Issue Report
For Immediate Release: 
December 31, 2021
Contact Info: 
Margaret Mulkerrin 202-225-3130
To:        Editors, Editorial Writers, Reporters
From:   House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer
Re:        House Democrats Delivered “For The People” in 2021
Date:    December 31, 2021

Overview


Despite the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, House Democrats delivered results For The People this year, furthering America’s economic recovery and providing much-needed assistance to American workers, communities, and businesses.  The 117th Congress began with a spike in COVID-19 infections, a deadly insurrection instigated by the former president, and unprecedented economic challenges. In response, the House took immediate action by enacting the American Rescue Plan and by exercising its oversight responsibilities under the Constitution.  Over the course of the year, President Biden and Democrats in Congress have taken bold and consequential action to lead our country out of the COVID-19 pandemic and toward a better future through enactment of the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure law, as well as House passage of the Build Back Better Act. In addition to these historic measures, House Democrats continue to deliver solutions to the problems Americans are facing today and remain committed to setting our country on a path to greater economic security and prosperity in the years to come.

Building Back Better from the Pandemic

This year, House Democrats passed three pieces of major legislation aimed at turning the tide of the pandemic, jump-starting our economic recovery with investments in infrastructure, and increasing economic security for all Americans.  In a year that has tested us in unprecedented ways, programs contained in these laws have helped Americans get through the pandemic safely, stay above water financially, and begin to build back better.  The American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act have now been signed into law; the Build Back Better Act is under consideration in the Senate. 

The American Rescue Plan

The impact of the American Rescue Plan, enacted in March, is already visible in communities across the country.  Over the past nine months, funding from this emergency relief law has allowed for the distribution of more than 161 million direct stimulus payments to American households, expanded the Child Tax Credit and provided families of 65 million children – or 88% of all children in America – with up to $3,600 per child this year, extended unemployment insurance, and expanded eligibility to more small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.  The American Rescue Plan made it possible for schools and businesses to reopen and for Americans to get back to work, helping create nearly 6 million new jobs just in the past eleven months.  It has also saved countless lives by helping states and communities administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

The bipartisan infrastructure law, enacted last month, represents a historic investment in our country’s future that will create millions of high-paying jobs and set the United States on a path to a stronger, greener, and more prosperous economy.  This law directs $1.2 trillion toward rebuilding and expanding infrastructure, including roads, highways, and bridges, with a focus on low-income and rural areas.  The law invests $55 billion to improve water quality throughout the country, with an emphasis on eliminating lead pipes and addressing PFAS contamination.  It also expands access to at-home broadband to an estimated 42 million Americans, makes the largest investment in clean-energy transmission and electric-vehicle infrastructure in history, and funds more-reliable public transportation. These policies and others contained in this historic law are expected to create an estimated 2 million American jobs every year over the next decade and will take significant steps to address the climate crisis, promote equity in our economy, and increase opportunity for businesses and workers.

The Build Back Better Act

The next step of Democrats’ recovery agenda is the Build Back Better Act, which has already passed the House. This bill will bring down costs for families, including by providing affordable child care and elder care; take action to expand health care access; and address the climate crisis; among other initiatives designed to help Americans achieve economic security and get ahead.

The Build Back Better Act invests in affordable child care, elder care, and care for those with disabilities – all of which will help caregivers and their families.  Under Democrats’ plan, three- and four-year-olds will have access to universal pre-kindergarten, a program that is expected to help states provide free early-childhood education to 6 million additional children each year.  The bill also caps the cost of child care for many families at 7% of their income while making it easier for them to find affordable child care by expanding the child-care workforce.  Experts estimate that this will expand child care access to nine out of ten American families with children and will save families in thirty-two states over $100 each on a weekly basis.  It will benefit our entire economy by helping millions of women get back into the workforce.  The Build Back Better Act extends the expanded Child Tax Credit, which helps families afford essential costs like food, housing, utilities, and education.  

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequities in our country’s health care system that have, for far too long, prevented Americans from getting the care they need.  Accessing life-saving care should never mean sacrificing financial security, and with the Build Back Better Act those who were left out of Medicaid expansion in certain states will finally have access to affordable health care.  The Build Back Better Act will strengthen the Affordable Care Act, close the Medicaid coverage gap, and lower prescription drug prices in order to combat disparities in health care access.  This will be the largest expansion of health care access since the Affordable Care Act, reducing premiums for 9 million Americans and providing health care coverage to an additional 4 million.

The Build Back Better Act will also make historic investments to address the climate crisis, strengthen the clean-energy economy, and reduce energy costs for American businesses and families.  If left unchecked, the economic and environmental costs of climate change will be devastating to our country and to our economy; we need to take significant climate action now, and the Build Back Better Act represents the single largest investment in combating climate change in any nation’s history.  Included in this legislation are programs that will advance clean-energy manufacturing, expand clean-energy tax credits, make purchasing an electric vehicle more affordable, increase our resilience to extreme weather, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than a gigaton by 2030.  Moreover, these investments are projected to save the average American household hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs.

