WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued this statement following President Biden’s first State of the Union address:

“Tonight, the President put forward a record of accomplishment and a vision for the country that we can all be immensely proud of. In the midst of a global pandemic, economic recession, and the immense task of rebuilding from the Trump years, the progress the President and our Democratic majority have made in the past year is nothing short of extraordinary.

“We passed the American Rescue Plan, which has led to the biggest yearly job growth in history, creating 6.4 million jobs in 2021 and averting the risk of a double-dip recession. Wages are up, unemployment is at the lowest rate since 1969, and the United States is the only major advanced economy with its GDP back at pre-pandemic levels. 4.2 million more people have health insurance than they did last year, and thanks to the Child Tax Credit, we lowered hunger across the country by 32 percent and cut child poverty in half. 

“The President has restored many of our foreign alliances, which has already proven critically important as the United States confronts Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with a strong focus on diplomacy paired with costs and consequences for Putin’s devastating war. 

“The Biden administration is using its power to fight big corporate monopolies that are increasing costs and killing small businesses. Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to repair our crumbling roads, bridges, and waterways, and finally get lead out of water, all by creating good-paying, union jobs. And we are on our way to the COMPETES Act becoming law, which will take on inflation and rebuild U.S. supply chains that have been eroded by monopolies that stopped investing in America, bringing down costs for working people.

“Now comes the work to continue this progress. The challenges that families faced before the pandemic are still with us. That’s why in addition to continuing to fight the pandemic and rebuild the economy, Congress must make real strides in the promises we made to the American people. 

“As the President emphasized tonight, we must pass legislation to lower the costs of Pre-K, health care, home-based care, and housing, and to ensure that child care doesn’t cost families more than 7 percent of their income — all by finally making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share. He underscored the need to take meaningful action to address the climate crisis and deliver a roadmap to citizenship for immigrant communities. And as he said, “capitalism without competition is exploitation” — and the Progressive Caucus is similarly committed to taking on corporate profiteering and monopolistic abuse.

“President Biden has significant power to effect immediate, meaningful change for people across America, and we urge him to use it aggressively. The President can use his executive authority to bring down the costs of prescription drugs and stop Big Pharma’s price gouging; decrease carbon emissions to fight the climate crisis; cancel student debt and bolster our economy;  protect workers’ rights and raise their wages; and provide immigration relief and rebuild our refugee system. In the coming weeks, the Progressive Caucus will release our executive action agenda for the President that details these steps, and more.

“Democrats in the White House and Congress have shown how much we can accomplish in a year. If we remain steadfast to our commitment to providing relief our communities need, lowering costs, and making life easier for working people, we can deliver.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement upon President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States:

“The Progressive Caucus is thrilled to congratulate Judge Brown Jackson on her nomination, and President Biden on this laudable and historic choice.

“Judge Brown Jackson is eminently qualified, with a deep jurisprudence that covers a wide scope of the law. She brings decades of varied experience across the legal profession, from trial lawyer to the federal bench. She served as a clerk for federal judges who were appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. She also brings experience on the federal bench, having served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 2012.

“During her career, she has embodied one of the highest principles of American law — that everyone has the right to due process and legal representation. As a public defender, she represented those who could not afford to hire a lawyer. As Vice Chair of the Sentencing Commission under President Obama, she worked to alleviate harsh and unfair sentences for those convicted of drug crimes. She has worked to advance reproductive rights, bring justice to the all-too often unjust criminal legal system, and uphold the collective bargaining rights of workers. 

“As the first Black woman and first public defender to serve on the high court, Judge Brown Jackson will bring a never-heard — and sorely needed — perspective to the bench.  And this historic nomination carries with it a profound symmetry: Judge Brown Jackson will be the first on the bench with public defense experience since Justice Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court’s first-ever Black justice. 

“We join with those across the country who are celebrating this nomination today, and look forward to seeing her confirmed.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13), chair of the Caucus Peace and Security Taskforce, issued the following statement in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

“The Progressive Caucus stands with the Ukrainian people and the international community in condemning the violent invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin. This war of aggression is a blatant violation of international law, despite Putin’s baseless justifications.

