On November 19, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the third and final piece of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. This final piece, the Build Back Better Act, includes funding for “human” infrastructure such as childcare, early education, expanded health care, addressing climate change, and affordable housing. The Act would provide over $10 billion for Indian Country, including:
- $1 billion for Indian Health Service (IHS) priority healthcare facilities
- $945 million for IHS maintenance and improvement of healthcare facilities
- $715 million for roads and transportation
- $1 billion for housing programs
- $4 billion for childcare and pre-K education
- $490 million for tribal public safety
- $294 million for a tribal electrification program
- $441 million to address the effects of climate change
Following passage in the House, the Act is currently being negotiated in the Senate. Negotiations are primarily among Democrats, as no Republicans support the Act. Senate Democratic leaders hoped to pass the Act this year, but that now looks unlikely as plans shift to consider the Act in the new year.
In order to pass the Act, Democrats plan to use the Budget Reconciliation process, which allows a bill to move forward with just 51 votes as opposed to the 60 votes normally required in the Senate. In order for the Act to pass under Budget Reconciliation, all 50 Senate Democrats must vote in favor of the bill, with Vice President Kamala Harris voting to break a tie.
If passed by Congress, the Build Back Better Act would be the final piece of President Biden’s three-part strategy to provide COVID-19 relief and recover and rebuild the economy. Earlier this year, Congress already passed:
- The American Rescue Plan Act, providing approximately $30 billion for tribal governments and programs
- The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, providing approximately $10 billion for tribal infrastructure programs
Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP works with the White House, members of Congress, and federal officials to advance the interests of its clients. To learn more about how we can assist your tribe in Washington D.C., contact attorney Rollie Wilson in our D.C. office at (202) 340-8232.