WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement as the new $15 an hour minimum wage for federal contractors went into effect:

“Today, the minimum wage for federal contractors has finally been raised to $15 an hour. This raise will affect hundreds of thousands of workers, who will no longer be forced to labor for starvation wages under the employment of the federal government. The Progressive Caucus fought hard for this rule — and while the change is long overdue, it is no less laudatory. It is no exaggeration to say that, thanks to President Biden, the new minimum wage will be life changing for these workers and their families.

“As we celebrate the implementation of this rule today, we must redouble our efforts to increase the wages of all workers. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at a woeful $7.25 an hour for thirteen years. Meanwhile, costs of living have steadily increased, and billionaire wealth — made on the backs of these workers — has skyrocketed, including during the pandemic. We cannot tolerate such shameful and extreme inequality any longer.

“The Progressive Caucus has been one of the leading advocates for raising wages, both through executive action and legislation. In addition to today’s increase, the CPC pressed previous administrations to raise federal contractors’ wages in 2013 — advocacy that successfully secured a raise to $10.10 an hour — and 2017. Ours was the first caucus to support a $15 minimum wage, introducing the Pay Workers A Living Wage Act in 2015.  In 2019, the CPC helped lead the House to pass the Raise The Wage Act in 2019, and in 2021, we led the effort to secure a $15 minimum wage in the COVID relief package last year — all of which have been blocked by the Senate. In 2022, we must finally end or reform the filibuster and secure a living wage for every worker in this country.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the path forward for the President’s domestic legislative agenda:

“In the months since negotiations around the Build Back Better Act stalled, the case for this legislation has only become more urgent. Public housing residents have endured devastating fires, the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs continue to crush working people, and parents are desperate for child care support. This desperately needed relief cannot be delayed any longer.

“Today, we are calling for President Biden and Senate Democrats to pass the Build Back Better Act by March 1, so the President can use the power of the State of the Union platform to share with the nation the relief that people will soon receive.

“This is both achievable and necessary. There is agreement among Senate Democrats on significant parts of this bill: climate action, the care economy, taking on Big Pharma’s price gouging, and lowering health care costs. There is agreement on the need to reduce rising costs facing ordinary Americans — and that is exactly what Build Back Better does. The White House and Congressional Democrats confronted the crisis of the pandemic to pass the historic American Rescue Plan as well as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, creating millions of jobs. It’s past time to bring that same commitment to delivering Build Back Better.

“Eighty-one million people voted for this President’s agenda, and they were promised results. For the state of our union to truly be strong — in a way that working people can feel in their lives  — now is the time for Democrats in the House and Senate to make good on those promises, enact the President’s vision, and pass the Build Back Better Act.”

WASHINGTON — Thirty members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus called on the Biden administration today to fulfill the President’s commitment of international cooperation and global leadership by increasing its efforts to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide and reduce global inequities in public health resources.

In a letter to the President and COVID-19 Rapid Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients, the members write: “As new data emerges about the quickly spreading Omicron variant, we know that the longer the global pandemic is allowed to run rampant, new, more virulent variants will continue to threaten health and economic wellbeing across the planet.” The lawmakers warn that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has produced nearly 5.5 million deaths globally “will continue ravaging the globe if inequity and apathy prevail,” while the “harm to U.S. public health and the economy if vaccine-resistant variants are allowed to evolve are almost unfathomable.”

The data on the impact of such inequity is staggering: “Only 7.1 percent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, and vaccine supply remains a major problem. With limited technology sharing, low-income countries have depended on inconsistent vaccine donations, which have run behind projections. COVAX, the multilateral platform for distributing vaccines to developing nations, has managed to ship just 544 million doses so far, roughly a third of what it had planned to have sent by now.” 

The lawmakers identify several actions the Biden administration should immediately take:

  • Redouble efforts to pass the Build Back Better Act and restore its full allocation of $8 billion for pandemic preparedness including $2 billion dedicated to global vaccine manufacturing;
  • Call for $17 billion in additional funds to ensure a global 70 percent vaccination rate by mid-2022 in Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations;
  • Redouble diplomatic efforts to share vaccine technology and intellectual property, including encouraging the World Trade Organization to finally issue a waiver for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); 
  • Produce billions of mRNA vaccine doses, retaining public control over intellectual property and production to ensure new vaccine capacity serves public interests, rather than subsidizing pharmaceutical corporations;
  • Proactively support global vaccine manufacturing efforts, including compelling resistant pharmaceutical companies to engage in technology transfer by invoking the Defense Production Act and other legal tools; and,
  • Support new global emergency financing to protect low-income countries through the International Monetary Fund, specifically via a new issuance of 1.5 trillion Special Drawing Rights

The lawmakers conclude that “if the administration takes decisive action” on these proposed courses of action, its “goal of vaccinating the world will be realized in short order.”

