Rep. Castor Statement on House Passage of the Historic Build Back Better Act
Focus on Lowering Costs and Improving Lives of All Floridians
Washington, November 18, 2021
“We made a promise to our neighbors that we would Build Back Better in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic. The past two years have underscored the urgent, tangible needs of Florida families and small business owners – access to quality, affordable health care and child care, good-paying jobs, clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, and affordable housing. Today’s passage of the Build Back Better Act is a historic step towards bolstering our economy and making our government work for all Americans once more. The benefits will be felt across the Tampa Bay area.
“This means providing universal, high-quality pre-kindergarten to three- and four-year-olds, expanding affordable health care and lowering costs to millions of Floridians, lowering the costs of prescription drugs, improving Medicare, making the single largest and most comprehensive investment in affordable housing in history, extending the tax cut for most families with children, and much more. While making monumental progress for families and working Americans, the Build Back Better Act lowers costs and fights inflation because it is fully paid for by making big corporations and the wealthiest pay their fair share. No one making under $400,000 will pay a penny more in taxes.
“We are aiming to help parents get back to work and bring the United States in line with other nations through paid family and medical leave. No one should have to grapple with the impossible questions that American men and women have been asking for years. Do I quit my job to care for an ailing loved one? Will I have to leave my job to care for my newborn child? Through our plan, all workers will be eligible for up to four weeks of paid leave for new parents, workers dealing with their own serious medical conditions, and workers who need leave to care for a loved one with a serious medical issue. This commonsense provision is long overdue and will help ensure we can keep American workers on the job with comprehensive paid leave policies.
“This plan invests in our veterans through the VA, which will allow us to restore veterans’ faith by literally rebuilding the outdated physical infrastructure of the VA system, investing in VA’s workforce, and providing much-needed updates to the support structures that serve our proud veteran community in Tampa.
“The Affordable Care Act remains popular in Florida, and as we begin another open enrollment period, Congress is making meaningful strides towards getting even more uninsured Floridians covered and lowering the cost of care for Americans of all ages.
“After two years that have shown us the importance of health care and popularity of the Affordable Care Act in Florida, we lower costs and improve coverage for our neighbors in life-saving ways. In Florida, Republicans at the state level have refused to expand Medicaid, costing the state billions of dollars while leaving almost 1 million of our neighbors without affordable health care coverage. The Build Back Better Act will reduce health inequalities by expanding Medicaid in states like Florida where governors have refused to act, lower health care costs by investing in programs that reduce health care premiums and deductibles for all Americans, and permanently extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which will ensure that low-income children will always have access to quality, affordable health insurance.
“New comprehensive hearing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries including coverage of hearing aids will put more money in the pocketbooks of many Florida seniors and improve their overall health. We also invest $150 billion to expand access to quality home-based services and care for millions of older adults and people with disabilities, strengthening our nation’s care infrastructure and workforce.
“In a response to the concerns across the political spectrum, this bill will also finally allow for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices and stop Big Pharma from ripping off American families and seniors. This bill also enacts a new, out-of-pocket cap in Medicare on prescription drug costs at $2,000, adding important financial protection for Medicare beneficiaries. For years, I have heard from my neighbors about the high cost of insulin. Good news – Build Back Better lowers insulin prices so that Americans with diabetes don’t pay more than $35 per month for their insulin. This is a long-overdue, all-American proposition that makes sure everyone can afford the cost of their prescription drugs and have access to the care they need.
“Important for Floridians, our economy and our way of life, I have fought to ensure that a provision permanently banning oil drilling off of Florida’s coast was included in this bill. Florida’s beautiful beaches and our economy are tied to clean water and clean air, and this ban is an incredible victory for our state and environment.
“Paired with the bipartisan infrastructure package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on Monday, we are enacting the most significant clean energy, infrastructure and resilience package in the history of America. By cutting greenhouse gas pollution by well over one gigaton in 2030, we will reduce consumer energy costs, give our kids cleaner air and water, create hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs, and advance environmental justice by investing in a 21st century clean energy economy.
“I am especially inspired to see large investments in children and families through high quality universal Pre-K (UPK) and child care. UPK will give children a strong start and put them on a path to succeed in school and in life. More affordable child care will help women return to the workforce at a critical time as well.
“We Build Back Better by ensuring a level playing field that provides opportunity for ALL of our neighbors – this historic legislation does just that. I urge my Senate colleagues to pass this bill quickly – our nation and neighbors can’t wait.”