Press Contact: Olivia Alperstein, (202) 704-9011,

Washington, D.C. — On November 19, the United States House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, a culmination of both the efforts by the administration and champions in Congress and the hard work of advocates and organizations to preserve and strengthen critical provisions to help invest in communities.

The Institute for Policy Studies’ Criminalization of Race and Poverty Project issued the following comment on the passage of the bill:

While not all of the bold, visionary aspects of the infrastructure package that progressives and others championed made it into the final House version of the bill, the measures included make this the biggest anti-poverty bill in about half a century.

“The Build Back Better Act is only a fraction of the size of the investments needed to achieve social and economic equity in the United States, but its scope and positive impact on the lives of poor and low-income children and families is historically significant and worthy of celebration,” said Karen Dolan, Director of the Criminalization of Poverty and Race Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. “Social movements led by poor and low-income people have been fighting for decades to achieve much of what is in this bill. And the revenue provisions included that begin to narrow the nation’s economic and racial inequities more than pay for these investments.”

Key anti-poverty provisions include:

  • A permanent Child Tax Credit impacting the poorest 27 million children, including immigrant children with Individual Taxpayer Identity Numbers and children in U.S. territories like Puerto Rico.
  • Four weeks of paid family and medical leave so that workers may take the time they need to care for loved ones without missing a paycheck or having to drop out of the workforce
  • Free, universal Pre-K education for 3- and 4- year olds and funding for significant child care assistance.
  • Previously unavailable benefits for low-income workers without children. 
  • Rental assistance and an increase in the nation’s available affordable housing stock.
  • Increased access for poor and low-income children to nutritious food and health care.
  • Health coverage for an additional 4 million people due to foreclosure of the Medicaid coverage gap, and continuation of Affordable Care Act plan aid.
  • Increased Pell Grants and increased funding for historically black colleges and higher education institutions that enroll Latinx and Native American students.
  • Lower drug prices and home care, hearing care, and hearing aid funding assistance for certain seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Increased funding for workforce training and development, including for women reentering the workforce.
  • Increased wages for domestic workers who care for seniors and people with disabilities and for childcare workers.
  • Creation of millions of well-paying jobs and penalties for employers who interfere with collective bargaining efforts.
  • $550 billion in investments toward a green economy and to address climate change.

The Build Back Better plan will be paid for through measures like taxing the wealthy, so it will not add to the deficit and indeed will reduce the deficit over time. The job creation, fair taxation and phase-in over time of the programs will not create inflationary pressures, but may relieve them and will help families cope with the pandemic-fueled current inflationary effect on prices of some consumer goods.

“At every step of the way, there has been broad public support for a bold agenda to invest in our communities by ensuring more affordable access to education, health, food, housing, jobs, prescription drugs, and other urgent human needs,” Dolan continued. “This infrastructure package has also offered a rare opportunity to address the climate crisis, to make billionaires pay their fair share of taxes, and to fully invest in narrowing racial and economic divides in this country. This bill doesn’t go as far as we need it to, particularly when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. However, social movements and impacted people have worked tirelessly to achieve this result. We celebrate this movement victory as we work together to strengthen and make permanent these vital provisions and to win new legislation in the areas where the bill does not go far enough.”

Karen Dolan is available for further comment and interviews. To speak with her, contact Olivia Alperstein at or (202) 704-9011.

About the Institute for Policy Studies’ Criminalization of Race and Poverty Project 

Through movement and narrative work and research and reports on injustices that occur at the intersection of race, class, gender and gender identity, the Criminalization of Poverty Project at the Institute for Policy Studies aims to encourage policies that will move the United States from intersectional injustice into intersectional justice.


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