Signatories on the letter include: Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Karen Bass (CA-37), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D.(NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), Andre Carson (IN-07), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29),  Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM-03), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Marie Newman (IL-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), and Peter Welch (VT). 

The letter can be found here.

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13), chair of the Caucus Peace and Security Taskforce, issued the following statement regarding United States involvement in Ukraine:

“We continue to watch Russia’s threatening behavior towards Ukraine with alarm. There is no military solution out of this crisis — diplomacy needs to be the focus. We support the Biden Administration’s efforts to extend and deepen the dialogue, allowing for robust negotiations and compromise.

“We have significant concerns that new troop deployments, sweeping and indiscriminate sanctions, and a flood of hundreds of millions of dollars in lethal weapons will only raise tensions and increase the chance of miscalculation. Russia’s strategy is to inflame tensions; the United States and NATO must not play into this strategy.

“In past crises, where events are moving quickly and intelligence is unclear, vigorous, delicate diplomacy is essential to de-escalation. We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement in response to the failed Senate vote to reform the chamber’s rules and pass voting rights legislation:

“As representatives elected to serve the interests of the American people, our most fundamental responsibility is ensuring that those people can access the ballot box. Today, despite Leader Schumer and many Democrats’ best efforts, the U.S. Senate failed to uphold that responsibility.

“We applaud Senator Schumer’s dogged persistence in this fight, and his commitment that this will not be the last time Senators are forced to take this vote. As he and our colleagues have made clear, there is no excuse for this failing. When tested against logic and reason, every argument for protecting the filibuster over voting rights comes up short.

“Critics of rules reform on both sides of the aisle have claimed that the filibuster promotes bipartisanship, when in fact, it only serves to block any legislation from actually being passed. They claim it will create a slippery slope of changes, when in fact, the rule has already changed more than 161 times just since 1969. They argue it protects the voice of the minority — but as evidenced by 50 Republicans representing 41,549,808 fewer people than the 50 Democrats, the Senate is already built to protect it. They pretend there is no crisis of voter suppression, when it is well documented that 2021 was the worst year for restrictive state voting laws in decades.

“We know why Republicans are standing on the wrong side of history today. Their party is beholden to the Big Lie that former President Donald Trump never lost the 2020 election, who himself has said that his party can’t win unless fewer people vote.

“Despite this outright hostility from the Republican Caucus to democracy, Congress must continue to push for a path forward. In the meantime, we urge the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to use their authority under the Voting Rights Act and aggressively challenge unconstitutional laws.

“To everyone who took to the streets and poured their hearts into this fight: we see you, we hear you, we echo your frustration at this outcome. And we promise you that progressives in Congress are not giving up. This will not be the end.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol:

“One year ago today, America experienced the deadliest and most destructive attack on the United States Capitol since the War of 1812. Members of Congress, staff, and press endured terrifying hours as rioters ransacked the halls and attacked Capitol Police officers in an attempt to overthrow the election. The 700,000 residents of D.C. sheltered in their homes in fear that this violence would spill onto the streets and visit members of their communities. The events of that day brutally shattered the illusion that our democracy, and the building that performs its functions, could not be breached. 

“January 6 was the most visible day of violence — but in reality, the events that led to the insurrection began long before former President Trump encouraged rioters to march on the Capitol. For years, Republicans in state legislatures, courts, and Congress have engaged in a more covert attack, chipping away at free and fair elections and taking direct aim at Americans’ constitutional rights and our democracy.

“Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, state legislatures have enacted hundreds of laws designed to reduce the political power of communities of color, young people, the elderly, people with disabilities. The racist voter suppression that the justices claimed was a relic of the past came roaring back with a vengeance, such that 2021 became the worst year for restrictive state voting laws in a decade; legislatures filed more than 440 bills and enacted laws in 19 states. At the same time, the Republican party pushed incendiary lies about voter fraud and Democrats stealing elections from the highest levels. It was on this tidal wave of anti-democratic activity and rhetoric that the January 6 rioters descended on Washington and attacked the Capitol. And the attack has continued since, with partisan actors driving unfounded election audits, violent threats on election officials, and the passage of laws explicitly allowing partisan interference with election results, in direct backlash to the 2020 election.

