WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement in response to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-12)’s announcement that she would step down from her role in the next Congress:

“Today, I join my colleagues across the Democratic Caucus and Americans across the country in giving our deepest thanks and appreciation to Speaker Pelosi for her decades of leadership as Speaker of the House and leader of our Democratic Caucus.

“At the Congressional Progressive Caucus, we are also proud that Speaker Pelosi was an early member of the CPC, before being elected Minority Leader in 2002. Under her leadership, House Democrats have achieved historic victories and advanced essential progressive reforms. Congress passed the largest health care expansion in U.S. history with the Affordable Care Act, and passed the largest bill to combat the climate crisis in U.S. history with the Inflation Reduction Act, which also took on Big Pharma’s price gouging of prescription drug prices for the first time. Congress responded to two economic crises with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the American Rescue Plan. It passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to outlaw gender-based pay discrimination, repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

“Few of Democrats’ historic accomplishments in the Pelosi era are more personal to me than those that advanced immigrant justice. She single-handedly secured the votes to pass the first Dream Act, and has helped ensure we pass the Dream and Promise Act in the 115th, 116th, and 117th Congresses. She has strongly advocated for the voices of those who are most often left out, including for racial justice with the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the No Ban Act and bills that took on anti-Asian hate. And as the first South Asian American woman elected to Congress, I was also honored to accompany the Speaker to India in my first term, and to work with her to advocate for Tibetan human rights, religious freedom, and democracy around the world. The Speaker was instrumental in passing my South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act this year, and in passing my resolution responding to the atrocities of forced medical procedures that often resulted in sterilization at the Irwin Detention Center in Georgia.

“As an immigrant woman of color, I know that my presence here — and the presence of so many other women and people of color in the Capitol — would not be possible without Speaker Pelosi’s example. She paved the way for all of us, and for a generation of girls to see themselves in the highest levels of leadership in this country. Her impact on this country is immeasurable — we can never thank her enough for all she has given to the Democratic Caucus and the country. I know my Progressive Caucus colleagues join me in wishing her all the best in this next chapter.”

 

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on a letter sent regarding Ukraine:

“The Congressional Progressive Caucus hereby withdraws its recent letter to the White House regarding Ukraine. 

“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting. As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this. Because of the timing, our message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over. The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian forces. 

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory. The letter sent yesterday, although restating that basic principle, has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time and we withdraw the letter.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement clarifying the position of a letter to President Biden:

“In a letter to President Biden today, my colleagues and I advocated for the administration to continue ongoing military and economic support for Ukrainians while pursuing diplomatic support to Ukraine to ensure we are helpful partners on efforts to reach ‘a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine.’ Let me be clear: we are united as Democrats in our unequivocal commitment to supporting Ukraine in their fight for their democracy and freedom in the face of the illegal and outrageous Russian invasion, and nothing in the letter advocates for a change in that support.

“Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives — but it is just one tool. As we also made explicitly clear in our letter and will continue to make clear, we support President Biden and his administration’s commitment to nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”

THIS LETTER WAS WITHDRAWN OCTOBER 25, 2022

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WASHINGTON — As the risk of nuclear war increases, fighting in Ukraine escalates, and global economic insecurity deepens, 30 members of Congress urged President Biden to pursue direct diplomacy for a negotiated settlement to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In a new letter the lawmakers, while recognizing the “difficulties involved in engaging Russia given its outrageous and illegal invasion of Ukraine,” urge the President to pair the U.S. military and economic support provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire, consistent with the President’s own recognition that “there’s going to have to be a negotiated settlement here.”

The lawmakers propose an approach that could include “incentives to end hostilities, including some form of sanctions relief,” and an international arrangement to “establish security guarantees for a free and independent Ukraine that are acceptable for all parties, including Ukrainians.” “The alternative to diplomacy,” they warn, “is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks.” In addition to the war’s harm to the people of Ukraine, they highlight the conflict’s impact on additional tens of millions worldwide, as skyrocketing prices in wheat, fertilizer, and fuel spark acute crises in global hunger and poverty.

