GUEST OPINION: Congress must pass Build Back Better legislation

It IS a big deal, but the job isn’t done.

Congress has passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. It was a long, messy process, as legislating often is. Still, Democrats got the job done after Republicans for four years promised each week would be “Infrastructure Week” but failed to pass anything.

Now Congress needs to finish the job and pass the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better measure.

First, here’s what Democrats delivered for Michigan in the infrastructure bill approved Friday night, based on summaries in news accounts:

  • $7.3 billion in federal highway aid.
  • $563 million for bridge replacement and repairs.
  • $1 billion for buses, rail lines and other means of public transportation.
  • $110 million for better Internet coverage, sorely needed here in Livingston County.
  • $1 billion over five years for protection of our jewels, the Great Lakes.
  • $1.3 billion for water infrastructure.
  • $110 million in Michigan – and $7.5 billion nationwide – for charging stations for electric vehicles, which Michigan automakers need to transition the nation away from gasoline-powered vehicles.

President Biden made it a point to come to Livingston County and make the pitch for this bill at the Operating Engineers Local 324 Training Center in Howell Township, underscoring that the jobs created by the passage of this infrastructure bill will be good paying, union jobs that can support a family.

But as President Biden pointed out that day, many families need more than better roads and bridges and Internet connections. To really thrive, they need Build Back Better.

Build Back Better is about families, not concrete.

It includes:

• Continuing the expanded child tax credit that puts as much as $300 per child into family’s bank accounts each month and has helped slash child poverty by 25 percent.

• Making childcare affordable by capping costs at 7 percent of a family’s income.

• Universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

• Allowing Medicare to begin negotiating drug prices.

• Cutting out-of-pocket spending for seniors & capping the cost of insulin.

• Stopping outrageous price-gouging on prescription drugs.

• Reliable home care for older members of their families.

• Higher taxes on the wealthy, who aren’t paying their fair share now.

• Four weeks of federal paid family leave.

• Expanded subsidies for Affordable Care Act health insurance policies.

• $500 billion to fight climate change, the biggest federal investment in that fight ever.

Build Back Better is a once-in-a-generation chance to invest in our children and our families. It will change the lives of families right here in Livingston County in many ways.

To finish the job, Congress must pass Build Back Better when it returns on Nov. 15.

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