The Build Back Better Act, along with the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure law, is about much more than recouping the economic losses sustained during the pandemic.  It is about ensuring that all Americans can build up financial security to sustain them in the event of a future crisis.  This legislation will address the inequities exacerbated by the pandemic, so that everyone has the opportunities they need to make it in America.

Defending Democracy and Securing Civil Rights

The Republican assault on voting rights in the United States is unacceptable, and House Democrats are committed to ensuring that all eligible Americans can have their voices heard at the ballot box.  That means not only protecting the right to vote but also limiting the influence of dark money in our politics, securing our elections, and reforming the redistricting process.  The House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, in March, and H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, in August, with these aims in mind.  If enacted, these bills would secure the fundamental right to vote for millions of Americans, particularly those living in the Republican-controlled states passing voter suppression measures.

The House also passed H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, in April, a bill that would admit the District of Colombia as a state, granting it full representation in the House and Senate.  It is egregious that 700,000 residents of D.C. have been denied equal representation in Congress for so long; this bill would end this injustice and ensure that D.C. residents, a majority of whom are African American, no longer face taxation without representation. 

This year, Americans also celebrated Juneteenth as a federal holiday for the first time after the House passed the bipartisan Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.  This action recognizes the emancipation of those held in slavery in 1865 and will help more Americans learn the history of African American resilience and struggle for freedom.  Furthermore, the House took the historic step of voting on legislation sponsored by Leader Hoyer and others to remove statues from the U.S. Capitol that pay tribute to those who supported the Confederacy and perpetuated the evils of slavery, segregation, and sedition.  H.R. 3005, the Remove Hate from the Capitol Act, would ensure that the tributes in our nation’s Capitol align with the values of our country.

Just as it is crucial to protect voting rights and ensure fair representation, it is essential that we defend the civil rights of all Americans.  In February, the House passed H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate against any individual based on one’s gender identity or sexual orientation.  LGBTQ Americans should never be made to feel unsafe or face discrimination because of how they identify, and House Democrats are committed to making sure they are fully covered under federal civil rights laws.

Protecting civil rights also means holding police officers accountable for misconduct.  In March, Democrats in the House passed H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to address police misconduct and racial bias in our justice system, which for far too long have placed African Americans at higher risk of  losing their lives during interactions with law enforcement.  It is essential that all Americans feel safe and protected in their communities, regardless of race, and that police officers can perform their jobs safely and with the trust of their communities. 

In order to safeguard the institutions of our democracy and the system of checks and balances under our Constitution, the House passed the Protect Our Democracy Act earlier this month.  This legislation addresses the systemic weaknesses in our democratic institutions that were exploited under the previous administration by those who sought the aggrandizement of power or personal gain from holding public office.  In addition to holding future presidents accountable for criminal conduct, it strengthens protections for whistleblowers and ensures the independence of inspectors-general.

Working for Safer Communities, Schools, and Streets

As we work to keep Americans safe in their communities, House Democrats are committed to addressing the epidemic of gun violence in our country.  Nowhere else in the world are mass shootings, particularly in schools, such a tragically common occurrence – as we were reminded just this month during the shooting in Oxford, Michigan, that claimed the lives of four students.  By strengthening background checks, a move that the vast majority of Americans support, we can address one of the primary loopholes in our current system.  In March, the House passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act.  Together, these bills would close the loopholes that have contributed to so many deadly shootings and would prevent those who cannot be trusted to use firearms responsibly from gaining access to these dangerous weapons.  

Legislation to Defend Women’s Rights

It is unconscionable that in 2021, gender-based discrimination still negatively affects the careers, rights, and safety of women across our country.  Women, particularly women of color, dropped out of the workforce in record numbers during the pandemic, in large part because of preexisting inequities in our economy.  House Democrats are working to address these disparities and open up greater opportunities for women to return to work.  H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed the House in April, would ensure women receive equal pay for equal work, building on the protections in the Equal Pay Act and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and preventing businesses from underpaying workers based on their sex or gender identity.  In May, we passed H.R. 1065, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would prevent discrimination in the workplace as a result of pregnancy.  H.R. 3110, the PUMP Act, which passed the House in October, ensures breastfeeding rights for working moms.  The decision to start a family should never pose a risk to a woman’s career or job prospects, and this legislation ensures that pregnant employees receive reasonable accommodations to secure their place in the workforce. 

In addition to workplace protections for women, in March, the House passed H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which includes essential programs to address domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault and dating violence, along with protections for immigrant women vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.  It is essential that we continue to reaffirm our commitment to VAWA and its protections, among other legislation to defend women’s rights and safety.