The Members cite President Biden’s concern that Vladimir Putin “doesn't have a way out right now,” and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, who recently argued that Putin is acting as a “cornered animal,” a situation that he said “speaks to the need [to] do everything we possibly can to try to get to the table to resolve this thing.” “As is typical in any war,” he added, “it has got to end and usually there are negotiations associated with that.”

The majority of voters also support this call for diplomacy. Recent polling shows that 57 percent of Americans approve of U.S. negotiations to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible, even if it means making some compromises with Russia. 57 percent believe that Russia’s war in Ukraine will end in a negotiated peace, not a total military victory for either side, and 59 percent largely agree that the U.S. has a leading role to play in negotiating an end to the war.

The lawmakers conclude by appealing for “vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, direct bilateral talks with Russia, exploring prospects for a new European security arrangement acceptable to all parties that will allow for a sovereign and independent Ukraine, and reiterating the goal of a rapid end to the conflict as a chief American priority.”

The letter can be found online here.

Signatories include: Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Alma S. Adams Ph.D. (NC-12), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), André Carson (IN-07), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Jesús “Chuy García (IL-04), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-04), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Marie Newman (IL-03), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Mark Takano (CA-41), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07).

The letter was endorsed by the nonprofit groups Campaign For Peace Disarmament and Common Security, Just Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation, MoveOn, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, and Win Without War. Organizations issued the following statements:

"This letter marks the first time prominent Democratic elected officials have publicly called on the Administration to pair support for Ukraine's self-defense with a strong diplomatic effort to seek an end to the fighting," said Marcus Stanley, advocacy director for the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. "Their leadership is crucial and welcome– without diplomacy the war risks turning into an extended, bloody stalemate with ongoing and increasing damage to the world economy and to Ukraine itself. Even worse, it could easily escalate into a broader or even a nuclear conflict.”

"Ukrainians have inspired people worldwide with their courageous resistance to the illegal Russian invasion. Empowered by unprecedented U.S. weapons and intel support, Ukrainians dealt Putin a humiliating defeat that few had thought possible," said Erik Sperling, executive director of Just Foreign Policy and former Ukraine policy staffer in Congress. "This victory, however, has also come at a heartbreaking cost for Ukraine's people and economy. Meanwhile, the economic impact of the war and sanctions has millions around the world facing starvation, and escalating U.S. involvement has sapped money for urgent domestic priorities while increasing the odds of apocalyptic nuclear war with Russia. Our government should heed the call by this level-headed group of Representatives and immediately prioritize dialogue that can save lives in Ukraine and around the world." 

“The progressive position on the invasion of Ukraine has been clear from the start: we support the Ukrainian people’s struggle against the Russian government’s illegal, imperialist invasion, and we recognize that the U.S. has a special role to play both in supporting that struggle and in working to reduce nuclear risk in the conflict — a risk borne disproportionately by people in Ukraine,” said Sara Haghdoosti, executive director of Win Without War. “This letter reflects this position, and emphasizes that during an appropriate diplomatic opening, the U.S. will be an indispensable partner for Ukraine in securing an end to hostilities that preserves Ukrainian sovereignty and prevents further Ukrainian deaths. We look forward to continued collaboration between the White House and congressional progressives to push for a just peace in Ukraine and the pursuit of nuclear risk reduction between the U.S. and Russia.”

WASHINGTON — Today, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Task Force on Policing, Constitution, and Equality,  and Judiciary Committee member Hank Johnson (GA-04) sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Colette S. Peters calling for more information on her plans to address ongoing issues facing the Bureau.

Among the Members’ concerns is the Bureau’s failure thus far to properly execute the provisions of the First Step Act of 2018. Federal nonviolent inmates are eligible for early release under this legislation, but bureaucratic delays have prevented the BOP from effectively implementing it. 

