Federal Advocacy Updates | October 4, 2021

From Kayaks to Baseball games, We took action! 

The Center for Popular Democracy Action Network has been working with allies and affiliates for months to demand that Democrats do what they were elected to do and pass the transformative Build Back Better Act

This week we took action by doing morning press conferences in DC joined by CASA, Race Matters WV and Young WV and allies and “boatdogging” Senator Manchin. While this happened Make the Road NJ and Make the Road NY held vigils and actions and LUCHA AZ held Kyrsten Sinema accountable for not supporting the reconciliation package. 

This week the House is in district and next week, the Senate will join them. We have a list of events that your members can join and ask a question and most importantly, tell a story of why we need Build Back Better. If you join a town hall, please shoot an email to kmink@populardemocracy.org and let us know how it went! 

If we missed your action please let us know, we want to amplify and support!

 

Update on the Build Back Better Act

On Thursday night House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed the scheduled vote for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Fund (BIF) for the second time. The delay represents a significant victory for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has stood firm in its insistence that the full Build Back Better agenda be passed, not just the parts that moderates like. That means passing not just the BIF bill but the Build Back Better Act, a $3.5 trillion investment in our communities.

The days and weeks ahead will be crucial in the fight for a more equitable and just economy as House and Senate Democrats negotiate the terms of this landmark legislation. Moderate and conservative Democrats are demanding that vital programs either be undermined by imposing work or income requirements that will make them harder to access or cut all together.

Not surprisingly, corporate lobbyists, unwilling to pay their fair share in taxes and determined to continue gouging working families, are pushing back. They have tried to make this a debate about costs because they know that if it’s about a plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs, combat climate change, and create a path to citizenship for undocumented people they will lose. They also know that this package can be paid for if they and their clients are taxed fairly.

We are in a truly historic moment, where Congress has a once in a generation opportunity to make the bold structural changes we need to build a more equitable and just society. If that moment is lost because corporate lobbyists and opportunistic politicians managed to change the subject, the cost will be incalculable. We will not let that happen.

 

What’s at stake?

The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear how devastating decades of policies that put corporate interests over the needs of our communities have been. The failure to expand access to healthcare, protect workers, build more affordable housing, and protect immigrant families from abuse and exploitation made it harder for all of us to confront the challenges of a global pandemic and shutdown.

The Build Back Better Act represents the beginning of a transformation of the US economy and social programs to remake this fragile status quo. The bill would provide billions of dollars in funding to expand healthcare access, combat child poverty, and address climate change. 

Here is a short list of some of the amazing things that are in the bill. We can’t water down these priorities:

  • Historic investments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change

  • Subsidies for home care for the elderly and disabled

  • A path to citizenship and basic protections for Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers & essential workers

  • Making the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent. The expanded CTC has already led to historic reductions in child poverty this year

  • An expansion of Medicare to cover vision, hearing and dental care

  • An expansion of Medicaid and ACA subsidies so millions can access quality, affordable health care

  • Vital support for workers and their families, including Paid Family and Medical Leave, Child Care subsidies and Universal Pre-K

  • Free Community College

  • Funding for housing and combatting homelessness 

  • Lower drug prices

  • Taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans who have failed to pay their fair share for too long

 

How did we get here?

Earlier this year, President Biden released an ambitious plan to remake the US economy and invest in vital programs. Democrats in the House and Senate agreed to break that plan into two bills. The first, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF), is a modest infrastructure bill supported by Congressional Republicans. The second, the Build Back Better Act (BBB), is transformational legislation that would change the lives of millions of Black and brown families who have faced housing insecurity, loss of income and crushing healthcare costs.

Because BIF has Republican support, Democrats in the Senate were able to bring the bill to the Senate floor and pass it with little difficulty. That bill is now in the House, waiting to be brought to a vote before it is sent to President Biden for his signature. 

In contrast, without Republican support, the BBB Act can only be passed through a process called reconciliation. Every Democrat in the Senate must vote for this legislation in order for it to pass. For this reason, House Democrats have been working closely with the Senate from the beginning to draft a bill that was acceptable to all 50 Senate Democrats.

The original plan was that both bills would be ready to bring to a vote on Monday, September 27th. However, as the September 27th deadline approached, it became clear that the BBB Act would not be ready in time. 

At the same time, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema began to raise objections to the BBB Act, arguing that House Democrats should just vote for BIF and push negotiations on the larger bill into next year. Senator Sinema even threatened to refuse to support BBB if the BIF vote were delayed. However, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have made it clear that they would withdraw their support if both bills did not move at the same time. 

Unwilling to bring any bill to the floor knowing that it would fail, Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed the vote until September 30. When moderate Democrats failed to reach a deal with progressives by that date, Speaker Pelosi delayed the vote again so negotiations could continue.

 

What happens next?

Congressional Democrats and President Biden continue to negotiate the terms of the BBB Act. Moderates are asking that the bill be cut by more than half, and that people seeking access to programs be required to show proof of income or that they are working in order to receive benefits. Progressives continue to push back against both of these demands. Progressives are also demanding that, once an agreement is reached, the BBB Act be brought to a vote in the Senate before the House votes on BIF. 

The CPDA Network will continue to fight against shortsighted cuts in the package and urge Democratic Senators to bring BBB to a vote as soon as it’s finalized.

We are asking everyone to continue calling your representatives and Senators to push them to support the full Build Back Better agenda--or thank them for doing so already. 

We will have ongoing actions every day in DC this week. We also encourage you to do district actions wherever you are. 

For more information: jflynn@populardemocracy.com

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