Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the continued progress made toward passing President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, a historic step forward for American families. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Today, Democrats in the House and Senate continue making progress on passing President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
Last night, I held another round of talks with my leadership team, with the Speaker, with the White House. We are discussing so many issues, including moving forward on prescription drugs. We are moving ahead, we are working through the outstanding details, and we remain committed to getting something big done for the American people.
Nobody is getting everything that they hoped for in the final deal—but Build Back Better will have things that everyone—everyone—wanted.
Even as we continue finalizing the text, the President’s framework already, already, has very good and important things that will dramatically improve the lives of everyday Americans: it makes historic progress on child care, pre-K, fighting climate change, providing tax cuts for the middle class, housing, and more.
In years past, passing any one of these items would have been considered a huge step forward for the country—now we are working to get them all done at once and we will continue making progress.
The framework’s provisions on child care alone would be the largest in American history. Our country’s need for childcare has grown dramatically since the 20th century. According to the Treasury Department, in fact, the average cost of caring for a young child hovers around $10,000 a year. Many people pay more for child care than they pay for their mortgage.
$10,000 a year is simply out of reach for many families. And not only do our kids suffer when they can’t have somewhere safe to stay, our families suffer when they can’t enter the workforce, and ultimately our country suffers as our economy’s productivity is diminished.
Build Back Better, with its unprecedented investments to help families better afford child care, would finally provide parents the help they’ve needed for decades.
And that’s just one example. American families under this framework will, for the first time, also have access to universal Pre-K for 3 and 4 year olds across the country.
It also extends the Child Tax Credit passed earlier this year, so parents can better afford things like groceries and diapers and utilities and other daily essentials. Since its enactment, this program alone has already been projected to cut child poverty in half in this country. That’s amazing and one that will continue to go forward after this proposal.
So President Biden’s Build Back Better framework is a historic step forward for families, but that’s not all—the framework would also make bold investments to tackle the climate crisis.
The consequences of climate change are already severe: every time we face another major heat wave, it endangers the lives of Americans who work outdoors. Every time another hurricane hits the East Coast or the South, it risks destroying people’s homes and schools and churches and small businesses. Every time another wildfire rages in the West, it fills the air with poisonous smoke that entire cities breathe in, consequences yet unknown.
Build Back Better would help our country fight this climate threat with unprecedented investments in clean manufacturing, clean transportation, clean electricity, and clean buildings—so we can cut our emissions, make our communities healthier, and lead the world by the power of our example. While there still would be much, much more work needed to protect our planet, this framework is a bold step in the right direction.
Now, of course, even as we continue negotiations, the President’s Build Back Better framework contains many other good things. It will help Americans keep a safe and stable roof over their heads with long-sought investments in new affordable housing, as well as ensuring that we keep that housing affordable for low and moderate-income families.
And, I’ve been working night and day with my colleagues in both chambers and the white house to make progress on lowering the costs of prescription drugs.
I am very hopeful there will be an agreement—as early as today—that will include landmark reforms sought by the American people and the Democratic Party for decades.
For the first time, Medicare will be empowered to negotiate prescription drug prices in Part B and Part D.
There will be an annual cap on out-of-pocket costs, a new monthly cap on the price of insulin, and an “inflation” rebate policy to protect consumers from egregious annual increases in prices. These policies are common sense and overwhelmingly supported by the American people.
The deal will finally lower the costs of prescription drugs for seniors and working families.
It doesn't do everything I would want or many of us would want, but it takes a big step forward.
All the while, Build Back Better will be fully paid for and will ultimately relieve our nation’s inflationary pressures.
Don’t take my word for it: many leading economists have made clear that this legislation would improve, not worsen, inflation in this country.
So there are a lot of good things in this framework, and Democrats are moving forward to get a final agreement—and this bill—over the finish line.
Nobody said that transformative legislation of this scale would be easy, quick, or simple. But we remain committed to meeting our ultimate goal of helping working and middle class families achieve the American Dream in the 21st century.
We want to help those in the middle class stay there. They're worried about their future and the future of their children. We want to help those struggling to get to the middle class get there more easily by building ladders that they can climb. It's so important we get this done.
This is the best opportunity we’ve had in a long time to make that a reality, so we will continue marching ahead.