The House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act reconciliation bill (HR 5376) on Friday, November 19, 2021, after a week of waiting. The waiting was driven by the need for a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) “score” or estimation of costs and savings. That score came back on Thursday at the expected $1.7 trillion. Further delay was caused by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) lengthy Thursday night speech until the vote was put off until Friday morning.
The legislation is now headed to the Senate where it will be changed further if, for no other reason, to clear up technical and other Senate rule violations known as the Byrd rule. There are also other changes that will be made in the tax arena and some other parts of the bill that may raise the opposition of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). There appears to be consensus that the other long-time hold out Senator, Senator Kirsten Sinema (D-AZ), is on board with what the House has done.
At least two of CWLA’s highest of many priorities the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and universal child care should end up in a final package—if there is a final package. The Child Tax Credit, will likely have only a one-year extension meaning a further push to continue it next year.
The child care provisions would be historic. Families making up to 250% of your state’s median income will have child care costs capped at 7 percent of income (approximately $300,000 per year for family of 4). For families making less than that, quality care cost will be based on a sliding scale. Meaning child care to about 20 million children per year – covering 9 out of 10 families across the country. Other key provisions in House bill:
- Provide universal and free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, the largest expansion of universal and free education since states and communities across the country established public high schools. Parents will be able to send children to high-quality preschool in the setting of their choice – from public schools to child care providers to Head Start.
- Extends some of the pandemic-related expansions of the ACA which will reduce premiums for 9 million Americans who obtain insurance through the ACA exchanges. A family of four earning $80,000 per year would save nearly $3,000 per year (or $246 per month) on health insurance premiums.
- Expands ACA tax credits to those people and families who live in states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA. Up to 4 million uninsured people (approximately 60 percent minority individuals and families.)
- Provides $24 billion in new and additional Housing Choice Vouchers for hundreds of thousands of families or individuals and additional billions for housing improvements and expansion.
- Extending for one year the CTC, maintain the monthly payment provision for one year, extension to 1 million eligible immigrant children, continued extension to Puerto Rico and making refundability permanent.
The CTC will only continue in its present expanded form for one more year and that would make it a key priority for next year’s agenda. The bill also extends for one more year the Earned Income Tax Credit for single adults (with special coverage for youth exiting foster care). One other CWLA priority, paid family, and medical leave, will be the toughest sell with Senator Manchin’s persistent opposition.