Week Ending May 28, 2021

President’s $6 Trillion Budget Released

 

Take Action to Support Unprecedented Increases in Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Programs

New Proposals Would Allocate an Additional $257 Billion for Infrastructure

  • White House Action
    • President’s $6 Trillion Budget Invests Robustly in Public Services
  • In Congress
    • Another Week, Another Infrastructure Proposal
    • Child Care Is Infrastructure
    • Building Child Care for a Better Future Act
    • Kristen Clarke Confirmed

President’s $6 Trillion Budget Invests Robustly in Public Services 

The complete $6 trillion president’s budget was released today, adding proposals for taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for investments, expanding entitlement programs like Medicare, and updating the earlier “skinny” version from April to provide a full 10-year outlook. These investments to build back better would increase federal investments to its highest levels since World War II, a welcome shift from the austerity of the past decade that was imposed by severe budget caps. President Lee Saunders praised the budget.

AFSCME is working closely with Congress to include the president’s proposed budget increases in its funding bills, which will begin to move in the House in mid-June. The first step is to divide the $6 trillion among House and Senate funding subcommittees. Many of AFSCME’s funding priorities are in the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Subcommittee. Please join us by emailing us to sign onto the allies letter below that urges support for a significant increase in the Labor HHS slice of the budget pie to implement the president’s and AFSCME’s priorities, including Unemployment Insurance (UI), employment services, worker safety, public and higher education, child care and early learning, public health, mental and behavioral health services, and museums and libraries.

EMAIL FOR YOUR AFFILIATE TO JOIN ALLIES AND URGE A NEEDED INCREASE IN LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Another Week, Another Infrastructure Proposal

Republican senators released their latest counter proposal on infrastructure Thursday, after negotiations cooled following last week’s meeting with the White House. The new package totals $928 billion, with increases of $257 billion over current levels. The original package of $568 billion only included $175 billion in increased added spending.

Much of the new spending comes from existing legislation already agreed to that is on its way to passage: $91 billion for roads and bridges; $48 billion for water infrastructure; $25 billion for airports; $22 billion for freight and passenger rail; and $6 billion for water storage in the West.

To pay for the package, Republicans propose rescinding unspent money from the American Rescue Plan, including state and local aid, child tax credits and health care, all of which are non-starters.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously approved the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act, which would increase funding for roads and bridges by 34% to $304 billion over five years. The bill now advances to the full Senate while other committees complete work on transit and financing, among other areas. Current surface transportation programs expire on Sept. 30.

Child Care is Infrastructure

The child care investments in the American Jobs Plan are modeled on House Education and Workforce Chair Bobby Scott’s (D-Va.) and Senate Education’s Chair Patty Murray’s (D- Wash.) Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA). A recent report from the Center for American Progress finds the proposal would benefit 76% of working families, including nearly 10 million children under the age of 6, who would be eligible for free or reduced-cost child care under the bill – with costs capped on a sliding scale between 0 and 7% of household income. Importantly, the bill would also guarantee livable wages for the early care and education workforce; fund professional development; establish scholarships for workers to obtain credentials; and partner with higher education institutions to develop a pipeline of qualified educators. AFSCME strongly supports the American Jobs Plans and the CCWFA.

Building Child Care for a Better Future Act

A new bill from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), would provide $5 billion to child care entitlement funds without requiring a state match and establish a $5 billion grant program to improve child care supply, quality and affordability targeted at areas that lack affordable options. The bill follows the release of a report calling for $700 billion for child care, an essential piece of post-pandemic recovery.

Kristen Clarke Confirmed as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

After many delays due to Republican opposition, the Senate approved Kristen Clarke as assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice. AFSCME urged her approval and President Saunders noted, “At a moment in American history when too many people continue to confront systemic discrimination, we need someone leading the Civil Rights Division who has impeccable professional credentials, a deep sense of integrity and an abiding passion for justice. Kristen Clarke is that person.”

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