Dear Colleague on Advancing Justice in America
Dear Democratic Colleague,
Today marks the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday: an observance that our country was blessed to be led in by John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress, for 55 years.
In time for this observance, the House earlier this week passed H.R. 1, which takes transformative action to fight voter suppression and expand access to voting, thanks to Chairs John Sarbanes and Zoe Lofgren, and with the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Today, to honor John Lewis and all who marched that day, President Biden issued an Executive Order which will harness the power of the federal government to promote access to the ballot box, so that all eligible voters can have a voice in their democracy.
The Selma March, together with the earlier March on Washington two years before, was not only about voting rights, but about justice. Yesterday, that value was honored under the leadership of President Biden, when the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan, which had been previously passed by the House. In two days, the House will have a resounding, hopefully bipartisan, vote for justice.
The American Rescue Plan crushes the virus and puts money in the pockets of workers, with nearly $1 trillion to be spent under the auspices of the Ways and Means Committee, and it does so in a way that advances justice in America:
- It advances justice in health, with equitable vaccine distribution, under the leadership of Chairs Frank Pallone, Karen Bass and Barbara Lee.
- It advances justice for our children, with the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and Disability Tax Credit, advanced by Chairs Richie Neal and Rosa DeLauro, which will cut child poverty in half.
- It further advances justice for children with safe school re-openings, particularly in economically disadvantaged communities, under the leadership of Chair Bobby Scott.
- It advances justice for the vulnerable, by helping minority- and women-owned small businesses survive with assistance and access to capital, advanced by Chairs Maxine Waters and Nydia Velázquez.
- It advances justice with pension provisions, advanced by Chair Richie Neal, which are historic and transformative.
In terms of our heroes, we can be proud that this legislation honors our health care workers, first responders, transportation, sanitation and food workers and teachers with robust funding for state, local, tribal and territorial governments. While I wish that the full package were to be distributed this year, I am pleased that the attempts to reduce the funding were defeated. Thank you to Chair Carolyn Maloney for her leadership on this front.
Over the years, many of us have made the pilgrimage to Selma. Sadly, this year, the coronavirus prevents us from being physically present, but our determination to promote justice prevails, inspired by those who marched in 1965. And we are committed to following lead to Alabama’s Terri Sewell in passing the Voting Rights Act.
As we continue to work for justice in so many areas, let us join together for a big, strong and hopefully bipartisan vote on the American Rescue Plan this week. We can then send it to the President and move quickly to distribute its life-saving resources. At a time when people in our country are hungry and fear eviction, they will know that, as President Biden has promised: Help Is On The Way.
As we prepare for what comes next, I want to once again thank all of our Chairs and Members for your leadership For The People.