Category Archives: Policy Update

Senate must pass PRO Act for Workplace Justice and Equity

Senate must pass PRO Act for Workplace Justice and Equity

Audrey Carroll
March 24, 2021

The House of Representatives recently passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in a 225-206 vote. The PRO Act achieves one of the labor movement’s leading priorities by protecting the right of workers to organize. With the current labor system structured to favor big businesses and corporations over worker-led unions, the PRO Act levels the playing field by making union organizing less difficult. Catholic Social Justice teaches us that we must invest in the value of human labor, which helps maintain the fabric of our society. The PRO Act honors the ability of work to achieve growth and personal development by restoring workers’ rights to collectively bargain so they may advocate for higher wages, better benefits, and protections from discrimination. Congress must pass the PRO Act and update labor laws to make advances towards just and equitable workplaces. 

According to a 2020 report, 65% of Americans approve of labor unions, and roughly 48% of non-union workers would vote for a union if given an opportunity. Despite increasing support, less than 15% of workers were supported by a union in 2020. Current labor laws make it difficult for workers to unionize and employers have discovered ways to penalize workers for organizing. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was passed by Congress in 1935, however every amendment to the law has made it harder for working people to form unions. 

The PRO Act will amend the NLRA and related labor laws to extend vital protections to workers. The bill includes provisions such as: allowing injunctions against employers engaging in unfair labor practices, permitting workers to participate in collective litigation, ending the misclassification of employees, prohibiting the replacement and discrimination of workers who participate in strikes, expanding penalties for labor law violations, and more. 

President Biden has shown strong support for the PRO Act and is a close ally of the labor movement. In a March 9 statement, Biden acknowledged the various ways employers prevent workers from organizing through “anti-union attacks.” President Biden also displayed support of Amazon workers’ ongoing union drive in Alabama, citing unions as “vitally important” to addressing racial and economic disparities in the U.S. 

The PRO Act is needed to expand the protections once offered by the NLRA. It is a historic proposal that restores the dignity of workers and reinforces and praises their value. The Senate must follow the example set by the House of Representatives and pass the PRO Act. 

The Racist Filibuster Must Go for Us to Build Anew

The Racist Filibuster Must Go for Us to Build Anew

Sister Simone Campbell
March 25, 2021

The Senate filibuster — currently 60-vote threshold to close debate on a bill and move to a vote — is a relic of the Jim Crow-era that has blocked democracy reform, civil rights protections, and health care expansion for far too long. Since its inception in 1806, the filibuster has been weaponized against people of color to block bipartisan legislation that addresses structural racism and inequality in the United States. Catholic Sisters and NETWORK advocates do not accept antiquated traditions steeped in a racist past to prevent progress and will mobilize across the country to end the racist filibuster.

Constitutionally, bills require a simple majority to pass — just 51 votes in the Senate.  However, the filibuster is a procedural tool which allows senators to block legislation from receiving a vote at all if there are 41 of them that oppose the bill. For centuries, elected officials in the minority have used the filibuster to stop common good, anti-racist legislation from passing and becoming law. In the 19th Century, white Southern Senators used the filibuster to kill Reconstruction and the earliest civil rights bills in order to maintain white supremacy. In the 20th Century, anti-lynching legislation which was widely popular among Congress and the United States people was consistently blocked by a small minority in the Senate. The use of the anti-democratic filibuster as a tool of white supremacy had direct consequences: racist lynching mobs killed an estimated 4,400 Black Americans throughout our nation’s history. To this day, Congress has failed to pass federal anti-lynching legislation. In the Civil Rights Era, Senators employed the filibuster to prevent desegregation and voting rights legislation from becoming law.

The racist application of the filibuster is a clear legacy of the rule, and it continues today. Senators are exploiting the power of the filibuster to block critical legislation meant to dismantle systemic racism and known injustices in the 117th Congress.  The For the People Act, the Justice in Policing Act, the Equality Act, the PRO Act, are all bills that deserve a vote and stand a real chance of passing but for the filibuster rule.  The filibuster is not protecting voters in the minority party; it protects politicians set on preserving the status quo. We cannot allow an arbitrary Senate rule with no grounding in the Constitution to block legislation that enjoys widespread bipartisan support by voters across the country.

The Senate has a moral duty to use this opportunity to end the filibuster.

Add your name to join the Catholic Sisters and activists of NETWORK calling for the elimination of the Senate filibuster.

