Brussels (Brussels Morning) On Friday, 19 November, 2021, the United States House of Representatives passed a $1.75 trillion bill that will support the implementation of President Joe Biden’s most pressing priorities. This bill is recognised as being one of the most significant social expansions in US history. The final vote provided passage by a thin victory margin, coming in at 220-213. Close as the winning margin was, the bill now moves on to the Senate, where it will most likely go through several revisions before a final vote takes place.
“Build Back Better not only meets long-awaited critical needs, such as clean energy technology, it is fully paid for, unlike the 2001 and 2017 tax cuts under Republican Presidents…. Seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists say the bill’s investments enhance productive participation in our economy and ease the long-term inflation pressure that is the frontline concern of Americans today. Congress will make history by passing this historic legislation”, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton as dictated in the congressional record.
A report from CNBC summarizes what the bill will do in its current form:
- Establish universal pre-school for all children aged three-to-four.
- Invoke a childcare cost cap of 7% of income in households earning up to 250% of a state’s average income.
- Provide four weeks of federally paid parental, sick, or caregiver leave.
- Expand the current Child Tax Credits that have cut childhood poverty by 25% over the past year.
- Grow the Affordable Care Act subsidies.
- Allow for new hearing benefits for those receiving Medicare.
- Set a $35-per month limit on insulin costs under Medicare and cap out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 per year.
- Dedicate $500 billion to combat climate change through clean energy tax credits.
- Increase state and local tax deductions from $10,000 to $80,000.
“This bill will speak for itself to millions and millions and millions of Americans whose lives will be made more secure and richer in terms of their quality of life, whose educational opportunities will be greater, and whose job opportunities will be greatly enhanced”, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told a press conference after the vote.
As the legislation moves to the Senate, reports regarding forecasted changes to the bill’s content are coming in. NBC discussed these potential changes with US government officials, who indicated that the provisions most likely to be scrutinised are the following:
- Paid leave
- Tax deductions
- Medicare benefits
While these areas account for a large part of the legislation’s text, some politicians remain cautiously hopeful about obtaining a passing vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters, “We’re in very good shape to get 50 votes, but there are different ways—parliamentarian and other ways—the Republicans could try to knock it out.”
The Senate is currently scheduled to move forward with the bill, but before a vote can take place, it must go through a “Byrd bath” where the language is reviewed and revised. The current text of the Build Back Better legislation can be read here.