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AFSCME’s Saunders urges Senate to act on House-approved Build Back Better Act

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Friday urged the Senate to follow in the footsteps of the House of Representatives and approve the Build Back Better Act, which he said would be a turning point for our country.

“With House passage of the Build Back Better Act, we as a nation are set to turn a corner,” Saunders said in a press release. “On the other side lies a better and brighter future where our most basic needs – child care, home care, health care and housing – aren’t privileges, but rights. These transformational investments will finally allow us to build back better, helping working families get back on their feet with dignity and strengthening the public services our communities depend on.”

The Build Back Better Act would provide universal pre-kindergarten education for 3- and 4-year-olds and create a four-week annual paid family and medical leave benefit for nearly all of America’s workers. It would also give 20 million kids access to quality child care and provide free school meals to 8.7 million children during the school year.

The bill would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, expand affordable access to home care for seniors and people with disabilities, and create a $35 billion hearing aid benefit for senior citizens and those on Medicare. These investments would be paid for – largely by requiring millionaires and large profitable corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.

“Through Build Back Better, millions of working families will now be able to afford quality child care and home care; early childhood education will be universal; prescription drug costs will no longer force families to sacrifice groceries or rent for life-saving medicines; and affordable housing can start to become a reality,” Saunders said.

House passage of the bill comes just days after President Joe Biden signed the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion package that represents the largest investment in American history in public transit, passenger rail, clean drinking water and more.

The Build Back Better Act would invest some $2 trillion to expand the social safety net, fight climate change and invest in our human infrastructure. Our union – which helped win passage of the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, among other key priorities of the Biden agenda – stands strongly behind the proposal.

“We cannot turn this corner towards a better future without the Senate,” Saunders said. “There is no reason for delay and there is no time for quibbling or partisan games. Working people have waited long enough. The Senate must do its job for the American people and pass the Build Back Better Act as soon as possible.”

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