Category Archives: Budget

Infrastructure Law Coordinator-Landrieu

The President’s Bridge Builder – Mitch Landrieu

The President’s Bridge Builder

Q&A With Mitch Landrieu

August 16, 2022

Mitch Landrieu, a senior adviser to the president and coordinator of implementation of the infrastructure law

Credit: Wikipedia

A major accomplishment of President Biden’s first year was the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion effort to modernize U.S. roads, bridges, transit, broadband, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

Leading this effort is Mitch Landrieu, a Catholic and former mayor of New Orleans (2010-2018). As mayor, Landrieu performed an infrastructure improvement of sorts when he removed the city’s Confederate statues.

He shared with Connection about his work for the Administration and its importance in rebuilding solidarity in society.

Q: What makes an inherently nuts-and-bolts issue like infrastructure come alive for you?

Mitch Landrieu: Infrastructure can seem like a big word – what it is really is about is building a better America and helping people in their daily lives.

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity – to rebuild our roads and bridges, so you can get where you need to go, quickly and safely; upgrade our ports and waterways, so you can get what you want quickly and cheaply; and expand access to high-speed internet to all Americans, so where you are from has no bearing on how high you go.

And when we do those things right, we can create millions of good-paying jobs. We can reduce costs for middle-class families. We can fight the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.

Most importantly, we can win the economic competition of the 21st century and shape a brighter future for the generations to come. That is what gets me really excited.

Q: What is the most significant aspect of the work you’ve so far overseen for the Administration?

ML: When President Biden asked me to lead infrastructure implementation, he was clear in his charge: Build a better America without unnecessary bureaucracy and delay while doing what is difficult for the sake of what is right.

And that is what we have done in the past seven months.

We have already pushed $110 billion out the door – money that is going towards cleaning up communities, fighting climate change, creating new and better jobs, a and building a bridge to our future economy. And we have got nearly 5000 projects all across the country – in every state, DC, and Puerto Rico – that are identified or are already underway.

I am also really excited about the work we’re doing to close the digital divide, both in terms of laying new broadband and providing affordable high speed internet for those who cannot afford it.

That’s real results where people live and where it really matters. And we are just getting started.

Q: What role does investing in infrastructure play in recovering a sense of solidarity in our society?

ML: President Biden often says that America can be defined in one word: possibilities.

And that’s what we are proving with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We, as Americans, can do big things again.

And we can work together to get things done.

This once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure is an opportunity to build a bridge – both literal and figurative – to the future. A bridge to a 21st century economy where every American has access to good-paying jobs. A bridge to a resilient nation that can withstand the natural disasters that tear our communities apart. A bridge to an America where no American is forgotten or left-behind – and we are more united than divided.

Bridges connect us – they connect people, communities, and the country – and that is exactly what we are doing with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Q: How does your faith inform how you approach this role?

ML: I am a big believer in the common good and lifting people up. It’s why I am so driven to racial equity work. It’s why I think we have to have a moral movement against poverty.

A Jesuit priest, Fr. Harry Tompson, who served as a mentor to so many in New Orleans, told me to “go where you can do the most good for the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time.”  That has always stuck with me.

I take that with me in my work each and every day.

Q: You removed Confederate statues as mayor of New Orleans. What did that experience teach you about community?

ML: A big part of removing the Confederate statues in New Orleans was about reconciling our past and choosing a better future for ourselves – making straight what had been crooked and making right what was wrong.

Sometimes inequity is right in front of us – like the statues were for me – but we do not see it.  Once you do see it, it is hard to look away.

The other thing that was more basic is that our public spaces belong to all of us. The names of buildings, the statues we erect, the way we remember our history do really matter. Making sure everyone is included is critical.

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are taking a large step in the right direction. We are ensuring every community has access to safe and clean drinking water. We are ensuring every community has access to high-speed Internet. And we are ensuring every community is protected from the devastating effects of the climate crisis.

The future of our communities requires righting the past and building for the future. And that is what we will do with President Biden’s once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure.

This article originally appeared in the Third Quarter 2022 issue of Connection, NETWORK’s quarterly magazine – A Time to Build. Read the entire issue here.

Email Your Representative: Tell Them You Want the Inflation Reduction Act to Pass

TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE: PASS THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT

Tell the House to Pass the Inflation Reduction Act

Together, we’ve advocated for years for federal legislation that prioritizes the interests of people (families, those with lower incomes, workers, seniors, and children) over corporations. The Senate-passed Inflation Reduction Act will lower the cost of prescription drugs, health insurance, and everyday energy costs, and force the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Now the House must pass take action so President Biden can sign it into law.

