March 17, 2022
The proposed executive actions would lower costs, raise workers’ wages, protect immigrant rights, advance racial equity, and combat the climate crisis
WASHINGTON — Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus released its agenda for executive action from the Biden administration as part of its ongoing effort to deliver on the President’s agenda.
The slate covers eight policy areas that will activate agencies across the federal government to affect change for all families who call America home: lowering health care costs, canceling federal student loan debt, expanding worker power and raising wages, advancing immigrants’ rights, delivering on the promise of equal justice under law, combatting the climate crisis and reducing fossil fuel dependence, investing in care economy jobs and standards, and regulating for economic and tax fairness. If implemented, the agenda would lower prescription drug costs for 38 million people, relieve the burden of student debt for more than 43 million borrowers, give millions of workers a raise by increasing the overtime eligibility threshold to $83,000, and more.
“Over the past year, Democrats in Congress and the White House have worked to not only recover from the pandemic and Trump years, but to deliver greater equity and economic security for people across the country. Tremendous progress has been made, but that work is far from done,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“Congress continues to push for a robust reconciliation package that can pass both chambers, and the Progressive Caucus remains fully committed to delivering as much of the President’s agenda as we can through legislation. But we know working people can’t wait for relief from rising costs — and that Democrats must use all the tools available to provide it, quickly. That’s why today, the Progressive Caucus is releasing this slate of executive actions to address some of the most pressing concerns of the American people, and unfinished business of the Biden agenda. Taken together, these actions will have an immediate and meaningful impact on people’s lives: lowering costs and raising wages for working people to provide urgently needed economic relief, advancing racial and gender equity by investing in communities that have historically been neglected, and delivering on our promises. We look forward to working with the Biden administration to realize these ambitious, but highly achievable, goals.”
The agenda was developed by the 98-member Progressive Caucus, and with input from the progressive grassroots movements who were key to delivering Democrats the majorities in both chambers and the White House.
The CPC executive action agenda has been endorsed by: Be A Hero, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Care in Action, CASA, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Center for Popular Democracy Action, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Community Change Action, Detention Watch Network, Down Home North Carolina, Family Values @ Work, Green New Deal Network, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Immigration Hub, Indigenous Environmental Network, Indivisible, MoveOn, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Project (NIPNLG), OneAmerica, Our Revolution, Parents Together Action, People’s Action, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Public Citizen, Social Security Works, Sunrise Movement, Ultraviolet, United We Dream, and Working Families Party.
Progressive movement groups issued the following statements on the agenda:
“The Congressional Progressive Caucus members are doing everything they can to continue to lift up and advance policies that improve people’s lives,” said Lorella Praeli, co-president, Community Change Action. “President Biden has the authority to act on a number of priority areas, including supporting the care economy, expanding worker power, making life-saving medications affordable and ensuring access to healthcare for millions. He can also take action to protect immigrants by reducing detention and closing ICE jails, designating or redesignating Cameroon, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other countries for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and finally ending Title 42 and providing access to a fair asylum process at the southern border. Black, brown, and immigrant communities are urging President Biden to take action to bring relief to our families.”
“It is clear that the CPC and progressive organizations, like Indivisible, share in President Biden’s goals to address systemic economic injustice with common sense popular solutions, and to govern from a position of compassion. That’s been clear from the very start as we worked tirelessly — and continue to work — on passing his agenda,” said Mary Small, national advocacy director, Indivisible. “But it's also apparent that the power is in President Biden's hands. Even as we continue to push for Congress to end its political theater and finally deliver on his legislative agenda, our network is calling for simultaneous and complementary executive action. We've already been engaged in pushing for the administration to provide relief for those with student loan debt and to address the climate crisis. We echo the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s call: President Biden can and must use the full authority of his office to deliver change wherever possible, as soon as possible.”
"Now is a critical time to start transitioning away from our destructive dependence on fossil fuels,” said Joseph Geevarghese, executive director, Our Revolution. “We support the CPC advocating the Biden administration end all new leasing of federal lands for fossil fuel extraction. Our federal lands produce nearly a quarter of our country’s total carbon dioxide emissions and thus have a terrible impact on our climate."
“These executive actions present an opportunity for President Biden to improve the lives of the people who put him in office so they can thrive, not just survive,” said Megan Essaheb, director of federal affairs, People’s Action. “President Biden needs to use his power to make good on his campaign promises and deliver for the multiracial poor and working class. People’s Action is ready to work alongside the Congressional Progressive Caucus to help him finish the job.”
