Harris announces new alliance to close the racial wealth gap
The VP has secured investments in communities of color from the founding members of the Economic Opportunity Coalition. Plus: Schumer calls for party unity as Dems push Biden’s legislative agenda.
Vice President Kamala Harris has emerged as the Biden administration’s highest-ranking advocate for reproductive freedom in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, — a ruling pro-abortion rights groups characterize as a public health crisis.
But the vice president took a break from her outreach to discuss another urgent crisis: The racial and gender wealth gaps.
During a visit on Thursday afternoon to Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, Harris announced the Economic Opportunity Coalition, a new public-private partnership that will invest billions in underserved communities across the country.
The coalition is comprised of over 20 private organizations — including Google, Bank of America, McKinsey & Company, the Rockefeller Foundation and The Resurrection Project, along with six government agencies — that have committed themselves to major investments in communities of color and force multiply the work the Biden administration has advanced on this front.
“America is a nation powered by the ambition and the aspiration of her people — the ambition and the aspiration to turn dreams into reality, to start a business, to own a home, to get an education,” she said. “That is the energy and ambition that has always been a driver of America moving forward. It creates jobs, it sparks innovation, it expands the economy and it makes our nation more competitive.”
Harris acknowledged though that nonwhite people and women have historically been excluded from access to the resources they need to start and sustain small businesses.
The EOC hopes to level the playing field in four ways:
Investing in community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository institutions (MDIs)
Supporting entrepreneurship and minority-owned businesses (!!!)
Expanding inclusive and equitable access to credit and other financial services facilitating financial health
Making infrastructure investments that create more community wealth by preserving and expanding affordable rental housing and homeownership in underserved neighborhoods
As I sat in the auditorium listening to Harris’s remarks, I wondered how the coalition plans to reach new creators and entrepreneurs who are unaffiliated with the organizations and associations that often connect their communities to these types of opportunities.
This is expected to be top of mind as the White House convenes in the coming weeks and months for coalition members and other industry stakeholders, data scientists, advocates and agencies to share data and assessments on existing credit reporting practices and discuss potential policy and industry action.
The administration also said the EOC will build on its investments to develop new solutions on how to leverage existing assets to address the root causes of economic inequality.
”You know, these days, we talk a lot about the economy. Well, let us understand: We all do better as a nation when all our communities do better,” Harris said. “It’s that old saying about ‘the rising tide lifts all ships.’ And so that is the spirit with which we do this work.”
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⭑ CBC and frontliners near deal for police funding: Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, who also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, is close to an agreement with two Democrats in competitive elections this fall on a pair of police funding/public safety bills, Jake Sherman at Punchbowl News reports.
House Democratic leaders hoped to vote on the package earlier this week to give their frontline members one more legislative victory to campaign on in August in the face of “soft-on-crime” criticisms from Republicans. But the CBC and Congressional Progressive Caucus withheld their support because the bills lacked the accountability language that the groups feel would deter rogue policing.
The CBC is scheduled to meet this morning and top House Democrats could bring the package to the floor as early as today if it has the votes.
Schumer calls for party unity: In a closed-door meeting to discuss the deal he brokered on Wednesday with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to pay for billions of investments in climate action and health care by raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer gave members a pep talk focused on solidarity.
“It will require us to stick together and work long days and nights for the next 10 days,” Schumer said, per Jake at Punchbowl. “We will need to be disciplined in our messaging and focus. It will be hard. But I believe we can get this done.” Read Jake's thread on the meeting
Schumer also reflected on the priorities Senate Democrats promised to focus when they reclaimed the majority from Republicans: Expanding the Affordable Care Act, passing an infrastructure bill, passing gun safety and mental health legislation, bringing manufacturing jobs home, letting Medicare negotiate for prescription drugs and addressing the climate crisis.
“We have now been in the longest 50-50 Senate in history,” he said. “It has been a wild ride and there have been many ups and downs.”
But Democrats have a chance to pass the bulk of their agenda ahead of the 2022 midterms, adding to the case that they should stay in power despite a favorable political environment for Republicans.
COVID jumbles the Senate’s math: Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.
And although he’s experiencing mild symptoms, his absence could pose an issue for the caucus since they’ll need every member of the caucus to pass their reconciliation package ahead of August recess. Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the architects of the provisions, is currently isolated after testing positive for COVID earlier this week. Read Sen. Durbin’s tweet
Dems and veterans advocates attack Senate GOP: House and Senate Democrats, veterans service organizations and veterans advocate Jon Stewart held a press conference to lay into Senate Republicans for blocking the passage of a bill that would provide health care to veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits on deployment.
The legislation passed 84-14 in June but had to be reconsidered due to a technicality in the House. Republicans said they voted against advancing the legislation because Democratic leaders have failed to schedule votes on two related amendments.