Fill out this form to contact your Representative

Email Your Senators to Pass the Inflation Reduction Act

TELL YOUR SENATORS: PASS THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT

Pass the Inflation Reduction ActThe Inflation Reduction Act addresses injustice and harm facing our economy, people, and the planet. NETWORK applauds the Senate Democratic majority for negotiating legislation that lowers prescription drug prices, addresses climate change, and closes tax loopholes that big corporations and the wealthy take advantage of to avoid contributing fairly to our shared economy. Opponents of this historic legislation neglect to share that the Inflation Reduction Act is expected to reduce the deficit by $300 billion.

Fill out this form to contact your senators

New Agreement Would Advance Healthcare, Tax Justice, and Climate Protections

New Agreement Would Advance Healthcare, Tax Justice, and Climate Protections

Laura Peralta-Schulte
August 1, 2022

On Wednesday, July 27, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) issued a joint statement announcing an agreement on moving the fiscal year 2022 budget reconciliation process forward. This announcement was welcome after months of ups and downs in Senate negotiations since the House passed its budget reconciliation package last fall.

This new bill—the Inflation Reduction Act—addresses tax reform, prescription drug reform and healthcare costs, as well as climate change. If passed, this bill would be a huge accomplishment by beginning to require the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, while tackling the long-standing crises of healthcare costs and climate change.

Key tax provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act include:

  • $313 billion in revenue raised from a 15% corporate minimum tax. This is critical to ensure that wealthy corporations pay taxes.
  • $124 billion in revenue raised from better IRS tax enforcement. This provides the IRS with money to improve customer service systems as well as ensuring the wealthy pay what they owe.
  • $14 billion in revenue raised from closing the carried interest loophole.

Key healthcare provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act include:

  • Prescription Drug Pricing: The legislation empowers Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices directly, ensuring that seniors get better deals on their medications, and caps Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for drugs at $2,000 per year.
  • ACA Premium Tax Credits: The Inflation Reduction Act extends enhanced Affordable Care Act premium tax credits for the next three years to enable working families and individuals support to pay for insurance through the exchange.

Key climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act include:

  • Incentives for Consumers to Go Green: The legislation provides money for home energy rebates, consumer tax credits for energy-efficient homes and vehicles, and grants to make affordable housing more energy efficient. These measures would help reduce energy costs for families by more than 10% on average.

Unfortunately, this package leaves out high-level policy priorities for us at NETWORK including Medicaid expansion, paid leave, funding for affordable housing, expanding the Child Tax Credit, and more. However, given the political and time constraints, this bill will do a lot to advance economic justice and address other problems in healthcare and climate.

No Republican Senators support this bill, and one Senator, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), is the only Democratic member who has not yet expressed her full support for the bill. Democrats need all 50 members of their caucus to vote “yes” to pass the legislation. Senate Democratic leadership is planning a vote on this package later this week.

What’s In the Latest Build Back Better Framework?

What’s In the Latest Build Back Better Framework?

Audrey Carroll
November 10, 2021

On October 28, President Biden unveiled the framework for his Build Back Better Plan. The $1.75 trillion package includes key provisions such as permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit, closing the Medicaid coverage gap in the 12 non-expansion states, a $150 billion investment in affordable housing and vouchers, $100 billion for immigration system reforms, four weeks of paid family leave, and more.


Source: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/10/28/build-back-better-framework/

Here’s a breakdown of the NETWORK priorities included in the Build Back Better framework:

Health Care

*Expand Medicaid coverage in 12 non-expansion states
*Address the Black maternal health crisis

The $130 billion health care investments in the Build Back Better framework will expand Medicaid coverage to 4 million uninsured people in 12 non-expansion states. Medicaid expansion will help elders, rural communities, low-income communities, and other folks with health care accessibility issues receive care. Also included in the package are historic maternal health equity investments to address the Black maternal health crisis.

Tax Credits

*Permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit
*One-year extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit

The proposed Build Back Better framework includes permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit, and will provide more than 35 million households with the expanded Child Tax Credit of up to $3,600 per child for one year. Full refundability of the Child Tax Credit means that low-income families who do not typically file a tax return will still qualify for the credit and get the support they need.

The framework also extends the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for about 17 million low-wage workers. The American Rescue Plan tripled the credit for childless workers, many who  are essential workers, and the Build Back Better framework will extend this provision to work towards alleviating poverty.

