The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a once-in-a-generation spending bill that seeks to make health care, child care, housing and education more affordable for millions of hardworking families, and take on the global climate crisis.
"This is one of the most transformational bills the U.S. House of Representatives has ever approved," said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO). "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fundamentally transform our nation for the better. It's an opportunity to provide real relief to millions of hardworking families. It will make health care and child care more affordable. It will make housing and higher education more accessible. And it will be the largest investment we've ever made to take on the climate crisis."
The legislation -- known as the Build Back Better Act -- would ensure all 3- and 4-year-olds in the country have access to free, high-quality preschool programs. It would also extend the now-expanded Child Tax Credit that's providing most American families with young children, including 600,000 in Colorado, $250 - $300 per month, per child; and would ensure families have to pay no more than 7% of their income for child care.
According to data compiled by the White House, only about 25% of 3- and 4-year-olds in Colorado have access to publicly-funded preschool. The Build Back Better Act would provide free preschool to an additional 86,000 children throughout the state who don't currently have access to a publicly funded program.
The legislation would also lower the cost of health care for approximately 9 million Americans -- including 88,000 in Colorado -- who get their health insurance on one of the ACA exchanges. It would expand Medicare to provide hearing aid benefits to America's seniors; and cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month for millions of Americans with diabetes.
The historic measure represents the nation's largest-ever effort to take on the climate crisis and, according to the White House, would reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. It would, among other things, extend existing tax credits to help lower the cost of installing a solar roof, and would create new incentives to provide middle-class families a tax credit of up to $12,500 to help offset the cost of purchasing a new, American-made electric vehicle.
More specifically, the Build Back Better Act would, among other things:
Provide two years of free preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old in America. In Colorado, according to the White House, it costs approximately $8,600 per year to send a child who can't access a publicly-funded program to preschool.
Extend the now-expanded Child Tax Credit for at least another year to continue providing most American families with young children -- including 600,000 in Colorado -- payments of $250 - $300 per child, per month.
Extend the now-expanded Premium Tax Credit to reduce monthly health care premiums for more than 9 million Americans -- including 88,000 Coloradans -- who get their health insurance on one of the ACA exchanges by an average of $600 per year.
Ensure millions of Americans with diabetes don't have to pay more than $35 per month for their insulin.
Extend the now-expanded Earned Income Tax Credit to reduce taxes for 17 million low-wage workers across the country -- including more 293,000 low-wage workers in Colorado who would receive up to $1,500 each.
Ensure working parents pay no more than 7% of their income on child care for children under the age of 6. According to the White House, the average cost to send a toddler to child care in Colorado is $14,300 per year. The Build Back Better Act would ensure that no family earning less than 2.5 times their state's median income -- which for a family of four in Colorado would be $251,900 a year -- has to spend more than 7% of their income on child care.
Provide $555 billion to tackle the climate crisis and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030.
Expand existing Home Energy and Efficiency tax credits to help lower the cost of installing a solar rooftop by around 30 percent.
Provide middle-class families a tax credit of up to $12,500 for the purchase of a new, American-made electric vehicle.
Provide zero-cost health care to more than 4 million uninsured Americans who would qualify for Medicaid but live in states that have not expanded it.
Expand Medicare to provide hearing aid benefits to seniors.
Expand rental assistance; and fuel the construction and rehabilitation of more than 1 million affordable housing units across the country. According to the White House, 379,000 renters in Colorado are rent burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent.
Increase the maximum Pell Grant by $550 and expand access to Dreamers. According to the White House, 68,750 students in Colorado currently rely on the Pell Grant program.
Increase investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Expand free school meal programs to more low-income children during the school year; and provide millions of low-income families $65 per child, per month to help them purchase food during the summer. According to the White House, 7% of children in Colorado live in food insecure households. The Build Back Better Act would provide free school meals to an additional 138,000 students throughout the state during the school year and provide 356,100 students in Colorado with additional resources to help them purchase food during the summer.
While the Build Back Better Act makes a series of historic investments to help millions of hardworking families throughout the country, it would require no American making less than $400,000 a year to pay a penny more in taxes. Instead, the legislation is fully paid for by asking the wealthiest few and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.
The legislation, combined with the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law this week, is estimated to create an average of two million jobs per year, over the next 10 years.
As seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists recently wrote, "because this agenda invests in long-term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease longer-term inflationary pressures." And, according to the estimates of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the U.S. Treasury, the Build Back Better Act will even reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion over the first ten years.
Now that it's been approved by the House, the legislation heads to the Senate for consideration.