NETWORK Supports the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

NETWORK Supports the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Caraline Feairheller
March 18, 2021

In February, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers officially re-introduced The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act into the 117th Congress. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was first introduced in 2012 and has been re-introduced in the House in almost every legislative session. NETWORK has previously supported the legislation, but Senator Mitch McConnell’s Senate failed to do their moral duty to protect mothers by not taking up the legislation. Once again, we are proud to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act because it modernizes current law and closes the gaps in protections afforded to pregnant workers. This legislation would open doors for gainfully employed women who choose to bring new life into the world.

Despite current protections for pregnant workers from workplace discrimination included in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), 2 out of 3 women who fight to get pregnancy accommodation lose their case in court. Pregnant workers should not have to choose between their income or their family’s health. However, the failure of current legislation has forced many women to choose and this moral failure is only exacerbated by the global pandemic and accompanying economic recession.

The time is long overdue for pregnant workers to get reasonable accommodations, such as extra bathroom breaks, limited contact with certain chemicals, and a reduction in lifting requirements. Catholic Social Teaching clearly states that, “human work has a special dignity and is a key to achieving justice in society.” Now is the time for Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and recognize the dignity of labor.

Read Our Letter in Support of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The American Rescue Plan Meets the Moment

The American Rescue Plan Meets the Moment

Caraline Feairheller
March 16, 2021

On March 11th, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. This historic and widely popular $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package is both an investment in our communities’ future and provides immediate relief to struggling families.

Across the country, people navigating these unprecedented health and economic crises know what is needed for their families and communities to thrive. This new law includes funding for vaccine distribution, cuts child poverty in half, and protects essential workers. The American Rescue Plan will help our vulnerable communities survive this deadly pandemic, and all the NETWORK members and advocates who helped pass it should be proud.

NETWORK has consistently called on Congress to uphold their moral responsibility to quickly deliver a robust COVID-19 relief package that prevents more needless suffering. While there is still more work to do, NETWORK celebrates the final relief package, which includes:

Relief Payments: $1,400 emergency payments.

What we lobbied for: Automatic cash rebates, regardless of immigration status, age, or tax filing.

People need money to pay rent and mortgages, utility bills, grocery bills, and so much more. The automatic and immediate cash relief payments included in previous COVID-19 relief packages and in the American Rescue Plan will help individuals and households weather job losses and economic disruption. Specifically, the American Rescue Plan:

  • Provides $1,400 emergency payments to single filers with incomes up to $75,000, head of household filers with incomes up to $112,500, and joint filers with incomes up to $150,000.

The American Rescue Plan makes relief checks available to citizens and family members with Social Security Numbers in mixed status families, giving 3 million people and 2.2 million children access to aid. Unfortunately, undocumented immigrants who are also experiencing the same negative health and economic effects of this pandemic still do not receive a stimulus check under the American Rescue Plan.

Tax Justice: Increases the Child Tax Credit, allows parents to receive it monthly, and raises low-income workers’ maximum Earned Income Tax Credit.

What we lobbied for: Permanently expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and a robust Child Tax Credit to reduce children poverty

The pandemic has resulted in many families with young children struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Alternatively, more than 5 million childless workers are taxed into, or deeper into, poverty. The expanded Child Tax Credit and EITC benefits will cut childhood poverty in half and help mend the racial wealth and income gaps. Specifically, the American Rescue Plan:

  • Increases the current $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child and to $3,600 for children under age 6.
  • Makes the Child Tax Credit fully refundable which ensures that 27 million children currently left out are able to receive the full benefits.
  • Allows parents to receive regular monthly checks beginning on July 1, 2021 so families have access to assistance throughout the year.
  • Raises the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for adults without children from $530 to nearly $1,500 and raises the income limit for the credit from $16,000 to about $21,000, resulting in additional income support to over 17 million working childless adults.

The increased Earned Income Tax Credit and the increased, and monthly, Child Tax Credit are only approved for one year. Further legislation is needed to make these poverty-reducing policies permanent.

Food Security: Increases and extends Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, funds the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program , and extends Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) to include both the school year and summer.

What we lobbied for:  Extend 15% boost in SNAP benefits by, Eliminate SNAP eligibility barriers for immigrants, and expand school lunch programs in order to provide meals when school is not in session.

