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. 

###

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.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the introduction of Senate Republicans’ national abortion ban by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.):

“The Senate Republicans’ bill is a cruel, unjust attack on the fundamental freedom and bodily autonomy of millions of people across the country, disproportionately impacting the most marginalized communities, including Black and Brown people, low-income people, young people, and LGBTQ+ people. This bill is the culmination of Republicans’ long-held goal: to ban abortion nationwide and rip the most personal of decisions away from the people they are supposed to serve. The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade, made by an anti-abortion majority the Republicans worked for decades to create, was a necessary prerequisite — but it was never the end game.

“Let us be clear: this is a national abortion ban. It is a power grab and an attempt to control women and all people who can get pregnant. It does not simply ‘return abortion to the states’: it institutes a nationwide criminal punishment for abortion.

“As one of the 1 in 4 people in this country who has had an abortion, I refuse to allow this offensive bill to become law. Democrats are resolute: the decision to have an abortion belongs to the individual, not politicians. We will continue our fight in Congress to protect that right, our advocacy for President Biden to expand access to care through executive action, and our solidarity with the movements who have been fighting to protect and expand abortion access and get our neighbors the care they need. 

“Republicans have shown us their roadmap if they seize control of the Senate: they will continue their wild, desperate march to take away fundamental freedoms that have been settled law for half a century. They are showing over and over again that they are out of step with the country.   House Democrats have already passed the Women’s Health Protection Act — twice. With a clear pro-choice majority in the Senate, Democrats will pass that bill and finally codify the freedom to make choices about our bodies — including choosing abortion. All of us who are enraged will continue to take our righteous anger to the streets and to the voting booths.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the U.S. Treasury Department announcement of its creation of an “Afghan Fund” to support Afghanistan amid the country’s humanitarian and economic crisis:

“I welcome the Biden administration’s long-overdue action to begin restoring some economic stability to Afghanistan and support the Afghan people during its devastating humanitarian crisis. The fund has the potential to create a vital pathway to a functioning financial system, returning desperately needed assets to Afghanistan that could alleviate major price spikes of food and other essentials. Since December of 2021, House progressives have been calling for a swift restoration of billions of dollars belonging to the people of Afghanistan to recapitalize its central bank and restore its basic functions. This new fund is an important first step toward that goal.

“But let us be clear: this crisis has been intensified by the Western freeze of Afghanistan’s  reserve assets held abroad — a policy that has contributed to an economic depression, mass hunger, and displacement. Over the last year, Afghanistan has lost 20-30 percent of GDP and experienced 52 percent inflation, putting food and other necessities out of reach for millions of people. More than 18 million Afghans are facing acute food insecurity and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their home country. No amount of aid can substitute for a structural solution to this problem, and ensuring Afghanistan has a functioning economy is the only way forward.

“While this fund has the potential to unlock $3.5 billion of the $7 billion in U.S. possession — which should be pursued swiftly — we believe the full $7 billion that rightfully belongs to the Afghan people should be restored to the Central Bank to combat the collapse of the Afghan economy and restore financial stability. We encourage the newly created Afghan Fund to work collaboratively with Afghanistan’s Central Bank to achieve the outcomes needed to restore Afghan control of these assets, and for the administration to follow this action by reassuring banks and governments worldwide that engage with Afghanistan’s central bank to provide liquidity will not face sanctions. We must move quickly to relieve the Afghan people's suffering and stave off humanitarian disaster.”

WASHINGTON—Ahead of Labor Day, Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, calls on President Biden to give millions of Americans a raise by increasing the federal overtime threshold.

“President Biden and Congressional Democrats have taken important steps to strengthen our economic recovery from the pandemic and lower costs for families around the country, including passing the Inflation Reduction Act to most recently canceling up to $20,000 of student debt per borrower. But still, too many families are being squeezed by rising prices, particularly when it comes to housing and food. We can, and must, use every tool available to provide economic relief. That is why the Progressive Caucus prioritized both student debt cancellation and raising the overtime threshold as two of our top executive action priorities and have been working consistently over months with the White House to ensure their implementation.  

“Now, ahead of Labor Day, we reiterate our call for President Biden and the Department of Labor to increase the overtime threshold. The current level of the federal guarantee for overtime pay is so low that it covers only about 15 percent of full-time salaried workers — forcing millions to essentially work any hours above 40 per week for free, at a time when they cannot afford to do so. As part of our Progressive Caucus Executive Action Agenda, released in March, and again in a letter to Labor Secretary Walsh in June, we asked the administration to raise the salary threshold to above $82,000 per year, which would cover 55 percent of workers at one-and-a-half times their regular pay, and give millions of people a raise. 

“President Biden has vowed to be ‘the most pro-union president leading the most pro-union administration in American history.’ Raising the overtime threshold will give millions of workers more money in their pockets at a time when they desperately need it, and be a powerful demonstration of that pro-labor commitment we know he feels. We cannot rest until we’ve exhausted every option to ease the burden on working people.”

 

### 

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is made up of 100 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and advance civil liberties. The CPC champions progressive policy solutions like comprehensive immigration reform, good-paying jobs, fair trade, universal health care, debt-free college, climate action, and a just foreign policy. The caucus has been the leading voice calling for bold and sweeping solutions to the urgent crises facing this nation, including ending America’s broken for-profit health care system, raising the minimum wage, eliminating political corruption, bolstering labor protections for working families, and taking swift action to stop the warming of our planet.

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on President Biden’s executive order canceling of $20,000 of federal student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 of federal debt for other borrowers, reaching a total of 43 million borrowers:

“President Biden’s action today on student debt cancellation that will bring relief to 43 million people is a massive step in the right direction. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has made this one of our top priorities for executive action and we have been doggedly pursuing this, including a detailed discussion with the President on the need for debt cancellation on March 30 of this year, where the President indicated his support for some action directly to CPC Executive Board members.

