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.”

WASHINGTON — Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), CPC Vice Chair and House Financial Services Committee member Representative Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), and House Foreign Affairs Committee member Sara Jacobs (CA-53) led four dozen members of Congress in calling on the Biden administration to urgently reverse U.S. policies contributing to imminent mass starvation and the current economic collapse of Afghanistan. 

In a letter addressed to the President and senior Treasury Department officials, the lawmakers emphasized their support for his decision to withdraw troops from the country, but urged that the new phase of the U.S.-Afghan relationship must avoid harsh economic measures that will directly cause loss of life and other harm to Afghan families and children. Specifically, they urge “conscientiously but urgently modifying current U.S. policy regarding the freeze of Afghanistan's foreign reserves and ongoing sanctions.” They write, “We fear, as aid groups do, that maintaining this policy could cause more civilian deaths in the coming year than were lost in 20 years of war.”

Citing United Nations estimates that 1 million Afghan children are at risk of starving to death, the members of Congress note that the U.S. freeze of $9.4 billion in Afghanistan’s foreign reserves in August, along with the imposition of broad economic sanctions, are driving “soaring inflation and the shuttering of commercial banks and vital private businesses, plunging the country — which relies overwhelmingly on imports that require hard currency — deeper into economic and humanitarian crisis.” Similarly, they note that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has denied Afghanistan access to special reserve assets intended to help developing countries alleviate the impact of the pandemic.

The consequences of these policies for the Afghan people have been immediate and catastrophic. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that “after decades of war, suffering and insecurity, [Afghans] face perhaps their most perilous hour,” imploring countries “to take action and inject liquidity into the Afghan economy to avoid collapse.” World Food Programme surveys indicate that 95 percent of Afghan households are not consuming enough food. The United Nations Development Program reports that Afghanistan will face “universal poverty by the middle of next year,” with the poverty rate expected to rise from 72 percent to as high as 98 percent. Afghanistan’s economic pain and humanitarian collapse both threaten to trigger a new refugee crisis throughout the region.

“No increase in food and medical aid can compensate for the macroeconomic harm of soaring prices of basic commodities, a banking collapse, a balance-of-payments crisis, a freeze on civil servants’ salaries, and other severe consequences that are rippling throughout Afghan society, harming the most vulnerable,” write the lawmakers. “We deplore the new Taliban government’s grave human rights abuses, crackdowns on civil society and repression of women and LGBTQ people. However, pragmatic U.S. engagement with the de facto authorities is nevertheless key to averting unprecedented harm to tens of millions of women, children and innocent civilians. Punitive economic policies will not weaken Taliban leaders, who will be shielded from the direct consequences, while the overwhelming impact of these measures will fall on innocent Afghans who have already suffered decades of war and poverty.”

The lawmakers note that engagement with the Taliban to coordinate central bank access to urgently needed hard currency can provide the necessary leverage to secure human rights improvements, and that a failure to avert economic catastrophe in Afghanistan creates risks to U.S. national security, by deterring Taliban cooperation on counterterrorism efforts, fueling anti-American resentment, and creating ungoverned spaces fertile for militant groups to seize. “U.S. economic policy should not undermine the national-security imperative of seeking stability in Afghanistan, and instead should minimize the risk of threats emanating from the country,” the lawmakers conclude. “We stand ready to work closely with you as you expeditiously review current U.S. policy in light of the extraordinary economic and humanitarian risks confronting the people of Afghanistan.” 

Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), and Sara Jacobs (CA-53) were joined by Representatives Alma Adams (NC-12), Karen Bass (CA-37), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D (NY-16), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Cori Bush (MO-01), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN-07), Judy Chu (CA-27), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-03), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Al Green (TX-09), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Kaiali’i Kahele (HI-02), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Andy Levin (MI-09), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Betty McCollum (MN-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Marie Newman (IL-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-45), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Juan Vargas (CA-51), and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07).

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement in response to comments by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) that he would not vote for the Build Back Better Act:

“Senator Joe Manchin made a promise to President Biden to support a framework that would help lower health care costs, cap the price of insulin and other prescription drugs, lower child care costs for Americans, address the climate crisis ,and give working people and poor people a shot in America. Today, Senator Manchin has betrayed his commitment not only to the President and Democrats in Congress but most importantly, to the American people. He routinely touts that he is a man of his word, but he can no longer say that. West Virginians, and the country, see clearly who he is.

