Rep. Sewell Votes for President Biden’s Historic Build Back Better Act
November 18, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) voted to pass President Biden’s historic Build Back Better Act, once-in-a-generation legislation to lower costs for hard-working Alabamians, cut taxes for families and workers, and build an economy that puts working families first. Notably, it will not raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000 per year. Among its many provisions, the bill would close the Medicaid coverage gap, create good-paying jobs, lower child care and health care costs, create universal pre-K, establish paid family and medical leave, reduce housing costs, and make the largest investment in combating the climate crisis in American history. The bill passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 220-213 and will now make its way to the U.S. Senate.
“Within six weeks of President Biden taking office, we passed the American Rescue Plan to save our economy, crush the pandemic, and deliver critical relief to Americans everywhere,” said Rep. Sewell. “Just last week, we delivered the largest investment in our nation’s infrastructure in nearly a century. Now, with the passage of President Biden’s historic Build Back Better Act, House Democrats are delivering on our promise to build an economy that puts working families first!”
“For far too long, those at the very top have seen their fortunes grow while hard-working Americans have been squeezed,” continued Sewell. “Not anymore—I’m proud to report that the Build Back Better Act will uplift Alabama’s most underserved communities with transformational progress! The bill will provide affordable health insurance to Alabamians caught in the coverage gap, lower prescription drug costs, create universal pre-K, extend the Child Tax Credit, address the climate crisis and environmental injustice with bold action, and so much more. Together, President Biden and Congressional Democrats will continue to deliver historic progress for the American people!”
The Build Back Better Act:
Creates Millions of Good-Paying Jobs - Together with the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Build Back Better Act will create an average of 2 million jobs per year over the course of the next decade.
Cuts Taxes for Families and Workers - Prior to the pandemic, 16% of children under the age of 18 in Alabama lived in poverty. The Build Back Better Act will bolster financial security and spur economic growth in Alabama by reducing taxes on the middle class and those striving to break into it. The bill will extend Child Tax Credit (CTC) increases of $300/month per child under 6 or $250/month per child ages 6 to 17. This will continue the largest one-year reduction in child poverty in history. Critically, the agreement includes permanent refundability for the Child Tax Credit, meaning that the neediest families will continue to receive the full Child Tax Credit over the long-run. The bill will also provide a tax cut of up to $1,500 for 274,300 low-wage workers in Alabama by extending the American Rescue Plan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion.
Closes the Medicaid Coverage Gap and Provides the Largest Expansion of Affordable Health Care in a Decade - Because states like Alabama refuse to expand Medicaid, about 4 million Americans and nearly 300,000 Alabamians lack health insurance. The Build Back Better Act will close the Medicaid coverage gap by extending through 2025 the enhanced premium subsidies in the ACA Marketplace that were included in the American Rescue Plan. In doing so, it will ensure that every Alabamian and every American in the Medicaid coverage gap has access to affordable health insurance.
Expands Medicare with Hearing Coverage for Seniors - Beginning January 1, 2023, the bill allows for qualified audiologists to deliver aural rehabilitation and treatment services under Medicare, in addition to the hearing and balance assessment services provided under current law. It also allows for qualified hearing aid professionals to deliver hearing assessment services under Medicare. The bill also provides for coverage of hearing aids under Medicare Part B forindividuals with moderately severe, severe or profound loss in one or both ears.
Lowers Prescription Drug Costs - The Build Back Better Act allows the Secretary of HHS to negotiate certain drug prices and halts price hikes above inflation for all Americans. It ensures that Americans with diabetes don’t pay more than $35 per month for their insulin. It also creates a new, out-of-pocket cap of $2,000 on what seniors pay for their drugs in Medicare Part D.
Lowers Child Care Costs - Working families across Alabama are facing a child care crisis. The high cost of child care is straining family budgets and pushing millions of Alabamians out of the workforce – a majority of whom are women. The lack of affordable child care is also hurting our economy. As workers are forced to stay home, employers are struggling to fill job openings to meet demand and grow their businesses. The Build Back Better Act will dramatically lower the cost of child care for many families. Under the bill, the vast majority of families would not pay more than seven percent of their income on child care, representing an enormous savings from what they pay now. The bill invests a total $390 billion for the child care initiative and the universal preschool initiative. Under the bill, child care providers would also have resources to raise wages for child care workers and expand available supply to serve more children and families.
Establishes Paid Family and Medical Leave - The United States lags behind the rest of the industrialized world when it comes to guaranteeing paid family and medical leave. Only 21 percent of American workers have access to employer-provided paid family leave, and just 42 percent of American workers have access to paid medical leave through an employer-provided plan. The Build Back Better Act establishes a universal and permanent family and medical leave program. The program provides four weeks of paid parental, family caregiving, and medical leave.
Provides Universal, High-Quality, Free Pre-K for Every 3- and 4-year old in America - Today, only 23% of 3- and 4-year-olds in Alabama have access to publicly funded preschool, and it costs about $8,600 per year for those who can’t access a publicly-funded program. The Build Back Better Act will enable Alabama to expand access to free, high-quality preschool to more than about 105,000 additional 3- and 4-year-olds per year and increase the quality of preschool for children who are already enrolled. Parents will be able to send their children to the preschool setting of their choice—from public schools to child care providers to Head Start—leading to lifelong educational benefits, allowing more parents to go back to work, and building a stronger foundation for Alabama’s future economic competitiveness.
Invests in HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs - The Build Back Better Act invests $3 billion in a competitive grant program to improve the research capacity and research and development infrastructure at four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). The competitive grant program will consist of planning grants for a period of one to two years and implementation grants for a period of one to five years. The bill also invests $6 billion in institutional aid grants to HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, which can be used by these institutions to strengthen their academic, administrative, and fiscal capabilities and award need-based financial aid to low-income students.
Reduces Housing Costs and Expands Housing Options - 260,000 renters in Alabama are rent burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent, while homeownership remains out of reach for many families. The Build Back Better Act will expand rental assistance for Alabama renters, while also increasing the supply of high-quality housing through the construction and rehabilitation of over 1 million affordable housing units nationwide. It will address the capital needs of the entire public housing stock in America and it includes one of the largest investments in down payment assistance in history, enabling more first-generation homebuyers to purchase their first home.
Makes the Largest Effort to Combat Climate Change in American History - From 2010 to 2020, Alabama experienced 38 extreme weather events, costing up to $20 billion in damages. The Build Back Better Act is the largest effort to combat climate change in American history, investing $555 billion over 10 years in clean energy and climate investments. It contains green tax credits which will save the average American family hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs. It also Ensures clean energy technology – from wind turbine blades to solar panels to electric cars – will be built in the United States, creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs here at home.
For a comprehensive breakdown of the Build Back Better Act, click here.