New Democrat Coalition Weekly Wrap 07/31/2020
This week, as the public health crisis continues to worsen, the U.S. economy saw the worst decrease in quarterly GDP ever recorded. More than 25 million Americans are losing their expanded unemployment benefits, and millions are at risk of losing their homes. Unfortunately, despite well-known pending deadlines and the House Democratic offer that passed over 10 weeks ago, congressional Republicans and the Administration delayed taking action until the last minute. They are still unable to reach a unified position which has stymied efforts to negotiate the next package. This was all avoidable. As negotiations continue for the next package, the NDC remains hopeful that the House and Senate will be able to work quickly to respond to America’s unfilled economic and public health needs.
With that in mind, NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) introduced the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would automatically continue and adjust enhanced unemployment benefits for the duration of the public health and economic crisis.
The NDC and its Members have also been hard at work advancing New Dem priorities on the House Floor. This week, the House passed the Senate companion to the NDC-endorsed Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act. The House also passed the second fiscal year 2021 appropriations minibus, which included key provisions to advance New Dem priorities on technology and cybersecurity, the future of work, affordable housing, transit-oriented development, and funding for the National Institute of Health.
Finally, NDC Leadership Members and the NDC Climate Change Task Force urged House Leadership to move NDC-endorsed climate bills, highlighted in the SCCC report, to the House Floor. The NDC also announced its endorsement of a second slate of housing legislation.
More on what New Dems have been up to below.
NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06) issued a statement following House passage of S. 2163, the Senate companion to the NDC-endorsed H.R. 1636, the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act. The legislation was introduced last year by a bipartisan group of Members, including NDC Reps. Lucy McBath (GA-06) and Cedric Richmond (LA-02). The bill will now be sent to President Trump for his signature.
Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08), Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, and NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06) introduced H.R. 7821, the Worker Relief and Security Act, with 34 original co-sponsors, including 22 New Dem Members. The legislation would automatically continue, adjust, and provide for additional enhanced emergency unemployment benefits for the duration of the public health emergency and ensuing economic crisis until conditions return closer to pre-crisis levels. Text of the Worker Relief and Security Act is available here with a two-page explainer here. Read more in The Well News and Augusta Free Press.
NDC Climate Change Task Force and NDC Leadership Members sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer urging them to move NDC-endorsed climate bills have already passed out of committee and are ready for consideration by the full House. These bills were highlighted in the Select Committee on Climate Crisis’s (SCCC) report as part of the potential path forward for congressional action to solve the climate crisis.
The NDC, led by Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06), NDC Vice Chair for Policy Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and NDC Housing Task Force Co-Chairs Denny Heck (WA-10), Norma J. Torres (CA-35) and Ben McAdams (UT-04) endorsed legislation to promote affordable housing development, increase access to affordable lending, and provide transparency of COVID-19 housing and rental relief.
The NDC, through NDC Policy Task Forces and broader Member letters, secured several priorities in the appropriations minibus, including:
- The NDC Future of Work Task Force, led by Co-Chairs Bill Foster (IL-11), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Chris Pappas (NH-01), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), secured language in the Labor-HHS-Education portion to improve how the Bureau of Labor Statistics measures alternative work and projects labor market and sector-specific trends.
- NDC Vice Chair Scott Peters (CA-52), along with NDC Housing Task Force Co-Chairs Denny Heck (WA-10), Ben McAdams (UT-04) and Norma Torres (CA-35) who sits on the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, secured language in the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development portion to promote land-use policy updates to encourage affordable housing that’s closer to transit for smarter, better-utilized development.
- NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06) secured language to ensure federal agencies are complying with necessary risk management and cybersecurity measures, including implementing the National Institute of Standards and Technology ‘s cybersecurity framework.
- Led by Reps. Susan Davis (CA-53) and Andre Carson (IN-07), many New Dem Members joined in securing a $5.5 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health in the Labor-HHS-Education portion.
Rep. Angie Craig (MN-02) joined The Hill’s Steve Clemons to speak on priorities during the coronavirus pandemic, especially for vulnerable populations in her district and throughout the nation.