“While not as high as we called for, this crucial step from the President goes beyond his campaign promise and responds to calls from the CPC, the Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, and millions across the country to address the crippling issue of student debt, now totaling approximately $1.7 trillion — more than even credit card debt in this country. With the President’s action, approximately 20 million people will see their loans fully canceled, and an additional 23 million will see relief with a portion of their debt canceled. In addition, the President’s order will cap interest for current and future loans at 5 percent of income, half of the current rate. This means that those who still have a balance on their loan after today’s forgiveness will be able to lower their average annual payment by more than $1,000 for current and future borrowers. 

“Student debt cancellation is a racial justice issue. 90 percent of Black students and 72 percent of Latino students have loans, they borrow at higher rates to attend college, and are more likely than white borrowers to owe more debt 12 years later. By canceling $10,000 of debt and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients, the administration is making real progress toward closing the racial wealth gap.

“Canceling student loan debt is also essential to lowering monthly costs for Americans across the country who are struggling to keep up with rising prices of housing and food. This action demonstrates the President’s commitment to using executive powers to fight for working families and increase opportunity for all. The impact of this cannot be understated: 97 percent of people with federal student loans are low- and middle-income, and 40 percent of them never were able to finish their degree. These loans are holding people back from buying homes, investing in their communities, and starting businesses. They are following millions of seniors into retirement and weighing down our economy.  

“The President has already canceled $10 billion in student debt through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, and today’s order also seeks to expand that successful program further.  We are also pleased to see the pause on payments extended through December 2022, but we encourage the White House to ensure that repayments do not begin until debt cancellation can reach the people who need it. Under President Biden, no one has had to make a payment on a federal student loan. If millions have to restart these payments before the forgiveness reaches them, it would only increase the anxiety and hardship Americans are feeling amid other rising costs.  

“We applaud the President for this critically necessary and unprecedented action that lifts up working people. We look forward to working closely with the White House to ensure quick relief to 43 million people through this Executive Order.”

Progressive Caucus members have led the congressional advocacy to cancel student debt, including naming it as one of the key priorities in the CPC’s Executive Action Agenda

  • CPC members Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43), Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), andCPC Whip Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05) introduced a resolution urging President Biden to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.

  • In March, Rep. Jayapal, CPC Whip Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Rep. Pressley, and Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), (D-Calif.), and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), led nearly 100 colleagues in calling on President Biden urging the administration to extend the pause on federally-held student loan payments until at least the end of the year and to provide meaningful student debt cancellation.

  • On the 30th of same month, Rep. Jayapal, CPC Deputy Chair Katie Porter (CA-45), Rep. Omar, and CPC Chairs Emeritus Mark Pocan (WI-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), met with President Biden to discuss the CPC’s executive action agenda, including pressing for debt cancellation.

  • This followed additional advocacy from Rep. Jayapal, CPC Deputy Whip Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41) and Senators Senator Warren, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), urging Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, urging the Department of Education to swiftly discharge the loans of borrowers defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges and universities. 

  • Reps. Jayapal, Pressley, Omar, Porter, Sens. Warren and Schumer called in a letter to the Department of Education calling for it to release the memo outlining the Biden administration’s legal authority to cancel federal student loan debt and immediately cancel up to $50,000 of debt for Federal student loan borrowers. 

  • Rep. Pressley, and Sens. Warren and Schumer released new analysis showing that resuming student loan payments would strip $85 billion every year from the economy.

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement upon House passage of the Inflation Reduction Act:

“Today, Democrats are keeping our promises to the American people and advancing key progressive priorities. After more than a year of negotiations and even longer campaigning on these issues, the Democratic majority in Congress has [unanimously] sent a sweeping bill to tackle climate action, tax fairness, and lower drug costs to the President’s desk. Like their Senate colleagues, not a single House Republican voted for this legislation, despite its popularity with the majority of Americans across the political spectrum.

“I’m incredibly proud of the role our Progressive Caucus played in getting us here. From the very beginning, progressives have fought tooth and nail to advance the full scope of the President’s economic agenda. We would not be passing this bill today had the CPC not insisted we move that agenda from a promise to legislative text that passed the House. Together with movements, activists, and volunteers from across the country, we insisted this Democratic majority deliver. In its major provisions, the Inflation Reduction Act draws on the House-passed Build Back Better Act. Essentially, it also achieves our shared goals in a progressive way: lowering costs of necessities, creating good jobs, and attacking climate change, while raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. 

“The Inflation Reduction Act contains a hugely important set of investments to lower prescription drug costs, extend health coverage for millions, act on climate change while creating millions of jobs, and finally start to ensure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. This bill will put the United States on a path to reduce our carbon pollution by 40 percent by 2030, investing in renewable energy technologies that will drive down energy costs and accelerate our transition away from fossil fuels. It will cap seniors’ annual drug costs and their cost of insulin, and institute a 15 percent minimum tax on large corporations. 

“We will remain vigilant as we begin the process of implementing this bill to ensure the funding is delivered in an equitable way — particularly when it comes to investing in frontline communities and advancing environmental justice. We also look forward to ensuring that upcoming discussions around permitting reform protect communities and further the underlying goals of this bill. Progressives will not stop fighting for the pieces left on the cutting room floor: Medicare expansion, home care, Pre-K, universal child care, housing, workers’ rights, immigration justice, and for affordable insulin for all, after Republicans outrageously stripped it from the bill. With our continued commitment, engaged movements across the country, and two more Democrats in the Senate, we can ensure the full agenda the American people voted for in 2020 is enacted into law.”