Category Archives: Policy Update

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

EQUAL Act Passes House

EQUAL Act Passes House!

Julia Morris
September 30, 2021

On September 28, the House overwhelmingly voted to pass the EQUAL Act 361 to 66! While there are many issues leading to racial disparities in the criminal legal system, passing the EQUAL (Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law) Act is a huge step forward to ending mass incarceration in the United States. The EQUAL Act (H.R.1693/S.79) is faithful, bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Kelly Armstrong (R-ND-AL), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08), Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), and Don Bacon (R-NE-02). It seeks to eliminate the disparity in sentencing for cocaine offenses, a major contributor to mass incarceration, and apply retroactively to those already convicted or sentenced.

According to FAMM, in 2019 alone, 81% of those convicted of crack cocaine offenses were Black, even though historically, 66% of crack cocaine users have been white or Hispanic. It is time to end this racist policy and restore proportionality in sentencing.

This May, more than 100 justice-seekers participated in NETWORK’s first virtual lobby day, conducting 50 lobby visits with their Representatives to push for the passing of the EQUAL Act, it is always rewarding to see our hard work pay off.

Before the House vote, NETWORK sent a letter urging all Representatives to support this legislation, saying: “We call on all Representatives to take a firm stance against institutional racism embedded within the criminal legal system by voting yes on the EQUAL Act so that it can swiftly make its way to the Senate floor. ”

Read NETWORK’S Vote Recommendation on the EQUAL Act here.

Now it’s time for the Senate to pass this legislation. Sign up for our action alerts to join our team to put pressure on the Senate to pass this legislation. Text JUSTICE to 877-877 to sign up for text alerts or sign up for emails here.

Arizona ‘Ballot Review’ Demonstrates Why We Must Protect the Freedom to Vote

Arizona ‘Ballot Review’ Demonstrates Why We Must Protect the Freedom to Vote

Sister Quincy Howard, OP
September 24, 2021

Today we saw the end of a costly, partisan, and unreliable review of Arizona’s Maricopa Country ballots. Shortly after the 2020 election, this nearly $6 million ballot review was initiated by a small number of partisan extremists over the objections of the Republican-led county leadership. Repercussions and anti-voter initiatives like this one might be the single most insidious tactic to undermine voter confidence growing out of the 2020 election.

According to the Washington Post, “the Florida-based firm that led the review, Cyber Ninjas, had never before been involved in administering an election or recount” and “by May, all of Maricopa’s seven elected officials — including five Republicans — joined to demand the Senate put an end to the review, calling it a ‘con’ and a ‘sham.’”

We know that states often serve as laboratories to innovate and improve our democratic systems. For example, Colorado’s experience with vote-by-mail systems provided tips and best practices for states across the nation conducting elections last winter in the midst of a deadly pandemic.  Sadly, states can also serve as laboratories for sabotage, which is what we’re seeing in Arizona—and other states like Georgia and Wisconsin are watching closely to see if this shameless power-grab will work.

This was a partisan attempt to cast doubt on our elections. Proper election reviews are 1) fully transparent and fully observable; 2) have proper procedures in advance; 3) conducted by bipartisan teams; maintain the integrity of voting machines and ballots; and maintain chain of custody of ballots throughout. It has been widely documented that none of these critical procedures and guidelines are being followed in the sham election reviews.

This is another example of the GOP dividing and distracting the people while undermining trust in our elections. The entire endeavor was birthed and conducted based on the “Big Lie” (that the Arizona and the presidential election was stolen). The operation conducted by Cyber Ninjas has been illegitimate from its original rationale rooted in the lie of voter fraud to its financing by mysterious dark money sources to the contractor, an obscure Florida tech company with hard partisan leanings and no prior elections experience.

Some politicians want to pick and choose which votes to count to decide the results of elections for themselves. The Arizona operation has made clear that our democracy needs additional protections to ensure that trusted local election officials count every vote—that the results of elections are held sacred and protected from partisan manipulation. The Freedom to Vote Act—the newly-introduced bill that would ensure fair representation and make the promise of democracy real for us all—has adds needed protections to the transformative reforms included in S.1 the For the People Act.

