House Passes Build Back Better Act

House Passes Build Back Better Act

This morning, the House voted 220-213 to pass the $1.85T Build Back Better Act, the “human infrastructure” social spending bill and a cornerstone of President Biden’s agenda.

The 2,468-page bill is essentially a mash-up of the Democratic Party’s main domestic priorities. Although it has been shrunken down from its original $3.5T size, the measure still has substantial implications. Key provisions include:

  • Universal and free preschool for all 3 and 4-year-olds;
  • Makes the largest investment in combatting climate change in U.S. history, mainly through tax credits for solar panels, electric vehicles, and other clean energy products;
  • Offers four weeks of paid family and medical to all workers;
  • Expands Medicare to cover hearing benefits for seniors;
  • Allows the government to negotiate some prescription drug prices for the first time, although it will only apply to a certain class of expensive drugs;
  • Extends the expanded Child Tax Credit (which offers monthly payments to parents of nearly 90% of American children) for one year;
  • Strengthens Obamacare by reducing health care premiums for some middle-class Americans and by expanding Medicaid in states that have yet to do so; and
  • Makes additional investments in child care, elder care, public housing, and higher education.

The bill will now head to the Senate for final passage. The bill should have the votes on the Senate side after prolonged negotiations with Senators Sinema (D-AZ) and Manchin (D-WV) trimmed down the bill and eliminated some of the provisions they would not support.

Senate Confirms Charles “Chuck” Sams as Director of the National Park Service

Senate Confirms Charles “Chuck” Sams as Director of the National Park Service

Last night, the Senate confirmed Charles ‘Chuck’ Sams III by voice vote as the next director of the National Park Service, filling a position that had been left vacant since January of 2017. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Sams earlier this month, also by voice vote, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) pushed yesterday to secure confirmation before the upcoming Thanksgiving recess.

Sams has worked in state and tribal governments and the non-profit natural resource and conservation management fields for over 25 years. Previous roles include Deputy Executive Director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), President/Chief Executive Officer of Indian Country Conservancy, and National Director of the Tribal & Native Lands Program for the Trust for Public Land. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and an enrolled member, Cayuse and Walla Walla, of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

“Chuck is a role model in the stewardship of American land and waters, wildlife and history,” Wyden said. “Thanks to the Senate’s unanimous decision to confirm his nomination, Congress and parkgoers will have someone steady and experienced to rely on in the years ahead.”