Progressive Democrats Defend Biden’s Build Back Better Bill

Congressional Progressive Caucus continued their fight to protect the promise of the Build Back Better Act
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WASHINGTON — The leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus continued their fight to protect the promise of the Build Back Better Act yesterday, advocating that the scope of programs be maintained in the negotiations over size.

In a letter to Speaker Pelosi, the 27 House members of the Caucus Executive Board argued that in attempts to decrease the overall cost of the Build Back Better Act, legislators lower the number of years funding is allocated for each program, rather than to trim the number of programs included. In the case for “making the President’s vision a reality,” they write: “Much has been made in recent weeks about the compromises necessary to enact this transformative agenda. We have been told that we can either adequately fund a small number of investments or legislate broadly, but only make a shallow, short-term impact. We would argue that this is a false choice.”

The lawmakers highlight four arguments for their approach:

(1) To make shorter, transformative investments: Making “robust investments over a shorter window [will] help make the case for our party’s ability to govern, and establish a track record of success that will pave the way for a long-term extension of benefits...We cannot pit childcare against housing, or paid leave against home- and community-based care.”

(2) To touch people’s lives immediately: “Where given an option, we should err on the side of structuring legislation so that benefits flow to the American people as quickly as possible, both to assist the Biden Recovery and to demonstrate our commitment to tangibly improving the lives of the American people.”

(3) To provide universal benefits to ensure lasting change: “We strongly believe that this is the moment to demonstrate to the American people that regardless of geography, race, gender, or class, Democrats believe that everyone has a right to affordable child care, pre-K, clean water, and a community college education. We can choose to strengthen the bond Americans have to one another by proposing universal social insurance benefits that broadly benefit all Americans, or we can pursue complicated methods of means testing that the wealthy and powerful will use to divide us with false narratives about ‘makers’ and ‘takers.’”

(4) To keep the President’s commitment to racial equity: “[The bill] addresses needs disproportionately felt by Black and Brown Americans, like housing, and corrects inequalities in fields of work that are primarily held by people of color, like home-based and elder care [and] addresses needs of thousands of undocumented individuals, many of whom have served as essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic who have long been vulnerable to discrimination, labor abuses and denial of equal protection under the law due to their immigration status. If we cut those programs, we reduce the broadly transformative power of this legislation, and we once again fall behind on our promises to ensure racial equity.”

“This bill offers us a chance to fundamentally transform the relationship between the American people and their government,” they conclude.

Signatories of the letter include:

Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Deputy Chair Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45), Whip Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05); Chairs Emeriti Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Rep. Barbara Lee (Ca-13), Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02); Vice Chairs Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Rep Joe Neguse (CO-02), Rep. Marie Newman (IL-03), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12); Deputy Whips Rep. Cori Bush (MO-01), Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Rep. Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Rep. Andy Levin (MI-09), Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), Rep. Adriano Espaillat; Special Order Hour Conveners Rep. Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM-03); and Executive Board Member at Large Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09).

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