By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Karine Jean-Pierre, whose long career in Democratic communications led her to the podium last year as the second Black woman to hold a White House daily briefing, will regularly host those news conferences.
On Thursday, May 5, President Joe Biden announced that he has selected the Martinique native as his next White House press secretary.
“Karine not only brings the experience, talent, and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” Biden said in a statement.
He added that outgoing press secretary Jen Psaki set the standard for returning decency, respect, and decorum to the White House Briefing Room.
Meanwhile, the historic nature of the appointment wasn’t lost on the President and others. “Karine is a lifelong public servant and fierce LGBTQ advocate,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute.
When Jean-Pierre steps to the podium on May 13, she’ll become the first Black woman and first openly gay person to hold that job.
“We are proud to have advocated for her historic nomination. As White House press secretary, she will not only be able to use her podium to represent the Biden administration but also the LGBTQ community during a time of unprecedented anti-LGBTQ hate and attacks,” Parker stated.
“As the first out LGBTQ person and the first Black person to hold this office, her appointment will inspire countless young people looking for hope and motivation during a dark chapter in our nation’s history,” Parker continued.
“Shattering this lavender ceiling is a testament to Karine’s grit, power, and commitment to our country’s potential. We are confident she will continue to be a strong ally and partner as she works in the highest office of the land.”
Psaki described Jean-Pierre as passionate. “She is smart, and she has a moral core that makes her not just a great colleague but an amazing mom and human. Plus, she has a great sense of humor,” Psaki tweeted.
National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. said Jean-Pierre’s selection demonstrates that the Biden-Harris administration has held up its promise of a diverse staff.
“The NNPA, representing the Black Press of America, resolutely congratulates Karine Jean-Pierre, elevated as senior assistant to the President and White House press secretary,” Chavis stated.
“This is another historic step forward by the Biden-Harris administration in fulfilling their promise of equity and equality in the White House.”
In a 2021 appearance on The Chavis Chronicles, the Dr. Chavis-hosted PBS-TV show, Jean-Pierre said representation matters. “We’ve seen that from the first day of this administration, the President signed an executive order to deal with racial inequity and making sure that we saw diversity and inclusion across the board in the federal government,” Jean-Pierre said during her appearance on the show with Dr. Chavis.
“We’re living in a polarized country right now, and the one thing that President talked about when he was running, he wanted to make sure that he was the President for all,” Jean-Pierre remarked.
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
America – and most notably Black America – is back to work, declared President Joe Biden as he announced one of the most robust job reports in modern times. “History has been made here,” the president declared.
The economy created 467,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate for Black workers fell to 6.9 percent and dropped to 5.8 percent for African American women.
The president highlighted the 6.6 million jobs added to the U.S. economy in the year since he took office.
“It comes alongside the largest drop in the unemployment rate in a single year on record, the largest reduction in childhood poverty ever recorded in a single year, and the strongest economic growth this country has seen in nearly 40 years,” President Biden asserted.
He also acknowledged the struggles that many American families still face, noting that prices have increased sharply during the pandemic. “Average people are getting clobbered by the cost of everything,” President Biden said. “Gas prices at the pump are up. We’re working to bring them down, but they’re up. Food prices are up. We’re working to bring them down as well.”
White House officials said they plan to enact policies to slow inflation.
Before the president’s remarks, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 222-210 to pass the COMPETES Act, a bill to help America keep up with China in the semiconductor chip industry.
The legislation seeks to tackle such economic issues as supply chain disruptions and a global shortage of semiconductor chips, essential for producing smartphones, medical equipment, and cars.
The bill would introduce several changes to American trade rules to level the playing field for domestic businesses and combat China’s market-distorting trade practices.
“Democrats are prepared to build on this extraordinary economic momentum: continuing our work to lower families’ costs, strengthen our supply chains, and make more goods in America,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared.
“Under the leadership of President Biden and House Democrats, our nation will continue to Build Back Better to create more good-paying jobs and lower costs for families across America,” Pelosi stated.
By Barrington M. Salmon
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Marc Morial said he, like much of the country, watched the tug-of-war between Democratic and Republican senators over passage of two critical voting rights bills with dismay last week.
