WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the following statement following House Passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better bill. The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.
“Now more than ever Americans need this important piece of legislation to build up the middle-class and American competitiveness, to ensure the people of rural communities have a fair shot at opportunities, and to secure our children’s future. I applaud the House of Representatives for responding to the needs of our country and for taking this important step forward.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is now law and we will reap its benefits of new job and economic growth and the ability to compete around the world. The American Rescue Plan continues to get our economy back on track as we recover from the pandemic. Together with the Build Back Better bill, we have a truly transformational opportunity to rebuild the physical, natural, and human infrastructure of our nation. The time is now to deliver this historic catalyst to new economic growth, the creation of millions of good-paying jobs, and record investments in America’s working families all while lowering costs, reducing taxes, and easing inflation.
“The Build Back Better bill is the largest effort in American history to combat the climate crisis and includes a focus on climate smart agriculture. Agriculture can lead the way in the fight on climate with climate smart agriculture and forestry practices that sequester carbon, reduce emissions and create new and better market opportunities for producers. With significant investments in resources for farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners, this bill provides a host of new tools to deploy important conservation practices and the research essential to inform them. The Forest Service will gain long overdue and significant resources to aggressively manage our forests, reduce fire risks, and keep impacted communities safe.
“Rural America will benefit from meaningful investments to help pave the way in clean and renewable energy infrastructure and production and energy efficiency improvements that will foster new job and market opportunities. The new Rural Partnership Program will provide catalytic investments and much-needed technical assistance to rural and tribal communities and rural-serving organizations that are too often unable to access and leverage the federal resources they need to create opportunity and compete in a globalized world. These investments will put new tools in the toolbox for leveraging the additional funding toward water, housing, and clean energy essential to 21st century infrastructure, diversified rural economies, and prosperous communities. Investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-serving institutions will support underserved communities in modernizing research infrastructure.
“This bill is also transformative for working parents and kids. It will help children reach their full potential by investing in nutrition security year-round, during the school year and the summer months. It also includes funding to further improve the nutritional quality of meals served in school through grants and incentives. With the largest investment in childcare in the nation’s history, universal and free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, and an extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit, families can worry less about the costs of raising a child. With the single largest and most comprehensive investment in affordable housing – including rural housing – in history, and the biggest expansion of affordable health care in a decade, families can focus on improving their health and economic well-being rather than struggling to get by.
“We must ensure our rural communities and working families have every opportunity to prosper – and that’s exactly what the Build Back Better legislation will do. I look forward to working with President Biden and Congress to once again deliver a once-in-a-generation opportunity on behalf of the American people.”