After months of negotiating, the White House unveiled a framework last week for the Build Back Better Act, a momentous recovery package that would make historic investments in children and families. The bill also includes important protections for immigrants and the largest federal investments ever made to boost clean energy and address the climate crisis.
Your advocacy has paid off. Many of FCNL’s top priorities made it into the current legislation.
This legislation, to be sure, does not satisfy all the pressing needs of our communities. Many life-changing provisions did not survive negotiations, as congressional leaders and the White House responded to demands to reduce the overall size and scope of the package.
But make no mistake: Your advocacy has paid off. Many of FCNL’s top priorities made it into the current legislation, including:
Extending the critical expansions to the Child Tax Credit, particularly for low-income families.
The Build Back Better Act continues the historic increase in the Child Tax Credit amount (from $2,000 to $3,000 per kid and $3,600 for children under 6) for one year. Most importantly, it allows parents with little or no income to claim the full Child Tax Credit amount. Previously, the parents of 27 million kids couldn’t claim the full amount because they didn’t earn enough money.
Extending the Earned Income Tax Credit expansions.
The bill also extends by one year the expansion to the Earned Income Tax Credit for adults not raising children, a population that is often left out of America’s social safety net system.
Historic investments in clean energy and addressing the climate crisis.
The legislation includes tax credits that cover solar, wind, offshore wind, standalone energy storage, transmission, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and clean energy manufacturing. These will expand opportunities for disadvantaged communities while supporting strong labor standards and domestic manufacturing in the United States.
Robust investments in affordable housing.
The bill puts $150 billion towards the construction and improvement of more than 1 million affordable homes; rental assistance, expanding vouchers to hundreds of thousands of additional families; and down payment assistance for first generation homebuyers.
Increased access to pre-K and child care.
The legislation provides universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds and makes significant investments in childcare, ensuring that the majority of families of four earning less than $300,000 per year will pay no more than 7% of their income on care for children under the age of 6.
Health care for low-income individuals.
The package provides Affordable Care Act premium tax credits to up to 4 million uninsured people in states that failed to take up the Medicaid expansion.
Protections for undocumented immigrants.
Within the limits of reconciliation rules, the Build Back Better Act allots more than $100 billion to strengthen our immigration infrastructure and potentially grant undocumented communities work permits and protection from deportation. The legislation also provides funding to reduce U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services application backlogs. Additionally, thousands of visas that expired under previous administrations would become available to immigrants who are currently subjected to backlogs and waiting lists.
Raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations to pay for these investments.
The Build Back Better Act raises revenues through a corporate minimum tax, a tax on stock buy-backs, an international minimum tax, a wealth tax on millionaires and billionaires, and increased IRS enforcement.
These are major victories worth celebrating. But we recognize that many priorities were still left out. While the investments in clean energy are enormous, the bill fails to include a Clean Electricity Performance Payment Program or a carbon tax—key measures as we reach for an earth restored.
We must secure the monumental advancements provided in this bill.
Further, a crucial federal paid family and medical leave program was scrapped at the last minute. The Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit expansions should all be made permanent. And we must ensure a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented members of our communities. We will not stop working towards for these vital policies.
In this moment, however, we need to secure the monumental advancements provided in this bill. This is the homestretch, and debate will continue as congressional leaders and the White House try to wrangle enough votes for passage. We must keep raising our voices and get this historic package over the finish line.