Nothing brings more revenue to the Treasury than an investment in our children’s education whether it is early childhood, K-12, higher education, post graduate, or lifetime learning. We must ensure that access to a high-quality education is the right of every student, not just the privileged few. House Democrats are working to expand educational opportunities for every student by strengthening our schools, expanding early childhood education initiatives, and modernizing our classrooms. At the same time, we must work to reduce the achievement gap, create opportunities for students to attain higher education, and make sure that we have the best trained, most qualified teachers in the world.
In strengthening our education system, we will create a thriving, 21st century workforce that will lead emerging industries and ensure America remains a leading economic power on the world stage.
What Democrats are Doing
Early childhood learning programs have proven to be one of the most valuable investments in our children’s future, dramatically increasing their ability to succeed later in school and in life. House Democrats are dedicated to investing in teacher and classroom quality, focusing on school readiness, implementing universal pre-kindergarten programs, and making Head Start and Early Head Start available to more children.
- Investing in Head Start: For more than 40 years, the Head Start initiative has helped more than 20 million low-income children and families reach kindergarten ready to learn and succeed. House Democrats remain committed to strengthening Head Start and expanding access so more children and families can benefit from its comprehensive efforts to improve school readiness.
- Expanding and improving early learning opportunities: House Democrats introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, a bold, 10-year federal-state partnership to support Head Start and other services for infants through four year olds, including strong parent and family engagement, nutrition, health care, and child care.
- Supporting affordable child care: As part of our “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” economic agenda for women and families, House Democrats are working to support and fund affordable quality child care, the linchpin of a working mother’s success in the workplace: children learning, parents earning.
Five decades after Brown v. Board of Education, we still do not offer all children the same educational opportunities. In addition to the achievement gap between low-income and minority children and their peers, American students suffer from a second kind of achievement gap when compared globally. Even in this period of shrinking federal, state and local budgets, we must work together to ensure that our classrooms are centers of academic excellence and to ensure a strong education is a right afforded to every student. House Democrats are committed to:
- Investing in STEM: Investments in STEM programs will support our students and teachers by providing them with the skills and resources needed to succeed by training a workforce ready to lead in clean energy, health care, and the innovative industries of tomorrow.
- Supporting our teachers: Studies show that teachers are the most important factor in determining the success of students. For teachers and school leaders, it is critical to increase access to the necessary tools to do their jobs and create working conditions that support student success, which includes providing much-needed resources, offering professional development, targeted training, and the time to collaborate with students and one another.
- Improve No Child Left Behind: There is a clear need to improve and strengthen NCLB to reflect current best educational practices, protect students’ rights, and guarantee a world-class education to all students regardless of background or zip code. Democrats want to see reform that:
1. Ensures states set high-standards and goals to ensure students graduate from high school and college career ready. 2. Provides states more flexibility to craft their own accountability systems while ensuring schools remain accountable for all students. 3. Supports a professional environment for teachers and school leaders through modern, locally-driven evaluation systems. 4. Provides additional resources and improves access to those resources to support much-needed school initiatives through economically difficult times.
Our nation’s colleges and universities are the centers of the groundbreaking research, innovation, and opportunity that give America’s students an opportunity to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, the skyrocketing cost of college is forcing many students and graduates to put their dreams on hold. The state of student loan debt in America is reaching crisis proportions, holding back our economy and weighing on the lives of a generation of young people. That is why House Democrats are not only fighting to expand higher education opportunities but to keep that higher education well within in reach for America’s middle class.
Under the Democratic Majorities, Congress acted to:
- Help students afford a higher education by increasing the maximum Pell Grant and creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a maximum $2,500 tuition tax credit to eligible families and students.
- Assist graduates in paying back their loans by cutting interest rates in half on subsidized Stafford loans from 6.7% to 3.4%; by creating an income-based repayment program; and by providing loan forgiveness for graduates in public interest careers after ten years of payments.
- Help families and students find a good deal by creating a user-friendly website to compare costs, graduation rates, and popular majors.
