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93 Groups Urge Congress to “Stand Up” Against Lobbyists on $3.5 Trillion Bill

The coalition encourages lawmakers to keep the tax reform, climate provisions and social program expansions in the bill.

People attend the Rally to #SealTheDeal for Climate, Jobs, Care, and Justice during the #SealTheDeal Actions for Climate, Care, Jobs, and Justice national day of action at Battery Park on August 19, 2021, in New York City.

As deep-pocketed lobbyists representing companies like Exxon mount a campaign to get Congress to gut the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, a coalition of 93 progressive and advocacy organizations are fighting back, urging lawmakers to keep the bill strong in the face of corporate pressure.

The groups, led by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Economic Policy Institute, sent a letter to lawmakers telling them to keep provisions like tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations in the bill — provisions that the corporate lobby is particularly vehemently opposed to. They also encourage lawmakers to keep climate and social provisions in the bill.

“Congress must step up and do the right thing and live up to its Constitutional and moral commitments to establish justice and the general welfare,” the groups write. “Now is not the time to let deep-pocketed corporate lobbyists stand in the way of vital public investments in an economy that works for all of us.”

Among signatories of the letter are powerful labor groups like the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); progressive groups like the Working Families Party; and climate groups like Sierra Club and the Sunrise Movement.

The letter highlights proposals included in the Democrats’ original framework for the bill, arguing that it is crucial that lawmakers preserve the bill as it was first proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Democrats in the Senate. Climate provisions like funding for clean energy and electrifying public transportation, Medicare expansions, and support for parents like paid family leave and the child tax credit expansion are crucial to help working families stay afloat, they write.

“Such investments would be a major boost to all working families, but especially to the tens of millions of poor and low-income people — disproportionately people of color — who have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession and have not yet recovered,” reads the letter.

The letter writers also emphasize the importance of proposed tax hikes on the rich and corporations to help fund the bill but, more importantly, helping to bar the wealthy from paying less than their “fair share” in taxes — a message that Democrats and President Joe Biden himself have emphasized.

The reconciliation bill, as the letter points out, enjoys significant favorability among the public. Polling by Hart Research Associates in July found 73 percent of voters support the reconciliation plan, called the Build Back Better plan. Recent polling by Data for Progress, meanwhile, found majority support for many of the bill’s major proposals like funding for care workers and modernizing the electricity grid.

The coalition’s message comes as powerful lobbyists have descended upon Washington looking to get many of the bill’s largest provisions cut from the package. Lobbyists from across industries — entertainment, fossil fuels, big banks, major retailers, and drug manufacturers — are banding together to oppose the bill, pouring tens of millions into the effort. Conservative groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are lobbying specifically against the tax hikes; other targets are likely climate provisions, Medicare expansion and drug price negotiation, and paid family leave.

The lobbyists already likely have the ear of several conservative Democrats in Congress, some of whom banded up with lobbyists in gutting climate provisions from the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), in fact, has already noted his opposition to potential climate proposals that would draw down fossil fuels in the U.S., and has been a leading proponent of gutting the package.

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