Washington, D.C. — The Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02), released the following statement on the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress:

“The urgency of this pandemic cannot be overstated. The United States now leads the world in documented COVID-19 cases and communities across our nation are faced with limited resources and impossible choices.

“This bill was far from perfect, but the American public needs help — and they need that help now. To address our public health emergency, the bill provides desperately needed funds to states and municipalities facing this crisis and makes investments in PPE and medical devices which will save lives. To stabilize our economy, this legislation dramatically expands unemployment insurance for millions of Americans and provides critical aid to small businesses and nonprofits to weather this crisis.

“We have wide-ranging and serious frustrations with provisions that Republicans insisted on inserting into the bill, including the watered-down conditions on industry aid, the inadequate protections for frontline workers, incarcerated and detained individuals, and other vulnerable populations, and the exclusion of immigrants from these urgent public health and economic relief initiatives. And while we were glad to see cash assistance included in the bill, a one-time check is nowhere near sufficient for families facing an unprecedented economic downturn and months of mounting debt.

“We can’t let this bill be the end of this conversation. Working families need more than a one-time check to keep them afloat. Frontline health workers need stronger protections, to keep themselves and our entire community healthy. Immigrants need protections so they can afford to stay safe and healthy too. And we must ensure aggressive and constant scrutiny of the appropriated industry aid to ensure it does not become a corporate slush fund. We will keep fighting for these priorities in the coming weeks and months, as our nation confronts this unprecedented public health emergency.”

Washington, DC – Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus released a letter outlining twelve key priorities for mitigating the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States and protecting workers and families from the devastating economic impact of the pandemic. The letter to Speaker Pelosi was signed by the CPC Co-Chairs Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07).


“This is a pivotal moment for our health care system and our economy. We need to give workers the financial resources to stay healthy and ensure our health system is equipped to provide life-saving, universal care to everyone in our country,” said Reps. Pocan and Jayapal. “In our letter, we provide urgent recommendations for legislative action to address the gravity of this moment and provide economic security and peace of mind to families at this critical time.”

The twelve top priorities for legislative action identified by the Progressive Caucus are as follows:
• Provide Immediate Cash Assistance:
• Address Housing Insecurity
• Provide Worker-Centered Industry Assistance
• Provide Higher Education Assistance
• Support for Small Businesses and Nonprofit Organizations
• Include Broad Expansion of Worksharing and Other Unemployment Insurance (UI) Programs
• Provide Free Testing, Treatment, and Prevention
• Include Immigration and Criminal Justice Protections
• Expand Paid Leave Policies
• Maintain Election Integrity
• Ensure Parity for Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Urban Indian Organizations
• Utilize the Defense Production Act (DPA)

The full letter is below.



Dear Speaker Pelosi:

Thank you for acting with urgency to address the widespread impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on families, workers and businesses across the country. The members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have collectively identified the following as top priorities for the next package to ensure we protect the health and safety of individuals, families and our economy.

Provide Immediate Cash Assistance:
• Guarantee immediate, targeted monthly payments of up to $2,000 for each adult, and up to an additional $1,000 for families with children for up to 6 months, with an opportunity to extend another 6 months as needed, with eligibility based upon income.
• Children under 18 in eligible households per the criteria above are eligible for the child payment if they were eligible for the 2019 Child Tax Credit, except that filers of any age (and their spouses) who claim dependents are instead eligible for the adult payment.
• Distribute checks through the IRS, Social Security, Electronic Benefits Transfer and FEMA.

Address Housing Insecurity:
• Implement a temporary, nation-wide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for homeowners and renters.
• Provide emergency rental assistance to renters directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With low-income workers and communities of color more likely to be living paycheck-to-paycheck, many cities across the country are already implementing similar measures to address housing insecurity.
• Increase funding for the McKinney-Vento Emergency Solution grant, the McKinney-Vento Continuum of Care grant, the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter grant, and the Disaster Housing Assistance Program to assist those who are already homeless or housing insecure.