Whatever our color, background or zip code, in the United States we value our freedom and the right to vote. The freedom to have a say in decisions that impact our lives—from curbing the pandemic to creating jobs to making health care affordable. But right now, the same faction that spread lies about COVID and election, and fueled the deadly attack on our Capitol are trying to block the Freedom to Vote Act, which U.S. voters support by huge margins across race, place, and political ideology.

NETWORK and our advocates are demanding that our leaders exercise their majority and pass the Freedom To Vote Act. It would set national standards for safely and freely casting our ballots, ensure that trusted local election officials count every vote, and prevent state lawmakers from sabotaging our elections in order to take and hold power. The Freedom to Vote Act is a critical step to ensure that, in our elections, the will of the people prevails.

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Take Action: Call Your Senator Now! Tell Them to Vote YES on S.2747, the Freedom to Vote Act

The Freedom to Vote Act is an important step to protect the sacred right to vote after months of delay and obstruction. The Freedom to Vote Act contains the main pillars of the For the People Act, including protecting the right to vote, ending partisan gerrymandering, and decreasing the power of big moneyed special interests. Call 888-885-1748 to be connected to your Senators. (Call twice to be connected to both Senate offices.)

Still Advocating a Pathway to Citizenship

Still Advocating a Pathway to Citizenship

Virginia Schilder
September 22, 2021

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee approved the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill. This pathway would allow an estimated 8 million undocumented neighbors — including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farmworkers, and other essential workers — to apply for permanent residency in the U.S. Without this pathway, there is no way for those 8 million people, who already live and work in the U.S. under threat of deportation, to change their immigration status.

In order to pass through the budget reconciliation process, the Senate parliamentarian must agree that the immigration provisions have a direct fiscal effect. On Sunday September 19, the parliamentarian rejected Democratic leadership’s initial proposal to include the pathway to citizenship, on the grounds that its impact goes beyond the budget — even though that’s true of everything in the bill! This news is frustrating, but not the end of the line for establishing the pathway to citizenship. As we hope the parliamentarian will realize in the forthcoming meetings, the status of immigrant workers and families is acutely relevant to the budget. Moreover, the Senate (even when it has been Republican-controlled!) has included immigration provisions in the budget reconciliation before.

The COVID-19 public health crisis has made our nation’s reliance on immigrants and their labor even more visible than before. More than 5 million undocumented immigrants have been risking their lives as “essential workers” throughout the pandemic.  To call immigrant workers in front-line jobs “essential” to the functioning of the U.S., while failing to provide them with the basic safety and dignity of a secure immigration status, is hypocritical, exploitative, and unjust.

Yet the necessity of creating a pathway to citizenship is about more than labor: it is about human dignity. The millions of undocumented immigrants in our communities have a right to protection not because of their valuable economic contributions, but because of their invaluable humanity. Pope Francis (himself the son of an immigrant) affirmed this in his message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees:

“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women, and men who leave or are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”

Catholic teachings have long affirmed the rights of immigrants and refugees and the responsibility of nations like the U.S. to welcome and support them. Pope Francis and the U.S. Bishops, alongside Catholic Sisters and laity in the U.S., have made responding to unjust immigration policies a priority of the 21st century. Our call to protect immigrants and their families draws not only from Church teaching and lived tradition, but also from the myriad scriptural references to the treatment of migrants:

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (Leviticus 19:33-34, NIV).

At the core of our faith is the command to love our neighbors as ourselves — and immigrants are our neighbors, integral to the fabric of our communities. Immigrants and their families are made in the image of God, with loves, hopes, and rights, and deserve according treatment. No one should have to live in constant fear of being ripped away from their family, home, job, and community. As human beings, we all have a right to safety, and those with security have a particular obligation to ensure the security of others.

