Democrats Want $761 Billion for Education and Workforce Programs

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House Democrats plan to spend $761 billion to expand access to education, child care and workforce retraining, laying down another plank of their plan for the largest expansion of the U.S. social safety net since the 1960s.

The Education and Labor Committee legislation released Wednesday is part of a slated $3.5 trillion budget bill that is central to President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. The House intends to vote on the measure, which is expected to have no Republican support, by the end of the month.

“The Education and Labor Committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act makes historic investments that will lower costs for nearly every family, create good-paying jobs for American workers, and provide our nation’s children the strong foundation they deserve,” Chairman Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat, said in a statement.

The committee’s legislation provided the following among its measures:

  • $450 billion for childcare programs, addressing a core problem for parents unable to find affordable care for young children
  • Resources for universal pre-kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds
  • $111 billion to offer students two free years of community college
  • $82 billion for public school physical infrastructure
  • $35 billion for child nutrition programs such as school lunches

The draft bill is expected to receive a committee vote on Thursday, the same day the Ways and Means Committee opens debate on its own set of proposals to expand Medicare benefits and access to elder care and mandate paid family leave.  

House Democrats have yet to unveil their tax proposals to pay for the slew of proposed new benefits. On the table are increases in the corporate and individual tax rates, increases on capital gains taxes and new taxes on stock buybacks and corporate executive pay. 

Democratic leaders earlier Wednesday rejected a call by moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin for a “strategic pause” and vowed to push through the bill using special budget procedures to avert a Senate filibuster.

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