Black Caucus pushes for priorities in final deal

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) is seen outside the House Chamber as the House conducts the first votes of the week on Monday, July 19, 2021.
Greg Nash

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Tuesday that she has made a vigorous push in recent weeks to make sure that Black communities are prioritized in the final version of President Biden’s Build Back Better package.

“We diligently championed our priorities and are proud to see their inclusion in this reconciliation package,” Beatty said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, noting that she had met with the White House more than a handful of times in recent weeks.

“This is an important start and it demonstrates progress.”

Beatty’s statement came after she and other CBC members took part in a broad lawmaker meeting with senior White House staff early Tuesday afternoon that included representation from the Tri Caucus Women’s Caucus and LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus.

To White House staff attending the meeting included Susan Rice, the director of the Domestic Policy Council; Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council; and senior Biden advisor Cedric Richmond, who is formerly a CBC member and lawmaker from Louisiana.

Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, were also present at the meeting.

Standing outside of the White House after the meeting, Beatty told reporters that Democrats are “close to a deal” on their budget reconciliation package, which initially sported a price tag of $3.5 trillion.

The original goal of the package, also known as Biden’s Build Back Better plan, was to significantly expand the country’s social safety nets, including many provisions that were cut out of the bipartisan infrastructure plan. 

However, objections over the bill’s cost — and how to pay for it — from centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) forced Democrats back to the negotiating table where they’ve been stuck for weeks.

That said, an end to the deadlock might come this week, as Democratic leadership and the White House are eager to have a deal worked out before Biden embarks on an overseas trip Thursday.

In her statement, Beatty cited funding for HBCUs, the expanded child tax credit and housing vouchers as some of the policy points that the Black Caucus pushed to be included.

The Ohio congresswoman added that the caucus remains committed to voting rights and police reform, describing both as “nonnegotiable from the CBC’s standpoint.”

Unlike the budget package, legislative progress on voting rights and police reform has been hard to come by this session.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) spent the spring and summer trying to broker a deal on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Democrats’ pair of voting rights bills — The Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — have both passed the House this session, only to be stonewalled by the Senate filibuster.

Last week, the Freedom to Vote Act fell prey to a Senate cloture vote, keeping debate of the bill off the Senate floor. The latest setback has renewed calls for some form of filibuster reform, a strategy that Sinema and Manchin have yet to support.

Tags Brian Deese Build Back Better Cecilia Rouse Cedric Richmond Congressional Black Caucus Cory Booker Joe Biden Joe Manchin Joyce Beatty Karen Bass Kyrsten Sinema police reform Susan Rice Tim Scott

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