“That is why this anniversary calls not only for commemoration, but also for action — urgently. If Congress fails to pass legislation to secure the right to vote and protect Americans’ democratic freedoms, we invite these attacks to continue. We cannot allow Republicans’ lies or arcane Senate rules to stand in the way of Congress upholding its most basic constitutional responsibilities. We applaud Majority Leader Schumer for his determination in pushing voting rights restoration forward in the upper chamber, and Progressives are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure he succeeds. The most basic promise of American democracy is that every person’s voice must be heard and vote counted. We cannot fail.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, announced today that the membership of the CPC voted to endorse legislation to expand the United States Supreme Court by four seats, bringing the number of seated justices to 13. The Judiciary Act of 2021 was introduced in the House by three CPC members, Representatives Jerrod Nadler (NY-10), Hank Johnson (GA-04), and Mondaire Jones (NY-17), and in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA).

“After thoughtful consideration, the Progressive Caucus membership has determined that the urgent work to restore American democracy must include expanding the Supreme Court,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “The current bench was filled by a partisan, right-wing effort to entrench a radical, anti-democratic faction and erode human rights that have been won over decades. In recent years, this court has gutted the Voting Rights Act and public sector unions, entrenched unconstitutional abortion bans, and failed to overturn the blatantly discriminatory Muslim Ban. As a co-equal governing body, Congress cannot sit by while this attack on the constitution continues unchecked. I am proud that our Caucus is joining the fight to expand the court and restore balance to the bench.”

The sponsoring members issued the following statements:

“Our founders understood that as the country evolved, the Supreme Court would need to evolve with it,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler. “The Judiciary Act represents a much-needed next step in that evolution by expanding the number of seats on the Court, providing it with the necessary balance to meet the challenges of today and those for many years to come. I am grateful to have the CPC endorsement for this legislation, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to strengthen the legitimacy of the Court and restore power to the people.”

“The critical issues that impact our day-to-day lives – such as voting and civil rights, reproductive freedom, climate justice, and consumer and workers’ rights – are being decided by a GOP-packed conservative supermajority on a United States Supreme Court, which is destroying its own legitimacy with partisan decisions that are upending decades of precedent and progress in this nation,” said Congressman Johnson, chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. “I want to thank Chair Jayapal and the entire Progressive Caucus for endorsing and supporting the Judiciary Act – a bill to expand the Supreme Court that I was proud to introduce last year along with Chairman Jerry Nadler and Rep. Mondaire Jones. The need to expand the Court is necessary to safeguard the liberties of all who live in this country.”

“Over the past year, the 6-3, far-right supermajority on the Supreme Court further gutted the Voting Rights Act, effectively overturned Roe v. Wade by allowing a Texas law to remain intact, and restricted the right of labor unions to organize,” said Congressman Mondaire Jones. “Unless we take action, the Court’s assault on our democracy and our fundamental freedoms will only get worse. But we are not powerless to stop these attacks. The Judiciary Act of 2021, which I introduced with Senator Markey and Representatives Johnson and Nadler, will restore integrity and balance to the Supreme Court by expanding it. A clear majority of Americans supports Court expansion because the people understand what’s at stake, and I’m thrilled that the Congressional Progressive Caucus is with us in this fight. With nearly 50 cosponsors and counting, we are closer than ever to restoring balance to the nation’s highest court and building a judiciary, and a democracy, that work for everyone.”

Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, added: "After a series of major breakthroughs in 2021, The Judiciary Act is kicking off 2022 with another major endorsement showing more and more Democrats understand it is the only way to restore balance to the Supreme Court. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has been on the cutting edge of fighting for the bold action needed to protect democracy and create an economy that works for everyone, and with this endorsement, the CPC is giving a major boost to the only reform bold enough to rebalance a Supreme Court that currently threatens any progress on issues progressives care about."

“We are thrilled to see the Progressive Caucus under Chairwoman Jayapal, push the movement for Court expansion forward, and applaud Representative Hank Johnson for his leadership on this legislation,” said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, Executive Director of Take Back the Court Action Fund. “Progress on everything from reproductive freedom, to voting rights, to climate change, racial justice, immigration, and the future of democracy itself, requires us to rebalance this Court. And today’s endorsement from the Progressive Caucus is a loud and clear message that we will not let this hyperpartisan 6-3 stolen Court stand in the way of that progress. We will meet the urgency of the moment and expand the Court.”  

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and vice chair of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, issued the following statement in response to new executive action from the Biden administration to take on corporate price gouging by meat and poultry distributors and lower prices for consumers. According to data released by the White House, “Four large meat-packing companies control 85 percent of the beef market. In poultry, the top four processing firms control 54 percent of the market. And in pork, the top four processing firms control about 70 percent of the market.”

“The most basic mandate of those in government is to do all we can to make life better for the American people, and this executive action represents a real commitment on behalf of the Biden administration to meeting it. During the pandemic, corporations have raked in record profits while continuing to raise prices and squeeze families, consolidating to prevent competition and increasing the burden on small businesses and consumers. The meat processing industry is one of the worst offenders of these monopolistic, unfair practices, and families across America are paying for it.

