New Jersey Citizen Action Calls on White House, Members of Congress to Include Paid Family Leave, Lower Rx Prices, Other Crucial Reforms in Reconciliation Package

The substantive but devastatingly incomplete Build Back Better framework underscores the need to re-elect Governor Murphy, who has been working towards a stronger, fairer NJ

Newark, NJ — New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA) today urged President Joe Biden and Congress to include critical reforms such as a national Paid Family and Medical Leave program and allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices in the latest Build Back Better proposal. These previously proposed reforms were not included in the framework presented by the Biden administration, despite their overwhelming popularity and transformative impact they would have on working families and communities of color throughout America.

“While President Biden’s proposed framework for the Build Back Better Act makes significant investments in childcare, climate change, education and healthcare, it does not go far enough in addressing long-standing racial and socio-economic inequities that prevent many American families from thriving,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, Associate Director for New Jersey Citizen Action. “We are deeply disappointed and outraged by this framework’s shortcomings. Today we urge Congress and President Biden to listen to the voices of the American people, not corporate interests, and to champion the reforms needed to help families, workers, and communities prosper.”

Despite the package’s substantial exclusions, NJCA recognized the historic investments in the framework that will help make childcare, healthcare, housing, pre-K and elder care more affordable for millions. The organization also praised the legislation for the Child Tax Credit extension, closing tax loopholes, and ending tax breaks for the wealthiest of Americans. However, due to the influence of powerful corporate special interests, the package does not sufficiently address the lack of a national paid leave infrastructure, skyrocketing prices for prescription drugs, full expansion of Medicare coverage, and needed investments in families and affordable housing.

The historic but incomplete reform package underscores the need to keep working with lawmakers on meaningful reforms and for New Jerseyans to re-elect Governor Phil Murphy. Murphy has worked tirelessly to ensure New Jersey has adopted and will continue to prioritize the most critical Build Back Better priorities, including paid family leave, more affordable health care, universal pre-K and tax fairness-even when these priorities run counter to powerful corporate interests.

“It’s unconscionable that corporate interests, and one wealthy white male Senator with paid family leave, have forced national paid family leave to be cut out of the Build Back Better package in the midst of a pandemic, jobs and health crisis,” said Yarrow Willman-Cole, Workplace Justice Program Director for New Jersey Citizen Action. “We cannot recover and thrive as a nation when 77 percent of American workers, including many workers of color, don’t have access to paid family leave. We applaud Governor Murphy for adopting and strengthening New Jersey’s paid leave programs, and we urge Congress to look to our state as an example of what can be accomplished.”

“The framework proposed today does present fundamental and needed reforms in health care that American families, workers and communities need,” said Maura Collinsgru, Health Care Program Director for New Jersey Citizen Action. “But we still have much more work to do. Abandoning Medicare drug price negotiations is a huge loss for the American people and a victory for already massive pharmaceutical profits. If Democrats like Senator Menendez would agree to reforms like Medicare negotiations we could save billions, cap prescription drug price increases and fund the critical reforms that have been left out. Lawmakers have failed to deliver on their longstanding promise to lower drug prices, after months of Big Pharma buying off a number of Democrats and inundating the public with misleading ads. Congress must amend this package to include prescription drug price reforms or many will be left behind from Build Back Better.”

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New Jersey Citizen Action is a statewide advocacy and empowerment organization that advances social, racial and economic justice for all, while also meeting the pressing needs of low- and moderate-income New Jerseyans through education and direct services.