WASHINGTON — As Democrats scramble to strike a deal on President Joe Biden's social safety net agenda, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty said Wednesday that a number of the group's priorities for Black Americans will be wrapped into the massive bill.
Beatty, D-Ohio, said at a news conference with caucus members that they went to the White House to speak with Biden and senior White House staff members about the negotiations on Tuesday.
"We're not there yet," she said. "But shortly we will be there, and we will see many of our priorities there. We will see many of the investments that we have been fighting for and working for and leading at the top of that list."
Beatty said the sprawling economic package will include funding for housing and vouchers, historically Black colleges and universities, child care, an extended child tax credit and coverage for more seniors and Medicaid recipients.
"We're going to save thousands of lives for children and Black children. We're going to get a child tax credit. We're going to have child care. We're going to get more money into HBCUs than we've had in the history of this Congress," said Beatty, who said that while she doesn't consider the bill to be perfect, it is progress.
"Whether it is $1.7 or $2 trillion, that is a significant amount of investments in our community," she said.
Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said the Black has caucus been working to expand coverage under Obamacare and to make the enhanced Obamacare marketplace permanent. Kelly said it is also trying to ensure that seniors get access to dental coverage.
Congress could also use the money, said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., to address a three-generation backlog of updates in public housing and vouchers, which he said are "desperately needed."
"We haven't increased the vouchers substantially since Lyndon Johnson," he said. "So this housing issue is important — and it matters. It really matters."
Congressional Democrats are trying to reach an agreement on the framework of the legislation before Biden heads to Europe this week for the G-20 summit of leading rich and developing countries in Rome and the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.