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By Rep. Mike Levin
Congress is considering two historic pieces of legislation that would lift up working families and create millions of good-paying jobs across the country.
While these bills are still working through the legislative process, both the Build Back Better Act and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would deliver on key priorities for South Orange County.
I know that the recent oil spill off our coast is still top of mind for many of us, which is why I’m proud the Build Back Better Act includes a provision similar to my American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act by prohibiting new offshore drilling activity off the California coast and elsewhere.
The Department of Interior would be banned from issuing any new leases for drilling offshore of Southern California, and existing offshore drilling and pipeline operators would also face stricter oversight of their infrastructure to better ensure safety and prevent spills.
I also know South Orange County families are concerned about the effects of climate change on our coastal communities, which is why I’m incredibly proud the Build Back Better Act will be the largest single investment in climate action in American history.
This legislation accelerates the action we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and protect our planet for future generations. It will facilitate the transition to electric vehicles, reduce energy costs for consumers, and make rooftop solar energy more accessible for families, all while ensuring the clean energy technology of the future is manufactured right here in America, creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs.
Other local priorities include $350 million in the bipartisan infrastructure bill for the Army Corps of Engineers to fund projects such as the San Clemente Shoreline Project, which is focused on protecting the critical Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor (LOSSAN Corridor) tracks that run immediately adjacent to the Orange County coast.
I’m also proud that both bills invest more than $20 billion in wildfire risk reduction to protect our communities that are constantly threatened by wildfires, including the Bond Fire last year. That funding would go to local governments or forest owners to help prepare for future wildfires.
Finally, I’m optimistic the Build Back Better Act will include an increase of the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction cap, which has unfairly hurt middle class families in our region and continues to be one of the issues I hear about the most. Addressing the SALT cap has been one of my top priorities for the bill.
This historic progress is fully paid for without raising taxes on small businesses or anyone making less than $400,000.
These bills will deliver on key priorities for South Orange County and make a real difference for working families. I’ll be proud to send both bills to the President’s desk.
U.S. Representative Mike Levin represents the 49th Congressional District, which includes the South Orange County cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. He was reelected for a second term in 2020 and resides in San Juan Capistrano with his wife and two children.