News from EPI EPI applauds House passage of the Build Back Better Act

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), which will make a number of investments in our economy that could prove transformative for U.S. workers and their families. It would make the U.S. economy fairer and more productive, and the Senate must pass this critical legislation as soon as possible. But even after its passage, much remains to be done to finish building an economy that lifts up everyone.

The legislation: 

  • Supports 2.3 million jobs annually for the first five years. With the spread of the Delta variant this summer and the investments from the American Rescue Plan Act running out, the 2.3 million jobs supported each year by the BBBAtogether with the 770,000 jobs supported each year by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Actare crucial for ensuring a strong and stable recovery in coming years.
  • Makes critical investments to establish universal pre-K. It also makes investments to combat climate change, build affordable housing, expand access to health care, and provide paid family and medical leave. It reduces exorbitant child care and home care costs for families while providing additional opportunities for care workers, who are deeply undervalued and underpaid. These investments will move us toward an economy that works for the people in it and will advance racial, gender, and economic justice.
  • Includes provisions that will protect workers’ rights and boost worker power. The legislation establishes substantial civil penalties for employers that violate workers’ right to a union and collective bargaining, which occurs in at least 41.5% of all union election campaigns. The BBBA also increases penalties for employers who commit minimum wage and health and safety violations, which have historically been woefully insufficient to protect workers.
  • Provides a temporary statusknown as parolefor roughly two-thirds of the unauthorized immigrant population. That status will protect from deportation those who qualify and allow them to work lawfully. The BBBA also includes provisions to recapture unused green cards and help clear the green card backlogs, which will provide certainty and permanence to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, keep families together, and increase worker power. 

The BBBA is fundamentally about the kind of economy we want to have, and is a step toward a more equitable and inclusive one.

However, much more needs to be done. The pandemic has laid bare many long-standing, structural problems with how our economy operates for workers, and as soon as the ink dries on the BBBA, policymakers must move on to remaining key priorities, including making permanent the temporary provisions in the legislation that help working families, passing a $15 minimum wage, overhauling our patchwork unemployment system, and reforming labor law to restore workers’ freedom to a union. Congress must also pass immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, and in the face of repeated threats to our democracy, pass legislation protecting voting rights for all.

The Biden-Harris administration and congressional Democrats must continue to fight for these urgent and necessary reforms using all available toolsincluding abolishing the filibusterin order to create a truly strong and equitable economy for workers and their families.

See more work by Heidi Shierholz