Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—a member of the Senate Budget Committee—released the following statement today, after the Senate passage of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation framework. This budget framework sets the stage for the Senate to pass transformative legislation this fall investing in children, families, and climate action:
“For decades, stark inequities in our communities have taken the powerful and privileged to unfathomable new heights, while working Americans have been left laboring longer hours for smaller paychecks. Then the coronavirus crisis came along—exposing, exploiting, and deepening those inequities, and plunging more families into poverty, while the rich only got richer.
“History has shown us that economic recoveries work best when they grow from the bottom up and the middle out—not the top down. That means it’ll be impossible to get working families back on their feet if Americans don’t have a safe place to call home, are going to bed hungry, or unabated climate chaos continues its path of death and destruction. That’s why I cast one of the most important votes of my lifetime today—to pass a budget bill that will unlock historic investments in our working families, and help America meet the unprecedented challenges of this moment.
“This budget includes a desperately needed extension of the Child Tax Credit—the largest tax cut for low-income and middle class families in the history of our nation. Since this program went into effect last month, it has already put hundreds of dollars in parents’ pockets, meaning more meals on the table and fewer children in poverty. It also includes measures to extend free school lunch programs for low-income children into summer months; help parents cover the cost of child care; create a national family paid leave program; make college much more affordable; expand Medicare; lower drug prices; boost rental assistance and homeownership programs; and build and preserve substantially more affordable housing in rural and urban communities.
“In addition, today’s budget bill includes crucial backing and incentives to help us transition toward clean energy and away from the dangerous fossil fuels that are driving climate chaos’ increasingly catastrophic wildfires, and extreme heatwaves, storms, and floods. These investments in climate solutions are necessary to save lives in every corner of this country, and to protect the core pillars of the rural economy—farming, forests, and fishing—that so many Americans rely on.
“A budget is a statement of our values. I’m pleased that as my colleagues and I came together to chart a course forward at this critical juncture, we created a budget that reflects the fact that most of us want the same things: We want our children to have the tools they need for a lifetime of success. We want food on the table and a roof over head. And we want to live in a community where all of our neighbors can thrive. I look forward to seeing this budget become fully-fledged legislation this fall that will make a once-in-a-generation investment in America’s families and our future.”