"Whether it's tackling the climate crisis, expanding worker power, or canceling student loans, there are a number of actions the Biden Administration can take right now to fulfill its promises to voters,” said Emma Lydon, Managing Director of P Street at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “At a time when Republicans block any meaningful progress for working families, it's critical the Administration acts swiftly to protect our planet, hold billionaires and corporations accountable, reform our police and immigration systems, and empower workers to succeed."
"If President Biden acts on these orders, we could help millions of hard-working people make ends meet while addressing the threats of climate change and COVID-19,” said Maurice Mitchell, national director, Working Families Party. “Fully tackling these challenges will require Congressional action, but these executive orders are important steps the president can take right now to give working families much-needed relief. We're proud to stand alongside the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which once again is leading the fight to deliver for working people."
“The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ slate of proposed executive orders represents a positive, forward-looking agenda that centers and enacts the economic, health, and climate policies our communities need and have demanded. Women, and especially women of color, Black women, and indigenous women bear the brunt of legislative inaction in DC, and after turning out in record numbers to elect President Biden and delivering Congress to the Democrats — we want to see the President move forward policy however possible — including with the power of his pen,” explained Sonja Spoo, director of federal campaigns, UltraViolet, a leading national gender justice organization. “From lowering healthcare costs and canceling student loan debt, to strengthening worker protections and ensuring better pay for care workers, this agenda represents strategic actions the Biden Administration can immediately take to improve the lives and wellbeing of women, workers, and families. We are grateful for the advocacy of our champions in Congress under the leadership of Rep. Jayapal for putting together this slate of action — and continuing to fight to deliver for the communities that need and deserve the most support. This is the beginning but not the end of what our communities need. We will continue to advocate for decisive executive and legislative action on abortion rights, democracy reform, and investments in our families and communities."
"In order to secure clean air and safe drinking water, healthy communities, energy independence, and a livable climate for all of us, President Biden can and must use every tool available,” said Melinda Pierce, legislative director, Sierra Club. “Paired with urgently needed congressional action investing in our communities, bold executive action will help slash methane emissions and reduce air pollution that disproportionately causes cancer and respiratory diseases in Black and Latino communities due to decades of environmental injustice. The Biden administration also must leverage the government’s vast purchasing power and rulemaking authority to further expedite the transition from fossil fuel dependence to affordable and secure sources of clean energy."
"President Biden ran on a promise to lower drug prices,” said Alex Lawson, executive director, Social Security Works. “He doesn't need Congress to keep that promise. Biden must immediately lower drug prices with executive action. Every day of delay is a day that more Americans go bankrupt, get sick, and die due to pharma greed."
“Young people mobilized and risked their lives through a pandemic to deliver Biden the presidency on his promises to stop the climate crisis, cancel student loan debt, and ensure real change for our communities,” said Lauren Maunus, advocacy director, Sunrise Movement. “But two years into his term, and two years further into the climate crisis, we have yet to see the type of bold action we were promised. As we face a historic crossroad in the fight to protect democracy and defeat white supremacy, it’s beyond time for Biden to use the full powers of the presidency to deliver for the people who elected him and address the interlocking crises of our times. If he doesn’t, Biden risks not only alienating his own base, but failing to stop the worst of the climate crisis while he had the chance.”
Eileen Appelbaum, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, addressed one plank on the CPC slate that aims to protect the health and safety of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities: “Requiring greater transparency about ownership and financing of nursing homes is urgently needed. The heightened role of private equity firms in nursing homes and throughout the U.S. health care system should alarm consumers, policy makers, and really, everyone. Private Equity’s business model of buying out providers and loading them with excessive debt creates instability in nursing homes and throughout the health care system at a time when we most need increased capacity and stability.”
“The Family Values @ Work (FV@W) Network commends the Congressional Progressive Caucus for their push for expedited action on several key policy priorities through executive orders,” said Josephine Kalipeni, executive director of FV@W. “It is beyond time that this nation’s working families see the government take their side and enact critical legislation to improve their quality of life. Congress’ inaction on life-saving measures during this conjunction of crises is inexcusable and now it’s up to President Biden to take action. Investments in climate resilience, immigrant protections, access to healthcare and lower drug prices will give added security to families stretched thin — economically, physically, and mentally — due to the pandemic. And bolstering this nation’s care infrastructure, like paid family and medical leave and universal child care and preK, and establishing living wages for all workers will be a long-overdue step in ensuring that every working family has access to the shared prosperity they’ve earned.”