(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi Congressmen Kaialiʻi Kahele (D, HI-02) and Ed Case (D, HI-01) commended the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday for its passage of the Build Back Better Act.
“This legislation delivers for Hawaiʻi,” said Rep. Kahele, who is also a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Hawaiʻi is on the front lines of the climate crisis, the affordable housing crisis and crumbling infrastructure crisis. Our state needs these critical investments, and I applaud the House for passing the Build Back Better Act to make the robust and equitable investments our communities need. This is a once-in-a-generation investment in the backbone of America: working families. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress and the Biden Administration to pass the Build Back Better Act out of the Senate as soon as possible.”
Also known as the American Families Plan, the $2.1 trillion legislation was approved by the House with a 220-213 vote.
Calling the vote “one of the most consequential” he will ever take, Rep. Case issued the following statement:
“To get it right, for the last few months I have joined many colleagues in taking the time required to fully understand a complicated and often-changing 2,100-page bill, and to assure that it will actually deliver for those most in need and will be a responsible and sustainable investment of our nation’s financial resources.
“After fully reviewing the bill’s provisions as well as a full financial review from our Congressional Budget Office, and further discussing the measure with my colleagues, the White House, my constituents and others, I concluded that I had the information I needed to make a fully informed decision and decided to vote to advance the measure to the Senate for further consideration.
“Among many critical provisions, the bill makes historic investments in combatting climate change, providing our keiki a better start in life, helping struggling families and lowering the costs of health care especially prescription drugs. Equally critically, it does so in a fiscally responsible way as the costs of these investments are largely paid for rather than borrowed and are responsibly and fairly allocated.
“I especially want to thank the thousands of Hawai‘i residents who communicated their views on Build Back Better both pro and con and everywhere in between to me over the last months. Their input has been a critical part of my consideration and decision, and I am grateful for their patience as I have sorted through this decision.
“As the Senate now takes up Build Back Better, it is very important to note that in all likelihood whole parts of the House-passed version will be removed or altered and other provisions added. So, we have a long road to go still to final passage of Build Back Better.
“Nonetheless, House passage is a major milestone to go with the President’s signature into law of our equally historic largest-ever $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Package just three days ago. I’m especially looking forward to working to assure Hawai‘i receives our full fair share of that investment, which we estimate at upwards of $3 billion for our roads, ports, airports, broadband, schools and much more, to go with thousands of good-paying jobs and a major lift for our economy.”
The office of Rep. Kahele provided the following breakdown of the bill, first highlighting the increased investment in wastewater management funding that Kahele helped to secure:
- $250 million over five years to a grant program that allows nonprofit organizations to receive funds for the construction, repair, or replacement of decentralized wastewater systems for low or moderate income households, or groups of such households. The program gives priority to households that do not have access to sanitary sewer disposal systems.
- $150 million for grants to States, municipalities and nonprofits to address cesspools and to construct, repair or replace decentralized wastewater systems in the Build Back Better Act.
Native Hawaiian investments
- An additional two-year extension of 100 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages for Native Hawaiian Health Centers first authorized in the American Rescue Plan
- $50 million for distribution to Papa Ola Lōkahi and the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems, serving communities throughout the neighbor islands.
- $200 million for Native American and Native Hawaiian language and early childhood educator training and professional development
- Allows the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of up to ten drugs for plan year 2025, which then ramps up to 20 drugs by plan year 2028 and each plan year after
- Lower the cost of prescription drugs by 25 percent to 60 percent
- Lower insulin costs so that Americans with diabetes don’t pay more than $35 per month for insulin
Paid Family / Medical Leave
- Starting in January 2024, all workers will be eligible for paid leave for new parents, workers dealing with their own serious medical issues or workers who need leave to care for a loved one with a serious illness by providing workers with a not taxed federal benefit that will replace wages by about two-thirds for the average worker.
Keiki / Caregiving
- Extending the Child Tax Credit for one more year, continuing to lift millions of American children out of poverty
- $100 billion to support high quality child care during the first three years by increasing wages for early childhood workforce and investing in child care quality and supply. This bill would also cap families’ child care copayments to ensure that no eligible family pays more than 7 percent of their income on child care
- $18 billion to carry out a universal, high quality, free preschool program
- $1 billion for grants for land grant universities, which includes support for Native Hawaiian serving institutions
- $65 billion to address the capital needs backlog of public housing
- $10 billion to provide first-time, first-generation homebuyers with financial assistance
- $1 billion for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities’ housing and community development needs
- $50 million for climate resilience and adaptation activities that serve the Native Hawaiian community
- Tax incentives and funding to spur the deployment of renewable energy, alternative, clean fuels, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, green buildings and the development of a skilled, green energy workforce
- $2.4 billion to address immediate and long-term infrastructure needs of the VA nationwide
- $268 million for the VA to conduct an education and training program for health professional students and residents by increasing its number of health professions residency positions
The Build Back Better Act will now move to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
by Big Island Video News
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives voted to advance the Build Back Better Act to the U.S. Senate for consideration.