: Increases the $10,000 cap on the state and local income tax deduction to $80,000 through 2030. In 2031, the cap would be returned to $10,000, then expire.

Paid Family and Medical Leave: Eligible workers would receive up to four weeks of paid leave to take care of a child, family member, or to recover from sickness. Eligible workers would be entitled to the benefit within a one-year period, starting in 2024. President Biden originally proposed 12 weeks of paid leave.

The version which was sent to the House floor included a manager’s amendment, however, which removed $2 billion in funding for administrative expenses related to the paid leave program, among other changes.

Next Steps

The Build Back Better Act now goes to the US Senate where it faces significant challenges and where a single Democratic defection in the split 50-50 Upper Chamber could prevent its passage.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is committed to bringing the legislation to the floor before the end of the year and "act as quickly as possible to get this bill to President Biden’s desk and deliver help for middle-class families.”

Related: DemDaily: Rebuilding the Backbone of This Nation: The Infrastructure Bill 11/16/21

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Sources: White House, US Congress, National Law Review, NPR, New York Times, Sierra Club

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