Outlining the steps that President Joe Biden can take now to deliver justice for the working people who helped elect him in 2020, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Thursday released its 2023 Executive Action Agenda to ensure that the president will "build on his record of progress."
The agenda includes executive actions, strong rulemaking, and enforcement moves that federal agencies can take in five key areas: holding corporations accountable, raising wages and empowering workers, lowering costs for households, continuing to promote climate and environmental justice, and advancing equity.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who chairs the CPC, said the agenda offers an opportunity for Biden to make an "even greater impact" in the lives of working people after the White House acted on proposals put forward by the caucus in 2022.
"I'm incredibly proud of what the CPC's Executive Action Agenda was able to accomplish in 2022, and I am thrilled to announce our 2023 slate," said Jayapal. "Democrats made essential progress in the 117th Congress, and the work continues to lower the cost of living, hold corporations accountable, and keep our promises to our communities. With a divided Congress, President Biden must make full use of his executive authority to continue to deliver for working families. I look forward to partnering with the president and his administration to enact this agenda and get results for everyone who calls this country home."
The agenda includes a number of proposals related to recent events in the rail, airline, and banking industries, with the CPC calling on the president to "crack down on airline misconduct and boost competition by fining airlines"—months after Southwest Airlines canceled more than 5,000 flights during the holidays—and to "take aggressive action to improve worker and community safety in the rail industry" as East Palestine, Ohio faces an ongoing environmental disaster stemming from a train derailment in February.
The caucus also called on the Biden administration to:
- Expand oversight of banks that have avoided enhanced regulatory supervision by subjecting all banks above $100 billion in assets to the Federal Reserve's strong supervision and mandating strong capital requirements;
- Strengthen overtime protections to give millions of full-time salaried workers making less than $80,000 a year time-and-a-half pay for more than 40 hours on the job per workweek;
- Examine how it can invoke the Federal Railroad Administration's authority to establish paid sick leave for rail workers;
- Reduce prescription drug prices through increased transparency, competition, and government negotiation;
- Pursue aggressive rulemaking to accelerate clean electricity transmission and achieve the president's emissions reduction goals through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission;
- Ensure fairness in the immigration court system by removing nonpriority cases from the 2.1 million case backlog and expanding government-funded legal counsel for adults and children;
- Fight consumer cost increases for working families and protect workers by developing an inter-agency task force to investigate, prosecute, and deter white-collar crime, including anti-competitive and price gouging business behaviors, as well as firms' exploitation of heightened inflation to pad profits, workplace safety violations, wage theft, anti-union retaliation, and other violations of labor law;
- Declare a national climate emergency and invoke authorities under the Defense Production Act and Trade Expansion Act, mobilizing domestic industry to manufacture affordable renewable energy technologies with good-paying union jobs for domestic use and international export; and
- Pursue an aggressive federal inter-agency effort to protect abortion rights and reproductive health by declaring a public health emergency, enabling the administration to redirect federal funds toward out-of-state travel for abortions and grant civil immunity to licensed abortion providers practicing in states where they do not hold a license.
The entire 2023 Executive Action Agenda is available here.
"The list that we have arrived at is not just a messaging exercise," Jayapal told reporters Thursday. "These are actions that we believe the White House and federal agencies have the authority and the ability to take now and should do so."
If the White House adheres to the agenda put forward by progressives in Congress, said Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, "everyone will win except the billionaires" and powerful corporations.
"Today, the American people are being ripped off. Medicare is paying drug corporations the highest prices in the world for drugs developed with our tax dollars," said Lawson. "Corporate insurers are stealthily taking over Medicare, then using algorithms to delay and deny care to beneficiaries. Private equity companies are buying up nursing homes and slashing standards of care. The end result is the same: People are hurt, bankrupted, and killed while the billionaires pretend that nothing can be done. President Biden should continue to take swift executive action to rein in these corporate abuses."
The CPC noted that its 2022 Executive Action Agenda resulted in a number of victories for working people across the U.S., including pending student debt cancellation for 43 million people, extension or designation of Temporary Protected Status for people from 13 countries, protections for immigrant workers from retaliation for reporting workplace misconduct, revisions to policies that allow for transfer of military weapons to local law enforcement, and invocation of theDefense Production Act to catalyze renewable energy technology.
"For the last two years, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has led in defining a legislative and executive agenda for working families," said Natalia Salgado, director of federal affairs for the Working Families Party. "Their advocacy and proposals laid the groundwork for the Inflation Reduction Act and executive action on canceling student debt."
"The CPC's 2023 executive action slate again shows the caucus putting forward a bold vision for how Democrats can use all of the power they have to deliver for working people," Salgado added.