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Capital Region News

Rep. Tonko of NY-20 discusses Build Back Better, infrastructure

With President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan headed to the Senate, Congressman Paul Tonko of New York’s 20th district says the package delivers critical investments.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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With President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan headed to the Senate, Congressman Paul Tonko of New York’s 20th district says the package delivers critical investments.

With President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan headed to the Senate, Congressman Paul Tonko of New York’s 20th district says the package delivers critical investments.

On Zoom, the Amsterdam Democrat proclaimed Friday's passage of the nearly $2 trillion dollar Build Back Better Act "an historic moment for the American people."

"It's certainly transformational, and multi-generational in its aspect, as we wanted to, again, stabilize the government, local government, state governments across the country, provide for a response to COVID and now build back better than pre COVID," said Tonko. "To do a 21st century bit of recovery to involve ourselves as a nation, in a global competitiveness, to be the kingpin in that economy, we have got to have the toolkit, the filled with tools for the 21st century economy. And I believe that the combination of the Infrastructure Bill and now the Build Back Better Act, in complement to each other accomplishes that."

Tonko says Build Back Better extends and expands numerous tax incentives for clean energy technologies, including wind, solar electric vehicles, energy efficiency technologies and more.

Tonko says the 2,135-page bill includes universal preschool, gives Americans four weeks of paid leave, fights climate change, invests in clean energy technologies and advances the nation's innovation economy.

He adds that while "no one making under $400,000, will pay a penny more in taxes," the measure asks the wealthiest Americans and corporations to pay their fair share in federal taxes.

Tonko points out that Earned Income Tax Credit expansion is also part of Build Back Better, and highlighted the bill's Child Tax Credit provisions.

"A great number in our region have been receiving checks since July, monthly checks that were to sunset in December," Tonko said. "We further extend the Child Tax Credit proposal, it has been a huge benefit. And people need to know that that Child Tax Credit was brought about by earlier work in the rescue plan. Child Tax Credit increases for 120,000 Capital Region children with $300 per month per child, for per child under six, or $250 per child ages six to 17. The Capital Region families received an estimated $30.8 million in child tax credit benefits just during the month of November. So when you look at that it's a huge, huge plus for our working families, for families in the Capital Region."

Tonko notes that the latest census bureau data for November shows 56% of families spent their child tax credit payment on food.

He says the measure will help close the Medicare coverage gap, negotiate lower drug costs for seniors, and ensure Americans with diabetes don't pay more than $35 per month for their insulin.

And he says the bill addresses the current "supply chain crisis."

"It will enable us to advance manufacturing, and especially in the areas of clean energy technology, solar batteries, and advanced materials," said Tonko. "$10 billion for the full replacement of US lead service lines and drinking systems. We have a great crisis with a need to displace all of the lead infested pipes that serve drinking water to schools and households."

Tonko says he is urging the Senate to move quickly to pass the legislation, although Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledges the package will be altered in the Senate.

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