After 50 Republicans and two Democrats voted against a carve-out to allow a debate or a vote on passage of the bills, Morial – among other civil rights leaders – were left perturbed but resolved to keep on fighting until the upper chamber of the U. S. Senate passes both bills. The fate of African-Americans and this country hang in the balance, he added.
“We’re working on precisely what happens next,” said Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans. “We will not be defeated; we will not give up. I’m dismayed and disappointed by the actions of 52 senators who will not allow this to come to floor, allow debate. This issue is far more important than the filibuster rule. Advocates and activists have to take the fight to the streets to let the public know about the obstruction of the senators. It’s old-fashioned obstructionism.”
The bills are crucial because they could override the damage already being done as dozens of state legislatures have already passed laws that are tantamount to voter suppression. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “between January 1 and December 7 last year, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.”
Morial said he expects President Joe Biden to use his executive powers and the Department of Justice to sue the states, while using the tools at its disposal to blunt voter suppression and Republican intransigence.
Aided by the filibuster, Republicans had blocked debate on legislation that combined the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act four times prior to last week’s heated debate. After the more than 10-hour deliberations, Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Machin of West Virginia joined 50 Republicans to defeat a change to the filibuster rules 52-48. Democrats needed 10 Republican votes to break the filibuster. They also failed to secure the votes to unilaterally change Senate rules to override the filibuster and allow the bill to pass with 51 rather than 60 votes.
Nsé Ufot, activist, community organizer, and the CEO of the New Georgia Project and the New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGPAF), agreed with Morial about the grave and consequential threat to democracy not passing both bills poses.
She and other primarily Black female organizers and activists have been in the trenches fighting the Republican-dominated legislature in Georgia which passed a law last year that severely restricts the freedom of Black and brown people to vote, and which also gives Republicans the power to determine which ballots voters cast will be counted.
“I’m a woman of my word and walk it as I talk it with friends, others and the trash Republican Party,” she said during a recent interview. “Republicans have been successful in framing it as a Black issue and the press has helped out by framing it as a partisan issue. But what we’re seeing is an existential threat to our democracy and our ability to govern. Bipartisanship is absolutely not a virtue. Republicans have changed the electoral infrastructure. I think Democrats get it: not being able to pass the Build Back Better Act might have been the wake-up call.”
Ufot said she and other activists have said repeatedly that the right to vote is reflective and affects
everything. “There is no Build Back Better, no student loan debt forgiveness, nothing moving,” she said. “You have to get people in the states accountable to communities. They stole seats, gerrymandered and consolidated power.”
Ufot said she doesn’t like pretending as if she doesn’t see what’s real.
“I’m greatly frustrated. The people we work with get it. When we’re hosting events, organizing, building, ordinary Americans get it,” she said. “The demand has come from ordinary people. Leaders in the House and Senate get it. The House has done its part and we’re waiting on the Senate to get it together.”
The New Georgia Project was one of coalition of voting rights organizations that boycotted President Joe Biden’s speech in Atlanta on January 11, 2020. Leaders held a press conference to announce their boycott as a way to express their deep displeasure with the way Biden has mishandled and overlooked the issue.
“Yes, boycotting this event (was) absolutely the right thing. We’re asking them to do something else with their time. Go somewhere else to Arizona or W. Virginia,” said Ria Thompson-Washington on the day of the speech. “We (Black women) brought out the vote, brought them two senators. The organizers are fine. Biden should be using his powers to ensure that these bills pass such as whipping up the Senate to ensure that the filibuster is removed, no longer allowed to influence the passage of these critical laws.”
Thompson-Washington, an activist and independent consultant on voting rights and housing issues, said Biden’s visit to Georgia was widely rejected because they (activists) have already shown what they can do.
“Every single Latinx and Black vote led to the two Georgia Senate seats. The time for Biden to come was when the Georgia legislature was passing those horrible laws. That’s when he should have been in Georgia. He should have been in Georgia on Jan 6 last year thanking people for holding the line,” she said.