The letter reads in part:

"Since its enactment into law in 2018, we’ve seen minimal movement by the BOP to fully implement the legislation as written. With the September 8th release of the time allotment rules that was being worked on before your official appointment, we feel this would be an opportunity to understand the rule and how we can ensure that it lives up to the spirit of the FSA."

In addition to calling for information on the Bureau’s plans to implement the FSA, the letter asks Director Peters for details on her strategies for addressing infrastructure maintenance, labor management, and medical care for incarcerated Americans.  

The full letter can be read here.


WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement upon the Biden administration announcement that the President will issue a pardon for all those with federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana and instruct a review of marijuana scheduling by federal agencies:

“The Progressive Caucus applauds this action by President Biden today to advance criminal and racial justice. We are thrilled to see the President use his executive authority to issue these pardons, and his platform to call on governors across the country to join him in this action.

“The ongoing federal prohibition of marijuana is a vestige of the failed, racist War on Drugs that targeted and devastated Black and Brown communities. Studies show a Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates. In just one year, Latinos made up 77 percent of federal marijuana sentences, despite making up less than 20 percent of the U.S. population. Progressives have led the fight in Congress for marijuana justice for over two decades, first introducing legislation to ban federal interference with state medical cannabis laws in 2001, and with the leadership of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in 2017. This year, under the leadership of CPC members Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), the House passed the MORE Act, which in addition to decriminalizing marijuana would remove it from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, and correct historical and continued injustices resulting from the War on Drugs. We are excited to see the President recognize the need for such reform today in calling for the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to review the process of marijuana scheduling, and we encourage those departments to thoughtfully consider fully descheduling marijuana.

“Today’s pardons will give a fresh start to thousands of people and their families, and offer hope to all those suffering from this country’s history of unjust, racially discriminatory drug policy. They also represent the latest in a number of bold, progressive executive actions this President has ordered, including investing in environmental justice and renewable energy, helping to reduce use of force by police officers and demilitarize law enforcement, and of course canceling student debt. The Progressive Caucus is proud to partner with this administration in progressive governance, and to continue to work together to advance equity and justice, raise wages, lower costs, and address the most urgent issues facing every family who calls America home.” 

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement ahead of Brazil’s elections Sunday:

“This Sunday, the residents of the Western Hemisphere’s second largest country will go to the polls in Brazil’s presidential election. Like all citizens in a democracy, the people of Brazil have the right to a free, fair, and peaceful process — but in recent weeks and months, that right has been threatened. We call for a nonviolent and transparent election process whose results are recognized immediately by all major political actors.

“The Brazilian people have suffered greatly under the Bolsonaro administration: flagrant disregard for public health that allowed COVID-19 to devastate the country, environmental degradation, economic difficulties, and the erosion of democratic norms. These threats have culminated in the run-up to Sunday’s elections in the form of lethal political violence. The current President’s unfounded claims of fraud and repeated attacks on the legitimacy of Brazil’s electoral system suggest he may not recognize the results if he loses. 

“As lawmakers committed to defeating similarly dangerous dynamics in the United States, we appreciate the Biden administration’s reported commitment to recognize the winner in Sunday’s election. We applaud our Senate colleagues’ unanimous adoption of CPC member Senator Bernie Sanders (I-V.T.)’ resolution reaffirming U.S. bilateral assistance and cooperation to be dependent on Brazil's respect for democracy and human rights. In the event of an extra-constitutional seizure of power or military support for baseless fraud accusations, progressives are committed to denying funds or assistance to Brazil’s security forces, and will work closely with our colleagues in Congress and the White House to ensure immediate action. 

“The Biden administration has already shown commendable leadership by breaking with previous U.S. administrations to promptly recognize the results of fair elections in Latin America, which have recently resulted in new progressive governments in countries like Bolivia, Honduras, Chile, and Colombia. It is past time to put the American legacy of support for unconstitutional political transitions in the region behind us. Together, we can begin a new chapter in our relations with Latin America: one built on mutual respect, democracy, and human rights.” 

