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By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

California is one of many states whose policies helped shape President Joe Biden’s $ 1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the president’s assistant and domestic policy adviser. the White House, Susan Rice.

The U.S. House of Representatives held a procedural vote on November 5 that paved the way for a full vote on the legislation, which could take place as early as next week.

“California’s values ​​will be on the national stage with the Build Back Better plan. @POTUS creates good jobs, invests in clean energy to fight climate change, helps families through the elderly in homes, people with disabilities and childcare, universal pre-kindergarten, and more ” , Newsom’s office tweeted about a week before the U.S. House of Representatives vote. 228-206 to approve Biden’s other signing bill, the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

The Infrastructure Bill and its companion Build Back Better Act are central elements of the president’s plan to revive the U.S. economy and put it on the path to recovery after surviving a sharp downturn caused by the global pandemic of COVID-19.

“This is a one-time investment in a generation that will create millions of jobs by upgrading our infrastructure – our bridges, our roads, our broadband, a whole host of things,” Biden said last Saturday morning, celebrating the move. infrastructure. bill that he presents as “bipartite”. Thirteen Republican members of the House broke ranks with their party and voted for the bill.

“(It turns) the climate crisis into an opportunity; and that puts us on the right track to win the economic competition of the 21st century we are facing with China and other great countries and the rest of the world, ”Biden said.

Rice held a press conference on November 4 where she discussed the Build Back Better plan and the infrastructure investments that go with it. She praised California and other states for policies such as paid family medical leave and universal pre-K as “concepts that we believe are well proven and that we want to adopt nationally.”

“I think the ideas and initiatives here have a lot of fathers and mothers,” Rice said of the Build Back Better plan. “This legislation reflects in many ways what we believe to be the types of investments that we know lower costs for families, which improve outcomes for children and their parents.”

The Build Back Better plan is a framework for investments and programs to level the playing field on multiple fronts following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gene Hale, president of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Los Angeles, welcomed the passage of the infrastructure plan and said he looked forward to the Build Back Better law becoming law. But Hale says that for him and other black business owners across the country, too many details remain unclear.

“How will black and minority owned businesses benefit from the billions of billions of taxpayer dollars going to cities and states?” Hale asked. “What kinds of mechanisms are in place – or will be put in place – to ensure that this money is distributed fairly. We can’t keep talking about fair investments, we need to take real action to make sure these programs reach the people who need them most across the country. “

Hale said black leaders are organizing to hold the White House and the governor of California accountable as federal funds flow to states and municipalities.

Some of the things the Build Back Better Act focuses on are climate change, healthcare, and community violence intervention.

In an exclusive interview with California Black Media, White House Senior Advisor on Public Engagement Trey Baker explained how the infrastructure framework will aim to provide access to clean water in communities in difficulty.

“This is the complementary legislation that will bring everything from Build Back Better and also an infrastructure framework that will really help communities to be able to get all lead pipes out of the ground,” Baker said. .

The framework’s historic investment of $ 555 billion in the fight against climate change will be devoted to job creation, the promotion of environmental justice and the creation of a civilian body for the climate.

For African Americans and other minorities, Baker said he believes environmental justice should be at the heart of climate change initiatives.

“The big problem with issues of climate and environmental justice is that we have to be on an equal footing with other communities when it comes to the environment and the importance of caring about it in the first place,” said Baker.

Expressing concerns about the plan, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), said his fellow Democrats were using “shell games” and “budget gimmicks” to superficially reduce the cost of the frame just to get votes for it. adopt it.

Rice responded by pointing to specific sections of the legislation that she said contributed to Manchin’s reluctance.

“As he himself said very clearly and publicly, we have heard during our process of consultations and negotiations that Senator Manchin is opposed to the inclusion of paid family and medical leave in the legislation on the reconciliation. Now, whether he changes his mind or comes to see it differently, we can certainly hope. But its inclusion at this point in the House bill is very consistent with our initial desires, our priorities and what we have worked to try to accomplish in our consultations and negotiations with members of the Senate and the House ” Rice said.

The framework addresses health and medical care disparities by investing in uninsured coverage, hearing coverage, and maternal health for black women.

“The pandemic has exposed many of the disparities that currently exist in our communities,” Baker said.

“What the Build Back Better framework is going to do is close the gap with Medicaid coverage so that the cost of insurance is lower for people,” Baker continued.

Build Back Better will also invest in evidence-based community violence interventions to help reduce gun violence as well as the risks of violent interactions with police in black and brown communities.

Baker said the initiative is not meant to replace traditional policing, but to add to it.

“One of the great effects of the Community Violence Response Program is to help alleviate some of the burden of policing in this country. We are talking about leveraging trusted messengers, we are talking about having individuals in our communities who can intervene in conflicts, connect people to welfare, welfare and employment services that will reduce the likelihood violence overall, ”Baker said.

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