“The American people want and deserve to have their critically important daily needs addressed.  That is why all the elements of the Build Back Better legislation are overwhelmingly supported by Americans across the political spectrum. We will never stop fighting to truly build back better for the American people. Too much is at stake.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Representatives Nanette Barragán (CA-44), CPC Chair Emeritus Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), CPC Deputy Whip Ro Khanna (CA-17), and CPC Whip Ilhan Omar (MN-05), issued the following statement in response to news of industry-led efforts to undercut the Build Back Better Act’s policies to reduce carbon emissions driving the climate crisis:

“The Build Back Better Act has rightfully been touted as the largest-ever federal investment in climate action. But to meet this moment, Congress needs to be concerned not only about quantity, but quality. If the Senate eliminates every mechanism in this bill designed to push polluters into a clean energy future, we simply will never get there — and that is unacceptable. Today, we urge the Senate to resist the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to remove basic guardrails on the tax credits for carbon sequestration.

“The House-passed version of Build Back Better requires fossil fuel emitting plants to store 75 percent or more of their carbon pollution — an eminently reasonable requirement, as the fossil fuel industry itself touts carbon capture’s ability to achieve a 90 percent sequestration rate. But now, special interest groups are pushing our Senate colleagues to remove the requirement altogether, and provide a no-strings-attached taxpayer handout to the biggest polluters. For Congress to pass such a policy — especially as the South and Midwest are still recovering from the latest climate change fueled disaster — would be an insult to basic tax fairness and to every member of our communities demanding environmental justice. It’s simple: a bill that aims to tackle climate change and rapidly decarbonize our economy cannot include gifts for polluters.

“President Biden has demonstrated leadership on the world stage in making the ambitious, yet necessary, commitment that the United States will halve its carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. In order to meet that mandate, our colleagues must oppose any efforts to remove the limited guardrails that currently exist on carbon sequestration subsidies and  protect our national effort to rapidly transition to solar, wind, and other renewable energies. As the Senate debates the Build Back Better Act, this House-passed legislation’s promise to address climate change at the scope of the crisis, and deliver on the President’s transformational vision, must not be weakened.”

WASHINGTON — Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Ilhan Omar (MN-05), whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, released the following statement ahead of a Senate vote to block the sale of $650 million in Raytheon air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia:  

“After nearly seven years of war and roughly a quarter of a million people killed, Saudi Arabia continues to relentlessly bomb Yemen and impose a crippling siege on the country, depriving millions of civilians of adequate food, fuel and medicine. The Senate must block this weapons sale and send a clear message to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman: Congress will not tolerate Saudi impunity as it commits war crimes and starves the people of Yemen.

“The world’s largest humanitarian crisis is escalating. Last month, Saudi Arabia tightened its blockade on Yemen, permitting just 3 percent of the fuel the country needs into Yemen’s major port. Saudi warplanes enforce a blockade on Yemen’s airspace, threatening to shoot down commercial and humanitarian flights. This has almost completely halted medicine and medical supplies from entering the country, and has amounted to a death sentence for tens of thousands of Yemenis seeking lifesaving treatment abroad.

“In 2019, President Biden promised to end the war in Yemen, make the Saudis ‘pay the price’ for human rights abuses, and not ‘sell more weapons to them.’ But over the past year, while the Biden Administration has publicly urged an easing of Yemen’s port restrictions, the U.S. has continued logistical support essential to the deadly Saudi aerial blockade on Yemen. As the Saudis disregard the administration’s appeals and restrict fuel imports even further, this unconditional sale of air-to-air missiles threatens to greenlight Saudi conduct and empower Saudi Arabia’s offensive military campaign collectively punishing tens of millions of civilians.

“We applaud the bipartisan effort to hold Saudi Arabia accountable and help bring the war in Yemen to an end, as well as the leadership of its cosponsors, Senators Sanders (I-VT), Leahy (D-VT), Merkley (D-OR), Markey (D-MA), Warren (D-MA), and Wyden (D-OR), who are working to recenter human rights in our foreign policy. We urge all Senators to pass this resolution of disapproval with a convincing majority so that the House can adopt the bill without delay.”

Representatives Omar and Jayapal, along with 10 other CPC Members, are sponsors of House Joint Resolution 63, a companion bill to Senate Joint Resolution 31 to disapprove of the proposed weapons sale.