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As you may have seen yesterday, a number of Senate Republicans and Democrats came together to negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
While the amount of money proposed, $579 billion in new funds over 8 years, is far less than needed and the method for paying for these projects has some major problems, there is no question but that we need a major investment in our crumbling roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, public transit and broadband.
There has been some confusion as to what happens next. So, as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, let me be very clear in joining President Biden, House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer in saying:
There will be no bipartisan bill unless there is also major legislation which, finally, addresses the long-neglected needs of the working families of our country as well as the existential threat to our planet of climate change. The two bills must go forward together.
We can no longer ignore the reality that half our people — Black, White, Latino, Native American and Asian American — live paycheck to paycheck, millions work for starvation wages and our younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living than their parents. We must act NOW.
We can no longer ignore the reality that climate change is causing devastating destruction in our country and around the world. We must act NOW.
We can no longer ignore the reality that we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all and that we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. We must act NOW.
We can no longer ignore the reality that we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee paid family and medical leave. We must act NOW.
We can no longer ignore the reality that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth and that our childcare and pre-K systems are dysfunctional. We must act NOW.
We can no longer ignore the reality that we are an aging society and that millions of senior citizens and people with disabilities require high-quality home health care. We must act NOW.
We can no longer ignore the reality that there are almost 600,000 homeless people in America and some 18 million households that spend at least 50% of their limited incomes on housing. We must act NOW.
We can no longer ignore the reality that millions of bright young people are either unable to afford a higher education because of the cost, or are leaving school deeply in debt. We must act NOW.
We can no longer ignore the reality that there are over 10 million undocumented people in this country, many of whom are performing critical and dangerous work during the pandemic. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We must act NOW.
We can no longer ignore the reality that some of the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country pay little or nothing in federal taxes. We must act NOW.
We are living in an unprecedented moment in American history and the Democratic majority in Congress, slim though it is, must show that it has the courage to act boldly and decisively in addressing the multiple crises we now face.
As we speak I, and other members of the Senate, are working on the most consequential budget for working people in the modern history of this country, a budget that I hope and expect will be voted on within the next month. As we go forward we will face massive opposition from Republicans, from wealthy campaign contributors, from corporate interests and their lobbyists, and from much of the media. But, in the midst of all this opposition, we must prevail. Now is the time to restore faith on the part of the American people that they have a government in this country that is working for them, not just the 1%.
Please help us pass this budget. Please make your voice heard.
Now is not the time to think small. It is the time to think and act BIG. But big change in this country never happens without a grassroots movement of people coming together and demanding action. And that starts with you making your voice heard. So what do you say?
It is time to get our priorities right in this country, and that starts with getting the American people the help they desperately need right now.