The Build Back Better Act: A Stronger, Cleaner American Economy That Fights Climate Change
Congress is working on a very big economic improvement plan that everyone calls “reconciliation” for short. (The formal term is the Build Back Better Act — if you hear about “Build Back Better,” this is what people are talking about.) It’s a 10-year budget for the country that makes major long-term investments in health care, education, environmental protection and a lot more.
Over the next several weeks, various committees in the House of Representatives are going to hold debates and vote on the pieces of the reconciliation agreement in their jurisdiction. (We’ve previously written about jurisdiction and how different committees handle different issues.) The Natural Resources Committee oversees our federally protected public lands — that includes everything from people enjoying national parks and wildlife refuges to drilling for oil and gas. Our piece of reconciliation puts our country on a more sustainable economic and environmental path, creates millions of jobs and directly confronts the damage being done by climate change all at the same time. It’s the best investment we’ve made in our country in a long time.
Each committee participating in the reconciliation process gets its own allocation of the overall 10-year budget figure. In our case, we’re investing approximately $30 billion — though as Chair Grijalva has said, we believe the need is much greater than that because of the economic potential and the risk of climate change. Even as we prepare to vote on our piece of reconciliation on Sept. 2, we’re pushing for more investments in our jurisdiction.
Our historic investments include nearly $10 billion in restoration and resilience projects along our coastlines, Great Lakes and waterways. The Build Back Better Act strengthens our national economy while also creating jobs that reduce wildfire risk and make our public lands more accessible and resilient to future climate impacts:
- $3 billion to support the Civilian Climate Corps through the Department of the Interior
- $1 billion for tribal climate resilience and adaptation
- $900 million for national wildfire management
- $500 million for a unique Tribal Civilian Climate Corps
- $225 million for climate resilience and restoration
- $100 million for mitigating climate-induced weather events
- $100 million for tribal wildfire management
- Hundreds of millions more for urban parks and increasing childhood outdoor access
Investing in Underserved Communities
Our plan creates jobs that improve quality of life in historically underserved communities. Our investments create long-lasting economic benefits in areas that have traditionally been the least politically powerful and, too often, the most polluted in the country.
We invest in communities where the need is greatest and increase economic activity in locally sensitive ways. The Build Back Better Act builds a more equitable economy:
- $2.7 billion for overdue Indian water rights settlements
- $2.5 billion to clean up abandoned hardrock mines and redevelop them for productive use
- $2 billion for health facility construction, maintenance, and improvement in Indian Country
- $993 million for hospitals and health infrastructure in U.S. territories
- $500 million for tribal housing improvements
- Raises billions of dollars in fossil fuel industry fees
- Provides for technical assistance and capacity building in local communities to plan for climate change impacts
The Committee votes on our piece of reconciliation on Thursday, Sept. 2, where members can offer and vote on amendments, debate the overall bill, and then vote on passing the final version. Other committees involved in this process will do the same thing over the course of the next several weeks. Once all of those committees have voted, the collection of pieces will be put into one large bill and sent to the House Budget Committee and the House Rules Committee. House Budget will hold further debate — nobody said this was going to happen overnight — and then vote on final passage.
When all the committees have acted, the full House of Representatives will hold a final floor debate, with amendments, and vote on passing the bill for the final time. Then it goes to the Senate, where more amendments, votes and debates take place. At the end of the process, the House and Senate will pass identical bills and send that final version to President Biden for his signature.
Once the reconciliation plan becomes law, we start to make historic investments in our country and our economic trajectory becomes a whole lot brighter. Independent analysts have pointed to the potential to create millions of jobs, reduce unemployment and increase national economic output.