Levin Opening Statement at Markup for FY21 Budget Reconciliation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09) delivered the following opening statement at today’s markup of the Education and Labor Committee provisions in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget reconciliation bill.
You can watch his remarks here or read a transcript below:
“Mr. Chairman, my constituents in Macomb and Oakland County Michigan are suffering. Too many are struggling to put food on the table. Too many are facing eviction. Their small businesses into which they’ve poured their hearts and souls are closing. They’re worried that their kids have fallen behind in school and they’re figuring out how they can afford child care. Working people are afraid they’ll get sick at work—or make their families sick when they come home from work.
“These aren’t small problems. These are enormous, stay-up-all-night-at-your-kitchen-table-worrying-about-your-family’s-future kinds of problems. I think most of us have faced those kinds of challenges. I know my family has. I’m the father of four kids and my dad and my mother-in-law are both 89-years-old. The question we’re faced with now is, are we going to help those families, or are we going to make them go it alone? And if we don’t respond in a way that meets the scale of the crises facing our communities, what are the consequences?
“We know what will happen with respect to the virus itself if we don’t meet this moment, because we saw what happened when the last administration did nothing to stop it. We’re nearing half a million American deaths—half a million moms, dads, neighbors, coworkers, friends.
“We also know what will happen to the economy if we don’t meet this moment. Experts have been clear that it may be over a decade before unemployment returns to pre-pandemic levels if we don’t act. Now is the time for us to invest in students, workers and families, so we can avoid years of economic stagnation and suffering. If we aim too low Mr. Chairman, the financial consequences will be catastrophic, they’ll be long-lasting and they’ll be borne by the families who can least afford it.
“We have a chance not just to get folks the one-time resources they need to get through the pandemic, but also to give millions of Americans a forever-raise. The bill before us would raise the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour by 2025 and eliminate sub-minimum wage for tipped workers, workers with disabilities, and students. That means higher pay for 27 million low-wage workers. It means lifting nearly 1 million people out of poverty. It means an extra $333 billion in the pockets of affected workers and their families—money that in turn will accelerate our economic recovery, because Mr. Chairman, low-wage workers spend money when they get it because they need to meet their needs.
“If you ask me, the choice is clear, and it’s clear to the American people, too. A Quinnipiac poll found last week that 68 percent of Americans—almost 7-in-10—support this relief bill.
“We have an opportunity, with this bill, to give our constituents the relief they’ve been waiting for for nearly a year. A vote for this bill is a vote to answer their call. A vote against it is a vote telling our constituents to just keep waiting.
I urge my colleagues to vote for this bill.”