Provide Worker-Centered Industry Assistance:
• Condition assistance on maintaining payroll and covering other essentials, such as rent and utilities, on respecting existing collective bargaining agreements and adhering to robust paid leave policies, as included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and CDC-directed public health guidelines.
• Prohibit the use of funds for stock buybacks, executive bonuses and dividends, and a cap on senior executive pay at no more than 50 times the pay of their median worker.
• Establish an oversight body that includes unions and other worker representatives.
• Provide support and issue regulations to ensure the integrity of collective bargaining agreements and any pension or retirement plans if a corporation seeks bankruptcy, reorganization, a merger, an acquisition, or other significant disruptions to their employment structure.

Provide Higher Education Assistance:
• Implement an immediate moratorium on all negative credit reporting and ensure a period of debt forgiveness or loan forbearance with no additional interest accrued through the crisis on all loans.
• Prohibit lenders from making loans fall due immediately after the pandemic ends.
• Ensure that any payments made or debts forgiven by the federal government toward student loan payments and interest charges count toward achieving Public Service Loan Forgiveness completion.

Support for Small Businesses and Nonprofit Organizations:
• Provide direct cash assistance or grants to small business owners and nonprofit organizations (50 employees or less) to cover lost expenses and costs such as rent, utilities, etc. during a time of forced closure or limited operations. This should cover independent contractors, sole proprietors, and gig economy workers.
• Protect small businesses and nonprofits from evictions, utility shut-offs and other impacts related to an inability to pay bills or loans as a result of forced closure or operational limits imposed by city or state officials.
• Ensure that new businesses or nonprofits that will not qualify for benefits also receive assistance.

Include Broad Expansion of Worksharing and Other Unemployment Insurance (UI) Programs:
• Require all states to offer robust work-sharing unemployment insurance programs for workers whose hours are reduced to maintain payroll and reduce layoffs. To incentivize take up, the replacement rate should be at least 80% of what an employee made in the highest two-week period.
• Extend Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) to cover self-employed individuals and others ineligible for regular UI.
• Increase the UI replacement rate to no less than 80% and provide a benefit period for up to 52 weeks.
• Eliminate UI eligibility requirements that overly restrict access.
• Provide federal funding to cover the cost of these temporary changes.

Provide Free Testing, Treatment, and Prevention:
• Require private health insurers, Medicare Part B, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, and the Indian Health Service to fully cover coronavirus testing, treatment and prevention at no out-of-pocket cost.
• Guarantee additional resources to hospitals, community health centers, and clinics.
• Use the National Disaster Medical System to cover uninsured people with Medicare for any recommended care for coronavirus, including workers recently laid off.
• Provide additional emergency appropriations to cover these costs and the state share of Medicaid during this crisis to alleviate the strain on state budgets.

Include Immigration and Criminal Justice Protections:
• Mitigate the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in prisons, jails, and immigration detention facilities by consulting with public health and medical professionals to implement best practices to prevent and manage the spread of infection while maintaining access to counsel and visitation, and upholding constitutional rights.
• Identify people who can be released, particularly those most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, through release on recognizance, reasonable bond, or other appropriate alternatives to detention.
• Protect the health of everyone by providing free testing and treatment to all immigrants, regardless of their immigration status.
• Suspend immigration court operations and excuse or relax immigration deadlines for the duration of the outbreak and at least three months after.
• Cease immigration arrests for people who pose no significant public safety risk to minimize the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in immigration detention.

Expand Paid Leave Policies:
• Reinstate protections for frontline workers including medical staff and domestic workers.
• Provide full wage replacement for workers who are unable to work.
• Mandate that businesses with more than 500 employees follow the same policies for employees without federal subsidy.
• Remove the hardship exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees given that these costs will be fully refunded by the federal government.