“This new action is an important example of the power the Executive Branch has to provide material, immediate economic relief for families. While Congress works to pass as much of the Build Back Better agenda as we can, the White House should move quickly to replicate this effort in additional sectors of the economy burdened by a lack of competition and high prices. Bold executive action has the potential to directly benefit the American people by lowering health care costs, cancelling student loans, and acting to address climate change. President Biden has shown he is not afraid to use the power of the pen to fight monopoly power; he should now use this same bold, creative strategy to keep his promises and deliver the agenda that more than 81 million people voted for.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement in the response to the Biden administration’s announcement it would extend the pause on federal student loans until May 1, 2022:

“As Omicron rages across the country, the Biden administration has made the excellent and necessary decision to use their executive power to extend the pause on federal student loans.  This will allow millions of borrowers to breathe a momentary sigh of relief. As progressives inside and outside of Congress have been saying for months, this will provide critical support to Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, continue Democrats’ successful efforts to lower costs and decrease the burden of inflation, and keep $7 billion in the economy each month the moratorium continues. We appreciate the President heeding this call.

“But the work cannot stop here. The administration must now deliver on the President’s promise to cancel student debt, lowering costs for families at a critical time of tremendous health and economic uncertainty. Given that the Build Back Better Act is still not law — delaying cost-saving measures that were slated to begin in 2022 — we need to take immediate action to put money in people’s pockets and invest in our nation’s continued economic recovery and quest for racial justice. According to the Roosevelt Institute, erasing $50,000 in student loans per person would immediately increase Black wealth by 40 percent. We cannot afford more delays — now is the time for the President to act.”

WASHINGTON — Following a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Executive Board, Chair Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) issued the following statement outlining the Caucus’ approach to moving the Build Back Better agenda forward:

“Nearly a year ago, President Biden laid out a vision for America: one aimed at addressing crises facing the American people that were both created and exposed by the COVID pandemic. These included but were not limited to: a lack of access to health care, inequalities in the care economy, urgency in housing needs, the rapidly escalating climate crisis, the hypocrisy of relying on immigrant essential workers while denying them the dignity of citizenship, and the precarity of working and poor families’ lack of economic security.

“That vision is just as urgently needed today as it was when he introduced it, if not more so. The Omicron variant now accounts for 73 percent of the known new COVID cases in the U.S., and cases are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days. This surge is only compounding the immense pain and strain Americans were already feeling: workers who have not been able to return to their full hours, people with disabilities and long COVID sufferers who have been neglected by the medical establishment, parents trying to work without any child care support, seniors once again faced with the untenable choice between risking COVID exposure in congregate care settings or isolating at home without support. Meanwhile, people are still living in poverty, the eviction moratorium has expired, and without immediate action from the administration, the student loan pause is due to end on February 1.

“We were sent to Congress to govern, not watch our communities fall deeper into crisis. We must use every tool at our disposal, and we must do so now.

“Today, the elected leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is calling on the President and all Democrats who believe in the need to Build Back Better for climate, care, immigrants, and those seeking economic dignity and opportunity to come together and deliver for the American people. That means a whole-of-government approach. In Congress, we will continue to prioritize a legislative path for Build Back Better, focused on taking the current text of the legislation passed by the House, keeping as much of it as possible — but no less than the elements contained in the framework negotiated by the President and committed to by Senators Manchin and Sinema some months ago. We have worked too long and too hard to give up now, and we have no intention of doing so.

“In the meantime, the White House must continue to act on a parallel track by using the President’s incredibly powerful tool of executive action. The legislative approach, while essential, has no certainty of timing or results — and we simply cannot wait to deliver tangible relief to people that they can feel and will make a difference in their lives and livelihoods. We also believe that executive action will make it clear to those who oppose the legislative path, and continue to put hurdles in its way, that the White House and Democrats will ensure we deliver relief for people now. The Progressive Caucus will soon release a comprehensive vision for this plan of action, which will include immediate focus on actions that lower costs, protect the health of every family who calls America home in this time of surging Omicron cases, and show the world that America is serious about our leadership on climate action.

“A whole-of-government approach to the crises facing the American people must also include taking federal action to protect the right to vote. Just as we cannot wait for a few Senators to deliver economic relief to our communities, we cannot wait for them to deliver relief from the rampant voter suppression and denial of the people’s constitutional rights. We are encouraged by the dogged determination of our Senate colleagues to achieve this top priority, and Progressives in the House remain committed to seeing it through.

“Progressive Caucus members stand ready to work with our colleagues in both chambers of Congress and our partners at the White House to get these priorities done. Build Back Better and voting rights are more than just legislation — they are an agenda, a vision, and a mandate. We will not rest until we have delivered for the American people.”