Cortez Masto and Lee tout infrastructure bill, optimistic about social spending plan


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While bragging about Friday’s passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Act, a $ 1.2 trillion investment in roads, bridges, transit, broadband and more, Democratic Representative Susie Lee and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto turned their attention to what has yet to be passed. Rebuild by Acting Better Tuesday.

The Social Spending and Climate Bill, which would invest $ 1.85 trillion over a decade in multiple programs and services, including child care, expanding the child tax credit, reducing prescription drug costs, the creation of a federal paid vacation policy, and more affordable housing, have been the subject of intense debate between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party.

No Republican in the Senate or Congress is backing the legislation, leaving Democrats with little room for error if they disagree.

“We can build all the roads and all the bridges we want, but people need infrastructure, whether it’s affordable child care, universal preschool, affordable health care and affordable higher education. “Lee said on Tuesday. “The infrastructure bill that we have just passed is an employment bill. The Build Back Better bill is a jobs bill because we are investing in the infrastructure of American families, Nevada families, so they can take those jobs and earn a better future.

Lee and Cortez Masto spoke on a teleconference hosted by Battle Born Progress on Tuesday and received questions on various provisions of social policy legislation.

Annette Magnus, executive director of the organization, said the two laws were “the types of bills you need, especially when recovering from a pandemic.”

“The opposition to this bill really comes from what I call our obstructionist counterpart who basically doesn’t want to see a victory for this administration but more importantly a victory for American families,” Lee said.

Over the summer, Senate Democrats released a framework for a $ 3.5 trillion package that included reduced prescription drug costs and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.

Democratic senses Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema balked at investing in social and climate policies, and President Biden released a scaled-down framework with $ 1.75 trillion over ten years that did not include any of those policies.

Both votes are needed for Democrats to put the bill through the reconciliation process, a Senate procedure that protects them from Republican obstruction.

The House recently reintroduced a paid vacation provision into the Build Back Better Act, which would reduce it to four weeks, and also reinjected some scaled-down prescription drug reforms back into the legislation.

The United States is one of six countries without any form of a national paid vacation policy.

Lee called the lack of paid vacation time in the United States “a legacy that is honestly not only embarrassing, but hurting our economy.”

She added that it disproportionately affects women.

“We have a 21% gender gap in labor market participation only in our state, because more often than not women are responsible for taking care of our families when people get sick,” she said. declared. “We wanted 12 weeks, that was taken away completely and we are now fighting for four weeks of paid leave for new parents, workers with their own serious health issues and workers who have to leave to care for them. a person with serious medical problems. “

Quentin Savwoir, deputy director of Make It Work Nevada, asked if there was more to be done to pressure Manchin, who opposes paid time off, and Sinema, who has not publicly opposed the specific provision. but resisted the comprehensive reach of the legislation.

Cortez Masto said she is working with fellow Senate colleagues to make sure this stays in place.

She said not only to focus on Sens. Manchin or Sinema, but “to also say why it makes a difference in the lives of families”.

“I think it’s important that the advocacy in Washington shows the faces, the names and the stories,” she said. “Quite often in Washington, there’s always this bubble of data and charts… people forget that there are real lives and real families behind the work we do every day.

Both said they were determined to secure arrangements for Medicare to negotiate lower costs for some of the more expensive prescription drugs, which would not begin until 2023. Prices would take effect in 2025.

Lee said the policy would “set a cap of $ 2,000 for seniors” and put a “cap of $ 35 per month for insulin.”

Cortez Masto criticized the attack ads already aired for stifling the provision.

“There are a lot of fear-mongering tactics in these ads because the big drug companies don’t want us to start this route of negotiating drug prices and imposing inflationary penalties, so they’re trying to scare people off,” he said. she declared. “It will not limit an individual’s access to medication. Our goal is to reduce costs and ensure that people have access to health care and prescription drugs when they need them. “

Lee also reminded people that the bill is paid “with higher taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans who have not paid their fair share.”

The Build Back Better Act should be negotiated upon return from Congress.

Of the funds allocated by the infrastructure bill, Nevada is expected to receive $ 2.5 billion in federal aid for freeway programs, $ 293 million for airports, $ 459 million for public transportation and $ 100 million for broadband.

Cortez Masto said funding is important for investing in the state’s “clean energy economy”.

“The infrastructure package is exciting because it invests in products and manufacturing made in America, which will strengthen our supply chain and really put American products and American jobs first,” she said.

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