Creating a path to citizenship is a moral imperative, full stop. But passing a budget reconciliation bill that offers a way to citizenship for many immigrants will also boost economic growth, create jobs, and increase wages for all people in the U.S. This makes clear that promoting the good of our immigrant neighbors promotes the good of everyone. Catholic Social Justice, especially the principle of the common good, teaches us that we live in an interconnected society in which individual and communal flourishing are inseparable. Pope Francis expressed this idea directly to U.S. lawmakers during a joint session of Congress in 2015:

“Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

When we treat our immigrant neighbors as human beings with intrinsic and immeasurable dignity — which includes taking structural action to ensure their care and protection — our society becomes more humane for everyone.

After the recent federal district court ruling in Texas threatening DACA, the need to create a path to citizenship is increasingly urgent. Luckily, an overwhelming bipartisan majority of voters — including Independents and Republicans — support Congress creating a pathway to citizenship. What’s more, the budget reconciliation process only requires 50 Senate votes to pass.

NETWORK calls on all Senators to support including a pathway to citizenship in the recovery package. If we are truly committed to protecting workers, families, and those who are most marginalized by our systems and structures, then we must pursue just immigration policies. Including a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation will help ensure that our recovery is equitable and humane. Now is the time to align our policies with our values and enact a path to citizenship.

Read NETWORK’s press release following the release of the Senate Parliamentarian’s initial guidance.

Increasing Access to Health Care for Millions in Build Back Better

Increasing Access to Health Care for Millions in Build Back Better

Julia Morris
September 22, 2021

This week, Congress is negotiating increasingly urgent policies to extend access to health care as part of the Build Back Better plan. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care is a growing concern for many living in the United States, especially the tens of millions of people who are uninsured. In communities already facing long-standing health disparities: low-income, elderly, Black, Brown, and Native American – increasing access to healthcare will save lives.

Access to health care is a moral issue; with some moderate Democrats and most Republicans looking to cut large portions of this bill it could result in adding to the toll of needless lives lost in the pandemic. Congress must include all of the healthcare provisions in the Build Back Better plan to ensure all people living in our nation have access to quality, affordable, and equitable health care.

Here are key policies to keep your eye on:

Extending Healthcare Subsidies in the American Rescue Plan

Coverage under the Affordable Care Act is too expensive for many families, especially with many in the U.S. seeing lower earnings in 2020. By extending the American Rescue Plan’s cost savings, we can lower health care costs for those getting coverage through ACA.

Medicaid Expansion in Four Key Areas

Millions of Americans, especially low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities rely on Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid in these four areas is key to addressing long-standing racial and economic disparities in coverage and access to care.

Non-Expansion States

A large portion of those who rely on Medicaid are spread throughout 12 states who have refused to expand Medicaid. This leaves two million people without insurance, in spite of support from a majority of states’ residents and overwhelming evidence that expansion will create significant improvements in coverage, health outcomes, and financial security.

Providing Medicaid Coverage for Incarcerated Individuals

Giving states the ability to expand Medicaid programs to cover incarcerated individuals 30 days before their release would tackle the disproportionately high rates of mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and chronic physical health conditions seen in people who have experienced incarceration. Closing care gaps would provide stability during this important transitional period.

Closing the Gap in Medicaid Funding to the U.S. Territories

Territories do not receive Medicaid funding, instead they are given a fixed block grant that often does not cover their healthcare needs. Congress needs to renew Medicaid funding in territories to ensure that everyone in the United States can access quality, affordable care no matter where they live.

End the Waiting Period for Immigrants to Access Medicaid and CHIP

Lawfully present immigrants must live in the U.S. for five years before being able to access Medicaid and CHIP. This harmful waiting period prevents millions of people and families from having access to quality, affordable care. We should not put limits on who is or is not deserving of health care.

Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act Investments

Historic investments from the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act will save lives, build healthy families, end racial and ethnic maternal health disparities, and further birth equity in the United States. The Momnibus Act aims to do this by strengthening federal maternal health programs, will make federal funds permanently available for states to spend on expanded postpartum Medicaid and CHIP coverage to one year in every state, with full state plan benefits throughout pregnancy and the yearlong postpartum period.

Expanding home-based care options

Providing funding for home-based care options impacts the elderly community and people with disabilities. Expanding home-based care options also aims to address our nation’s growth in its elderly population — failing to invest in care will strain an already understaffed workforce of caregivers; stress children trying to care for their loved ones; and complicate retirement for millions.

