President Joe Biden’s ambitious “Build Back Better” program suffered a major setback earlier this month, when Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, withheld support.
That meant Democrats in the Senate did not have 50 votes (the tie-breaker is decided by the vice president) needed to pass the bill, and “Build Back Better” went on ice.
The $1.7 trillion bill, a key part of Biden’s domestic policy, would pay for many social programs such as child tax credits, education programs ranging from child care to college grants, climate change initiatives, and healthcare programs.
In the Central Valley, two congressmen have polar opposite ideas of what the future holds for “Build Back Better.”
Valadao: BBB Piles up Debt on Americans
David Valadao, R-Hanford, voted against “Build Back Better” when the House of Representatives approved it 220-213 on Nov. 19. It was nearly a party-line vote, with only one Democrat voting no (Jared Golden of Maine).
“Our nation simply cannot afford to keep spending money that we do not have, which is why this bill is so difficult to pass as it would only make the problem worse. Americans are experiencing record high inflation, the cost of housing is rising, grocery bills are historically high, and gas is unaffordable,” Valadao said.
“The Build Back Better Act would not only hurt our economy by drastically increasing our already record-high inflation rates, it would also cripple generations to come by passing on more debt to future Americans.”
Costa: BBB Will Benefit the Valley
Jim Costa, D-Fresno, voted in favor of BBB and insists it is salvageable. He would not blame Manchin either.
“Build Back Better did not fail, it is still being worked on. The Senate has not voted on the version that passed the House on Nov. 19. It’s not about one person or pointing fingers. Democrats in Congress remain committed to getting this done,” Costa told GV Wire.
Costa touted what BBB could mean for the Central Valley — $500 million for medical schools, $500 million for nursing programs, $50 million for canals and solar-canal projects, and $10 billion for infrastructure rail projects.
The congressman rejected the argument that increased spending would lead to inflation.
“Investing in the American people will not lead to greater inflation. Some of our nation’s brightest economists have found that investing in people’s livelihoods and giving them more opportunity strengthens our economy,” Costa said.
Costa cites a letter signed by dozens of economists that the savings the average American family will experience will offset other inflationary pressures caused by the pandemic.
Will BBB Return?
The congressmen differ on whether BBB will return in 2022.
“I am hopeful we do not see another iteration of this irresponsible legislation in the future,” Valadao said.
Costa is more optimistic about BBB’s 2022 revival.
“Yes, negotiations are still ongoing, this is a process that takes time. This is a once-in-a-generation package of legislation that invests in the livelihoods of the American people,” Costa said. “I’m optimistic we will find a way forward, and I will keep pushing to get this legislation through Congress and to preserve portions that benefit the San Joaquin Valley. ”