Comment: What building back better can mean for the region

Constituents have told Rep. Rick Larsen of their interest in jobs, housing, child care and lower drug prices.

By Rick Larsen / For The Herald

Thanks to your efforts to get vaccinated and comply with necessary, science-based public health directives, Northwest Washington is defeating the covid-19 pandemic, but it has not yet been defeated; the economy is recovering, but it has not yet recovered.

To ensure all Americans can benefit from economic recovery, the time is right for bold, long-term investments that will put Washingtonians to work, empower working families, ensure seniors can afford prescription drugs and build more affordable housing.

As the White House and Congressional leadership continue to negotiate, I am working with House Democrats to pass legislation that will make prudent investments in the residents and communities I represent and drive economic growth long after the pandemic has been defeated.

My priorities include:

Quality, affordable child care: Making it easier to pay for child care means supporting parents who want to go back to work. The bill further supports families by providing twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave for all workers. Together, these investments will help American families, reducing poverty and hunger in our communities and across the nation.

Earlier this year, I gathered virtually with child care providers and stakeholders from across the state’s 2nd District. Attendees from organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County and San Juan Head Start told me quality, affordable child care was getting further and further out of reach for working families; a persistent issue exacerbated by the pandemic. Earlier this year, the American Rescue Plan included an historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit, thanks to the efforts of leaders like Rep. Suzan DelBene of the 1st District, but Congress must go a step further.

I support extending the expanded Child Tax Credit through 2025 (if you need help claiming the tax credit, please contact my office at 425-252-3188) and other provisions that create more child care opportunities.

More well-paying jobs: My recent roundtable with local aerospace companies and workforce representatives at Everett Community College confirmed that pandemic relief initiatives like the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program I championed in the American Rescue Plan are saving well-paying jobs, but Congress needs to invest now to create more jobs and help the Pacific Northwest stay globally competitive.

I support provisions that will create well-paying jobs, particularly in fast-growing clean energy fields. Building back better means funding historic investments in electric vehicle manufacturing and infrastructure, incentivizing utilities to switch to cleaner power generation and establishing tax credits for green aviation fuels and electric vehicles. The bill also funds proven workforce development programs to help workers find well-paying jobs in in-demand fields. Together, these initiatives will create jobs in our region, build a cleaner and greener transportation network and train the next generation workforce to compete against China and the rest of the world.

More affordable housing: Addressing the housing crisis is a priority for me. It is clear from my conversations with residents, stakeholders and local officials there is not enough affordable housing in communities across Northwest Washington. At a recent groundbreaking for Housing Hope’s newest affordable housing development in Marysville, attendees cited several factors for the persistent lack of affordable housing: a skilled labor shortage, low vacancy, a deteriorating housing supply and wages not keeping pace with housing costs.

I support provisions that will provide housing for low-income families, invest in repairs for existing housing and finance the construction of more housing units. These provisions will create jobs in construction and safe, affordable housing for our neighbors.

Lower drug prices: Seniors have long paid too much for prescriptions they rely on. Currently, Medicare is prohibited by law from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies over the price of medication. This must change.

I support provisions that would finally let Medicare get a better deal for seniors, saving patients up to 55 percent on some medications. For patients with chronic conditions such as arthritis, this legislation could save you thousands of dollars every year.

While negotiations continue in Washington, D.C., and may look complex, investing now to build back better is simple: better futures for our children, high quality jobs, more affordable housing and lower drug prices. These are the issues I hear about most from my constituents; these are the issues I will continue to champion.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, an Arlington native, represents Washington’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes parts of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties and all of Island and San Juan counties. He is a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, and the Armed Services Committee.

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