Housing

*$150 billion for housing investments including: $25 billion in new rental assistance; $65 billion to preserve public housing infrastructure; and $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund 

President Biden’s plan would invest $150 billion in housing affordability, especially for rural communities. These investments will fund more than 1 million new affordable homes, rental assistance, public housing, and expand housing vouchers to hundreds of thousands of families in the U.S. This is one of the biggest affordable housing investments in history and will help eliminate the racial wealth and income gap by allowing first-generation homebuyers to build wealth.

Paid Leave

*Four weeks of paid family and medical leave

After initially being gutted from the original Build Back Better framework, four weeks of paid family and medical leave is now included thanks to the tireless advocacy of workers and families across the country. The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world without a national paid family and medical leave program. A federal paid leave program will allow low-income workers and workers of color to access paid leave for the first time. Workers will no longer have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or their family members.

Immigration

*Reforms to our immigration systems
*Work permits and deportation protection for undocumented people in the U.S. 10 years or longer

The Build Back Better framework includes a $100 billion investment for immigration systems reforms, contingent on a Senate parliamentarian ruling. While the current framework includes access to work permits and deportation protections for nearly 7 million undocumented people living in the U.S. for a decade or longer, it disappointingly does not include a pathway to citizenship Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers, and other essential workers despite strong bipartisan support.

Additional Investments in Children, Families, and Our Communities

In addition to these NETWORK priorities, additional investments the Build Back Better plan will establish universal and free preschool for more than 6 million 3- and 4-year-olds, expand access to high-quality, affordable child care, improve Medicaid coverage for home care services for seniors and people with disabilities while improving the quality of caregiving jobs, and provide $550 billion of investments in clean energy and other climate change initiatives.

How will the Build Back Better plan be paid for?

The Build Back Better plan will be paid for by requiring ultra-wealthy millionaires and billionaires and corporations to pay their fair share. The framework reverses some of the 2017 Trump-era tax cuts for the wealthy to raise revenue for families and workers in the U.S. The tax justice provisions include:

  • A surtax of 5% on personal income above $10 million, and 3% on income above $25 million.
  • A 15% minimum tax on corporate profits of large corporations with over $1 billion in profits.
  • A 1% tax on stock buybacks.
  • A 50% minimum tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations.
  • Closing loopholes that allow wealthy taxpayers to avoid Medicare taxes, and more.

Unfortunately, the Billionaires Income Tax was left out of the framework. With the tax changes in the Build Back Better framework, we will raise more than enough revenue to pay for the $1.75 trillion plan.

It’s time to pass Build Back Better!

The Build Back Better framework outlines transformational investments in workers and families that will work towards eliminating the racial wealth and income gap and building a new, equitable society. The framework falls short by not including a pathway to citizenship, but is overall a significant step towards dismantling systemic racism in our federal systems. House Democrats are currently working on moving the Build Back Better plan across the finish line before the end of the year. Email your Representative today or dial 888-738-3058 to call your Representative and tell them you support the Build Back Better framework!

Legislative Update: Build Back Better

Our Work to Pass Build Back Better Continues

Julia Morris
November 9, 2021

While we have been talking about the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill (H.R.3684) and Build Back Better Act for months, last Friday, the Bipartisan Infrastructure package passed the House and became law and a deal was struck between moderates and progressives on Build Back Better. While the Bipartisan Infrastructure plan includes important investments in affordable housing, safe drinking water, and broadband access, we need Congress to also pass the social investments in the Build Back Better plan to support families and communities. You can read more about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal on the White House website. 

Together, both bills will make a spectacular investment to improve lives, create good union jobs, add a more sustainable environment, and more! Last week’s vote, agreeing on the rule for Build Back Better, will pave the way for investment in the care economy, a clean environment, and having the wealthiest pay more of their fair share for it all. 

Five Democrats: Representatives Ed Case (HI-1), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Kathleen Rice (NY-4) and Kurt Schrader (OR-5); offered their tentative support for Build Back Better. If the cost estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is “consistent with the toplines for revenues and investments” outlined in the White House estimate, they will vote in support. With this commitment, the House went forward and passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill. This is in large part thanks to the Congressional Black Caucus’s two-step solution: passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill along with the rule governing floor debate for Build Back Better (H.Res.774). 

NETWORK applauds President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, the Progressive Caucus and Moderates who are moving the whole package, both bills, forward.  Now, we urge Congress to vote before Thanksgiving to begin making transformational investments that prioritize vulnerable communities.  As the Build Back Better plan continues advancing in the House, we have to keep pressure on Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, neither of whom have yet to support the plan publicly. 

Make your voice heard! Join us in emailing the Senate and House to show your support for Build Back Better. 

Or write a letter to the editor supporting the Build Back Better plan here! 

