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Recovery Priorities

President Joe Biden has put out his American Jobs and Families Plan (AJFP) for recovery.  Congress has already gotten to work on the recovery package and our partners at the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) have finalized their policy priorities for recovery. 

Since Progressives have shared priorities, they can negotiate collectively to get these policies in the final recovery package. Progressives can commit their votes together as a voting bloc and use that leverage in legislative negotiations to secure progressive wins and prevent harmful compromises, and we’re excited to see them use it to win these necessary components of a robust and inclusive recovery.  

The CPC Priorities Include:

  1. Pathway to Citizenship 
  2. Dramatically Lower Drug Prices & Use Savings to Pay for Public Health Expansion
  3. Investments in Climate
  4. Investments in the Care Economy 
  5. Investments in Housing

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s what the CPC did for the American Rescue Plan! This play resulted in some huge progressive wins like $1400 checks and extended Unemployment Insurance making it into the final bill. 

Progressive priorities will be included in the budget reconciliation bill, for a refresher Recovery and how the budget process relates to it check out this resource.

What We Want to See in the Budget Reconciliation Bill 

Pathway to Citizenship

We know that immigrants, including those without status, are critical members of communities all across the country, and make up a huge percentage of the essential workers who have supported our country through this long, terrifying, and devastating pandemic. 

We join the CPC in calling for: 

  • Citizenship for DACA recipients, TPS holders, and essential workers. 
  • Inclusion of all immigrants in the recovery package. 

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that our fates are closely tied. We cannot have a full and inclusive recovery while leaving huge swaths of our communities behind.

Lower Drug Prices & Reinvest Savings Back into Medicare

There is overwhelming public support for taking action to lower the price of prescription drugs in the United States.  The American people are tired of spending twice as much per capita on the same prescription drugs that are sold in other industrialized countries for much less. To add insult to injury Americans pay absorbently high prices for drugs that they paid to create; in fact, a large portion of the COVID-19 vaccine development was paid for by taxpayers

Progressives know that any recovery must include robust prescription drug price reforms. We support the CPC in fighting to build from and improve H.R. 3 - Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act by including the following policies to the bill:

  • Allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, limit high launch prices, and impose restrictions on increasing prices.
  • Ensure low cost prescription drugs are available to everyone, including the uninsured.
  • Cap the price of prescription drugs in the U.S. to the average price in peer countries.
  • Include strong inflation protections & negotiation enforcement, like tax penalties.
  • Expand Medicare benefits to include coverage of essential services such as hearing, dental, and vision.
  • Lower the Medicare age of eligibility age and cap out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.

Lowering the age to qualify for the Medicare program is extremely popular among both Democrat and Republican voters. In a 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, nearly 85% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans supported this reform. Our Congressional allies know that our older communities should be guaranteed access to comprehensive affordable care.

Climate

Any recovery package must center climate. We know that the climate crisis can’t wait and Congress must act now to leave a planet that is healthy and habitable for future generations. That means-

  • Establishing a federal Clean Energy Standard (CES).
  • Investing in green infrastructure jobs, including through the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps. 
  • Ensuring at least 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments are directed to disadvantaged communities.

Both Biden and the CPC have called for a federal Clean Electricity Standard. However, Biden doesn’t outline what this policy should look like, which means it is up to Congress to fill in the details. Thankfully, Rep. Welch and Rep. Clarke have introduced the American Renewable Energy Act which establishes an ambitious renewable energy standard to drastically reduce emissions, decrease pollution, and promote community resiliency and energy democracy. 

Biden is supporting a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC)in recovery which is good, but we need to fill in the details of what this looks like. Progressives know that any CCC must set corps members up for success during and after their year of service; this means providing a living wage of at least $15/hour for all corps members, strong benefits to help corps members and their families thrive. Importantly, CCC programs should direct half of investments made into overburdened communities, and recruit at least half of its corps members from those same places. The program should also ensure gender equity, provide opportunities for corps members of a range of ages and abilities, give corps members opportunities regardless of immigration status, protect tribal sovereignty, and more. Climate jobs are the future and we must fight to ensure these programs are done right. 

Prioritizing 40 percent of benefits and investments to disadvantaged communities is a critical part of recovery for communities who have borne the brunt of an extractive economy for decades, seen their communities polluted and poisoned, and have faced deadly consequences in the wake of COVID. Now that Biden has called for 40% benefits and investments to be directed to disadvantaged communities, the CPC is fighting to include the Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act in the final recovery package. This bill establishes an interagency committee to gather, map, and layer environmental justice data, which will provide the framework needed to get money out the door and into frontline communities.

Care Economy

Paid Family and Medical Leave

President Biden has called for the creation of a national paid family and medical leave program, and we need to make sure the recovery bill includes the strongest version possible.  

That means it needs to phase in quickly, so workers and families who desperately need these benefits feel them right away. Additionally, wage replacement rates must be high enough that taking leave is actually affordable, especially for low-income workers who cannot afford to go without 20% or 30% of their income. And Congress must ensure that this program is truly universal, covering every worker, instead of allowing exceptions that would let vulnerable families fall through the cracks. 

Child Care

Progressives are fighting for a universal child care program that extends affordable benefits to all families and pays child care workers fair wages. This is a recognition of the centrality of child care to a fair and functioning economy where parents can afford high quality child care and enrichment opportunities for their children. It’s critical that this benefit not come with unnecessary administrative barriers, like means testing or work requirements, which only end up harming the most vulnerable families and making the program less functional. Congress should achieve these goals by including the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Mondaire Jones.

Home and Community-Based Care

We support the progressive demand for investing $400 billion into our care economy, specifically to:

  • Expand access to home and community-based services through Medicaid for aging relatives and people with disabilities.
  • Improve the quality of caregiving jobs by raising wages and ensuring the free and fair choice to join a union and collectively bargain.

This investment is an excellent start and a testament to the tireless organizing of caregiving workers who have advocated for years that their industry can be a central pillar of the middle class while providing a better quality of life for millions of families. 

The specifics of this plan matter, so it’s good news that Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) have introduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which writes this plan into legislation with strong protections for caregivers,  the high quality and affordable care for families who need it, and equitable access for low-income communities and communities of color. That includes guaranteeing at least $15 an hour for caregiving workers and ensuring they have the right to form a union.

Housing 

A recovery package must meet the urgent housing needs of communities across the country, particularly in the lowest income communities, tribal communities, and other communities of color, and for people with disabilities. To do that, progressives are fighting to guarantee Housing Choice Vouchers for all eligible Americans and guarantee that spending each year by making it mandatory, rather than discretionary. We must also address the critical backlog in public housing maintenance and repairs, significantly bolster the National Housing Trust Fund, with dedicated funding  specifically for unsheltered individuals. Demands also include eliminating the “Faircloth Amendment,” which blocks the expansion of public housing, so the federal government can finally build and acquire more units to meet the needs of more communities. Upgrades on housing through the weatherization and energy efficiency programs must occur at scale, consistent with the Green New Deal for Public Housing. And finally, we are calling for a federal Affordable Housing Acquisition fund to build resilience against economic downturns by securing sites for development or preservation of affordable housing.

What You Can Do

As Progressives work together to include their priorities in recovery, we must support them in this fight.

You can call your Member of Congress and demand they work to quickly pass an inclusive recovery, include our key priorities in recovery, and make sure our priorities are fully funded.

The CPC saw huge wins in the American Rescue Plan by working with one another and with progressive organizations to create a powerful voting bloc and we are looking forward to passing a recovery package that works for all people.