|Black lawmakers push progressive ‘must-do’ list for Congress|
|Caucus maps agenda for a Democratic majority|
|Published Thursday, August 2, 2018 1:15 pm|
The Congressional Black Caucus wants an about-face on government with Democrats controlling Capitol Hill.
The caucus released 10 “must-do” policies for Democrats to address should they gain control of the House and Senate after November’s midterm elections. The priority is on issues impacting communities of color and rural areas and the CBC wants the policies passed within the first 100 days of a Democratic-controlled Congress. Among the policies are restoration of the Voting Rights Act, criminal justice reform, reinforce the Affordable Care Act, expansion of economic opportunity, and empower workers.
“Here’s the reality: If we want to truly help people of color, women, those in rural communities, workers, the poor, and others, then we have to put people in charge who share those values,” said CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat. “Republicans have shown again and again this Congress with their budget proposal, tax proposal, healthcare proposal, and other policies, that they want to reward the richest of the rich and penalize everybody else.”
The proposed policy shifts include:
• Restoration of Voting Rights Act provisions gutted by congressional Republicans and the Supreme Court in the last five years that eliminated preclearance rules for states with a history of voter suppression;
• Bolster the ACA and eliminate racial disparities in health care;
• Comprehensive criminal justice reform;
• End the war on drugs, starting with decriminalizing marijuana on the federal level;
• Empower workers, including raising the minimum wage to $15 and hour;
• Improve education opportunities by awarding grants to states and Native tribes to waive tuition at community colleges as well as establish grant programs to help historically black colleges to modernize curriculum;
• Firearm regulation by closing loopholes in federal law, expand universal background checks and research into the impact of gun violence on community safety.
• Expand economic opportunity by restoring funding of the Community Development Financial Institution Fund, expand new markets tax credits and commercial investment in underserved communities;
• Improve access to affordable housing by committing to “inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination” as well as home mortgage mitigation assistance;
• Eliminate lending bias by reinstating the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act’s racial reporting rules, strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act and reform payday and title lending regulations.
Black lawmakers have pushed Congress to do more to address economic and social inequities since Republicans took control of Congress and the White House. In May, the CBC introduced the Jobs and Justice Act of 2018, a 1,300-page omnibus bill to increase economic mobility of African Americans and ensure equal protection under the law. The legislation called for the federal investment of $100 billion in public schools for physical and digital infrastructure improvements, additional resources to communities with a history of high poverty and tax incentives for companies that hire young people, veterans, and the unemployed.
In a March 2017 meeting with President Donald Trump, CBC leaders presented a 130-page policy document laying out a federal response to improve jobs and justice, but the administration has yet to respond. Black unemployment is at the lowest levels in recorded history – which Trump often points out – although it is still twice the rate for white Americans. The national unemployment rate is 4 percent.
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