EdAction in Congress

EdAction in Congress November 7, 2021

House sends infrastructure bill to Biden, advances Build Back Better Act

After a marathon session that began early Friday morning and ended late in the night, the House passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by a bipartisan vote of 228-206; President Biden said he will sign it into law as soon as he receives it. The bill is a historic investment in roads and bridges, will lead to more good paying union jobs, extends the Secure Rural Schools Act, begins to eliminate lead pipes in schools and child care facilities, and invests in electrifying school buses to reduce emissions.

The House also took a step toward passage of the Build Back Better Act. A group of centrist Democrats refused to vote on it yesterday, but reached an agreement with progressives, House leadership, and the White House to vote no later than the week of Nov. 15 when additional fiscal details are released. The bill would be the biggest investment in the American people, the backbone of our nation’s infrastructure, since the 1960s—a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a real difference in the daily lives of students, educators, and families. It will be paid for by ensuring corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay a fairer share of taxes.

The Build Back Better Act’s historic investments include universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds; more affordable child care and college; expanded access to free school meals; extending the child tax credit that has cut child poverty in half; and more resources for educator recruitment and retention, HBCUs, other minority-serving institutions, and the E-Rate program. It would also make the single largest investment in affordable housing in U.S. history; extend Medicaid coverage to 4 million more people; strengthen the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); add hearing coverage to Medicare; lower the cost of some prescription drugs, including a $35 per month cap on life-saving insulin; and provide temporary protection and employment authorization for an estimated 7 million undocumented immigrants.

“America is at a historic juncture,” NEA said in a Nov. 4 letter urging passage of the entire Build Back Better agenda. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity—a chance for meaningful action on long-ignored challenges ranging from how we care for those who are ill or have fallen on hard times to ensuring every neighborhood has safe drinking water.” TAKE ACTION


Only one Republican supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined all 50 Democrats in voting to advance the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4). “Voting rights are fundamental to our democracy and how we protect them defines us as a nation,” she said. “Every American deserves equal opportunity to participate in our electoral system and political process, and this bill provides a starting point as we seek broader bipartisan consensus on how best to ensure that.”

The bill failed to advance, however, because every other Republican voted against it. The Senate rule known as the filibuster requires a 60-vote supermajority to bring most bills to the floor, where they can then be passed by a simple majority of 51.

We cannot allow Senate rules and procedures to block this critical legislation. H.R. 4 would reverse dangerous, undemocratic trends flowing from Supreme Court rulings: Shelby v. Holder, decided in 2013, which invalidated the crucial “preclearance” provision of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, decided just a few months ago, which further weakened the law. This year alone, 19 states have enacted 33 laws that will make it harder for Americans to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. To reverse the effects of these voter suppression laws, Congress must act quickly and pass H.R. 4. TAKE ACTION

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