The pandemic and accompanying economic downturn have led to a rising hunger crisis. The American Rescue Plan combats this rising insecurity through critical investments in SNAP, WIC, and Pandemic-EBT programs. Specifically, the American Rescue Plan:

  • Extends the 15% boost in monthly Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to September 2021.
  • Allocates $880 million in funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This funding will support WIC outreach, innovation, and program modernization.
  • Invest $5 billion in Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) so families have access to school meals during the school year and summer months.   

The American Rescue Plan makes aid available to children who would have received free or reduced-price meals at a school that is closed are eligible for P-EBT, regardless of immigration status. WIC, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and home delivered meals are also available to immigrant families. SNAP is only available for certain non-citizens such as asylees, refugees, and some green card holders. Parents who are not eligible for SNAP can apply for their eligible household members.

Minimum Wage: Federal minimum wage remains at $7.25.

What we lobbied for:  Raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

NETWORK denounces the fact that the American Rescue Plan failed to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It is well past time to raise the wage and is shameful that low-income workers have gone over a decade without a raise from the federal minimum wage of $7.25. A raise in the wage would take significant steps in addressing income inequality and would lift the pay of nearly 32 million workers. Congress must find a way to take meaningful action to care for our struggling families and uphold the dignity of workers by raising wages.

Housing Assistance: Provides billions of dollars towards emergency rental assistance and other housing-related costs.

What we lobbied for: Extend the federal eviction moratorium and invest $5 billion in emergency rental and utility assistance, as well as $28 billion in funding for housing vouchers.

A growing number of people are staying at home across the nation, without work, and reliant on emergency paychecks designed to stimulate economic growth and pay for last month’s rent. The pandemic has resulted in nearly 1 in 5 renters not being caught on up on rent and with renters of color disproportionately expiring this hardship. Continual investment in housing assistance with help struggling families have a safe place to live as the pandemic continues. Specifically, the American Rescue Plan:

  • Provides $22.5 billion to state and local governments to help low-income households cover back rent, rent assistance, and utility bills.
  • Provides $10 billion for the Homeowner Assistance Fund, which allocates funds to struggling homeowners directly or indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Provides $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers to transition individuals and families who are at risk or are currently experiencing homelessness.

However, the American Rescue Plan does not include a specific provision to extend the national eviction moratorium — which is set to expire March 31, 2021.

Unemployment Benefits: Raises unemployment payments by $300 a week and extends them through September 6, 2021.

What we lobbied for: Extended and expanded unemployment benefits until at least September 2021.

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters into another year, many individuals and families have used the last of their savings. The nation’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) program is one of the primary infrastructures needed to provide financial help and its extension will prevent workers and families from experiencing total financial devastation. Specifically, The American Rescue Plan:

  • Extends the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) through September 6 at $300 in benefits per week.
  • Exempts up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 from federal income taxes for households making less than $150,000.
  • Extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) through September 6.

The American Rescue Plan is a broad and historic piece of anti-poverty legislation. President Biden and his administration have passed legislation that centers families experiencing poverty and communities of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  While the legislation is far-reaching and this summary only captures our top priorities, NETWORK Lobby is proud to have lobbied on a bill that will allow us to begin the work of Building Anew.

American Rescue Plan Must Protect Incarcerated Populations

American Rescue Plan Must Protect Incarcerated Populations

Caraline Feairheller
March 4, 2021

Nearly a year later, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape the daily lives and policies of everyday people – from social distancing to mask mandates. However, nearly a year later the Congressional response to protecting and ensuring the health of people who are incarcerated has failed to measure up. This moral failure is coupled with the fact the United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world and disproportionately incarcerates people of color.

From the onset of the pandemic, it was clear that the enclosed nature and overcrowding of jails, prisons, and detention centers would make social distancing impossible. The failure to adequately address these challenges has resulted in 1 out of every 5 people in prison being infected the loss of and the loss of thousands of lives. While incarcerated, many inmates face barriers to access health services such as expensive medical co-pays especially considering how incarcerated people typically earn 14 to 63 cents per hour which is equivalent to charging a free-world worker $200 or $500 for a medical visit.

The moral failing to protect the health of those incarcerated extends beyond the walls of the prison as upon release returning citizens face intersecting obstacles of low wages, lack of affordable housing, and barriers to government sponsored safety net programs. These harmful barriers to eligibility to exacerbate the hardships of families at a time where an unprecedented number of people are experiencing food insecurity and unemployment.