“As the United States continues to weigh the scope of its response, we urge the Biden administration to be guided by two goals: to avoid dangerous escalation that is all too easy in the chaos of war, and to ensure we are minimizing harm to civilians.

“We applaud President Biden for rightly saying there can be no military solution to this conflict, and wisely committing to not deploying U.S. troops. We reiterate, alongside our colleagues, that the President must seek Congressional authorization pursuant to the War Powers Resolution before any U.S. troops deploy into areas or situations where there is a risk of imminent hostilities.

“The goal of any U.S. sanctions should be to stop the fighting and hold those responsible for this invasion to account, while avoiding indiscriminate harm to civilians or inflexibility as circumstances change. We urge the United States to continue the work toward diplomatic solutions, including at the United Nations, to urgently secure an immediate ceasefire, provide humanitarian assistance, and facilitate support for refugees.

“Today, our thoughts are with those who have already and will suffer the greatest harm from Putin’s aggression: the people of Ukraine in the direct path of this violence, and the people of the Ukrainian diaspora who are living with the immeasurable fear for their loved ones and homeland. Progressives are ready to assist the State Department and all resettlement agencies in supporting our European allies and welcoming refugees seeking shelter in the United States.

“We — the United States, our allies and partners, and the people and government of Ukraine — will stand together until this latest act of Russian aggression is ended, and we will work in partnership for its swift conclusion.” 

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus issued the following statement on the Biden administration’s executive order to break up and redistribute Afghanistan’s frozen Central Bank funds. 

“For months, progressives in Congress, the United Nations Secretary General, and leading aid groups have been urging the Biden administration to release Afghanistan’s frozen reserves and assets in order to avert humanitarian disaster. Rather than heeding those calls, the administration has taken a path that raises grave concerns about the possible impact on the ability of the Afghan people to get the food they need to prevent starvation. 

“Any functioning country must have access to its own currency and reserves. By removing and breaking up Afghanistan’s already frozen funds, the United States is continuing to contribute to a crumbling economy and devastating impacts on the Afghan people. Already, schools and hospitals cannot buy food for patients or gas to heat their buildings. Reporting from the ground shows that ‘incomes have vanished and life-threatening hunger has become widespread.’ Aid organizations have warned that U.S. policy could result in the death of more people than in 20 years of war in Afghanistan.

“While we agree on the need for robust humanitarian aid, it cannot substitute for a functioning central bank that stabilizes the currency, pays the salaries of civil servants, and provides reserves for private businesses that can prop up an ailing economy. It is also unclear how much of that aid would actually be able to reach people in need, when the country’s financial system is impeded by a web of sanctions. 

“Most importantly, frozen assets belonging to the Afghan people should be released and used to restore the country's economy. The best way for the Biden administration to ameliorate the suffering of the Afghan people is to ease sanctions, work with international partners at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to release much-needed aid into the country, and to release the United States’ own freeze on Afghanistan’s funds — in addition to reversing course on this new order.

“The families of victims of 9/11 absolutely deserve compensation, but this is not the way to do it. President Biden has repeatedly promised that ‘human rights will be at the center of our foreign policy.’ We believe that he wants to keep that commitment — and that is why we urge him to reconsider this decision before it’s too late.”

WASHINGTON — This afternoon, the Congressional Progressive Caucus welcomed Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan and Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice Antitrust Division Jonathan Kanter to its member meeting. 

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Congressional Progressive Caucus chair and vice chair of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law issued the following statement:

“The Congressional Progressive Caucus was thrilled to welcome two of the administration’s leading voices on antitrust and consumer protection to engage with our membership today. It was a productive and rich discussion, focusing on some of the most pressing issues facing our economy and communities, including: anti-competitive mergers; price gouging, especially in treatments for COVID-19; and the myriad monopolistic practices in Big Tech that stifle innovation and competition, and harm consumers and small business. There was widespread and enthusiastic agreement for Congress reasserting its role and governing power in this space — something the CPC membership is deeply committed to and actively engaged on.

“We look forward to continuing this work together to reassert consumers’ rights and finally rebalance economic inequality away from corporate power and toward the people.”