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement in response to the Biden administration’s announcement that it will begin implementation of the President’s executive order to cancel up to $20,000 of student debt:

“We are excited to see the realization of years of organizing by advocates in movements and progressives in Congress to cancel student debt with the beginning of the Biden administration’s implementation process. It is clear that the administration is working to set up as accessible and straightforward a system as possible. In the face of Republican attacks, we understand the White House is prioritizing processing for loans that are publicly held through the Department of Education, which will cover the majority of borrowers, and we appreciate the administration’s transparency in working to ensure that the relief will actually reach the people who need it.

“As this implementation process continues, progressives will be working to ensure that the administrative burden on borrowers is as painless as possible, allows people to self-attest to income and other data, and that the full promise of the President’s executive order reaches borrowers who qualify. We’ll continue to work with the administration to educate our constituents and quickly get information out about the program and steps forward, what’s available at studentaid.gov, and protecting them from fraud attempts.

“We are about to see the government implement one of the most important investments in working people of recent years — and it wouldn’t have been possible without the years of dedication from all who organized for it the bold action of President Biden.”

WASHINGTON - Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate of the cost of President Biden’s executive order canceling student debt for more than 40 million borrowers:

“President Biden’s historic decision to cancel student debt brought well-deserved relief to 43 million people across the country — 97 percent of whom are low- and middle-income people — who have been unable to buy homes, invest in their communities, or start a family because of the burden of their debt. As CBO’s own report points out, 45 percent — nearly half — of Americans will see their loans fully canceled. The benefits of this decision cannot be overstated, especially for Black and Latino borrowers who have been disproportionately impacted by the student-debt crisis.  

“Unlike Republicans, who sought tax breaks for corporations and billionaires, the fulfillment of this campaign promise illustrates President Biden’s commitment to lift up working families.  The President’s student debt cancellation order is a major accomplishment with broadly shared benefits that is helping give people the freedom to reach their full potential, instead of sinking trillions of dollars into corporations and the rich.”

CBO’s cost projection for student debt cancellation is over a 40-year period instead of the 10-year projection CBO typically uses. When put in the context of the U.S. economy, student debt cancellation is projected to peak at a bit more than 0.09 percent of GDP in 2023-25. That is less than one-thirtieth of the military budget. Projected costs for student debt cancellation then fall to around 0.07 percent of GDP by 2032 and drop to 0.02 percent of GDP by 2042. 

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WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Representative Ilhan Omar (MN-05), whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on negotiations surrounding legislation on public safety and policing:

“After significant, deliberate negotiations, we are pleased to share that when the House of Representatives votes on the Invest to Protect Act, the bill will include a number of reforms to ensure funds are used to support smaller police departments to invest in de-escalation and other important training, data collection, and mental health. In addition, the bill will be part of a package with other evidence-based, holistic legislation that addresses public safety and unifies the Democratic Caucus.

“Through our constructive and productive deliberations with the bill’s author Representative Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), we were able to secure critical improvements to target funding to smaller police departments, as the spirit of the legislation intends; to give the Department of Justice the ability to preference applicants that use the funds for officer training to improve community safety and accountability; and to allow the funding to not only go to officer pay and training, but also be used for data collection regarding police and community safety. 

“The research is clear that the safest communities take a comprehensive view of what their communities need, and invest in policing as part of a larger whole-of-government approach — funding social services and supports as well, rather than asking police officers to fill every role in the work of keeping our neighbors safe. That is why we are gratified that the House package will also include other important legislation: CPC Deputy Chair Representative Katie Porter (CA-45)’s Mental Health Justice Act to send unarmed, trained first responders to those experiencing mental-health crises and reduce fatal encounters between police and people with mental illness; Representative Steven Horsford (NV-04)’s Break the Cycle of Violence Act to provide federal grants for communities for evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs; and Representative Val Demings’ (FL-10) VICTIM Act to improve the ability of law enforcement to solve gun crimes, support victims, and ensure justice for shooting victims. With this package, House Democrats have the opportunity to model a holistic, inclusive approach to public safety, and keep our promise to families across the country to address this issue at the federal level.”