Our country’s addiction to mass incarceration has jeopardized the health of millions of people. In order to Build Anew, Congress must reintroduce and pass the COVID-19 Corrections Facility Emergency Response Act in order to cover costs of testing, treatment, and provide community support services. , Congress must eliminate health care costs for those who remain incarcerated. Finally, Congress must remove barriers of eligibility to government safety net programs and increase the benefits provided by those programs to better meet the needs of families.

Download the full list of NETWORK asks in the next COVID-19 relief package. 

Don’t miss your chance to advocate for the American Rescue Plan with NETWORK. Text “JUSTICE” to 877-877 to sign up for NETWORK’s text alerts.

NETWORK Urges House YES Vote on Justice in Policing Act

NETWORK Urges House YES Vote on Justice in Policing Act

Joan Neal and Mara Rutten
March 3, 2021

Due to threats of further violence at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, March 4, House Democratic Leadership accelerated the debate and vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was originally scheduled for Thursday. Ahead of the vote, NETWORK contacted all member of the House of Representatives, urging them to support this legislation that would ban chokeholds and support implicit bias training and community policing.

We know the time is long overdue for enacting policing reforms that hold law enforcement accountable and equally responsible for protecting and serving everyone in society. Failure for Representatives to act would be an abdication of their moral and civic duty and a blatant disregard for the humanity of Black lives.

NETWORK urged members to include and adhere to the following principles in any legislation that addresses police brutality and accountability:

  1. Require a federal standard that use of force be reserved for only when necessary as a last resort after exhausting reasonable options, and incentivize states to implement this standard; require the use of de-escalation techniques, and the duty to intervene; ban the use of force as a punitive measure or means of retaliation against individuals who only verbally confront officers, or against individuals who pose a danger only to themselves; and require all officers to accurately report all uses of force;
  2. Prohibit all maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force, deeming the use of such force a federal civil rights violation;
  3. Prohibit racial profiling, and require robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities. Data should capture all demographic categories and be disaggregated;
  4. Eliminate federal programs that provide military equipment to law enforcement;
  5. Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially for drug searches;
  6. Change the 18 U.S.C. Sec. 242 mens rea requirement from willfulness to recklessness, permitting prosecutors to successfully hold law enforcement accountable for the deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties;
  7. Develop a national public database that would cover all police agencies in the United States and its territories, similar to the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training’s National Decertification Index, which would compile the names of officers who have had their licenses revoked due to misconduct, including but not limited to domestic violence, sexual violence, assault and harassment, criminal offense against minors, excessive use of force, violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242; perjury, falsifying a police report or planting and destroying evidence, and deadly physical assault; as well as terminations and complaints against the officers; and
  8. End the qualified immunity doctrine that prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law. To overcome the defense of qualified immunity, require that a victim must show that law enforcement violated “clearly established” law by pointing to a case arising in the same context and involving the same conduct.

Read the full NETWORK vote recommendation on H.R.1280, George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021.

American Rescue Plan Is Needed Now

American Rescue Plan Is Needed Now

Caraline Feairheller
February 12, 2021

In the face of multiple crises, President Biden and Congress have a moral responsibility to quickly deliver another COVID-19 relief package to prevent more needless suffering. Nearly a year into the pandemic, the nation continues to face high unemployment rates, food insecurity, and limited access to health care and safety net programs, and it is clear that communities of color are hardest hit by negative impacts of COVID-19. The sinful legacy of structural racism has led to Black, Latinx, and Native American individuals disproportionately contacting the virus and dying. This racial disparity must be addressed in our legislation and our nation’s vaccine distribution. NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice calls on Congress to quickly pass the American Rescue Plan in order to support families, protect our communities, and revitalize our nation.

NETWORK applauds House and Senate Democrats for their February 5, 2021 vote to adopt a final budget measure, which will allow Congress to pass the next COVID-19 relief package through the budget reconciliation process by requiring only 50 Senate votes instead of 60. Using the reconciliation process allows Congress’s Democratic Leadership to push forward bold and urgent COVID-19 relief with or without Republican support.

As COVID-19 deaths continue rising, all members of Congress expressing concerns about COVID relief should keep in mind that more than two-thirds of Americans support this COVID-19 response package, including strong support for $1,400 emergency payments and raising the minimum wage. Across the country, people navigating these unprecedented health and economic crises know what is needed for their families and their communities.

