Pelosi touts infrastructure bill as it nears finish line

Climate change, social safety net among major priorities of Democrats’ 10-year funding measure

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on this week to tout the Build Back Better Act, a proposed bill in Congress that seeks to tackle climate change while also strengthening the nation’s social safety net.

The planned legislation was authored by House Democrats and aims to build up the nation’s economy over the next 10 years by providing major funding for essential services like community college, childcare, Medicare, and prescription drugs, among others.

The bill, which is still pending negotiations in Congress, would also extend child tax credits and expand paid medical and family leave.

“The list goes on and on about how we enable families to honor their home responsibilities and honor their career responsibilities to provide for their families,” Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said of the wide-reaching bill during a briefing at the California Academy of Sciences.

“When we do all of this, it’s with everybody at the table,” she said. “It’s a big table so that when we have a solution it is a solution, not a declaration that is alienating but a solution that is unifying.”

In addition to supporting working Americans, the bill would address climate change by funding measures and programs that will push the nation away from fossil fuels.

The bill include an established national energy efficiency and clean energy standard, tax credits for electric vehicle purchases and charging station construction projects, as well as fines for utility companies that don’t increase their energy renewable supply annually and for oil and gas companies at fault for methane leaks. The bill also proposes major funding for forestry management and other wildfire prevention measures.

“The federal government has invested in infrastructure before, but never with the focus and emphasis on sustainability and certainly not at this funding level than what we’re on the verge of today,” Padilla said.

“For families in California, we know that the climate crisis is already a daily reality. Not a concern of what we may experience 10, 20, 30 years for now, but what Californians are experiencing today,” he said. “Fossil fuel emissions have pushed our planet to a crisis point and yet, despite the evidence, too many of our Republican colleagues refused to acknowledge the science. They’re denying the need for an emergency response now and a real plan of action,” he said.

Padilla added, “We cannot afford to leave these problems to be dealt with another day. We need to act boldly and tackle this crisis head-on.”

According to Pelosi, the bill is still being finalized, with some changes in its estimated cost likely to come.

“I feel very confident,” she said. “We’re having those negotiations. Our chairmen are sharpening their pencil and seeing how we can come down with the number. I wish we could stay at the big number, but we can’t.”

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