WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued this statement following President Biden’s State of the Union address:
“In his first two years in office, President Biden acted boldly to create a workers’ economy that benefits families across the country and improves the lives of the American people.
“Under his leadership and with Democrats in Congress, the President rightly celebrated a significant record of achievement tonight. In just two years, we have created 12 million jobs, more than any other President has created in four years. Unemployment is down to its lowest level in half a century and real wages are increasing, particularly in lower-paid sectors. Seniors on Medicare now pay no more than $35/month out-of-pocket for insulin and Affordable Care Act enrollment is at a record high. American manufacturing is on the upswing, with strong government industrial policy at work. Due to the largest climate investment in history, working families have access to affordable, renewable home appliances and electric vehicles, and we are on a path to achieve the President’s goal of 80 percent clean electricity by 2030. I am proud that the Progressive Caucus worked closely with the President to play a defining role in all these achievements.
“We applaud the President’s bold call for increased tax fairness with new taxes on billionaires and stock buybacks that enrich wealthy shareholders but discourage investments in workers and lower prices for consumers. We began this fight in the last Congress and have shown that increased tax revenue through fair and equitable means, combined with strong investments in the tools people need to get back to work and take care of their families, is exactly how you build a strong economy. While Republicans want to cut food stamps, Social Security, and Medicare, Democrats want to tax the wealthiest to pay their fair share, expand Social Security and Medicare, and lower costs for working and poor Americans.
“That’s why it is so important that the President called out the need to finish the rest of his agenda, to lower costs through universal child care, home care, and pre-K, paid sick leave, and bold housing investments. These are some of the biggest inflationary costs hitting working people, and why we fought so hard to deliver them in the last Congress. We got incredibly close, and we will not stop until they are law.
“In the wake of the killing of Tyre Nichols and too many before him, our communities are urgently demanding significant change to law enforcement’s use of force. We also know that we must expand voting rights and codify the right to abortion — fundamental freedoms without which our democracy will suffer. As the mother of a transgender kid, I was deeply moved to hear him rally our country to defend the transgender community. Progressives are proud champions of the President's bold antitrust agenda, and we were thrilled to hear him tout it tonight. We commend the President for presenting a vision for the path forward to meet these challenges and look forward to continuing to be partners in that fight.
“The President has shown how he can use executive action to make enormous progress. We will focus the next two years not only on showing the American people what we have done, but also working with the White House to deliver more. Progressives stand ready to work with the Biden administration to: raise the overtime threshold so tens of millions of workers can get paid for work they already do; institute strong rules to clean up the power sector and lower emissions; continue the work to end gun violence; address the crisis of access to affordable housing, child, and home care, and pay for care workers; ensure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share in taxes, rather than padding shareholder profits; restore competition across industries; continue to crack down on Big Pharma and lower prescription drug prices; provide a fair and humane process for everyone seeking safety in the United States, and continue expanding legal pathways and protections for immigrants. He has made important progress on the agenda the Progressive Caucus released in 2022; in the coming weeks, we will release our updated agenda for 2023. We will also be watching to ensure equitable implementation of the investments we passed into law last Congress.
“As the President made clear, this year Democrats will also need to hold the line against Republican extremism, including guarding against any attempts to force a default on the debt limit, gut Social Security, Medicare and other critical programs. We will be a strong opposition party against these extreme MAGA Republican ideas that would hurt Americans everywhere. But the President today made clear that Democrats are always a party of not just opposition, but also of proposition.
“Tonight, the country heard the President lay out his vision for a better America backed by the powerful results of a progressive agenda put into action over the last two years. If we continue on this path — taking on corporate power, investing in working families, and embracing equitable policymaking — we will continue to deliver.”