- Require schools to have an online calculator so students and families could estimate their costs based on their financial situation and to offer an understandable financial aid disclosure form so students can better understand the aid for which they qualify.
- Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to banks and reinvest the savings back into students and create a single, secure, and efficient lender to originate all federal student loans
Democrats remain committed to providing high quality education to all of America’s students and creating a nation ready for the challenges of the 21st century by:
- Allowing Refinancing of Student Loans: Through the Bank On Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, House Democrats are working to allow federal and private student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at more affordable rates that will save them thousands of dollars.
- Protecting Pell Grants and College Accessibility: Budgets are a statement of values, and House Democrats continue to fight relentless Republican efforts to slash Pell Grants and other initiatives that help hardworking students of all backgrounds pursue their dreams in college.
The climate crisis is the existential threat of our time – and our future depends on taking action now. As the climate crisis accelerates, we face what the United Nations calls Code Red for Humanity: with extreme weather devastating communities around the world and here at home, while disproportionately impacting our most vulnerable communities. Californians are acutely aware of the climate crisis’ impacts, as we continue to experience life-threatening wildfires, severe droughts and record-high temperatures.
Democrats know that combating the climate crisis is a public health necessity to safeguard our clean air and clean water; an economic imperative to create good-paying green jobs and ensure America’s global preeminence in green technology; a national security priority to prevent global instability; and a moral responsibility to advance a cleaner, healthier future for generations to come.
That is why, last year, I led a Congressional delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, where the world came together to set visionary new goals for our collective fight against the climate crisis.
Committed to ensuring America leads that global effort – and inspired by tireless activists across the country – House Democrats proudly delivered the largest climate investment in U.S. history. Our Inflation Reduction Act includes historic environmental investments:
- Slashing carbon pollution by 40 percent before 2030.
- Lowering energy costs by investing in energy efficient homes, vehicles and appliances.
- Strengthening energy security by bringing clean energy manufacturing to American shores and creating millions of good-paying jobs.
- Decarbonizing our economy, substantially reducing pollution from electricity production, transportation, industrial manufacturing, buildings and agriculture.
- Investing over $60 billion in environmental justice priorities to ensure that underserved communities share in the benefits of our transition to a clean economy.
These transformative investments are building on the groundwork laid by last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which secured funding to:
- Deliver clean water to American families and help get the lead out of our children’s drinking water.
- Reduce greenhouse emissions by expanding sustainable transportation, including electric vehicle infrastructure.
- Clean up legacy pollution that disproportionately harms communities of color.
- Upgrade our power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy and deploy technology to achieve a net-zero emissions future.
- Strengthen our infrastructure’s resilience against extreme weather.
Through one of his first actions in office, President Biden signaled the United States’ commitment to fighting the climate crisis – rejoining the Paris Agreement and re-engaging with the global community. And Democrats will not relent - until we realize President Biden’s ambitious vision of achieving a carbon neutral economy by 2050.
In contrast, with its recent decision restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect families from pollution by coal companies, the Republican-appointed supermajority on the Supreme Court has dangerously and disgracefully chosen to defy the will of the Congress, endanger the well-being of American families and fuel climate catastrophe for generations to come. Powered by the voices of Americans across the country demanding climate action, House Democrats remain committed to ensuring the EPA can follow the science For the Children, For The Planet and For the People.
As we confront a rising tide of gun violence across America, our hearts are filled with grief and outrage. Each year, gun violence claims the lives of 45,000 Americans – more than 100 every day, in mass killings, suicides, accidents and gun crimes. This carnage tears at the very fabric of our nation: leaving empty chairs at the dinner table and inflicting unimaginable grief that will never fully heal. Protecting our children from this horrific bloodshed can and must be a unifying mission for our nation.
Marking an historic step forward in this fight, President Biden and the Democratic Congress recently enacted the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act: the first major gun violence prevention package in nearly three decades. While more is needed, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes critical provisions advanced by House Democrats that will help save lives.