As Pope Francis said: “A health service that is free and guarantees good service accessible to all … This precious good should not be lost. It must be maintained and everyone should be committed to this. Because everyone needs it … ” Failing to ensure that these healthcare measures make it through Congress would be detrimental to the lives of millions. Building back better after the incredible loss of the last two years is going to push us to reject thinking that encourages us to ignore the suffering of others.

The Current State of Democracy Reform Legislation in Congress

The Current State of Democracy Reform Legislation in Congress

Sister Quincy Howard, OP
September 14, 2021

Democrats have put voting rights, along with an overhaul of election and campaign finance laws, at the forefront of their agenda upon return in September.  The John Lewis VRAA (H.R.4) would restore the Justice Department’s authority over election law changes in jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices against minorities. The For the People Act (S.1) sets minimum state standards for early voting and voting by mail, and overhauls campaign finance and election laws. Now, a new democracy bill – the Freedom to Vote Act (S.2747) – contains many of the same provisions to protect our elections as the For the People Act, and reflects the feedback the House Rules Committee received from state and local elections officials. Find a summary of the Freedom to Vote Act here. 

Previously, the House has passed both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act along party lines. Senate Majority Leader Schumer promised that voting rights would be a top priority for the chamber after the Senate’s August recess. He reiterated the promise right after they returned. New state laws passed by Republican-controlled legislatures and the kick-off of the redistricting process this month makes passing legislation that protects our democracy urgent.

H.R.4 responds to the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision that invalidated the mechanism the Department of Justice (DOJ) used to determine which jurisdictions needed approval before they could change voting laws. Named for the late Representative John R. Lewis, H.R.4 focuses on the DOJ oversight. In addition to restoring its authority over election law changes in some states and jurisdictions, the bill would update criteria used to determine when preclearance is needed for changes. Any state or jurisdictions that had 15 or more violations in the past 25 years would need preclearance. H.R.4 passed the House — for the first time along party lines — in mid-August and will be taken up by the Senate.

These democracy reform efforts also have a subtext: this is a key issue used by progressives to call for an end to the Senate filibuster. The Senate filibuster makes it all but certain that no voting bills can proceed under current Senate rules. Twice this summer the Senate tried to advance the For the People Act but failed to reach the 60-vote threshold.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appears to still have Republicans universally lined up against the measures. Republicans have labeled both House bills an attempted “power grab” by Democrats and have refused to support them on the self-fulfilling rationale that they are too partisan.

There’s no way this legislation or anything like it will get 10 Republican votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. Still, our democracy is on the line. It’s now a matter of Democrats finding a strategy to pass it in the Senate with a simple majority.

In a 50-50 Senate, Democrats are under intense pressure to do away with the filibuster. Two Senators, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have thus far resisted that pressure. Prospects for voting bills hinge on whether they will change their views on the filibuster — or whether President Biden will engage to bring them along. The newest bill, the Freedom to Vote Act, was unveiled by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on September 14 and builds on a framework offered earlier this year by Senator Manchin. Its reception by Republican Senators will be pivotal. Stacey Abrams supports the new Freedom to Vote Act, saying that it takes the necessary steps to protect our democracy.

At this point, advocates’ attention is focused toward President Joe Biden, a veteran of the Senate, and Senator Joe Manchin to reform the filibuster.  Both of them have resisted pressure — along with Senator Sinema — to eliminate the filibuster.

Five Key Tax Reforms Needed to Build Back Better

Five Key Tax Reforms Needed to Build Back Better

Audrey Carroll
September 9, 2021

Right now, Congress is beginning markups of the Build Back Better bill. This recovery package offers once-in-a generation opportunities to invest in our families and communities and achieve the common good. We can fully finance critical policies that prioritize the needs of Black, Brown, AAPI, and Native American families and communities if the ultra-wealthy and tax-dodging corporations pay their fair share.