Post-Roe America horror stories: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the Democratic Women’s and Pro-Choice caucuses this morning held a press conference to share the stories of people impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion care and the statewide bans that abortion-rights advocates say criminalize access to reproductive health care.
Related: Murray proposes bill to repeal Hyde: Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington introduced legislation that would revoke the Hyde Amendment — a provision that bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, except to save the life of the birthing person or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.
“In the face of Republicans’ unprecedented attacks on our reproductive freedom, I won’t shy away from bold solutions,” Murray said in a statement. “Every single person deserves to have full control over their own bodies, lives and futures: that’s the future I fight for every day, and that’s the future this bill would help deliver.”
Murray’s bill also invests $350 million for a new fund to expand access to care for women seeking abortion services, including assistance to cover the costs of services, travel, child care, lodging and other barriers that impede access and another $496 million to combat the maternal mortality crisis, which disproportionately affects women of color.
Batter up: Congressional Republicans shut out Democrats on Thursday evening at their annual charity baseball game at Nationals Park.
The event raises money for four organizations: The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, the Washington Literacy Center and the US Capitol Police Memorial Fund.
House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Pete Aguilar on Wednesday said the event represents “summer in DC” and said he and his Democratic teammates had been practicing at 7:30 a.m. to get ready.
⭑ WH launches new youth mental health campaign: The Biden administration announced two new actions designed to improve school-based mental health services and address the youth mental health crisis.
First, the Education Department will invest $300 billion to help schools hire more school-based mental health professionals and build a strong pipeline into the profession for the upcoming school year with a goal of doubling the number of school counselors, social workers and other mental health professionals over the next five years.
Second, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have called on governors to invest in these services with the resources they’ve received from previous federal funding.
“In the coming weeks and months, the Administration will continue delivering on President Biden’s promise to bolster and grow the mental health workforce, connect more people to care, and create supportive environments, including in our schools, that promote mental well-being and recovery,” White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement.
A White House official said the Biden administration will engage in a big push this summer and fall to promote these investments and its focus on mental health
Agencies clarify guidance on birth control coverage: The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury issued new guidance to clarify that most private health plans under the Affordable Care Act are required to provide birth control and family planning counseling at no additional cost.
The guidance comes as Senate Republicans have blocked their Democratic colleagues from enshrining the right to contraception into federal law after Justice Clarence Thomas said the Supreme Court should revisit the case that protects the right. Read the guidance
Public health officials endorse fall booster campaign: Leaders at the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended the Biden administration plan to offer reformulated booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna this fall instead of expanding eligibility for a second booster for people under 50 now, Noah Weiland and Sharon LaFraniere at NYT report.
Members of the White House COVID-19 response team reportedly argued younger Americans should get their second booster ASAP, the FDA and CDC officials think a more effective booster would achieve their goal of strengthening everyone’s immunity this fall ahead of a possible winter surge of the virus.
44 gives props to 46: Former President Barack Obama gave a shoutout to President Biden for the progress his old running mate and Democratic predecessor has made on his legislative agenda.
“I’m grateful to President Biden and those in Congress — Democrat and Republican — who are working to deliver for the American people,” Obama said. “Progress doesn’t always happen all at once, but it does happen — and this is what it looks like.” Read the 46th president’s thread
Biden-Xi, Part 5: President Biden spoke on Thursday morning for a little over two hours with President Xi Jinping of China. It’s the fifth call between the two leaders since Biden took office and comes as Congress passed a $280 billion innovation bill to reduce the US economy’s reliance on China’s tech sector. See the readout of the call.
ICYMI: The economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the second quarter, as the Biden administration fends off fears the US is entering a recession (or is already experiencing one).
Gross domestic product, the measure economists use to measure growth, fell 0.4 in the first three months of the year.
While two consecutive quarters of economic decline meet the common criteria for a recession, President Joe Biden framed the downturn as an expected result of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates and pointed to the strong labor market and sustained consumer spending as reasons our economy is stronger than his critics claim. Read the full report … Read Biden’s statement
NYC and SF issue new monkeypox declarations: New York State has labeled the viral disease an imminent threat while San Francisco has announced a state of emergency due to the recent outbreak, Doha Madani and Aria Bendix at NBC News report.
The declarations will allow the cities to tap into additional state and federal resources and adapt their public response as experts anticipate wider community spread.
Related: HHS announced an additional 786,000 doses of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine for states and jurisdictions to add to the 340,000 that it says has already been delivered.
Even NYC’s BEC can’t escape inflation: Some New Yorkers are paying almost twice as much for their bacon, egg and cheese — a beloved bodega sandwich — due to high inflation caused by the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, Robert Bumstead at AP News reports. We used to be a country, I tell you.
TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing. There are no additional public events on his schedule.
Vice President Harris will be in DC and has no events on her public schedule.
The House is in and will take votes on bills to ban private ownership of lions and tigers. Members will also consider wildfire and drought relief legislation and bills related to public safety.
The Senate is out.