Oregon lawmakers react to House passage of Build Back Better bill


Some holler "hallelujah!" Others call policies "Terrible."

FILE – In this Feb. 3, 2020, file photo, the chamber of the House of Representatives is seen at the Capitol in Washington. Ahead of President Joe Biden’s joint address to Congress, lawmakers are intensifying the push make sure key priorities are included. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following several months of negotiations, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better social and climate bill.

With a 220-213 vote, the bill passed early Friday morning and now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Shortly after the vote, Oregon lawmakers began to react with statements, with some celebrating the passage of the bill, others condemning the proposed policies.

In a statement Friday, Senator Jeff Merkley applauded the House passage of Build Back Better, while calling on the Senate to finish the job.

“It’s not an overstatement to say that this legislation would be life-changing for millions of American families,” he continued. “Families will be able to afford quality child care and pre-school. Folks living with diabetes won’t have to pay hundreds of dollars a month for the basic insulin they need to survive. Medicare will cover hearing. And we will finally start to address our climate crisis and protect lives and jobs from unchecked climate catastrophe. And all that is on top of extending the largest middle-class tax cut in history, and ensuring that it all is paid for by making the very rich and biggest corporations pay their fair share of taxes. This legislation is not just a bill, it’s a pathway to a brighter future.”

Congressman Cliff Bentz defended his vote against the bill, calling the policies “terrible” in his Friday statement.

Bentz furthered his objection, saying the bill would cause “higher inflation, amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, higher taxes on middle-class families, taxpayer funding of abortion, and federal overreach in our schools and our children’s education.”

Representative Kurt Schrader also issued the following statement, after voting to pass the Build Back Better Act: “Together, my colleagues and I passed a smartly targeted, paid-for Build Back Better Act in the House that delivers on Oregonians’ top priorities. I am especially proud my proposals to substantially lower prescription drug costs for all Americans, particularly our seniors, are core elements of the legislation.”

The congressman added that the policies in the plan directly benefit the needs of Oregon families, including “…improving child care access, costs and shortages so parents are able to join the workforce and fuel the economy; it expands coverage under the Affordable Care Act for middle class Oregonians to ensure they do not spend more than 8.5 percent of their annual income on health care; it provides real protections and opportunities for immigrant communities while paving the way for larger immigration reform in the future; and it implements policies that take on the climate crisis to better protect Oregon from extreme weather events like wildfires and drought while creating good-paying clean energy jobs.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer focused on how the plan will impact the climate crisis stating, “Today’s vote will go down in history as one of the most transformative steps Congress has ever taken to tackle our climate crisis, create family-wage jobs, and lower health, child, and family care costs for our families.”

He continued, “Those steps will translate into big wins for Oregonians, our environment, and our economy as we keep fighting to create the kind of future our children deserve.” 

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici also shared her thoughts after the bill passage in a statement:

“The Build Back Better Act is a victory for children, families, caregivers, early childhood educators, and our planet,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “It is past time that we provide the resources and support that working families and our communities need to thrive. This is an exciting day for our country, and I look forward to delivering these resources to Oregon.” 

Congressman Peter DeFazio authored climate provisions included in the legislation. DeFazio played a key role in shaping the agenda as Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“Today is a good day for everyday Oregonians and Americans,” DeFazio said in a statement Friday. “For too long, the deck has been stacked against them. House Democrats have stood firm in our commitment to build back better and deal them back in.”

He continued, “President Biden’s Build Back Better economic agenda will strengthen the working class and maintain the momentum of our recovery from the pandemic. I urge the Senate to move swiftly to pass the Build Back Better Act so that President Biden can sign this bill into law.”

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