This legislation will implement common-sense, bipartisan measures to curb gun violence across our country, including:
- Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders: Incentivizing states to implement extreme risk protection order laws to keep weapons out of the hands of individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others.
- Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence: Closing the “Boyfriend Loophole” by adding convicted abusers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
- Cracking Down on Gun Trafficking and Straw Purchases: Preventing dangerous individuals from illegally evading background checks by establishing new federal criminal offenses that cover straw purchasing and trafficking.
- Enhanced Background Checks for Buyers Under 21: Requiring longer, enhanced background checks of up to ten days for gun buyers under 21 years of age.
- Anti-Violence Community Initiatives: Providing $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives.
- Child and Family Mental Health Services: Improving access to mental health services for children, youth and families through Medicaid, CHIP and other programs.
- Investments in School Safety: Expanding mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs.
Additionally, the House recently passed legislation to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban, a landmark step that would get deadly weapons of war off our streets. This bill prohibits the sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of semiautomatic assault weapons – as well as high-capacity magazines – and requires safe storage for lawfully owned assault weapons already in our communities. This builds on House Democrats’ bold leadership in this fight since we took the Majority in 2018: twice passing landmark legislation to secure universal background checks and close the “Charleston Loophole.”
At the same time, President Biden has also taken historic executive action to reduce gun crime and improve community safety around the nation – already making more progress than any other Administration in its first year. Implementing a dynamic whole-of-government approach, the Administration has imposed new restrictions on the sale of home-assembled “ghost guns” and steered American Rescue Plan dollars toward gun violence reduction and community violence intervention. Furthermore, the Biden Administration swore in Steve Dettelbach as the first permanent Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in seven years, selecting a highly-respected former prosecutor with deep experience working to reduce community violence and crime.
Under the leadership of Congressional Democrats and President Biden, our nation has taken significant steps forward in our fight to protect our children and communities. Now, House Democrats remain committed to getting additional gun safety legislation across the finish line. To all those in the Congress who would stand in the way of saving lives, we say: your political survival is nothing compared to the survival of our children. The House will continue fighting to bring this gun epidemic to an end, and as we always promise the survivors of gun violence, we will not rest until the job is done.
Democrats believe that quality, affordable health care is a right – not a privilege – for every American. That is why House Democrats worked tirelessly with President Obama to enact the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – a landmark achievement that now stands alongside Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as a pillar of health and financial security. This law has been life-changing and life-saving, especially for the 130 million Americans who can no longer be denied coverage simply for having a pre-existing condition.
In the years since, House Democrats have stood strong against years of right-wing attacks on Americans’ health care: fighting back in the Congress, in the courts and across the country against Republican efforts to dismantle vital protections, drive up insurance costs, restrict access to care and hand massive tax breaks to Big Pharma.
Now, fighting alongside the Biden-Harris Administration, the Democratic House is building on this victory for working families. With our American Rescue Plan, Democrats expanded the promise of the Affordable Care Act to make health care more affordable and accessible than ever before – saving a family of four an average of $2,400 in annual premiums. Now, by enacting the Inflation Reduction Act, we extend and expand the ACA subsidies from the American Rescue Plan for another three years – locking in lower health care premiums that allow 13 million people to stay on their affordable plans and save an average of $800 a year.
House Democrats have also taken bold action to slash the cost of prescription drugs. The Inflation Reduction Act empowers the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate prices with drug companies, creates a $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, caps insulin costs at $35 per month for Medicare beneficiaries and provides free vaccines for seniors. Doing so strikes a big blow to Big Pharma – giving the American people leverage over this special interest.
Meanwhile, President Biden has taken direct action to lower costs: signing an Executive Order allowing more families to access ACA subsidies and expanding coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Americans. Thanks to this key step forward, working families can get the care they need while keeping more money in their pockets each month.
While Republicans continue plotting to rip away Americans’ health care, Democrats will never relent in our fight to put People Over Politics: lowering health care costs for America’s families.