July 17, 2020

Duckworth, Durbin Join Leader Schumer & Senate Democrats in Announcing Historic $350 Billion Investment in Black Communities and Communities of Color

Senate Democrats’ Economic Justice Act would seek to reprogram hundreds of billions of unspent CARES Act funds Given to Dept. of Treasury to prop up Wall Street and big corporations


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and 12 of their colleagues yesterday in unveiling the Economic Justice Act, a major new legislative proposal to make $350 billion in immediate and long-term investments in Black communities and other communities of color. For far too long, Congress has underfunded critical priorities like public health, child care, infrastructure, and job creation in these communities. Senate Democrats’ plan would make a historic federal commitment to communities of color through ten major investments over the next five years.

“This deadly pandemic has put a spotlight on the overwhelming inequities in our healthcare, economic and environmental protection systems that have plagued communities of color for far too long,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m proud to join Leader Schumer in introducing the Economic Justice Act, a critical piece of legislation that would help address decades of injustice by increasing access to child care and community healthcare, confronting the maternal mortality crisis and investing in infrastructure in communities of color in Illinois and across our nation.”

“The Economic Justice Act makes a robust economic investment in Black and Brown communities across America that have been underfunded for generations,” said Senator Durbin. “The bill would provide $350 billion to help child care providers, expand public health care, improve job training, support at-risk youth, and increase access to capital for minority-owned businesses.  If we are serious about lifting up communities of color that have faced generations of inequalities, it starts by putting our money where our mouth is and passing this bill.”  

"Long before the pandemic, long before this recession, long before this year’s protests, structural inequalities have persisted in health care and housing, the economy and education,” said Senator Schumer. “Covid-19 has only magnified these injustices and we must confront them with lasting, meaningful solutions that tear down economic and social barriers, and reinvest in historically underserved communities. The Economic Justice Act is a needed step in a long journey to address systematic racism and historic underinvestment in communities of color."

Senate Democrats’ Economic Justice Act would seek to partially offset the cost of the proposal by re-programming $200 billion of unspent CARES Act funds that were previously provided to the Department of Treasury to facilitate corporate lending by the Federal Reserve. Instead of allowing hundreds of billions of dollars in government assistance to sit idly at the Treasury, Senate Democrats would seek to re-program these dollars during negotiations for a fourth COVID-19 bill, in tandem with the robust provisions of the House’s Heroes Act. Importantly, this proposal would be in addition to the historic House-passed Heroes Act, not a replacement or supplement.

The Economic Justice Act has two main objectives: to immediately help communities of color respond to the pandemic through a $135 billion investment in child care, mental health and primary care, and jobs, and to build wealth and health in these communities over the next five years by investing $215 billion as a down payment for infrastructure, a homeowner down payment tax credit, Medicaid expansion, and more.

A summary of Senate Democrats’ Economic Justice Act can be found here and below and a backgrounder can be found here.

Duckworth, Durbin and Schumer were joined by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in introducing this legislation.