In the coming weeks, Congressional committees will be meeting to decide the specifics of the next relief package with the goal of bringing the package to the House floor by Monday, February 22. The latest extension of expanded unemployment benefits will expire on March 14, 2021, so it is of the upmost importance  that the American Rescue Package is passed before the aid ends.

In order for the American Rescue Plan to uphold the dignity of each person, NETWORK asks that it:

  • Provide an $1,400 emergency payment and a robust, refundable Child Tax Credit and expanded Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Extend expanded COVID-19 unemployment payments and increased SNAP benefits
  • Fund emergency housing programs and rent and mortgage assistance
  • Raise the minimum wage to $15
  • Fund equitable vaccine distribution
  • Protect people who are incarcerated from coronavirus

Download the full list of NETWORK asks in the next COVID-19 relief package.

Don’t miss your chance to advocate for the American Rescue Plan with NETWORK. Text “JUSTICE” to 877-877 to sign up for NETWORK’s text alerts.

NETWORK Supports Swift Passage of FAMILY Act

NETWORK Supports Swift Passage of FAMILY Act

Audrey Carroll
February 8, 2021

Last week, on the 28th anniversary of the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) officially re-introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act. The FAMILY Act would establish a national insurance fund to provide workers a portion of their wages for up to 60 days, or 12 weeks. States such as California, New York, and New Jersey already have successful personal medical leave programs in place to protect and support their workers. The FAMILY Act provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave annually for self-care, the introduction of a new child into a family, care for an ill family member, and care related to military deployment. NETWORK supports the passage of the FAMILY Act to support and sustain working people and families, and work towards a just and equitable economic system.

The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the need for investment in workers and families in order to keep our nation healthy and keep people employed. Paid leave protections are essential in crises like global health emergencies. In order to ensure long-term economic and health security, a national paid leave program must be implemented. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ final 2020 job report, over 5 million women lost their jobs in the last year, and accounted for 100% of job loss in December. Job losses were even steeper for women of color. To help reduce disparities in our workforce and the continued existence of the racial wealth and income gap, people need a guarantee of paid family and medical leave.

NETWORK has joined our partner organizations in advocating for emergency paid leave in President Biden’s American Rescue plan and supporting a permanent paid leave program. Our organization signed on to a letter urging Members of Congress to ensure strong paid leave protections. A portion of the letter read,

“We cannot safely return to in-person learning, reopen businesses and public spaces, or end this pandemic without the guarantee that workers can stay home with pay when they are sick or when they need to care for loved ones. Even before the pandemic, workers and their families lost an estimated combined $22.5 billion in wages each year due to a lack of paid family and medical leave. The lack of access to paid leave also leads to higher costs in unemployment, health care, and compounding financial losses. We must act now. Paid leave is one of the best and most cost-effective solutions we have for our public health and economic recovery and there is a path to finally pass paid leave for all in this country. We needed it the last time we faced a pandemic. We need it now. And we need it permanently.”

Read the whole letter here.

President Biden Continues Action on Immigration

President Biden Continues Action on Immigration

Ronnate Asirwatham
February 8, 2021

Last week, President Biden signed three new executive orders on immigration, actions critical to respecting the rights and dignity of immigrants in our nation, and respecting and honoring family unity.

  1. Task force to reunite families

The first executive order he signed creates a task force to reunite children in the U.S. with their parents who were deported under the Trump administration.

  1. Review MPP and the misuse of Title 42 public health authority

Another order directed newly sworn in DHS Secretary Mayorkas to “promptly review and determine whether to terminate or modify” the Migrant Protection Protocols program, which forced asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting for court proceedings. With a backlog of thousands of cases, this policy forced immigrants and asylum seekers from many countries to spend months or years in dangerous and inhumane conditions waiting for court decisions. The order also includes the review of the misuse of Title 42 public health authority, and the third-country transit ban. The Title 42 public health authority has enable ICE and CBP to expel asylum seekers and unaccompanied children without any due process. While we welcome this review we would ask that the use of Title 42 be suspended while the review is being conducted, just like the MPP.

  1. Review public charge

Finally, in his third executive order, President Biden instructed heads of agencies to review the public charge rule, which the Trump administration changed to effectively impose a racially-motivated wealth test on immigrants, punishing legal immigrants who use public benefits by hurting their chances to receive green cards.

