The Reconciliation Bill Moves Closer to Reality      

by Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Relations, Goodwill Industries International

The House Committees have finished marking up their portions of the reconciliation bill, a $3.5 trillion measure investing in components of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.  Using reconciliation will allow the bill to pass with a simple majority and avoid a filibuster, however not every Democrat is onboard. Fighting within the party exists over the cost of the package and provisions related to taxation, drug pricing and climate change among others.

Negotiations continue between House and Senate leaders with progressive and moderate members of the caucus as well as the White House. While ideally a deal will be hammered out before the House actually votes on a bill, time is running out to get something passed this month. Also at play are the bipartisan infrastructure bill expected to be voted on by the House on September 27, a continuing resolution needed to avoid a government shutdown by October 1, and the debt limit.

The measures highlighted below approved by the House will serve as the foundation as the talks continue. Thanks to your ongoing advocacy, the House Education and Labor Committee included strong investments in workforce development and job training totaling nearly $80 million. Measures of interest to Goodwill® and the people we serve include:

Labor: The measure would provide about $80 billion for workforce development and training programs.

Paid Leave: 12 weeks of paid leave beginning July 2023 for eligible workers for the birth or adoption of a child, a personal health condition, caregiving for a family member, circumstances related to a family member’s deployment, and bereavement.

Child Care: The measure would provide:

  • $15 billion in state grants to help providers improve child care facilities.
  • Grants to supplement the wages of qualified child care providers.
  • Capping child care costs at a maximum of 7% of family income
  • Requiring child care providers to provide at least a living wage to staff.
  • Providing free preschool to all three- and four-year-olds.

Retirement: Require employers with more than five workers to automatically enroll new hires for retirement benefits.

Education: About $111 billion for higher education, including by:

  • Providing two years of free community college through grants.
  • Increasing the maximum Pell grant by $500.
  • Allocating $9 billion for retention and completion grants to support students.
  • Providing additional support to historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions.

Child Nutrition: Almost $35 billion for child nutrition programs and other activities to address child hunger, including expanding eligibility for free school meals and funding for a program providing free or reduced priced meals when school is not in session.

Medicaid: The measure would close the Medicaid coverage gap for lower-income individuals in states that didn’t expand the program under the Affordable Care Act. It would also expand Medicare coverage to provide dental benefits beginning in 2028, hearing benefits beginning in 2023, and vision benefits beginning in 2022.

CHIP: The measure would make the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) permanent and would allow states to increase the income level needed for families to participate in CHIP.

Energy and Environment: Funding for clean energy and environmental initiatives would include:

  • $30 billion to replace every lead water service line in the U.S.
  • $18 billion to support home energy efficiency and appliance electrification rebates.
  • $4 billion for the Emergency Connectivity Fund to supply students, teachers, and others with internet-connected devices.

Housing: The measure would provide:

  • $77.3 billion for formula and needs-based public housing programs.
  • $75 billion for incremental Housing Choice Vouchers and support services, including for individuals at risk of homelessness and for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • $36.8 billion for the Housing Trust Fund and $34.8 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to fund the construction of affordable housing for low-income people.
  • $15 billion for project-based rental assistance.
  • $10 billion to offer down payment assistance to first-generation homebuyers.
  • $10 billion to address lead paint and other health hazards in housing for low-income families.
  • $10 billion for a new Housing Investment Fund to leverage private-sector investments to create and preserve affordable homes.

Immigration: The measure would make green cards and a pathway to citizenship available to Dreamers, essential workers, and holders of Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure.

Transportation and Infrastructure: Funding for a variety of transportation projects, including:

  • $9.9 billion for new transit routes and expanded services in low-income and disadvantaged areas.
  • $5.5 billion for regional economic growth clusters.

Tax Credits: Tax provisions are designed to aid certain households and industries, such as:

  • Extending an expanded version of the child tax credit through 2025 and making it permanently refundable.
  • Making permanent expanded versions of the earned income tax credit for childless workers and the child and dependent care credit under the American Rescue Plan Act.
  • Allow individuals who receive unemployment benefits to receive premium-free insurance plans through 2025.
  • Temporarily expanding the Affordable Care Act tax credits to individuals with income below 100% of the federal poverty level,

Infrastructure & Community Development: The measure includes several tax changes related to infrastructure financing and community development, such as:

  • Making permanent and expanding the New Markets Tax Credit, offered to taxpayers that invest in lower-income communities.
  • Increasing state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allocations.
  • Establishing a neighborhood homes credit for rehabilitating homes in certain lower-income areas.

We will continue to keep advocates informed as the package moves through the next steps.