Black Caucus emerges as winner in spending package

The $ 1.75 trillion framework agreement for President BidenJoe Biden Trump’s lawyer blamed Pence for causing attack on Capitol: Report that Biden receives communion in Rome Protesters march for climate action in Rome amid G-20 summit MOREThe “Build Back Better” plan represents a significant victory for black lawmakers, who have been adamant that the White House keep the promises made to black communities.

The framework included key priorities from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), including funding for historically black colleges and universities, a larger tax credit for children, affordable housing, universal child care, and expansions to pre-kindergarten and Medicare.

CBC chair Joyce beattyJoyce Birdson Beatty Patience runs out as Democrats miss deadlines CBC Chairman: Spending bill will include funding for HBCU, housing, childcare Black Caucus pushes priorities in final settlement MORE In comments before the framework was unveiled on Friday, he suggested that Biden knew he needed to comply with the CBC, which has been disappointed by the lack of progress on key issues such as voting rights and police reform.

He noted that House Majority Leader James Clyburn (DS.C.) had been instrumental in helping Biden win the Democratic presidential primary by endorsing the former vice president in his home state caucus. Then black voters helped Biden win the South Carolina primary and a series of contests on Super Tuesday.

“The president was very clear that … he had to show us, and he said it publicly, that because of South Carolina’s work [Rep.] Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos Clyburn Clyburn: Divisions Threaten Majorities of Democrats in House, Senate Lobbying the World Legislators pay tribute to Colin Powell MORE (D), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the number of black people who came out and voted in our districts because of the issues we present whether we agree with each other or not, it’s all about how progress happens, ”said Beatty.

He noted that the CBC has “been at the table” for both “Rebuild Better” legislation and a separate bipartisan infrastructure measure passed by the Senate.

“While it’s not a perfect ending, it’s great progress,” added Beatty.

Beatty’s attitude, progress, not perfection, is the prevailing sentiment among his group and activists.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson told The Hill that it was wrong to view the bill as a zero-sum game.

“We can have, at exactly the same time, celebrate the accomplishments, as we also raise concerns about the lack of traction around different policy issues,” Johnson said.

“Building back better,” Johnson continued, “is going in the right direction. Some of the items that will be approved will be historical in nature, let’s celebrate that. “

The spending package commits billions of dollars to increase the maximum number of Pell Grants, while awarding billions more to HBCUs, tribal colleges and universities, and other institutions that serve minorities.

Specifically, $ 200 million will go to “research capacity building,” and another $ 100 million will go to “academic research facilities, modernization, and research instrumentation, including the construction, upgrade, renovation, or repair of research infrastructure. “.

The expanded child tax credit, introduced in the Biden American Rescue Plan, is extended for one year through the plan. The program provides $ 300 per month for children under the age of 6 and then $ 250 per month for children ages 6 to 17.

Both black lawmakers and the White House have praised the instant impact of credit on working families.

“We know that the expanded child tax credit has already cut child poverty by almost half, lifting millions of black children and families out of poverty,” said Rep. Steven HorsfordSteven Alexander Horsford CBC President: Spending Bill Will Include Funding For HBCU, Housing, Childcare Proposals To Reform Supports For Parents Facing The Harris Cutting Board To Highlight Drought And Climate Change On Travel Nevada MORE (D-Nev.), First Vice President of the caucus. “In the months after the first payment of the child tax credit disappeared, the number of black families who did not have enough to eat dropped by 25 percent. That is real progress. “

In particular, through the package, $ 150 billion will go to public housing; the Biden administration describes it as the “largest and most comprehensive individual investment in affordable housing in history.”

Once thought to be on the cutting board, universal child care and pre-k made the cut too.

Over six years, $ 400 billion will go to what black legislators and activists believe will allow women of color, who have left the workforce unevenly during the pandemic, to return to work, while improving education for women. low-income and minority children.

Black women are the most likely to be the primary source of income for their families, while Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native communities are most likely to live in child care deserts.

Funding is also included to address the black maternal health crisis, an issue that caucus member Rep. Lauren underwoodLauren UnderwoodCongress May Help Save Pregnant Women and Mothers of Color Senior Officials Deliver Twitter Accounts to ‘Share the Microphone’ with Black Cybersecurity Experts Biden Meets Vulnerable House Democrats with Agenda in Limbo MORE (D-Ill.) He defended at the beginning of the year with his Momnibus Law of Black Maternal Health.

That said, in a letter, the HBCU presidents along with the United Negro College Fund called for higher investments in both the institutions and Pell Grants.

And lawmakers expected the child tax credit to become permanent over the next decade.

The loss of a paid family leave provision also angered activists and advocates.

“We will not believe that paid leave will be removed from Build Back Better until President Biden calls us to tell us that he is breaking his campaign promise,” Family Values ​​@ Work CEO Josephine Kalipeni told The Hill.

The United States remains the only OECD country that does not have a clear paid maternity leave policy.

“We wanted a paid family leave? We wanted [to lower the price of] Prescription drugs? Did we want to have [free] Community college? Yes, but what we are getting is transformational, ”said Rep. Brenda lawrenceMORE (D-Mich.), The second vice chair of the Black Caucus, told The Hill.

Many CBC members back the Senate-approved infrastructure bill, which was again delayed in a House vote Thursday after the Congressional Progressive Caucus passed the framework, but refused to budge to allow a vote on infrastructure. They want the two bills to go through the House on the same day.

The progressives also received no guarantees from the moderate Sens. Kyrsten CinemaKyrsten Sinema Progressives fear compromise could jeopardize midterm hopes Sunday preview shows: frustration mounts as infrastructure talks hit backwards Healthcare overnight – Presented by Altria – Kids small one step closer to the vaccine MORE (D-Ariz.) O Joe manchinJoe Manchin Progressives fear compromise could jeopardize midterm hopes Sunday shows progress: Frustration mounts as infrastructure talks hit a setback Democrats could pass infrastructure and spending bills by Tuesday PLUS (DW.Va.) that the framework established by Biden has the duo’s support.

“Well there was frustration [among the CBC]But there is also an understanding that you need to be able to talk to the two people who were hampering Mr. Biden’s Build Back Better plan and get a framework that they agree on, ”said Rep. Frederica wilsonFrederica Patricia Wilson Democrats struggle to satisfy disparate members on spending package The memo: Biden’s immigration problems reach a crescendo in Del Rio Frederica Wilson complains about Haitian deportation flights and calls the treatment ‘inhumane’ MORE (D-Fla.), A member of both caucuses, told The Hill.

“You can have all the frameworks you want, but they have to agree to that framework before we can pass the bill.”

The framework agreement was expected to be enough to push the infrastructure plan ahead of major gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey next Tuesday that Democrats are desperate to defend.

“I am really disappointed that we could not move forward, there is a certain confidence that the president asked for when he came and spoke with us. [Thursday]”Lawrence said, reiterating the caucus’s support for Biden.

Biden spoke to the entire Democratic Caucus on Thursday morning before presenting the framework agreement.

Lawrence, who is also a member of both the CBC and CPC, said the majority of the Black Caucus is “ready to move forward” on the infrastructure bill, but noted that getting both bills passed together was initially what more in the House of Representatives. wanted.

“We all wanted him to move together. At the beginning, I believe that in each assembly we start hand in hand [what] we want, ”Lawrence explained.

However, Manchin and Sinema threw a wrench into that plan, the Michigan congresswoman told The Hill.

“[They] he created his own agenda, and he forbade us to go on like that. “

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