Republican legislators introduced bills in the legislative session following record turnout and a surge in Black and non-white voters in the 2020 presidential election last November and the senate races in January that propelled Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossof to the US Capitol and who helped Democrats gain control of the upper chamber. The GOP has pointed to voter fraud to justify the new restrictions, despite no evidence of wrongdoing.
Former President Donald Trump and other Republican elected officials freely admit that if they allow everyone to vote, the GOP will never win an election again because they don’t have the overall numbers to do. So, under the guise of election integrity, Republicans in state houses introduced more than 500 bills to restrict voting.
More than 1.3 million people voted by mail in the 2020 general election in Georgia and since then Georgia Republicans has led the way with wave after wave of voter suppression laws, voter subversion and gerrymandering. The bill signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp includes an end the right to vote by mail without having to provide an excuse, which Georgia Republicans made law across the state in 2005. Among the law’s provisions are new limitations on the deployment of ballot drop boxes; the reduction of polling stations in Black neighborhoods; and a requirement that voters submit their driver’s license or state ID number as part of their vote-by-mail application. Republicans have also criminalized the act of providing food and/or water to voters waiting in line to vote.
But the most alarming part of the law, activists and advocates say, is the provision that gives state officials the authority to override county election board officials and allow Republicans to potentially disqualify voters in Democratic-dominated areas.
Democrats and other critics have castigated Republicans for their willingness to destroy democracy in their desperate racist bid to hold on to power, with more than a few Democrats likening Republican efforts not just to a weaponization Trump’s Big Lie about a stolen election, but also as modern-day Jim Crow tactics reminiscent of the Jim Crow/segregation era.
Ufot and Thompson-Washington said organizers will continue to do their work on the ground to bring greater numbers to the voting booth. They promised not to ease up on the pressure on Biden, Democrats or Republicans.
“We gave them the votes, a governing trifecta of the White House, the House and the Senate. Forgive me for expecting them to govern,” said Ufot. “What’s the point of winning if you won’t govern? We want you to act like the house is on fire because it is. This country has a high tolerance for Black suffering. Because this is happening to Black people, you don’t care. I’m probably not going to get invited to anymore White House dinners but I’m good with that.”
By Hamil R. Harris
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Robert Daniel was more than a supervisor at Graves County Jail. He was a father of seven who enjoyed rehabilitating inmates at a work-release at a Candle Factory in Mayfield, Ky.
Daniel was working on Dec. 10th when a mammoth tornado rumbled through his Western, Kentucky town destroying property and killing more than 80 people. Daniel was one of eight victims of a series of more than 80 tornados.
“The last thing he did was make sure [the inmates] were taken care of, even at his own peril,” said, George Workman, a co-worker at the jail who described Daniel to reporters on the scene as a hero.
Nearly 100 people have been confirmed dead along the 250-mile path of destruction in Kentucky and across the south central U.S.
President Joe Biden toured neighborhoods where homes had been reduced to piles of rubble, including bricks, personal belongings, cars flipped upside down, and trees mangled with insulation and other parts of houses and buildings. Biden has promised all federal resources available for survivors of the tragedy.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has established the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund to assist those impacted by the tornados and the severe weather system that hit only a few weeks before Christmas.
According to reports, when Daniel’s friends saw news reports of the destruction at the candle factory they rushed to the scene. Jason Blair and A.J. Ferguson said they found Daniel crushed by a big wall that fell on him. One of the inmates was found under Daniel, but survived. Blain and Ferguson said they believed it was Daniel’s large frame that saved the inmate.
Daniel’s daughter, Jenna, told CBS News that her father died saving lives, and for that, “he deserves all the honor.” She also said, “He did his job and he did it well because all of his inmates survived.”
Reported deaths: 21 in Graves County; 17 in Hopkins County; 15 in Warren County; 11 in Muhlenberg County; 4 in Caldwell County; 2 in Marshall County; and one each in Franklin, Fulton, Lyon and Taylor counties. The age range of those killed now ranges from 2 months old to 98 years old. Twelve of those killed were children.
There currently are approximately 122 Kentuckians unaccounted for as local, state and federal crews continue rescue and recovery efforts.
