Congressman Higgins Announces House Approval of the Build Back Better Act
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced approval of the Build Back Better Act, a once-in-a-generation investment that rebuilds the middle class, supports seniors, lowers costs for families and creates jobs.
Watch Congressman Higgins’ remarks on the House Floor: https://youtu.be/d2ZEY4zwdXY
Higgins said, “The Build Back Better Act invests in America and the American people. Over the last two decades we have spent trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today we committed to nation-build here at home. Our children, communities, and country will be stronger and more resilient because of it.”
The package includes many benefits for Western New Yorkers. Below are some highlights.
Providing a Better Foundation for Strong Families:
- Pre-K 3 & 4: Provides free, quality preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds through public schools, Head Start programs and other licensed child care providers.
- Child Tax Credit: Extends the enhanced Child Tax Credit, $3,600/child under age six and $3,000/child ages 6-17, through 2022. Joint filers earning under $150,000 and single filers earning under $75,000 can continue to receive the credit in monthly payments. In WNY’s three Congressional Districts, 367,000 children benefit from the program providing $93 million to local families each month.
- Lower Child Care Costs: Makes child care more affordable. Couples with one small child earning $100,000 annually would save $5,000 on child care annually. Most families of four earning up to $300,000 would pay no more than 7 percent of their income on child care.
- College Affordability: Increases the maximum Pell Grant awards by $555 supporting over 340,000 students in New York State who rely on Pell.
- Homeownership: Supports programs that encourage first-generation and rural homeownership.
- Maternal Health: Provides funding to address social determents of maternal health, expands and diversifies the perinatal nursing workforce, and provides mental health support to address abysmal maternal mortality rates in the U.S.
Improving the Lives of Seniors, Veterans & People With Disabilities:
- Medicare Hearing Coverage: Covers hearing aids and access to audiologists under the Medicare program beginning January 2023.
- Lower Prescription Drug Prices: Caps cost-sharing for insulin at $35/month, allows for negotiated drug prices and creates an out-of-pocket cap in Medicare on Prescription drug costs at $2,000. The bill also incorporates provisions from Congressman Higgins’ Pharmaceutical REPAI Act, which requires drugmakers to provide rebates if they raise drug prices faster than inflation.
- Home & Community-Based Services: Invests $150 billion in quality home-based care that better supports families and allows seniors and people with disabilities to stay in their homes.
- Direct Care Workers: Supports increased wages and training opportunities to address the direct care workforce shortage.
- VA Hospital & Clinic Improvements: Invest $2.3 billion in capital improvements to VA clinics and medical facilities. Provides additional resources for training programs to support an expanded VA healthcare workforce.
- Nursing Home Quality: Invests in staffing, improves enforcement and patient safety.
Supporting Workers and Job Creation:
- Paid Leave: Creates the first-ever universal paid leave for all U.S. workers. New parents and workers dealing with a serious medical condition themselves or with a family member would be eligible for up to four weeks beginning January 2024.
- 9/11 Responders: Provides funding to ensure the continued treatment and monitoring of 9/11 responders who suffered health issues related to their service.
- Teachers: Supports grant programs that help train new teachers and address the teacher shortage.
- Healthcare Providers: Reauthorizes and expands the Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program (HPOG) providing training for high-demand jobs, and includes Congressman Higgins' Opioid Treatment Providers' Act, which expands the HPOG program to include providers treating those with opioid use disorder. Also shrinks the physician shortage in underserved communities through the Pathways to Practice Training Program.
- Apprenticeships: $1 billion for Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships.
Building Healthier, Stronger Communities:
- Broadband Access: Provides grants for public-private partnerships that expand access to affordable internet service and connected devices. Adds $300 million to the Emergency Connectivity fund which supports access through libraries and schools. Replenishes the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which helps consumers afford internet bills.
- Reducing Lead Exposure: Provides $9 billion toward the replacement of lead drinking water pipes and $5 billion to address lead-based paint exposure.
- Affordable Healthcare: Expands Affordable Care Act premium tax credits helping 1.7 uninsured Americans get covered.
- Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit: Includes legislation introduced by Congressman Higgins designed to encourage investment in distressed homes and neighborhoods.
- Community Health Centers: Invests $9.5 billion in federally qualified community health center outreach and services. Jericho Road Community Health Center, Community Health Center of Buffalo/Niagara, Neighborhood Health Center and Evergreen Health and the patients they serve in WNY would benefit.
- Community Development Block Grants: $3.05 billion in CDBG funding for community infrastructure upgrades. Cities and towns across WNY receive this formula-based funding.
- Erie Canalway Corridor & Niagara Falls National Heritage Area: Invests $50 million in National Heritage Areas, which includes the Erie Canalway Corridor and Niagara Falls National Heritage Area in WNY.
- Water Infrastructure: $2.125 billion for water infrastructure improvements including sewer overflow and stormwater projects.
- Divided Communities: Includes $4 billion to reconnect communities divided by highways.
- Urban Farming & Parks: Makes investments in urban agriculture to help cities address food insecurity. Provides $100 million through the National Parks service for competitive grants expanding access to parks and outdoor recreation in urban areas.
- Distressed Community Assistance: Investments through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) focused on persistently distressed communities.
- Next Generation 9-1-1: Improves 9-1-1 emergency services through texting, image and video capability.
- Fire Grants: Provides $95 million toward grants that support protective equipment and firefighting foam which is free of perfluorinated (PFAS), which have been linked to adverse health conditions.
Preparing for a Clean & Competitive Future:
- Clean School Buses: Invests $5 billion in replacing dirty, heavy-duty vehicles, including school buses and garbage trucks, with new zero-emission vehicles that protect the health of our children and communities.
- Appliance Rebates & Home Energy Credits: Provides consumers with rebates and credits to incentivize the transition to home energy efficiency.
- Residential Green Energy: Includes tax incentives to encourage residential solar, small wind, and geothermal heat pumps for individual homes. Congressman Higgins has long been a proponent of residential green energy proposals including net metering of solar energy.
- Clean Manufacturing: Supports clean technology investments in American manufacturing protecting jobs and competitiveness.
- Civilian Climate Corps: Through the traditional workforce and national service, prepares workers for good-paying jobs in positions that address the climate crisis.
The Build Back Better Act is fully paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes and ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share. Economists at Moody’s Analytics found in its analysis that the Build Back Better Act will add 1.5 million jobs each year over the next 10 years and increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $3 trillion in the next decade. The package must now be considered by the Senate.