As Pope Francis said at the beginning of the pandemic, “it is necessary to build tomorrow, look to the future, and for this we need the commitment, strength and dedication of all.” 

NETWORK Urges Representatives to vote YES on the Build Back Better Act

NETWORK Urges all Members of Congress to vote YES on the Build Back Better Act

Julia Morris
November 4, 2021

Ahead of a vote on the Build Back Better Act (H.R.5376), NETWORK Executive Director Mary J. Novak sent a vote recommendation to the Hill urging Representatives to vote yes. This historic legislation reflects values inherent in Catholic Social Teaching as it embodies love of neighbor, care for vulnerable communities, and care for the earth. As importantly, this transformative bill requires those who have the most to contribute their fair share to advancing the common good.

The Build Back Better Act takes critical and necessary steps toward addressing long-standing injustices by:

  • Cutting childhood poverty in half by providing a permanently refundable Child Tax Credit and ensuring no worker is taxed into poverty by extending the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Expanding life-saving health care by closing the Medicaid coverage gap, investing in programs to end the Black maternal health crisis, extending premium tax credits to improve affordability for low-income workers and families, making the Childrens Health Insurance Program permanent, ensuring returning citizens have access to Medicaid, and making medicine more affordable.
  • Expanding Medicaid home care to keep older Americans and people with disabilities in their homes while paying care workers a fair wage.
  • Supporting working families navigate the challenges of raising children and taking care of loved ones when they are sick without risking their economic security by implementing a national paid family and medical leave program.
  •  Providing protections to some of our immigrant sisters and brothers.
  • Ensuring improved access to stable housing by expanding housing choice vouchers and invest in building new affordable housing; at the same time remediating years of deferred maintenance at public housing properties.
  • Closing the digital divide and expanding opportunity by making high-speed internet accessible and affordable for low-income urban and rural communities.

The time to act is now. NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice urges all elected officials to seize this moment as a critical opportunity to act faithfully and make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and all communities.

Read NETWORK’s Vote Recommendation on Build Back Better Act (H.R.5376).

Build Back Better Update – Call Your Representative Now!

Build Back Better Update – Call Your Representative Now!

Gina Kelley
November 3, 2021

With President Biden’s release of a detailed Build Back Better Framework last week, we are on the verge of a historic shift in our government’s priorities. Now, let’s get it done!

There is a good chance the House of Representatives will vote on the Build Back Better legislation THIS WEEK so please take action TODAY.

Update: Since this video was filmed, further negotiations have succeeded in securing four weeks of comprehensive paid family & medical leave to care for a new child, to care for a family member, and to care for your own medical needs in the House version of the Build Back Better framework. Paid leave will unite the country, keep us healthy and help every family in the U.S.

Call Your Representative Now: 888-738-3058
Tell them to vote Yes on the Build Back Better plan!

With your help, Congress will vote to shape our federal policies to align more closely with our values.

Legislative Update: Housing is Infrastructure

Housing is Infrastructure

Jarrett Smith
October 18, 2021

On Tuesday, October 12, I extended my support to Representative Maxine Waters (CA-43) Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee by attending their press conference on housing investments in the Build Back Better plan. During her remarks, Rep. Waters stated: “For decades we have put off making the [housing] investments we needed and just like a bridge that crumbles without maintenance our housing safety net is at its breaking point.”

Of the original $3.5 trillion dollar package, $327 billion is allotted for housing. This transformative housing investment would connect millions of families with the housing assistance they need. Investing in housing is our once-in-a-generation chance to help close the widening racial wealth gap.

With only one in four families eligible for housing assistance actually receives it, homelessness and housing insecurity are becoming a reality for more families in the United States every day. We have a moral call to ensure that every person has stable, affordable housing. As Pope Francis said when he visited the United States in 2015, “we can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing.”

Rep. Johnson listed a few of the programs that the Build Back Better Act could fund, including:

  • • $90 billion for rental assistance (Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Rental Assistance)
    • $80 billion for public housing repairs
    • $40+ billion for Community Development Block Grants and the HOME Investment Partnership Program

With the Build Back Better plan approaching the October 31 deadline Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer have set for its passage, congressional leadership is considering cuts to the plan to bring the final cost down, but it is unclear which programs’ funding will be impacted.

This week, Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) led 125 lawmakers in sending a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The letter urged them to keep $90 billion for rental assistance, $80 billion for public housing repairs and $37 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund in the final version of the bill.

It is critical to maintain these transformative housing investments in this final Build Back Better package.

Take Action

There is no time to lose. Urge your legislators to keep the proposed housing and community development funds in the final bill.

Call your Representative at 888-738-3058 and tell them to support a bold Build Back Better plan