About 568 Kentucky National Guardsmen continue to support the storm relief. Seventy-nine soldiers and airmen completed search and extraction and fatality search and retrieval at the factory site in Mayfield, with two chaplains serving for spiritual support.
Those wanting to donate can make checks to the Kentucky State Treasurer. In the memo line please note the donation is for the “Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund.”
To help the tornado victims and their families, the checks can be sent to Public Protection Cabinet, 500 Mero Street, 218 NC, Frankfort, KY 40601.
At Daniel’s funeral, the sanctuary was packed with people – Black and White – for the burly man who had a big sense of humor and was nicknamed, “Harp,” according to the Louisville Courier journal.
“You know it’s true whenever you hear it from the inmates,” said George Workman, a Graves County jailer in the Courier Journal. “They said that he was taking care of them, telling them to get to the wall, which is the safe place. They were headed that way, and that was the last that they saw of him. He was pushing the last one of them in.”
Yvonne Coleman Bach, associate publisher, and the staff at the Louisville Defender Newspaper contributed to this story.
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Congress has finally passed the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and President Joe Biden said he would sign the bill with lawmakers present at a date he’ll determine soon.
Known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the White House called the measure a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness.
“For far too long, Washington policymakers have celebrated ‘infrastructure week’ without ever agreeing to build infrastructure,” The White House said in a statement.
“The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. After the President put forward his plan to do exactly that and then negotiated a deal with Members of Congress from both parties, this historic legislation is moving to his desk for signature.”.
The White House said the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal would rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.
“The legislation will help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains by making long overdue improvements for our nation’s ports, airports, rail, and roads,” President Biden declared.
“It will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come. Combined with the President’s Build Back Framework, it will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years.”
The President proclaimed that the bill would make historic investments in environmental clean-up and remediation, “and build up our resilience for the next superstorms, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes that cost us billions of dollars in damage each year.”
“I’m also proud that a rule was voted on that will allow for passage of my Build Back Better Act in the House of Representatives the week of November 15,” President Biden continued. The Build Back Better Act will be a once-in-a-generation investment in our people, the White House stated.
“It will lower bills for healthcare, childcare, elder care, prescription drugs, and preschool. And middle-class families get a tax cut,” President Biden demanded.
“This bill is also fiscally responsible, fully paid for, and doesn’t raise the deficit. It does so by making sure the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share and doesn’t raise taxes a single cent on anyone making less than $400,000 per year.”
Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which President Biden restored to full size after Trump’s cuts
By: Associated Press
President Joe Biden on Friday issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, lending the most significant boost yet to efforts to refocus the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus toward an appreciation of Native peoples.
The day will be observed Oct. 11, along with Columbus Day, which is established by Congress. While Native Americans have campaigned for years for local and national days in recognition of the country’s indigenous peoples, Biden’s announcement appeared to catch many by surprise.
“This was completely unexpected. Even though we’ve been talking about it and wanting it for so long,” said Hillary Kempenich, an artist and member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. In 2019, she and other tribal members successfully campaigned for her town of Grand Forks, N.D., to replace Columbus Day with a day recognizing Native peoples.
“I’m kind of overwhelmed with joy,” said Kempenich. She was waiting Friday afternoon for her eighth-grade daughter, who grew up challenging teachers’ depictions of Columbus, to come home from school so Kempenich could share the news.
“For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures,” Biden wrote in the Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation. “Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.”
In a separate proclamation on Columbus Day, Biden praised the role of Italian Americans in U.S. society, but also referenced the violence and harm Columbus and other explorers of the age brought about on the Americas.
Making landfall in what is now the Bahamas on Oct. 12, 1492, Columbus, an Italian, was the first of a wave of European explorers who decimated Native populations in the Americas in quests for gold and other wealth, including people to enslave.
“Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities,” Biden wrote. “It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past — that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.”
It’s a break from President Donald Trump’s ardent defense of “intrepid heroes” like Columbus in his 2020 proclamation of the holiday.
“Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’ legacy,” Trump said at the time. “These extremists seek to replace discussion of his vast contributions with talk of failings, his discoveries with atrocities, and his achievements with transgressions.”