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act today, which includes dozens of amendments offered by Congressional Progressive Caucus members. Progressives’ legislative inclusions to the bill will advance increased corporate accountability for firms receiving federal subsidies, promote gender and racial diversity in the technology sector, ensure strong human rights protections for U.S. security cooperation abroad, and strengthen climate action in the legislation. 

The America COMPETES Act will spur greater American production of chips, strengthen U.S. supply chains and strengthen American manufacturing, and advance U.S. scientific excellence and research. Thanks to CPC members’ amendments, the bill will also include: policies to track carbon emissions and increase green climate funding, ensure women and workers of color are not left out of job creation in manufacturing, prevent U.S. funding to countries with histories of human rights abuses, and insert guardrails against corporate self-enrichment. Through the amendment process, the Caucus also secured the first vote in Congress on U.S. sanctions policy in Afghanistan and its humanitarian effects on civilian mortality and refugee outflows. 

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said: “The CPC is committed to using every opportunity to ensure that U.S. policy is grounded in equity and fair treatment at home and abroad, and takes on the most urgent crises of our time, especially the climate crisis. Our members brought their unique experience and perspectives to identify COMPETES as such an opportunity, and mobilized to ensure that the bill included key progressive priorities.”

Congressional Progressive Caucus members’ amendments that were incorporated into the America COMPETES Act include:

  • Amendment No. 21 by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) Waives cost-sharing requirements for certain National Science Foundation grant programs related to STEM education for a period of 5 years.

  • Amendment No. 31 by Rep. Cori Bush (MO-01) — Directs the Secretary of State, in coordination with the USAID Administrator, to expand global testing capacity, vaccination distribution, and acquisition needed medical supplies, including available COVID–19 vaccines, to ensure success in ending the pandemic globally.

  • Amendment No. 32 by Rep. Cori Bush (MO-01) — Conducts a comprehensive assessment to measure the impact of oil spills and plastic ingestion on sea life

  • Amendment No. 34 by Rep. Cori Bush (MO-01) — Codifies the Biden Administration’s commitment to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy in the United States by 2030

  • Amendment No. 36 by Rep. Cori Bush (MO-01) — Studies the impacts of US and multilateral regulations and sanctions, including the environmental and public health impacts of natural resource exploitation

  • Amendment No. 46 by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) — Expresses the sense of Congress on the importance of opposing the targeting of Chinese researchers and academics based on race

  • Amendment No. 67 by Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16) — Includes environmental defenders to mitigate the impacts of climate change and work with allies and partners to ensure a level playing field exists when it comes to climate action

  • Amendment No. 74 by Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16) Prohibits the use of any funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available under this Act to be used for publicity or propaganda purposes not authorized by the Congress

  • Amendment No. 89 by Rep. John Garamendi (CA-03) – Inserts H.R. 4996, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, to establish reciprocal trade to promote U.S. exports and require ocean carriers to adhere to minimum service standards that meet the public interest.

  • Amendment No. 105 by Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03) — Establishes an Office of Education Technology in the Bureau of Indian Education

  • Amendment No. 115 by Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02) — Directs the Secretary of Commerce to increase the number and diversity, equity, and inclusion of STEM professionals working in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mission relevant disciplines

  • Amendment No. 123 by Rep. Sara Jacobs (CA-53)Ensures no International Military Education & Training program funds are authorized to be appropriated to any foreign security forces unit if the Secretary of State determines that such forces have engaged in a pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights

  • Amendment No. 125 by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07)Requires the Comptroller General to submit a report to Congress on the number and amount of rewards under the CHIPS for America Fund and Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund disaggregated by recipients of each such award that are majority owned and controlled by minority individuals and majority owned and controlled by women.

  • Amendment No. 144 by Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI-14) Clarifies that research into urban and rural water and wastewater systems also includes low-income, disadvantaged, and underserved communities

  • Amendment No. 148 by Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-03) Authorizes $240 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funding to promote economic development for communities reliant on the energy and industrial sectors

  • Amendment No. 150 by Rep. Mike Levin (CA-49) Adds the text of the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act, which promotes the responsible development of wind, solar, and geothermal resources on public lands by prioritizing development in strategic areas; facilitating smart siting and efficient permitting of projects in places with high energy potential and lower wildlife, habitat, and cultural resource impacts; and updating revenue sharing for these projects to ensure that states and counties get fair returns.

