At a Christmas Eve press rally, the Poor People’s Campaign and other progressive leaders vowed to continue fighting for the Build Back Better Act, despite opposition from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
“Senator Manchin plays a Caesar or at least a King Herod in today’s Christmas story,” said Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “He says there is no room in this democracy for the 140 million poor and low-income Americans, including the 700,000 West Virgins who have been locked in poverty and low wages under his surveillance. He wants to limit the lives of poor children just so he can keep his power and his wealth. Doesn’t that really sound like Herod on Christmas Eve? “
The Poor People’s Campaign has staged numerous rallies and acts of civil disobedience over the past year in support of the Build Back Better Act, while acknowledging that the legislation would only be a first step towards a moral economy.
Campaign co-chair Reverend Dr William Barber II zoomed in on the Christmas Eve press event from a church in Charleston, the capital of Manchin State. He introduced several affected local people and community leaders who lambasted their senator and others who opposed the landmark public investment bill.
“We are not short of resources,” said Alexandra Gallo, a community activist from Charleston. “We lack the will to fight inequalities. “
Barber also introduced two members of Congress, Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) And Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Who helped push the Build Back Better Act through the House. Jayapal has endured particularly intense heat in recent months as she used the power of her caucus to prevent her own party leadership from holding scheduled votes on the bill until progressives secure some concessions. .
With the support of all the Senate Democrats needed for passage, Manchin’s recent announcement that he will not vote for the bill is a major setback. But Jayapal, who has a history in the immigrant rights movement, remains positive.
“If the things we are fighting for were easy,” she said at the press conference, “we would have had them a long time ago. And because we are organizers, we don’t give up. Our strength comes in these moments. Our job as progressives is to push the boundaries of what others think is possible. “
Barber, who has been relentlessly critical of Manchin for blocking the bill, referred to recent reports that the senator privately told his colleagues that parents would spend the child tax credit money on drugs. “Doesn’t he understand that opioid use is linked to poverty? ” He asked.
A one-year extension of this tax credit, which has reduced child poverty in the United States by about 40%, is a key piece of the legislation, along with other major investments in child care. children, home care for the elderly, public housing, universal pre-K, Medicare extension to cover dental services, clean energy jobs, and more.
Representative Lee shared that she finds a lot of hope in Christmas. “It reminds me that Jesus Christ was born homeless, born in a manger. But it also reminds me that his life was about fighting for the most vulnerable, fighting for justice. “
“Senator Manchin’s comments against Build Back Better were incredibly disappointing,” she continued. “But we’re not giving up. Because when we fight, we win.
The Poor’s Campaign plans to mobilize a wave of appeals to the Manchin office in early January and, without giving details, Barber has hinted that the day after the country marks the 1st anniversary of the January 6 “insurrection”, the Campaign will organize a “resurrection”.
“We would have loved to get Build Back Better and the voting rights passed earlier this year,” said Barber. “But our deadline is victory.”