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Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) speak to one another on the steps to the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) speak to one another on the steps to the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ahead of SOTU, Democrats Say 'Not Too Late' to Pass Biden's Domestic Agenda

"Where is Build Back Better and why are two people standing in its way?" asked Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

Kenny Stancil

Ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address Tuesday night, Democratic leaders of various House caucuses called for urgent legislative action to advance Biden's domestic agenda, which has stalled in large part due to the obstructionism of corporate-funded lawmakers in both major parties.

"Real economic challenges remain for families. Congress must act quickly to address these challenges."

"As chairs of the leading House Democratic caucuses, we are calling for congressional action on a final negotiated reconciliation bill that secures the support of 50 U.S. senators and 218 U.S. Representatives," several lawmakers said Tuesday in a statement led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).

"We must move to reach a final agreement and focus on policies that will deliver immediate and lasting results for Americans," they said.

Democratic lawmakers' first iteration of a reconciliation package—dubbed the Build Back Better Act—proposed significant investments to strengthen the nation's feeble welfare state and facilitate a clean energy transition. It was relentlessly attacked by Republicans and watered down by Democrats bankrolled by Big Pharma and Big Oil before right-wing Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) finally stuck a knife in the deal in December.

"Our communities cannot afford for this bill to fall off of our agenda because of senators who are driven by corporate interests."

Although legislation moving through the budget reconciliation process is immune to a 60-vote filibuster by the GOP minority, its passage through the evenly split upper chamber requires the support of every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus—including Manchin and conservative Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), another leading saboteur of the Build Back Better Act.

"Democrats in Congress and the White House pulled the economy back from the brink by enacting the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law," Tuesday's statement continues, "but real economic challenges remain for families."

"Congress must act quickly to address these challenges," added the House Democratic caucus chairs, who drew attention to persistent racial inequality, corporate price-gouging, and the worsening climate crisis, all of which hurt working people.

Alluding to Manchin and Sinema, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked Tuesday on social media: "Where is Build Back Better and why are two people standing in its way?"

"Our communities cannot afford for this bill to fall off of our agenda because of senators who are driven by corporate interests," said Bowman, a member of the CPC.

In their statement, the House Democratic caucus leaders stressed that "it's not too late to meet this moment."

"There is broad consensus on the most critical solutions Americans need to lower costs for families, tackle the climate crisis, and create opportunities and good-paying jobs," said the lawmakers. "It is time to act."

During his address to the nation, scheduled to start at 9:00 pm ET, Biden is expected to highlight what he considers to be his successes in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic and reviving the economy, detail his administration's response to Russia's war on Ukraine, and call on Congress to advance popular pieces of his agenda, including lowering the costs of child care, elder care, and prescription drugs.

Progressives have long urged Biden to exercise his executive authority to the fullest possible extent to improve the lives of working people and help preserve a habitable Earth in the face of staunch opposition in Congress. At the same time, Democrats have not given up on pushing for further legislative action to confront multiple crises.

"We stand united and ready to work with President Biden and all of our colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure a strong, final version of this bill becomes law as soon as possible," concludes Tuesday's statement on the need to pass a robust reconciliation package.

In addition to Jayapal, other House Democrats behind the statement include Reps. Suzan DelBene (Wash.), chair of the New Democrat Coalition; Judy Chu (Calif.), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; Joyce Beatty (Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; Dr. Raul Ruiz (Calif.), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Lois Frankel (Fla.), Brenda Lawrence (Mich.), and Jackie Speier (Calif.), co-chairs of the Democratic Women's Caucus; David Cicilline (R.I.), chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus; and Gerald Connolly (Va.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.), and Doris Matsui (Calif.), co-chairs of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.


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