WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today voted with a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to move the Build Back Better framework forward. This draft legislation now moves to the U.S. Senate for further consideration and to add, remove, or adjust provisions before returning to the U.S. House.
The House-passed Build Back Better framework includes several priorities Spanberger has consistently fought to include in this legislation, including giving Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices and extending the refundable Child Tax Credit — which originally passed as part of the American Rescue Plan. This framework also includes several bipartisan or bicameral provisions she led as Chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee to support Central Virginia’s crop and livestock producers as they work to tackle the climate crisis and protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources.
Additionally, Spanberger successfully removed multiple tax provisions she opposed that would have had negative impacts or placed significant burdens on Central Virginia families, small businesses, and farms. Last month, Spanberger pushed for the removal of a burdensome provision to require banks to provide the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with details on customers with accounts worth more than $600. Additionally, Spanberger successfully blocked any changes to the stepped-up basis for capital gains in tax law — an important protection for family-owned farms in Central Virginia and across the country.
Following the framework’s passage in the U.S. House of Representatives, Spanberger released the following statement:
“To truly rebuild from nearly two years of widespread uncertainty and hardship, we need to redouble our efforts to listen and respond to the concerns of our fellow Virginians. Throughout our district, I hear from seniors and diabetics about skyrocketing prescription drug costs — and this legislation would finally combat these spikes. I hear from many families, particularly those struggling with rising childcare costs, about how the expanded Child Tax Credit has helped them. This legislation would extend this much-needed relief. And I hear from so many Virginians who are concerned about the state of our planet — and this legislation would make transformational investments in fighting the climate crisis and protecting the next generation.
“In this moment of recovery, we have a unique opportunity to make smart, responsible investments in our families, our children, and our economy. Ignoring the significant challenges we share in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis would be a dereliction of our duty as representatives of the American people. As a legislator, I have a responsibility to my constituents to thoughtfully consider the impact of all legislation — even legislation I support in principle. After careful review of this legislation, I voted in support of this framework.
“I have long championed many provisions found in the Build Back Better Act — including lowering prescription drug prices and capping insulin costs, extending the refundable Child Tax Credit for Central Virginia families, and tackling the climate crisis with the urgency it requires. For weeks, I have made my strong support for these provisions clear to the White House, to House leadership, and to the people I serve. I am encouraged by our progress.
“If done right, the Build Back Better Act can truly level the playing field for America’s working families and seniors. However, this bill is not the final version of this legislation. As we work to get a final bill to the President’s desk, I will be working with Members of the U.S. Senate to improve this legislation — including adding necessary language to tackle the crisis at our southern border, assessing the bill’s financial impacts on everyday families and our overall economy, and ensuring the final Build Back Better Act can deliver results directly to the people of Central Virginia.”
The Build Back Better framework includes several provisions Spanberger worked to include on behalf of Central Virginia families, students, veterans, and small businesses, including:
- Giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices. The Build Back Better framework allows the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs. Additionally, the legislation would require drug manufacturers to pay a rebate to the HHS Secretary if they increase the cost of their drugs faster than inflation. In September 2021, Spanberger spearheaded an effort to preserve Medicare drug price negotiation in the Build Back Better legislation after it was initially stripped from a draft version of the framework. Tackling the prescription drug price affordability crisis has long been a top priority for the Congresswoman, who cosponsored and voted in support of the Lower Drug Costs Now Act in November 2019 during her first term to deliver tangible cost-savings for Central Virginia seniors, families, and those with chronic conditions.
- Capping insulin prices through Medicare and private insurance plans. The Build Back Better framework establishes for the first time a true out-of-pocket cap in Medicare Part D of $2,000 per year in 2024. Additionally, the bill would establish a $35 per month cap on insulin costs for all enrollees in Medicare Part D and in private insurance plans starting in 2023. Spanberger has long worked to lower insulin costs for Central Virginians living with diabetes — including through her bipartisan efforts to bring greater transparency to prescription drug negotiations and to hold Pharmacy Benefit Mangers (PBMs) accountable.
- Addressing Black maternal health issues in the wake of COVID-19. Spanberger is a Member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus and an original cosponsor of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which she originally helped introduce in March 2020 . The legislation — which is part of the Build Back Better framework passed in the U.S. House — includes historic investments in community organizations that are working to improve Black maternal health outcomes, improve data collection, increase the study of the unique health risks facing minority women, expand digital tools like telehealth, and recruit and train a diverse perinatal workforce. In June 2021, Spanberger joined several of her colleagues in pressing congressional leadership to include these long overdue reforms in the Build Back Better framework.
PARENTS & CHILDREN
- Extending the American Rescue Plan’s refundable Child Tax Credit. In March 2021, Spanberger voted for the American Rescue Plan, which allowed the IRS to begin sending out enhanced, monthly Child Tax Credit payments of up to $250 per child ages 6 to 17 and $300 per child under age 6 through the remainder of 2021 to Central Virginia parents. Approximately 80.4 percent of children in Virginia’s Seventh District — or roughly 146,00 children — have gained from the expanded and improved Child Tax Credit. The Build Back Better framework provides a one-year extension of the Child Tax Credit as enacted in the American Rescue Plan — and would continue advance payments through 2022. Additionally, the Child Tax Credit would now be fully refundable for all years after 2022.
- Establishing universal pre-kindergarten in Central Virginia and across the country. The Build Back Better framework invests in universal preschool for three- and four-year-old’s, which would help prepare and educate as many as six million children across the country. Specifically, the legislation would direct HHS — in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education — to carry out a universal, high-quality, and free preschool program for those ages 3 and 4. The program would be administered by local eligible providers receiving federal funds. Eligible providers would include licensed childcare programs, Head Start grantees, and LEAs.
AGRICULTURE & ENVIRONMENT
- Investing in voluntary farm and ranch conservation programs. The Build Back Better framework includes provisions from Spanberger’s Climate Stewardship Act, bicameral legislation she introduced in April 2021 with U.S Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) that would boost federal support for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) working lands conservation programs — as well as strengthen support for reforestation across the United States. This investment marks the largest increase in conservation title funding in more than a decade.
- Improving the popular and effective Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The Build Back Better framework includes the REAP Improvement Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation Spanberger introduced with U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and U.S. Representative David G. Valadao (R-CA-21) in June 2021. This bill would help meet high demand for the program by increasing available cost share for REAP grants and strengthening investments in the REAP program by an average of $200 million per year over 10 years.
- Streamlining the federal grant process to rural communities. Spanberger originally helped introduce the Rebuild Rural America Act in October 2019 — and this framework incudes important provisions from this legislation. The Rebuild America Act would give rural communities new, flexible funding for local economic development projects. Under this bill, USDA would create flexible block grants for rural applicants that have traditionally found federal grants to be inflexible and narrow in scope.
- Combatting elder abuse and improving the link between health and social services for seniors. The framework bill includes bipartisan legislation Spanberger introduced with U.S. Representative John Katko (R-NY-24) to create medical-legal partnerships to improve seniors’ access to legal and social services in healthcare settings. Additionally, this legislation would help protect vulnerable Virginians from elder abuse. Recent studies have found that approximately one in 10 U.S. seniors have experienced some form of abuse in the last year — including psychological abuse, financial abuse, and neglect. Additionally, research suggests the lock downs and social isolation associated with COVID-19 only exacerbated this crisis.