 

The Build Back Better Plan will be paid for by raising taxes on corporations and those earning over $400,000/year. Congress must responsibly finance a recovery package by reforming our federal tax code. Here are NETWORK’s key tax reform priorities for a faithful recovery in the Build Back Better plan:

Raise the corporate tax rate to at least 28%.

The 2017 Trump tax law cut the corporate tax rate from its long-standing level of 35% all the way down to 21%, far below what corporations had ever lobbied for. Raising it back to 28% will raise nearly $900 billion, enabling us to better invest in our families and communities.

Curb offshore corporate tax dodging.

The current tax code encourages corporations to outsource jobs and shift profits to tax havens because it taxes the foreign profits of U.S. firms at about half the domestic rate. The Build Back Better plan’s proposed reforms will take a big step to curb offshoring, raising more than $1 trillion, by doubling the tax rate on offshore profits and implementing reforms to stop shifting profits offshore to tax havens.

Tax wealth like work.

For people earning more than $1 million a year (the richest 0.3% of taxpayers), the plan will close the loophole that lets them pay a tax rate on the sale of stock and other assets that is almost half the top rate that workers pay on wages — 20% rather than the current 37%.

The plan also will close a loophole (called “stepped-up basis”) that lets millionaires and billionaires go their entire lives without having to pay federal taxes on most of their income or wealth. Taken together, these two loopholes allow billionaire Amazon chief Jeff Bezos to pay a tax rate similar to a public school teacher.

Restore the top individual tax rate.

The Build Back Better plan will restore the top individual rate to 39.6%, its rate before the Trump tax cuts. No one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay more tax.

Crack down on tax evasion by the wealthy.

Years of deep cuts to the IRS that resulted in much weaker tax enforcement of the wealthy and corporations must be reversed. The Build Back Better plan will invest in strengthening IRS enforcement and information technology and increase reporting of income to catch wealthy tax cheats.

An underfunded IRS focuses its audits on the regular taxpayers who can’t afford to fight back with expensive tax lawyers; an underfunded IRS also can’t offer robust customer support when regular taxpayers have questions or problems. A fully funded IRS has the resources to assist regular taxpayers with live customer support services while going after the biggest tax cheats.

Our communities need public investment in housing, paid family and medical leave, health care, and broadband technology that is racially, economically, and environmentally just. By reforming our tax code, we can afford much needed social programs that will help all people and families thrive.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Approved by Senate Committee

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Approved by Senate Committee

Gina Kelley
August 6, 2021

On August 3rd the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S.1486) with bipartisan support. We thank the group of Republican and Democratic Senators who voted to move this common sense legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.

In NETWORK’s letter of support to the committee, we urged them to vote yes on this critical bill because it modernizes current law and closes the gaps in protections afforded to pregnant workers. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) recognizes the dignity of work and life as it would open doors for gainfully employed women who choose to bring new life into the world.

Pregnant workers are routinely denied basic, temporary accommodations to ensure a healthy pregnancy. These accommodations are often as simple as a stool to sit on, a break from lifting heavy boxes, schedule changes, and protection from dangerous conditions. These accommodations are especially important for women in jobs requiring physical activity or exposure to hazardous environments. In lieu of reasonable accommodations at the workplace, many pregnant workers face undue pressure to take a leave of absence, which may jeopardize their livelihood. The PWFA takes critical steps to ensure healthy pregnancies and economic securities for pregnant workers and their families.

NETWORK Lobby urges the Senate to schedule a vote quickly and send the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to President Biden’s desk.

Read NETWORK’s letter of support here. 

Passing a Faithful Recovery Package to Build Anew

Passing a Faithful Recovery Package to Build Anew

Allison Baroni
August 4, 2021

On July 13, 2021, the Senate announced that it had reached an agreement on a $3.5 trillion recovery package to be passed through the budget reconciliation process. This package, which is based on President Biden’s Build Back Better vision, together with the $1 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the gross inequity and lack of federal investment in our communities and infrastructure.

