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San Diego lawmakers speak out about House's passage of Build Back Better bill

High tide covering the beach near Scripps Pier in La Jolla on Oct. 26, 2021.
Erik Anderson
High tide covering the beach near Scripps Pier in La Jolla on Oct. 26, 2021.

San Diego's democratic lawmakers all voted for the nearly $2 trillion social safety net and climate plan.

President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better initiative got a unanimous endorsement from the region’s Democrat representatives, but not from the only Republican lawmaker representing San Diego County in the House of Representatives.

Reps. Mike Levin (CA-49), Scott Peters (CA-52), Sarah Jacobs (CA-53) and Juan Vargas (CA-51) all voted to pass the plan.

The Build Back Better legislative package calls for nearly $2 trillion of investments in social safety net programs and on efforts to slow climate change. It would give the government the power to negotiate prices for certain medicines, subsidize child care and extend cash payments for most parents with children under 18.


Taxpayers investing in rooftop solar or electric cars could also be getting significant help from the federal government to pay for renewable energy projects.

RELATED: San Diego County officials briefed on a plan for a net-zero carbon future

In fact, the package would invest more than $550 billion in policies aimed at curbing climate change.

“The way that we move goods, the way we move people, the way we build buildings, the way we grow food, the way we generate electricity. All of it will be impacted, improved. Greenhouse gas emissions reduced,” said Levin.

The bill extends existing tax credits for large scale and residential renewable energy projects for another ten years. Many of those credits were due to expire soon. Levin called that part of the plan a way to energize the move toward renewables.


“The types of incentives that we need to really get rolling with more electric vehicles and solar and battery storage systems just making all of the above cheaper and better. And domestically manufactured,” Levin said.

Peters supported what he called the most robust investment in American families in 70 years.

“The critical investments in clean energy and American families will continue to stimulate our economy and get people back to work, all while lowering taxes and not
adding to our national deficit,” said Peters.

RELATED: San Diego scientists give mixed reaction to climate summit

The dissenting voice, locally, came from Issa, San Diego’s only Republican lawmaker in the House of Representatives.

“The American people know this won’t build anything better. It will just destroy it faster,” Issa said. “While Americans in every corner of the country are suffering from skyrocketing inflation and diminishing economic opportunity, House Democrats have other priorities. Democrats aren’t interested in fixing our current energy crisis; they’re giving away billions to Green New Deal activists.”

But backers like Jacobs says the measures in the massive package will help cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

“It has over $100 billion for climate resilience and the civilian climate corps,” Jacobs said. “So that we can make sure we’re addressing droughts and floods and create 300,000 jobs through the civilian climate corps.”

RELATED: San Diego County supervisors push forward on complicated Climate Action Plan

Jacobs rejected claims that the legislative initiative will hurt the country’s financial standing.

“I believe because of the investments we’re making it will actually reduce the deficit over the long term even more than is currently being estimated,” Jacobs said. “Because we know that for every dollar you spend addressing childhood poverty now, you actually save seven dollars down the road.”

San Diego's Congressional representatives react to the Build Back Better plan.

Vargas singled out the child care tax credit as a key provision of the plan calling those tax cuts important for working families in his district.

Build Back Better would extend the credits beyond their one year run.

“This historic tax cut is putting more of hardworking families’ own money back into their pockets so they can pay for childcare, put food on the table, keep the lights on, and spend money at our local businesses to continue to grow our regional economy,” said Vargas.