Maintain Election Integrity:
• Provide for nationwide no-excuse absentee voting as long as at least one-quarter of states are under emergency, as proposed in the Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020 introduced last week by Reps. Blumenauer, DelBene, and Raskin.
• Provide at least $500 million to states to implement mail-in voting programs.
• Provide appropriate polling place adjustments to uphold public health and maintain access to in-person voting for those who do not have access to mail voting.

Ensure Parity for Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Urban Indian Organizations:
• Ensure that all federal funding streams and resources created to address the COVID-19 outbreak include Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Urban Indian Organizations by explicitly listing Tribes as eligible for any funding that states and local governments are eligible for.
• Create a Tribal Relief Fund to ensure that Indian Country is adequately prepared to address COVID-19 and provide impacted businesses with emergency relief, as well as access to capital and loans they need to maintain solvency.
• Ensure parity so that tribal governments receive the same resources provided in legislation, such as the tax credits, expanded nutrition benefits, and access to the Strategic National Stockpile of Medical Supplies.

Utilize the Defense Production Act (DPA):
• Require the President to provide Congress with a plan for the use of DPA authorities, including targets and timelines for the production of supplies needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Provide appropriate additional funding for the Defense Production Act fund to ensure that the nation’s needs are met.

Sincerely,

Mark Pocan
Co-Chair
Congressional Progressive Caucus

Pramila Jayapal
Co-Chair
Congressional Progressive Caucus 

Washington, D.C. — Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Mark Pocan (WI-02) released the following statement on the proposed FISA reauthorization:

“For months, we worked hard to secure vital reforms needed to overhaul the expansive surveillance powers authorized in Section 215 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Unfortunately, the final bill falls short of the reforms we requested last fall and are insufficient to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American public. It’s disappointing that Congress will not take this rare bipartisan opportunity to end sweeping, unconstitutional surveillance programs. Given the lack of these critical reforms, we will be voting no on the final legislation this week.

“Though this final legislation is an improvement over a clean reauthorization, it doesn’t go far enough. Congress can and must do more to protect civil liberties, and we will continue our fight to curb FISA abuses.”

Washington, D.C. — Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Mark Pocan (WI-02) released the following statement on the proposed FISA reauthorization:

“For months, we worked hard to secure vital reforms needed to overhaul the expansive surveillance powers authorized in Section 215 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Unfortunately, the final bill falls short of the reforms we requested last fall and are insufficient to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American public. It’s disappointing that Congress will not take this rare bipartisan opportunity to end sweeping, unconstitutional surveillance programs. Given the lack of these critical reforms, we will be voting no on the final legislation this week.

“Though this final legislation is an improvement over a clean reauthorization, it doesn’t go far enough. Congress can and must do more to protect civil liberties, and we will continue our fight to curb FISA abuses.”

Washington, D.C. -- Today, the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) sent a letter to the CEOs of leading pharmaceutical companies seeking information on potential supply chain drug shortages due to the coronavirus epidemic.


The full letter is below.



Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
950 F Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Dr. Caorio, Mr. Ricks, and Ms. Sequeira:

We write to request information regarding the potential for human drug shortages as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are nearly 93,000 reported cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in 80 countries around the world – including more than 100 reported cases in the United States – with the WHO labeling the global risk assessment level as “very high.” The COVID-19 outbreak raises serious concerns about the consolidation of the supply chain for the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients and medical supplies in China and other countries that play a large role in the global supply chain. In fact, the FDA has already notified the public that one drug company reported an expected shortage due to difficulties obtaining a raw ingredient from a site affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

As you know, the timely notification from manufacturers of any issue that could lead to a potential disruption of the supply chain is critical to preventing drug shortages. And while the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is monitoring the supply chain for the potential shortage of critical medical products, human drugs, and active pharmaceutical ingredients in those drugs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Congress also has a critical role to play in ensuring that Americans have access to safe, affordable and effective therapies during this outbreak.