Biden made the announcement on the same day the White House was disclosing its plans to restore territory to two sprawling national monuments in Utah that Trump had stripped of protections. One, Bears Ears, is on land that Native American tribes consider sacred.
Biden’s campaign against Trump saw tribal activists mobilize to get out votes for the Democrat, in activism that tribal members credited with helping Biden win some Western states.
Rep. Barbara Lee
By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor
On September 15, 2001, only three days after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers the U.S., Congress voted to give the authority for military force to President Bush.
The vote in the U.S. Senate was unanimous: 98-0. In the U.S. House, the vote was 420 to 1. That one dissenting vote was Rep. Barbara Lee of California.
Rep. Lee was opposed to giving President Bush broad and open-ended authority. She would be the lone member of Congress to vote against that authority and she would face death threats and be called a traitor for her vote.
Two decades and thousands of deaths later, Rep. Barbra Lee would be proved correct about what would become America’s longest war.
“I urged caution because I knew even then that there was no military solution in Afghanistan,” Rep. Lee, the one lawmaker who got Afghanistan right, told The Nation on August 30. Lee felt that the 60-word resolution on Afghanistan that she voted against was a “a blank check for any president to use force anywhere in the world.”
In an August 30 statement on the Afghanistan withdrawal, Congresswoman Lee said: “Twenty years ago, it was clear that rushing into war without a clearly defined mission and exit strategy would risk perpetual war. The Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction clearly illustrated in recent reports that ‘U.S. officials rarely had even a mediocre understanding of the Afghan environment, much less how it was responding to U.S. interventions,’ and that this ignorance often came 2. from a ‘willful disregard for information that may have been available.’ In a world where the threat of terrorism cannot be ignored, hopefully we will learn the lessons from the past two decades and not repeat our mistakes.”
On August 31, President Joe Biden announced that the United States was exiting Afghanistan.
“Last night in Kabul, the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan. The longest war in American history. We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety,” President Biden began.
“Leaving Aug. 31 is not due to an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to save American lives. My predecessor, the former president, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove U.S. troops by May 1, just months after I was inaugurated,” Biden further explained.
According to an analysis by Forbes, it’s estimated that the U.S. spent over $2 trillion over 20 years on the war in Afghanistan. The math comes to $300 million dollars a day, every single day, for two decades.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke
Taliban fighters enter Kabul, Afghanistan
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday defended his administration’s decision to continue with the U.S. military drawdown in Afghanistan, blaming the U.S.-backed Afghan government and military for allowing the Taliban to take over. “Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country; the Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight,” Biden said. “If anything, the developments of the past week reinforce that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.” Speaking to the American public from the White House, Biden said he stood firmly by his decision and argued that he was faced with a choice to either follow through with the drawdown or escalate the conflict into its third decade and ultimately sacrifice more American lives. “I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden said. “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces. That’s why we’re still there.” The Taliban seized control of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, on Sunday following President Ashraf Ghani’s departure from the country, bringing an abrupt end to the 20-year U.S. effort to restructure the Afghan government and its military. Within hours of the Taliban takeover, chaos erupted at Kabul’s international airport as desperate Afghans raced to flee the country. A harrowing video captured Monday showed Afghans storming the military side of the airport and clinging to a U.S. Air Force plane as it attempted to move down the tarmac. In the video, some people appear to fall to their death as the aircraft takes off. The White House appeared to be caught off guard by the Taliban’s rapid advance. Within the past few days, the U.S. was forced to send additional troops to Afghanistan to help with evacuations. The U.S. Embassy, which the State Department had insisted Thursday would remain open, was fully evacuated by Sunday evening. Over the weekend, Biden chose to stay at the president’s retreat at Camp David. “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden said Monday, insisting that his administration was prepared for all scenarios but that the Afghan government and military were unwilling to defend their own country. “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” he said, arguing that if their military was unable to mount any real resistance to the Taliban now, a few more years of U.S. troops on the ground would not have made any difference. As the Taliban took hold of the country, Democrats on Capitol Hill and former Obama administration officials joined Republicans in