Last week, members of the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden calling on the incoming administration to prioritize bipartisan legislation that pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic response and the economic recovery.
In that letter, the Blue Dogs also highlighted their policy priorities going into the 117th Congress, which include the following: 1) COVID-19 crisis relief, 2) job creation, 3) government reform, 4) holding foreign adversaries to account, and 5) fiscal responsibility.
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., is one of the leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition and helped lead the letter. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., also signed it.
See below for the full text:
Dear Mr. President-Elect:
We write to congratulate you on your election, and to highlight our priorities going into the 117th Congress. We firmly believe that in order to make lasting progress, Congress must pursue bipartisan policies that can be implemented, while prioritizing those that pertain to the pandemic response and the economic recovery. The American people have sent a clear message: Democrats and Republicans must govern together responsibly.
The 117th Congress is going to be narrowly divided, with a slim Democratic majority in the House, and, at best, a narrow Senate majority. Our nation faces major challenges as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Americans are sick of Congress playing partisan games. Pursuing partisan legislation that cannot make it to your desk for your signature will not only hinder our nation’s recovery, it will further feed into the divides in our country. Now more than ever we must demonstrate to the American people that cooler heads can prevail and that government can indeed work for all Americans.
We believe the following priorities—among others—can obtain bipartisan support in Congress and can deliver significant legislative success in the first 100 days of your presidency.
COVID-19 Crisis Relief: Next Congress will present an opportunity to pass more robust measures that are commensurate with the ongoing health and economic crisis in addition to the latest COVID-19 relief package, such as additional financial support for state, local, and tribal governments. This relief legislation must be paired with stronger oversight measures to ensure taxpayer dollars are going to the right places.
Job Creation: Building on COVID-19 relief legislation, Congress must pursue significant job creation legislation to support an economic recovery that benefits all parts of our country, including rural America. Significant investments are necessary to strengthen our nation’s economic foundation and create well-paying jobs. Investments in health care, education, job training, small business, manufacturing, infrastructure, and clean energy will all be required to strengthen the middle class over the long term. Additionally, we should bolster the creation of green jobs to help revitalize our economy and tackle the existential threat of climate change.
Government Reform: Congress should take up significant government reform measures to ensure government is more transparent and responsive to the needs of the American people. These measures should include legislation that incentivizes Congress to pass a budget and all appropriations bills on time, reforms the redistricting process, strengthens Inspectors General, and increases transparency to show how Federal taxpayer dollars are spent.
Holding Foreign Adversaries Accountable: Congress should take steps to hold foreign adversaries and competitors, including Russia and China, to account. Since COVID-19 first emerged in China, bipartisan concerns in Congress about Chinese government policies have only increased. Congress should pass legislation that would provide U.S. policymakers with an intelligence community assessment of the different ways the Chinese government may be seeking to exploit the pandemic. Separately, Russia must be held to account for meddling in U.S. elections and deterred from interfering in our political system in the future. Congress should consider bipartisan measures, including sanctions, to ensure the United States sends a clear message to the world that this activity will not be tolerated. Additionally, we request that your Administration provide a classified, bipartisan briefing for Members of Congress regarding the recently-revealed cyberattack on the networks of the federal government and much of corporate America, an attack that has been confirmed by members of the current Administration to have been the work of a Russian intelligence agency.
Fiscal Responsibility: Although much of the spending enacted during the 116th Congress has been justified by the need to swiftly address the COVID-19 crisis, we must recognize that our fiscal path is unsustainable. The national debt is now more than $27 trillion. Interest rates may be low today, but interest on our debt is projected to be the fastest growing part of the federal budget, crowding out key investments in future generations. Congress must pursue balanced, bipartisan measures that will help our nation get its fiscal house in order after the current health and economic crisis subsides.
Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you to strengthen our country by advancing bold, bipartisan solutions in the years to come.