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed NDC Freshman Member Ami Bera’s (CA-07) Securing America From Epidemics (SAFE) Act, which would authorize U.S. participation in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a public-private partnership developing vaccines for coronavirus and other highly infectious pathogens.
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed Reps. Chris Pappas (NH-01) and Max Rose’s (NY-11) legislation Stopping Harm and Implementing Enhanced Lead-time for Debts (SHIELD) for Veterans Act. This legislation was introduced following an alarming hearing that revealed the gross inefficiencies in the VA and the financial hardship such issues have created for veterans.
NDC Member Legislation
NDC Freshman Whip Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to study the impacts of telehealth during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The legislation requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assess key health care metrics, including utilization rates and hospital readmission rates, for patients who received their health care through expanded telehealth programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NDC Vice Chair Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced the bipartisan Plasma Donation Awareness Act to encourages patient who’ve recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma to help further develop therapeutics and save lives. The bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a public awareness campaign about the importance of convalescent plasma donations.
NDC Vice Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01) introduced the Value in Health Care Act, a bipartisan bill that will make commonsense changes to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. The bill specifically amends many of the program parameters of Medicare’s Alternative Payment Models.
NDC Freshman Leadership Representative Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06) introduced the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act to expedite forgiveness for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $150,000 or less. This legislation would streamline the process for small business owners to certify compliance with PPP requirements and expedite the loan forgiveness process for about 86% of PPP borrowers.
Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) introduced bipartisan legislation to make sure that all funding provided to hospitals, health clinics, and other providers through the CARES Act's Provider Relief Fund are not subject to federal taxes and makes expenses related to the aid tax deductible. Currently, certain providers may be subject to taxes on the aid allocated through the $175 billion HHS fund.
Rep. Susie Lee (NV-03) introduced bipartisan legislation, the VA Telehealth Expansion Act, which would improve and expand telehealth services for veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This bill seeks to close some of the gaps in access to VA telehealth care, by allowing VA to provide grants to outside partners creating and upgrading technology access points for veterans.
NDC Member Action
NDC Vice Chair Scott Peters (CA-52) and Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-03) joined the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) for a podcast discussion on budget priorities, the value of automatic stabilizers, and thoughts on how our economy can return with a resilient recovery.
NDC Freshman Leadership Representative Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), NDC Freshman Whip Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), and Reps. Elaine Luria (VA-02) and Julia Brownley (CA-26), who are all members of the House Women Veterans Caucus, demanded congressional hearings into the killing of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen and broader inquiries into solutions to the military’s problem of sexual assault.
NDC Vice Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01) led a bipartisan effort calling on House leadership to prioritize affordable housing measures in the next COVID-19 package. In a letter, 27 New Dem Members joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in urging for enhancements to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) be included in the next COVID-19 bill to support affordable housing production and address disruptions caused by the current public health and economic crisis. The Housing Credit has been a proven tool to expand affordable housing for over 30 years and will be essential in the recovery from this pandemic.
NDC Freshman Whip Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) collected data from New Jersey small businesses and shared her outline of critical priorities with Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velasquez. She advocated for specific proposals and changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to help North Jersey businesses based on the feedback from more than 350 small business owners located in 52 towns in the 11th District.
Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26) and Darren Soto (FL-09) sent a letter urging Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to encourage the Senate to take up the House-passed HEROES Act and prioritize the health and safety of Latino communities bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) penned an op-ed in The Denver Post calling for bipartisanship and highlighting the urgent need for federal coronavirus assistance amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic: “The economic calamity of failing to provide support for our local communities amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is no longer a hypothetical. Refusing aid to state and local governments means refusing to support many of the frontline workers who are keeping our country running during this public health emergency — public health workers, EMS workers, teachers, corrections officers, sanitation workers, custodians, and so many more. This won’t just affect these workers — many of whom are our neighbors, friends and family — but all of us who rely on their critical services. It’s time for both the Senate and the House to work together to provide desperately needed federal assistance for our communities."
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