publicly criticizing Biden’s handling of the situation. While most agreed with the decision to remove troops, they attacked Biden’s failure to help the thousands of Afghans who assisted U.S. forces over the 20-year war effort exit the country before the Taliban took over, and the scramble to evacuate Americans from the country. Responding to criticism from some that the administration should have started to evacuate Afghans and U.S. personnel sooner, Biden said that some Afghans did not want to leave earlier on in hope that it would not have to come to that. The Afghan government also discouraged the U.S. from organizing a mass exodus out of concern that it would trigger a “crisis of confidence,” Biden said. Biden said that the U.S. was taking over air traffic control in Afghanistan to ensure that civilian and military flights could continue. He committed to continuing to help evacuate Afghan allies and vulnerable Afghans and said the U.S. would engage in regional diplomacy and would speak out about human rights, especially for women and girls. Former President Donald Trump negotiated a deal while in office with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. military personnel by May 1 of this year. After he was inaugurated, Biden said the withdrawal would be completed by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. “The events we are seeing now are sadly proof that no amount of military force would have ever delivered a stable, united, secure Afghanistan,” Biden said Monday. “I will not mislead the American people by claiming that just a little more time in Afghanistan will make all the difference.”
By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
The Senate on Tuesday, August 10, passed one of President Joe Biden’s most ambitious pieces of legislation, a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. The bill, which now must pass the House, counts as the largest federal investment in America’s public works system in more than 10 years. According to the Brookings Institution, from 2007 to 2017, total public spending on infrastructure fell by $9.9 billion in real terms. “While federal, state, and local governments have spent nominally more on infrastructure in recent years, the rising cost of materials has reduced their real spending power. As a result, real infrastructure spending nationally has fallen over the past decade, from $450.4 billion in 2007 to $440.5 billion in 2017,” Brookings researchers wrote in a report. The Senate-passed infrastructure bill encompasses each part of the American economy and should strengthen the United States’ global warming response. The bill increases funding to modernize America’s power grid and it provides funds to better manage climate risks. Aging public works projects around the nation would receive hundreds of billions of dollars for repairs and replacements. “This infrastructure bill’s major investments in transit will connect many more Americans to opportunities,” stated Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. To gain bipartisan support, lawmakers reduced the original amount and scope of President Biden’s initial proposal for infrastructure. The President initially sought more than $2 trillion, but the White House said the paired down plan still addresses major problems including American roads and transit. Still, following a United Nation’s panel of scientist issuing a “Code Red” alert on climate, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), reminded her social media followers that $1 trillion isn’t enough. “This dire warning from the world’s scientists comes as the Senate is preparing to vote on an infrastructure bill that utterly fails to meet the scale of the climate crisis,” the always outspoken congresswoman argued. “Reconciliation is now our country’s best chance to help stop the worst effects of climate change,” she concluded. It’s the reconciliation process that Democrats are eyeing to push through a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that includes more aid to protect the environment. The budget plan also would expand Medicare coverage to dental, vision and hearing benefits. It would lower Medicare’s eligibility age below its current 65, and expand the child tax credit beyond 2022, meaning the $300 monthly checks would continue. The budget also includes tax breaks for low-wage earners and for childcare. The package provides funding for health care, climate change, education, and it would increase taxes on corporations and those considered wealthy. It helps secure universal education for children three and four years old and makes community college free for two years. If passed, the budget plan would increase the Pell Grant award, and invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, other minority-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities. The bill also would accomplish a major goal of the Biden-Harris administration, installing the first federally paid family leave program. Funds also are earmarked for home health care, housing, job training, child nutrition, and to reduce the cost of health insurance and medication. Investments would go toward green and sustainable housing, production and housing affordability, and workforce development. Also, millions of immigrant workers and families would gain a path to citizenship and the government would make “the largest one-time investment in Native American infrastructure projects,” a White House official stated. The Internal Revenue would see more money, enabling the agency added resources to collect unpaid taxes. It’s expected that Democrats will employ the reconciliation process, avoiding a GOP-led filibuster of the legislation.