The Build Back Better (BBB) Bill will soon make it to the Senate after it has been recently passed in Congress. The $1.75 trillion bill includes provisions for climate change, affordable housing, small business support, and corporate taxes.
The BBB’s most significant provisions yet, however, are the ones that aim to help low-income families get the financial help they need. In fact, according to The Center for Law and Social Policy, the BBB is a historic investment in families and children. All of this is set to boost the economic security of families, which is expected to strengthen the country’s economy in the long run.
All of this is good news for families. To give you a better understanding of why it’s good news, this article aims to explain specific provisions in the bill that would benefit families.
Extended Child Tax Credit Expansion
Although temporary, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) that was passed in March 2021 greatly expanded the child tax credit (CTC). Eligible families and individuals received $3,000 credit for each of their children ages 6 to 17, while $3,600 per child under 6.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the CTC has already shown its positive impact on families. As of August this year, three million children have been lifted out of poverty because of the CTC, while food scarcity has been addressed and significantly reduced.
Prior to the ARP, only $2,000 credit was allowed per child, and households that earned $2,500 or less were ineligible. Because of this, CBPP revealed that 27 million children either received less CTC or nothing at all. Families that fell into this category were mostly Black and Latino who lived in rural communities. Unfortunately, this meant that there was less help for children and families who needed it most.
Thankfully, the ARP temporarily remedied the CTC. The BBB, on the other hand, would originally make this policy permanent. However, after the bill was passed in Congress, the CTC expansion was extended for a year. While this extension may seem short, other family-centered BBB provisions can support the CTC.
The current Medicaid coverage gap has left two million people below the poverty line out of healthcare assistance. This gap is addressed in the BBB with premium tax credits until 2025. The ARP back in March
also established Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium tax credits, which the BBB also extended until 2025.
The BBB also includes several provisions that address the medical needs of families and the elderly in particular. Seniors who spend on prescription drugs out-of-pocket will have a cap of $2,000 per year. If Medicaid covers them, they can also get a hearing aid benefit.
Lower Higher Education Costs
Pell Grant for students from low-income families will be increased by $500 per academic year. The BBB would also increase investment of about $9 billion to tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This would increase the acceptance rates of universities like UC Berkeley as tuition is subsidized for students from low-income families.
Lower Child Care Costs
One of the biggest expenses families spend on is childcare. Across the country, the average cost of childcare is a little more than $8,000 per year, which most families can’t afford. Because of this, many workers with families leave their jobs to take care of their children. This contributes to the labor shortage and is affecting businesses.
The BBB includes provisions for creating an affordable child care program and free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. It will also provide funding for childcare providers so that they can hire more staff and raise their employees’ wages.
Before the BBB, there was no pay protection for employees who needed leaves to care for their families, especially their sick loved ones. The pandemic worsened this problem. The BBB addressed this issue with a provision for 20 days (four weeks) of paid family and medical leave.
Reduce Childhood Hunger
The country is experiencing a summer meal crisis in schools. Children from low-income families who rely on their school meals for lunch will have nothing to eat once school closes for the summer. The BBB has three provisions to address this problem.
The first provision would increase funds for schools to provide healthy meals for children. The second provision would allow free meals at schools for students. However, this provision would depend on the number of recipients. The third provision would provide a $65 food allowance per child for eligible families.
Looking and Moving Forward
According to the CBPP, the provisions included in the BBB would protect millions, especially children, from poverty. No wonder everybody is looking forward to it being turned into a law. And now that it’s headed to the Senate for further deliberation and revision, everybody hopes it would retain its provision for families.