As such, we request that you provide us with detailed information on:

  • The potential for human drug shortages as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • Efforts your members are taking to evaluate your supply chain and the potential for disruption to the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients in impacted countries;
  • Efforts your members are taking to identify alternative domestic manufacturing or input sourcing for their products;
  • Any planned or ongoing efforts to stockpile components necessary to the production of their products;
  • The number of drugs that are partially or fully manufactured by your members in China or other countries that are critical to the global supply chain;
  • The number of drugs manufactured by your members that contain an ingredient only found or produced in China or other countries critical to the global supply chain;
  • A list of contracts and subcontractors that do the manufacturing of drugs produced by your members; and
  • Your recommendations to Congress on the type of assistance your members would require in the event of a severe supply chain disruption. 

We look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

 

Mark Pocan

Member of Congress 

 

Pramila Jayapal

Member of Congress

 

cc: Mr. Richard Gonzales, Chairman of the Board and CEO, AbbVie Inc.; Dr. Ludwig Hanston, CEO, Alexion Pharmaceuticals; Dr. Richard Pops, CEO, Alkermes Biotech; Mr. Brenon L. Saurders, President and CEO, Allergan; Mr. Robert A. Bradway, Chairman and CEO, Amgen Inc.; Mr. Kenji Yasukawa, President and CEO, Astellas Pharma; Mr. Pascal Soriot, Executive Director and CEO, AstraZeneca; Mr. Liam Condon, Bayer; Mr. Michael Vounatsos; CEO, Biogen; Mr. Wolfgang Baiker, President and CEO, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals; Dr. Giovanni Caforio, M.D., CEO of Bistrol-Myers Squibb; Sunao Manabe, CEO, Daiichi-Sankyo; Mr. Haruo Naito, CEO, Eisai; Mr. David Ricks, Chairman and CEO, Eli Lilly and Company; Mr. Rehan Verjee, President, EMD Serono; Mr. Alexander Hardy, CEO, Genentech; Mr. Daniel O’Day, Chairman and CEO, Gilead Sciences, Inc.; Mrs. Emma Walmsley, CEO, GlaxoSmithKline; Mr. Herve Hoppenot, President and CEO, Incyte Corporation; Mr. Richard Paulson, Executive Vice President and CEO, Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.; Mr. Alex Gorskey, CEO, Johnson & Johnson; Dr. Deborah Dunsire, President and CEO, Lundbeck LLC; Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman and CEO, Merck & Co., Inc.; Dr. Vasant Narasimhan, CEO, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Mr. Doug Langa, Executive Vice President, Novo Nordisk Inc.; Mr. Kabir Nath, President and CEO, Otsuka North America Pharmaceutical Business; Dr. Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO, Pfizer, Inc.; Mr. Paul Hudon, CEO, Sanofi; Dr. Jeff Jonas, CEO, Sage Therapeutics; Dr. Antony Loebel, Persident and CEO, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Mr. Christope Weber, President and CEO, Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Mr. Kare Schultz, President & CEO, Teva US Speciality Medicines; Mr. Jean-Christophe Tellier, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Committee, UCB. 

Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02) released the following statement marking one year since the introduction of H.R. 1384, the Medicare For All Act of 2019:

“Over the last year, Medicare for All has grown from a bill to a movement. There’s broad recognition across this country that our broken health care system is predatory, cruel, and unsustainable.

“Patients who should be fighting illnesses are forced instead to fight their insurance companies. Hardworking people are turning to GoFundMe donations to refill their insulin. For millions of Americans, seeing a dentist or going to the emergency room is risking financial ruin.

“We can do so much better. With the Medicare for All Act of 2019, we’re offering a new vision – one that promises coverage for everyone, no matter the color of your skin, the neighborhood you live in, or the number in your bank account. A vision where health care is recognized as a human right, for everyone. And as we confront an emerging public health crisis with the novel coronavirus, it is more critical than ever that every American has access to universal health care.”

Congresswoman Jayapal is the lead sponsor of H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019, along with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12). The Medicare For All Act has been endorsed by the CPC and is co-sponsored by more than half of the House Democratic Caucus. Four House committees have held legislative hearings on the Medicare For All Act over the last year.

