U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
On behalf of our 3 million members and the 50 million students they serve, we urge you to VOTE YES on the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376) when it comes to the floor this week. Votes associated with this landmark legislation may be included in NEA’s Report Card for the 117th Congress.
America is at a historic juncture. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity—a chance for meaningful action on long-ignored challenges—giving all children a strong start in early education, making child care more affordable, expanding affordable health care coverage, and more. The failure to act has, for too long, limited the opportunities of millions of Americans, particularly in Black, brown, Indigenous, and rural communities.
As educators, we are especially pleased by the provisions of the Build Back Better Act that address these critical areas:
- Child nutrition—more schools able to offer free, healthy meals to all their students through the Community Eligibility Provision; summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program extended nationwide to all students receiving free or reduced-price school meals; investments in school kitchen equipment and heathy school meals
- Connectivity—more funding for the E-Rate’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) to continue the American Rescue Plan’s historic investment in helping students beat the homework gap and digital divide
- Early education—universal pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds
- Educator workforce—invest in educator recruitment and retention to address shortages and diversify the profession, including Grow Your Own programs and teacher residencies
- Higher education—make college more affordable with bigger Pell grants and institutional aid for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions
- Health care—close the Medicaid coverage gap for 4 million people; expand Medicare to cover hearing care; reduce health coverage premiums for 9 million people by further strengthening the Affordable Care Act; lower the cost of some prescription drugs and reduce Part D co-payments for Medicare beneficiaries
- Housing—create more equitable communities with the single largest investment in affordable housing in U.S. history and support for community-led programs
- Immigration—$100 billion investment in reform and enhancements to reduce backlogs, expand legal representation, and make the asylum system more just and humane
- Paid leave—starting in 2024, up to 4 weeks off to care for a newborn, other family members, or deal with an illness or injury
- Taxation—extend the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that has cut child poverty in half, make the refundable CTC permanent for those who need it most, and ensure the largest corporations and wealthiest individuals pay a fairer share of taxes
Over the last year, Congress has met difficult challenges ranging from sustaining the recovery from COVID-19 to rebuilding our nation’s long-neglected infrastructure. This week, the House can take another historic step to improve the lives of—and provide new opportunities for—students, educators, and families across the country.
We urge you to meet the moment with courage and vision. Please support the Build Back Better Act for the sake of the educators we represent, for the students who will drive our future, and for the families, friends, and colleagues who nourish and support them. For all of us.
Director of Government Relations
National Education Association