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Poor People’s Campaign holds news conference Tuesday on steps of U.S. Capitol
As Congress argues about the cost of the Build Back Better plan, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will meet with U.S. House and White House representatives on Tuesday, then hold a news conference to say the fight should focus on the people whose lives depend on passing this plan.
Faith leaders and economists will stand with essential, low-wage women representing the 140 million people who were poor or low-income before COVID-19 at a news conference at 9:30 a.m. ET on the House side of the U.S. Capitol.
Before the news conference, the delegation will meet with members of Congress and staffers, along with Josh Dickson and Carissa Joy Smith, senior advisers from the White House Office of Public Engagement.
After the news conference, the delegation from the PPC:NCMR will take letters and petitions signed by thousands of people to the offices of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy; Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; Sens. Bernie Sanders, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and Rep. Joyce Beatty, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. They also will visit the offices of representatives of the essential, low-wage women who are speaking.
The news conference will be livestreamed here.
“It’s shameful that Congress is arguing over a $3.5 trillion bill paid over 10 years when billionaires’ wealth increased by $2 trillion in the first year of the pandemic and we spent $21 trillion over the past 20 years on militarism,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “We must put a face on the provisions of this bill and say, this is who hurts when you cut back on the child tax credit, and this is whose life is upended if they can’t get lower prices for prescription drugs and health care and whose life is ruined if we don’t deal with the climate crisis now.”
The $3.5 trillion version of the Build Back Better plan — $350 billion each year for 10 years — includes provisions for: paid family and medical leave; Medicare expansion; lower prescription drug costs and to combat climate change, among others.
Poor people and low-wage workers from Arizona, Kentucky, Mississippi, West Virginia and Pennsylvania will join economist Shailly Gupta Barnes, policy director for PPC:NCMR; faith leaders, including Rabbi Alana Suskin and Rev. Angela Martin of the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign and Sister Richelle Friedman, policy director for the Coalition on Human Needs.
The essential, low-wage women who are speaking are:
- Pam Garrison, a tri-chair of the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign and lifelong low-wage worker.
- Faith Lee, a gig worker and DoorDash driver from Silver Spring, Maryland.
- Marcela Ramirez, a produce packer from Philadelphia
- Emilee Johnson of Pearl, Mississippi, a low-wage worker and advocate for victims of human trafficking.
- Adriel Downing of Lexington, Kentucky, a game day employee at the University of Kentucky.
- Katrina Corbell, a low-wage worker on disability from New York
- Kaylen Marie Barker of West Virginia, a low-wage worker
- Joan Steede of Phoenix, a home care worker.
Women have left the workforce in record numbers during the pandemic, driven out partially by problems with getting child care so this news conference will focus on them. All told, 22 million jobs have been lost during COVID-19, and over 710,000 people have died in the U.S. alone.
Women make up more than 75% of healthcare workers, almost 80% of frontline social workers, and more than 70% of government and community-based service workers, said Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of PPC:NCMR and director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice.
“Women have been hit first and worst by the economic crisis that COVID-19 set off as female-dominated industries like retail, leisure, and hospitality were decimated,” Rev. Theoharis said. “By stripping the provisions in the Build Back Better plan that will help women, Manchin and Sinema are sending the resounding message that women’s work is not important and not valued. Let’s be clear — there is no recovery from this global pandemic without ensuring women have the protections they need.”
The White House and Democrats in the House and Senate are trying to get the Build Back Better act passed as a reconciliation bill so that it can’t be blocked by the filibuster, which would require 60 votes to pass in the Senate rather than a majority. They also are insisting that Congress vote on the Build Back Better plan before voting on infrastructure and voting rights.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week that he intends to hold a vote on Build Back Better and infrastructure by the end of October.