  • Amendment No. 158 by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) Encourages the recruitment and retention of women and minority students into STEM fields. Establishes a competitive grant program to develop and implement programs to increase the participation of women and minorities in STEM. Supports activities include mentoring and internship programs, and outreach to women and minority K-12 students

  • Amendment No. 163 by Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06) Expresses a Sense of Congress condemning anti-Asian racism and discrimination

  • Amendment No. 170 by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14)Prevents companies from using any of the funds allocated under Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) fund from being used on stock buybacks or the payment of dividends to shareholders

  • Amendment No. 192 by Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) — Authorizes the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to invest in the vaccine cold chain (the refrigerated supply chain needed for vaccine production, storage, distribution and delivery) as well as vaccine manufacturing so that less developed countries are equipped to deliver COVID vaccines produced by the global community

  • Amendment No. 194 by Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45) — Incorporates national security threats related to climate change into a statement of policy on U.S. international priorities

  • Amendment No. 201 by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) Requires the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create an office to study bias in the use of artificial intelligence systems and publish guidance to reduce disparate impacts on historically marginalized communities

  • Amendment No. 259 by Rep. Nikema Williams (GA-05) Ensures grants from the National Science Foundation can be used for the professional development and mentorship of student and faculty researchers at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. 

  • Amendment No. 260 by Rep. Andy Levin (MI-09)Amends Title III by broadening Pell Grant eligibility to high-quality short term skills and job training programs and establishes a secure and privacy-protected data system that contains information about postsecondary student academic and economic outcomes.

Additional amendments from CPC members that were introduced and received a floor vote include:

  • Amendment No. 22 by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) on behalf of Rep. Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) — Directs the State Department, in coordination with the Department of Energy and in consultation with appropriate agencies, to report on the impact of US sanctions on innovation, emissions reduction, climate cooperation, and economic justice.

  • Amendment No. 124 by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) — Requires a report on the humanitarian impacts of U.S. and multilateral sanctions in Afghanistan, including on mortality rate and refugee outflows; impacts of such sanctions on the influence of the People's Republic of China in Afghanistan; and the impact on illicit financial activities between the People's Republic of China and affiliated entities in Afghanistan in the event of the collapse of Afghanistan’s banking system.

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement as the new $15 an hour minimum wage for federal contractors went into effect:

“Today, the minimum wage for federal contractors has finally been raised to $15 an hour. This raise will affect hundreds of thousands of workers, who will no longer be forced to labor for starvation wages under the employment of the federal government. The Progressive Caucus fought hard for this rule — and while the change is long overdue, it is no less laudatory. It is no exaggeration to say that, thanks to President Biden, the new minimum wage will be life changing for these workers and their families.

“As we celebrate the implementation of this rule today, we must redouble our efforts to increase the wages of all workers. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at a woeful $7.25 an hour for thirteen years. Meanwhile, costs of living have steadily increased, and billionaire wealth — made on the backs of these workers — has skyrocketed, including during the pandemic. We cannot tolerate such shameful and extreme inequality any longer.

“The Progressive Caucus has been one of the leading advocates for raising wages, both through executive action and legislation. In addition to today’s increase, the CPC pressed previous administrations to raise federal contractors’ wages in 2013 — advocacy that successfully secured a raise to $10.10 an hour — and 2017. Ours was the first caucus to support a $15 minimum wage, introducing the Pay Workers A Living Wage Act in 2015.  In 2019, the CPC helped lead the House to pass the Raise The Wage Act in 2019, and in 2021, we led the effort to secure a $15 minimum wage in the COVID relief package last year — all of which have been blocked by the Senate. In 2022, we must finally end or reform the filibuster and secure a living wage for every worker in this country.”

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the path forward for the President’s domestic legislative agenda:

“In the months since negotiations around the Build Back Better Act stalled, the case for this legislation has only become more urgent. Public housing residents have endured devastating fires, the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs continue to crush working people, and parents are desperate for child care support. This desperately needed relief cannot be delayed any longer.