These actions build on the executive orders signed two weeks ago, on the first day of the Biden-Harris administration. Previously, President Biden fortified DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program), which was under constant threat during the Trump presidency, reinstated DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) for Liberians, halted funds to Trump’s border wall, and ended the travel ban on Muslim-majority and African countries.

Stopping Unjust Deportations

President Biden’s acting DHS Secretary issued a 100-day moratorium on deportations on January 20, 2021, however, a Texas federal judge barred enforcement of the moratorium until February 23. This stay on the moratorium only affects Texas.

However despite the acting Secretary’s stay order ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) continued carrying out deportation flights, including flights to Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala, and Haiti.

Because of a lot of nationwide advocacy and activism.  a deportation flight  with immigrants from Cameroon, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was cancelled. However other flights especially those to Haiti have continued and this is having a devastating effect on Black Haitian communities. We are working with several advocacy groups to ensure future deportation flights are  cancelled until all cases can be reviewed. A majority of immigrants who are being deported post inauguration are those who have been expelled under the Title 42 order and therefore they have not been given any due process rights.

Looking Ahead to Comprehensive Immigration Legislation

As President Biden signed the executive orders, he said, “I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy.” In the coming weeks and months, President Biden and members of Congress plan to pass a new law (or laws) to reform our immigration system. Some legislation is familiar – the Dream Act, the Dream and Promise Act, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act have been introduced in previous congresses – but President Biden also seeks to pass broader reform. This will be a critical opportunity to build our immigration system anew, and we will keep NETWORK members updated on how to support this legislation.

The For the People Act Will Transform Our Democracy for the Better

The For the People Act Will Transform Our Democracy for the Better

Audrey Carroll
February 1, 2021

The For the People Act (H.R.1/S.1) is comprehensive legislation that will make sweeping reforms to restore and protect our democracy.  Making pro-democracy reforms is the first step to making progress on all our other policy issues. NETWORK supports the For the People Act because Catholic Social Justice teaches us that we have a responsibility to participate in our civic society, and this civic duty begins with voting. Protecting the sacred act of voting means ensuring that every eligible voter is able to exercise this right to make their voices heard. No individual or community should be disenfranchised based on their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or class. Among other critical reforms to strengthen our democracy, The For the People Act would ensure that elections are free, fair, and accessible in every state. Every Members of Congress should be supporting this pro-democracy bill.

H.R.1/S.1 Will:

Protect and Expand Voting Rights

    • H.R.1/S.1 will include voting protections such as automatic and same-day voter registration, prohibiting the purging of eligible voters from registration rolls, restoring voting rights to people with prior felony convictions, standardizing access to early and absentee voting, and prohibiting known voter suppression tactics.

End Partisan Gerrymandering

    • H.R.1/S.1 will ban the practice of partisan gerrymandering and require states to establish independent redistricting commissions with a clear process for public participation in congressional redistricting. Districts that are drawn fairly with public input help ensure a government that reflects and responds to the people rather than the will of politicians.

Prioritize the Will of the People over Profit

    • H.R.1/S.1 will get dark money out of politics by improving transparency in campaign finance and strengthening disclosure for political ads and donors so voters know who is trying to influence them.
    • H.R.1/S.1 will create an alternative campaign finance system by matching small donor contributions. This will allow Americans of all economic means to amplify their voices in our democracy.

Strengthen Ethics Rules

    • H.R.1/S.1 will fortify ethics laws and strengthen enforcement by closing loopholes for lobbyists, requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns, and supporting the oversight of watchdogs to enforce the law.

Protecting our democracy and making our election systems fair and accessible means we can hold our elected officials accountable for progress on key issues of justice such as living wages, health care for all, immigration reforms, racial equity, and more. The Biden Administration has named democracy reform as a first priority and the new Senate leadership has followed the House example by designating the For the People Act as their first legislative priority in the 117th Session.

Passing federal democracy reforms couldn’t be more urgent.  We know that gerrymandered State legislatures across the country are already looking to crack down on voter access based on lies of widespread fraud in the 2020 election cycle.  In addition, the congressional redistricting process, which takes place every ten years, is around the corner and could result in 10 more years of extreme partisanship due to gerrymandering. It will be an uphill battle but we hope to see swift passage of the For the People Act early in the session as a first step to achieve the common good in our society.