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NY-18 Rep. Maloney on Build Back Better passage: "A good day"

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Courtesy of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress
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Courtesy of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress
Rep. Chris Gibson, left. and Rep. Maloney

A divided House approved the Democrats’ Build Back Better social and environment bill Friday, a big victory for President Biden. Republicans opposed the measure, but Democrats prevailed after progressives and moderates ended months of disputes over its size and scope. The legislation now moves to the Senate.

Passage came after new cost estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the legislation would cause federal deficits to grow by $160 billion over the coming decade.

WAMC spoke with New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from the 18th district:

This is going to mean jobs and economic growth and lower costs for families all across the Hudson Valley. It means we're going to fix rusting, decayed bridges, it means we're going to put people to work, on the infrastructure bill that was signed into law Monday. And with the bill that we moved off the House floor today, it means that they'll be paying less for childcare needs, their health insurance premiums will be lower, it means prescription drugs are going to cost less. It means it'll be easier and more affordable to have a an elderly parent stay in their home. It's a good day.

There was some late in the game debate over the size of the bill when the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, said it would add to the deficit, counter to what President Biden had said earlier in this process. Should that give people any pause?

I think the what you'll see is that this bill will not add to the deficit when it becomes law. I think you'll see those changes made that will guarantee that this does not add to the debt and deficit. And everything in this bill will be paid for by corporations and the wealthiest who are finally going to pay their fair share. So everyone making under $400,000 a year will not pay one penny more in federal income taxes. And I should add in the Hudson Valley, we are going to return the state and local tax deductions that people lost a few years ago, under the Republican tax scam that they passed. That really hurt New York. So for all those folks who've been missing their state, local tax deductions, you're going to be getting them next April.

How confident are you that what the House has just passed will remain intact once it goes to the Senate where moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin have had a lot of say, you know, yes or no.

Look, what you're seeing is democracy work. And that means that, you know, people get a fair shot and a fair say, and I'm sure there'll be some changes, but I don't think the big stuff is going to change much at this point. I do think the major pillars of this legislation, lowering costs for families, for health care, for prescription drugs, for childcare, helping families raise kids with a middle class tax cut called the child tax cut, which right now, is helping 128,000 folks just in my congressional district, those pieces aren't changing.

What does the infrastructure bill that President Biden signed at the beginning of the week do for the Hudson Valley?

Oh, you know, it's transformational. We're talking about billions of dollars for the MTA, which means Metro-North, it means eliminating the backlog of maintenance on the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. It means finally 1,700 structurally deficient bridges in New York will be repaired. I wrote the legislation that will fix all these little bridges, these crappy little county level bridges that have been let go for too long. It means that we are going to have clean drinking water and all the lead pipes in America replaced with good wage, union labor doing it. Listen, I did an event with the building trades a few days back on the Newburgh waterfront, don't take my word for it, talk to plumbers and pipefitters and iron workers, talk the steel workers and the guys who are actually going to get these jobs, jobs you can get with a high school education and can support a family on. It means work for families who need good wages and good jobs.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a fellow member of the New York delegation, and the number three House Republican put a statement out just after the bill passed this morning, the BBB, and called it a tax and spending bill and the most radical piece of legislation in our nation's history. What's your response to that?

My response to that is that I want her to explain to a family getting help with their childcare costs are now going to be capped at just 7% of the family's income. To explain to them why it's worse, explain to seniors who will pay less for prescription drugs why this is bad. I mean, for all those folks out there who have to buy insulin, it's gonna be about 35 bucks, it might be hundreds now, tell them why this is bad. I mean, my goodness, go tell them why they should be paying more for child care. What is she talking about? And for a New Yorker, for a New Yorker to say that is, is silly, because this legislation, particularly the infrastructure spending brings $40 billion to New York, huge help to all of our communities, including hers. So when she's out there trying to take credit for the roads and bridges getting fixed up, just remember she voted against it.

Just one more thing for now, Congressman. A Quinnipiac poll out this week showed President Biden's approval rating at an all-time low in that poll and it also showed about six in 10 American adults who were polled want the Republicans to take over Congress in 2022. You're in charge of the Democrats’ Congressional campaign for 2022. What are you doing to buck those tides?

Well, we're gonna deliver for the American people, just like we've done this week with two major pieces of legislation going forward. I mean, the infrastructure bill, which has eluded three presidents, is now law and will create millions of good jobs and fix up our roads and bridges and airports and ports, bring rural broadband access to where it should be, and the Build Back Better bill, which will lower health insurance costs and childcare costs, prescription drug costs is going to be a huge shot in the arm to families. So we're going to do well politically by doing good things. And by telling people what we've done. So get ready for a comeback story because we have now really moved the agenda forward and people are gonna like it the more they hear.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.