Last month, Democrats in the U.S. House passed a nearly $2 Trillion version of Pres. Biden’s Build Back Better package. The package contains critical long-term investments that will help struggling households, address rising inflation, and pave the way for a brighter future.
We joined fellow members of the Poor People’s Campaign – Pittsburghers for Public Transit, Put People First, Marcellus Outreach Butler, and the Thomas Merton Center – at Sen. Toomey’s downtown Pittsburgh office to call on him to pass the package in the Senate.
What’s in the Build Back Better package
Build Back Better would make the largest investment in the American people in decades and improve all of our well-being. This package is our opportunity to:
- reduce childhood poverty and support 90% of America’s children through an extension of the Child Tax Credit;
- expand access to free school meals and child nutrition benefits;
- create millions of good-paying jobs;
- make healthcare, education, childcare, and housing more affordable;
- create universal, high-quality, free preK for all 3- and 4-year-olds;
- make home- and community-based care accessible to the aging and people with disabilities;
- address the climate crisis;
- and so much more!
Four measures alone—the Child Tax Credit, child care cost caps, expansions to the Affordable Care Act, and expansions of Medicaid—will save the typical Pennsylvania family of four an extra $7k a year, and $15k for the typical single parent with two kids! The plan will be paid for entirely by the richest Americans and the largest, most profitable corporations while taxes are cut for families with the lowest incomes.
What needs to happen now
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) has stated he wants Senate Democrats to pass this package in December, one of the final hurdles to it becoming law. But it won’t be easy.
Republican officials have opposed a massive Build Back Better investment package since Pres. Biden first proposed it when he was running for office. The U.S. Senate is currently split evenly between 50 Democrats (including 2 Independents who typically vote with them) and 50 Republicans. In cases of a tie, Vice President Harris casts the deciding vote.
Because of this, the Build Back Better package will have to be passed as a budget measure, which only requires a simple majority (51) of Senators to pass it. Beginning with the Obama administration, Senate leader Mitch McConnell (KY) has used a “filibuster” to prolong Senate debates indefinitely whenever he wants to block Democratic legislative efforts from coming to a vote. Therefore, any major Democratic legislative proposal now requires a supermajority of 60 supporting votes to move it from debate to an actual vote.
So passing Build Back Better as a “budget reconciliation” measure would get around this Republican obstructionism. Unfortunately, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Krysten Sinema (AZ) are also opposing the package in order to protect corporate interests.
What you can do
Call Senators Casey and Toomey at 1-888-894-6720 and ask them to make sure the Senate version of Build Back Better includes extending the expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit for struggling households.
Tell your U.S. Representative how you feel about their vote. This tool will tell you who they are, how they voted, and send them an email!