 
Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) released the following statement on the FY2021 Trump Budget:

“President Trump’s proposed budget is an insult to working people across the country. We often say that budgets are moral documents – and this budget clearly shows a complete absence of empathy and decency in this White House.

Washington, D.C. -- Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chairs Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) released the following statement on H.R. 2382, the USPS Fairness Act:

“We are pleased that the USPS Fairness Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives tonight. For years, the U.S. Postal Service has been subject to unfair political attacks and threats of privatization because of the onerous, harmful and unnecessary pre-funding mandate, which requires USPS to prefund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. This critical bill protects the financial future of the U.S. Postal Service by ending this unfair requirement and allows the Postal Service to manage its finances like any other federal agency. The U.S. Postal Service touches every community in our country; by passing this bipartisan legislation, we are ensuring that families can continue to rely on and benefit from these essential services.”

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Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs, Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), released the following statement on President Trump’s State of the Union:

“Donald Trump has no understanding of the struggles facing working families. He thinks the economy is working because it works for his billionaire friends -- but the reality for everyday families is far different.

“Rising health care costs, skyrocketing prescription drug prices, and stagnant wages have left tens of millions of Americans struggling to afford the basics. Nearly thirty percent of American adults report skipping prescriptions because of cost, but the Trump Administration has done nothing to stop Big Pharma raising their prices month after month. Twenty-seven million Americans are uninsured – including more than four million children – but instead of expanding access to care, the Trump Administration is suing to end protections for pre-existing conditions and trying to end Medicaid as we know it. Forty percent of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency, but that doesn’t concern the White House because the wealthiest are enjoying record gains in the stock market.

“The American people don’t need more hollow promises from this president. We need bold action to tackle drug pricing – not proposals that let Big Pharma off the hook and exclude negotiation. We need to take on the greed in our current healthcare system and expand coverage to everyone – not erode the protections and safety net that currently exists. And we need action to address the root of our economic inequality: a rigged system that allows President Trump to line the pockets of his rich friends while everyday families work harder and harder for less and less.

“Let’s be clear – Americans deserve better than what they heard from the president tonight. They don’t want school vouchers – they want to raise teachers’ salaries, rebuild our crumbling schools, and ensure every child can receive a quality public education. They don’t want to gut the Affordable Care Act or block grant Medicaid – they want to see universal health care for everyone in our country. They don’t want an administration that demonizes immigrants and wastes billions on a harmful wall – they want a humane, just, and fair immigration system that welcomes families trying to build a life in America. They don’t want reckless military escalations that endanger our troops or illegal and costly endless wars — they want to draw down our military engagements, engage in diplomacy, and reinvest in communities who need help here at home.

“We reject President Trump’s divisive vision. We can do so much better.”

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Washington, D.C. — The Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), along with CPC First Vice Chair Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17) and CPC Chair Emeritus Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) released the following statement applauding the passage of two CPC-endorsed bills to prevent funding for an unauthorized war in Iran and to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF:

“For far too long, Congress has abdicated its constitutional responsibility to debate and vote on matters of war and peace. Over the last seventeen years, the Iraq AUMF has been a blank check for any President to continue this war in perpetuity — without any oversight from Congress. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has long objected to this long outdated authorization and the lack of appropriate and necessary involvement of Congress.

“President Trump’s reckless decision to assassinate General Soleimani — conducted without the knowledge or approval of Congress — made it clear that we cannot afford to wait to reassert our constitutional responsibility over war making. That’s why, shortly after these strikes, we called on House leadership to act swiftly to bring both the Khanna and Lee bills for a vote on the House Floor. These bills are essential to preventing a catastrophic and completely avoidable war with Iran. If we've learned anything over the past two decades, it's that wars are much easier to start than they are to end. With today's vote, the House has recognized that there is no military solution to our conflicts in the Middle East – only de-escalation and diplomacy can lead to peace."

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