Congress has a responsibility to meet the moment, respond to the needs and demands of the people, and make a once in a generation investment in our public infrastructure. To do so, Congress must include the following priorities in a bold, faithful recovery package:  

  • Ensure any national paid family and medical leave program has progressive wage replacement, job guarantees and anti-retaliation language, inclusive definitions of family, and centers women of color in all decisions to ensure racially equitable access.  
  • Make the new Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit expansions permanent and ensure all immigrants, regardless of legal status, can access the Child Tax Credit and human needs programs.  
  • Establish a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and essential workers.  
  • Enact a set of federal standards for Unemployment Insurance (UI) including mandatory 26 weeks of benefits, adequate replacement wage levels (i.e. 75% of wages up to 2/3 of the state’s average wage), and ensure that unemployed workers’ access to benefits is racially equitable. 
  • Provide resources for multi-year rental assistance and address the ongoing unmet need for affordable housing by building affordable housing units. 
  • Make the broadband subsidy permanent to increase access to health care and other critical needs in communities across the country. 
  • Close the Medicaid coverage gap for non-expansion states and provide Medicaid to people who are incarcerated. Finance health expansions by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. 

As always, we will hear critiques that these priorities are too costly. Yet the human cost of not making these needed policy changes is far higher than $3.5 trillion could ever be. Far from a simple policy decision, the choice to include or reject these policy priorities has far-reaching consequences for the lived experiences of those in the United States. For every refusal to include these policy priorities, families in the U.S. face dire circumstances and decisions. 

 Behind all the political rhetoric, lies a simple and important question that we as a nation must answer: who are we beholden too? In Pope Francis’s most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, he reminds us of the answer to that question. Reflecting on the story of Cain and Abel, he writes:  

“Cain kills his brother Abel and then hears God ask: ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ (Genesis 4:9). His answer is one that we ourselves too often give: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (ibid). By the very question he asks, God leaves no room for an appeal to determinism or fatalism as a justification for our own indifference. Instead, he encourages us to create a different culture, in which we resolve our conflicts and care for one another.” (57)   

We are at a tipping point. As our nation races toward devastating income inequality, inadequate access to health care, and a dearth of quality affordable housing and living-wage jobs, the breadth and depth of the policy response necessary can at times seem daunting. It can be all too easy for us to turn away from the task, to absolve ourselves of our responsibility to one another.  

But, as Pope Francis says, if we are to build a culture of care, it must be done. Congress cannot afford to pretend that bold and immediate action is not necessary to improve and protect the lives of everyday people: the neighbor whose home is in danger of flooding, or the one who never had one to begin with. The parent struggling to pay childcare and the relative unable to access health care.  

These everyday struggles are the result of policy choices. The question facing Congress can be reduced to this: Will we choose to be a nation that refuses to take care of its own, one that accepts poverty as inevitable? Or will we challenge that lie, asserting that no cost is too high to take care of each other? If we listen honestly to God’s question to Cain, we will find that there is only one answer! 

 

Allison Baroni is a rising senior at Villanova University where she studies Peace and Justice & Theology. Allison is a member of the NETWORK Government Relations team this summer. 

Recovering Together: Creating a Pathway to Citizenship

Recovering Together: Creating a Pathway to Citizenship

Achieving an Equitable and Inclusive Recovery through Budget Reconciliation
Ronnate Asirwatham
August 3, 2021

This week, Democratic Congressional leadership continues debating what will be included in the $3.5 trillion recovery package. The transformational recovery package will be passed through the budget reconciliation process, which only requires 50 Senate votes for a bill to pass and become law. This provides a unique opportunity to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of our undocumented community members that cannot be missed.

We are calling on all Senators to support including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farm workers, and essential workers in the recovery package.

With a simple majority vote, Democrats can finally deliver a pathway to millions of undocumented people who have lived and worked in the United States under the fear of deportation for too long.

It is a moral failure that today in the U.S. millions of immigrant workers are considered “essential” and “deportable” at the same time. Congress has a moral imperative to provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrant essential workers and their families through the reconciliation process.

A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers and other essential workers has overwhelming bipartisan support. Now is the time to extend a pathway to citizenship to millions of our neighbors.

Take Action

Call your Senators at 888-738-3058. Tell them to support including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farm workers, and essential workers in the recovery package.