In response to Republicans’ assault on women’s right to reproductive choice through lawsuits and state legislation, the House passed H.R. 3745, the Women’s Health Protection Act.  This bill would enshrine the ruling of Roe v. Wade in federal statute for the first time.  House Democrats remain committed to doing everything possible to protect women’s reproductive choice and ensure that women in every state can access the health care they seek.

Standing Up for American Workers

America’s workers remain the backbone of our economy and competitiveness, helping us make it through the pandemic and forming the core of Democrats’ strategy to build back better.  That’s why we passed the National Apprenticeship Act in February, key legislation to help promote pathways into jobs for students and to help workers learn in-demand skills. 

Recognizing the need to stand up for workers’ rights, particularly after four years of the prior administration undermining them at every turn, House Democrats also passed legislation this year to protect workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively for better pay and benefits. The PRO Act, which passed the House in March, would secure that right, hold employers accountable for workers’ rights violations, and protect free and fair union elections.  American workers must be able to organize without fear of retribution or intimidation from their employers.  The positive impact of unions was particularly evident this year, as workers across the country fought to secure safe working conditions during the pandemic.  This legislation would help to ensure that the workers who keep our economy running are beneficiaries of the growth they generate for our country.

This commitment to American workers began from the very start in January, when we kicked off the year by passing H.R. 1230, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, which strengthens the safeguards in place to prevent older Americans from being denied equal employment and prevents discrimination in the workplace.

Conserving Public Lands and Addressing the Climate Crisis

Meeting our nation’s commitment to conserving our great open spaces, the House passed H.R. 803, the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, in February to set aside approximately 1.5 million acres of land and more than 1,000 river miles for preservation.  Further, this legislation sets as a goal to conserve at least 30% of America’s land by 2030.  Additionally, the bipartisan infrastructure law funds major, transformative projects in clean-energy transportation, including electric-vehicle charging networks.  The Build Back Better Act, which the House passed in November, would be the largest investment in addressing the climate crisis made by any nation in history.  With these and other actions this year, the Democratic House laid down an unassailable marker as the most climate- and conservation-focused in modern history.

Protecting Immigrants and Refugees

America is a nation of immigrants; ensuring protections for those who have contributed so much to our communities and economy is a key Democratic priority, as we remain focused on fixing our broken immigration system.  In March, the House passed H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and those with T.P.S. and D.E.D. status.  H.R. 1603, the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which also passed the House in March, would provide legal permanent status to laborers who provide essential support to our agriculture industry. Together, these would end the threat of deportation and family separation for as many as 4 million immigrants currently contributing to our economy.

Another key piece of legislation, the NO BAN Act, which passed the House in April, would ensure that no future president has the authority to enact discriminatory travel bans or actions to prevent individuals from legally seeking asylum or refugee status.  We saw how dangerous this power can be in the wrong hands; no one should face a ban on entry to the United States because of religion or race. 

Defending America and Meeting Our Commitments Around the World

Earlier this month, the House came together with the Senate to enact the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, meeting our commitment to our nation’s defense.  In addition to raising pay for our troops, it includes protections for women in our Armed Forces seeking redress for sexual assault.  Furthermore, it contains provisions aimed at combating extremism in our ranks and expanding paid leave and child-care benefits for military personnel. 

In July, the House passed the ALLIES Act, which would increase access to visas for Afghan citizens who provided critical assistance to our mission in Afghanistan.  This legislation, key provisions of which became law in as part of the Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, honors their service and would ensure the protection of those who helped keep our troops safe abroad and their families.

After the deadly attacks on Israeli communities from Hamas’s rockets launched from Gaza this spring, House Democrats declared our resolve to fund the replenishment of the critical Iron Dome missile defense system.  That system saved countless lives and prevented the destruction of property, and its success has been a reflection of the close defense and security cooperation between the United States and Israel.  In September, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5323 to replenish the Iron Dome system.  Unfortunately, Republican Senator Rand Paul has been filibustering this broadly supported bill in the Senate, and Israel’s border communities will not be fully protected from Hamas’s rockets until he removes his hold and allows the Senate to send this legislation to President Biden to sign into law.

Looking Ahead to 2022

House Democrats, energized by the positive impact we’ve already seen from the legislation enacted and passed in 2021, are looking forward to building on this momentum and working in 2022 to continue delivering results For The People.  This means continuing to work toward sending the Build Back Better Act to President Biden’s desk so we can help Americans achieve real economic security and get ahead.  

It is deeply unfortunate and irresponsible that much of the major legislation the House passed this year currently sits idle in the Senate, held hostage by the antiquated filibuster rule and its abuse by Senate Republicans.  Despite this ongoing challenge, Democrats in the House remain committed to delivering on our promises to the American people, and in 2022 we will continue our efforts to build back more equitably from the pandemic, creating an economy that works for all.