Build Back Better means historic investments in Latino communities
Latino communities have been overlooked and underserved for years, from a lack of affordable health care and housing to costly child care. Data from the 2020 Census shows that Latinos are the fastest-growing population in our country and account for more than half of total U.S. population growth. Latinos are a growing part of our nation’s future, and it’s time we make an overdue investment in their communities.
In November, I joined my Democratic colleagues in the House and voted for the Build Back Better Act. Build Back Better makes historic investments in Latino communities. It is a win for Latinos that will create jobs, boost our economy, and invest in hardworking people across our country. With these transformative investments in health care, childcare, and affordable housing, we could better the lives of nearly every Latino.
The Build Back Better Act includes a $390 million investment to lower child care costs and expand access to free preschool for children. In my district, the lack of access to affordable preschool affects countless families; nationwide, only 59 percent of Latino children are enrolled in preschool programs. Getting more kids into school and learning from an early age will only benefit our nation’s next generation. Build Back Better also ensures that most working families will pay no more than 7 percent of their income on childcare. As a result, parents can rest easy knowing their child is safe while staying employed, having more money in their pockets to help their families and invest in our growing economy.
Passing the Build Back Better Act also extends the Child Tax Credit, which is the largest-ever tax cut for middle-class families. From July 2021 to December 2021, families in my district received $232.6 million in monthly Child Tax Credit payments. Parents used the money to purchase groceries, pay bills, and buy school supplies. These payments helped lift Latino families out of poverty while reducing food and housing insecurity.
Many Latino communities suffer from a lack of affordable housing. More than half of Latinos pay over 30 percent of their income on rent, which leaves little room in a family’s budget to pay for health care, education, or to keep the lights on. Current provisions in the Build Back Better Act include a $161 billion investment towards rehabilitating and building new affordable housing units. We can help families stay in their homes and free up budgets by expanding access to affordable housing.
Build Back Better cuts health care costs so parents, children, and seniors can get the care they need without breaking the bank. Half a million uninsured Latinos could gain health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and even more people would see their premiums significantly reduced. It also invests $35 million to expand Medicare Part D to lower the price of lifesaving drugs our seniors need. Millions of Latinos enrolled in Medicare would have expanded access to essential health care without the added cost.
When the Build Back Better Act passed the House in November, it included provisions to provide long-term work permits and protections to 7 million immigrants. Unfortunately, the Senate parliamentarian has since rejected three options Democrats have put forward to include immigration protections in Build Back Better. I’m disappointed in the parliamentarian’s decision. However, I remain hopeful that we can still take the first steps toward securing a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants who are part of our essential workforce and call this country home. It would be a missed opportunity if the final version of Build Back Better does not include immigration reform.
The Build Back Better Act has been with the Senate for two months without much movement. Senate Republicans are blocking the consideration of this bill and leaving millions vulnerable, especially Latinos. The Build Back Better Act will make historic investments in our nation’s fastest-growing population by providing more affordable housing, childcare and lower health care costs. Investing in Latinos is investing in our nation’s future. We must pass Build Back Better.
Vargas represents California’s 51st District which includes the southern portion of San Diego County, all of Imperial County and California’s entire U.S.-Mexico border.
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