“Today, we are calling for President Biden and Senate Democrats to pass the Build Back Better Act by March 1, so the President can use the power of the State of the Union platform to share with the nation the relief that people will soon receive.

“This is both achievable and necessary. There is agreement among Senate Democrats on significant parts of this bill: climate action, the care economy, taking on Big Pharma’s price gouging, and lowering health care costs. There is agreement on the need to reduce rising costs facing ordinary Americans — and that is exactly what Build Back Better does. The White House and Congressional Democrats confronted the crisis of the pandemic to pass the historic American Rescue Plan as well as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, creating millions of jobs. It’s past time to bring that same commitment to delivering Build Back Better.

“Eighty-one million people voted for this President’s agenda, and they were promised results. For the state of our union to truly be strong — in a way that working people can feel in their lives  — now is the time for Democrats in the House and Senate to make good on those promises, enact the President’s vision, and pass the Build Back Better Act.”

WASHINGTON — Thirty members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus called on the Biden administration today to fulfill the President’s commitment of international cooperation and global leadership by increasing its efforts to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide and reduce global inequities in public health resources.

In a letter to the President and COVID-19 Rapid Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients, the members write: “As new data emerges about the quickly spreading Omicron variant, we know that the longer the global pandemic is allowed to run rampant, new, more virulent variants will continue to threaten health and economic wellbeing across the planet.” The lawmakers warn that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has produced nearly 5.5 million deaths globally “will continue ravaging the globe if inequity and apathy prevail,” while the “harm to U.S. public health and the economy if vaccine-resistant variants are allowed to evolve are almost unfathomable.”

The data on the impact of such inequity is staggering: “Only 7.1 percent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, and vaccine supply remains a major problem. With limited technology sharing, low-income countries have depended on inconsistent vaccine donations, which have run behind projections. COVAX, the multilateral platform for distributing vaccines to developing nations, has managed to ship just 544 million doses so far, roughly a third of what it had planned to have sent by now.” 

The lawmakers identify several actions the Biden administration should immediately take:

  • Redouble efforts to pass the Build Back Better Act and restore its full allocation of $8 billion for pandemic preparedness including $2 billion dedicated to global vaccine manufacturing;
  • Call for $17 billion in additional funds to ensure a global 70 percent vaccination rate by mid-2022 in Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations;
  • Redouble diplomatic efforts to share vaccine technology and intellectual property, including encouraging the World Trade Organization to finally issue a waiver for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); 
  • Produce billions of mRNA vaccine doses, retaining public control over intellectual property and production to ensure new vaccine capacity serves public interests, rather than subsidizing pharmaceutical corporations;
  • Proactively support global vaccine manufacturing efforts, including compelling resistant pharmaceutical companies to engage in technology transfer by invoking the Defense Production Act and other legal tools; and,
  • Support new global emergency financing to protect low-income countries through the International Monetary Fund, specifically via a new issuance of 1.5 trillion Special Drawing Rights

The lawmakers conclude that “if the administration takes decisive action” on these proposed courses of action, its “goal of vaccinating the world will be realized in short order.”

Signatories on the letter include: Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Karen Bass (CA-37), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D.(NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), Andre Carson (IN-07), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29),  Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM-03), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Marie Newman (IL-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), and Peter Welch (VT). 

The letter can be found here.

WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13), chair of the Caucus Peace and Security Taskforce, issued the following statement regarding United States involvement in Ukraine:

“We continue to watch Russia’s threatening behavior towards Ukraine with alarm. There is no military solution out of this crisis — diplomacy needs to be the focus. We support the Biden Administration’s efforts to extend and deepen the dialogue, allowing for robust negotiations and compromise.

“We have significant concerns that new troop deployments, sweeping and indiscriminate sanctions, and a flood of hundreds of millions of dollars in lethal weapons will only raise tensions and increase the chance of miscalculation. Russia’s strategy is to inflame tensions; the United States and NATO must not play into this strategy.

“In past crises, where events are moving quickly and intelligence is unclear, vigorous, delicate diplomacy is essential to de-escalation. We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis.”