CCAN Action Fund’s Summer of Action for the American Jobs Plan

CCAN Action Fund's Summer of Action for the American Jobs Plan

This summer, CCAN spent nearly every week on Capitol Hill rallying with community leaders from across the country for the American Jobs Plan.

It was a great success, but the work’s not over yet! Read on for a recap of the summer’s events — then call your Senators and urge them to pass strong climate action as soon as possible!

First, on June 9, 100 nationally respected faith leaders convened on Capitol Hill to demand swift passage of President Joe Biden’s historic American Jobs Plan. Representing an array of religious backgrounds, leaders spoke, prayed, and sang to demand a 100 percent clean electricity standard (CES) that is an urgent step in addressing climate change.

Faith leaders offered prayers and teachings on the moral imperative to heal our economy and planet from runaway climate change. Speakers included Interfaith Power & Light President Rev. Susan Hendershot, Dayenu Founder and CEO Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Green Ramadan Founder and Chair of Masjid Muhammad Green Team Kori Majeed, Strategy Team Leader for Care for Creation Committee at the Archdiocese of Washington Angela Wilson-Turnbull, and Founder and President of EcoSikh Dr. Rajwant Singh.

“Faith leaders are rising to the occasion all across America with a simple message for Congress: Act now for working families and the climate,” said the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, a faith activist and President of the Hip Hop Caucus. “Today, at Congress’ front door, we are saying NOW is the time to pass a powerful, full version of the President’s American Jobs Plan, including 100% clean power. It’s a matter of right versus wrong.”

The gathering represents a growing chorus of faith leaders lifting their voices to bring attention to our climate emergency, including a group of Evangelical leaders who sent a detailed letter to Congress sounding the alarm and urging investments similar to those proposed in the American Jobs Plan. Additionally, a multi-faith coalition of faith groups is circulating a faith leader letter to Congress urging a infrastructure proposal that includes bold climate investments. It currently has over 1,500 signers and will be delivered next week.

Then, on June 16, 100 small business leaders from a variety of industries across the nation gathered on Capitol Hill today to urge Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan and its 100% clean energy standard. Many of America’s mom-and-pop businesses, devastated by COVID-19, needed urgent federal action to get back on their feet. 

“Now, more than ever, we need to significantly invest in essential provisions that will directly help small businesses thrive,” said Awesta Sarkash, Government Affairs director for Small Business Majority. “Through the American Jobs Plan, Congress can commit to clean energy policies that will help to bolster small businesses and improve our infrastructure. We can’t stand idle and watch an opportunity to modernize and reinvigorate local economies go away. Now is the time to support critical investments for our small businesses.”

Business leaders spoke about how the infrastructure plan will help their businesses grow and prepare for the effects of climate change. Speakers included Debra Keller-Greene from the Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce and Government Affairs Director Awesta Sarkash of the Small Business Majority.

They highlighted how the infrastructure package would invest $31 billion in programs to give small businesses access to credit, venture capital, and research and development funds, with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs in communities of color and underserved communities. It also dedicates $110 billion to technical assistance and financing programs for small businesses and manufacturers.

On June 30, labor leaders and key Congressional leaders called on Congress to adopt President Joe Biden’s full agenda to help unions and fight climate change. Joining together near the Capitol grounds, leaders stressed that any legislative deals — bi-partisan or not — must embrace the full policies laid out in the President’s original infrastructure proposal, the “American Jobs Plan.”

Among other infrastructure features, the plan would invest $400 billion in wind and solar power, build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, and weatherize two million low-income homes. The plan also explicitly calls for passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act – a bill prized by organized labor for decades. Last week’s Senate bi-partisan infrastructure deal drops most of these features. Activists released a letter signed by 1700 union households in 50 states and the District of Columbia supporting full passage of the President’s plan. 

With the U.S. Capitol as the backdrop, leaders explained how the “American Jobs Plan” will repair our ailing roads and bridges with union labor and incentivize prevailing wages and worker protections in the emerging wind and solar industry. This is what they said: 

“We are all here today because we know that we can create millions of good union jobs and save our shores from rising seas,” said Congressman Bobby Scott, a Democrat from coastal Virginia and Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee. “We do it by passing the American Jobs Plan.”

“President Biden knows unions are key to rebuilding an economy that works for all — rebuilding that starts with the passage of the American Jobs Plan,” said Dyana Forester, President of the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO. “We urge Congress to listen to the District’s tens of thousands of union members who are sick of a system that benefits billionaires at the cost of its workers, and to pass the American Jobs Plan. This package will not only make critical investments into our nation’s infrastructure, but will help build a growing clean-energy economy that is powered by millions of good, union jobs.”

Later, on July 20, more than 1,700 labor families across the country signed a letter to Congress calling for passage of the President’s American Jobs Plan. Signers come from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

On July 13, West Virginia leaders welcomed Senator Joe Manchin back from the Independence Day recess by calling on him to support all aspects of President Joe Biden’s historic American Jobs Plan. The group rallied on the Mall and released a new poll finding that a robust 56 percent of West Virginia voters support the Plan’s provision for a 100% clean electricity standard. 

During the rally, West Virginia leaders spoke about how the American Jobs Plan will extend the 48C Manufacturing Tax Credit which supports rural manufacturing and clean energy. This proven capital access program includes a special $4 billion carve-out for companies willing to set up operations in communities where coal mines or coal power plants have closed. In addition, the plan allocates $16 billion dollars to cap abandoned oil wells that continue to leak methane into the air and contaminate waterways.

“Senator Manchin has stated himself that we should be building the Green Economy in West Virginia, and his early support for extending the 48C Manufacturing Tax Credits shows his commitment to invest in our communities that are struggling,” said Working Families Party West Virginia State Director Ryan Frankenberry. “We need his leadership right now to get the American Jobs Plan passed to start rebuilding West Virginia for a future we all deserve.”

On July 21, health professionals rallied on the Hill to call on Congress to support all aspects of President Joe Biden’s historic American Jobs Plan as a public health issue. The group rallied on the Mall in support of both the Plan and its provision for a 100% clean electricity payment plan.

Doctors, nurses, and others working in the health field converged in front of the US Capitol — surrounded by colorful signs and banners — to speak about how climate change is a public health crisis. Speakers included Lois Wessel, FNP, DNP, Professor of nursing and Member of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments; Lise Van Susteren, Psychiatrist, Environmental activist, and Chesapeake Climate Action Network Board Member; Dr. Richard Bruno, a family & preventive medicine physician in Baltimore and a long-time climate and health advocate with Physicians for Social Responsibility; Dr. Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and climate activist, representing the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health; Savita Potarazu, third-year medical student at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health sciences and current co-chair of Climate Smart Health Care for Medical Students for a Sustainable Future; and Henry Lynett, Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“As nurses we know that climate, economic justice, and public health are inextricably entwined,” said Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments Executive Director Katie Huffling. “At this moment in time, ensuring access to breathable air, clean water, a stable climate, and livable wage jobs has never been more important. Nurses are calling on Congress to make bold and ambitious investments in climate solutions and clean energy to protect health now and for future generations.”

Investing in 100% clean energy by 2035 would dramatically reduce air pollution, improve public health, and advance environmental justice. Researchers estimate that exposure to pollution, especially fine particulate matter, is responsible for more than 100,000 premature deaths each year. A clean energy standard would help avoid more than $1.7 trillion in health and environmental costs, including 93,000 avoided premature deaths, through 2050. In addition, there will be immediate reductions in the risk of cancers, respiratory disease, heart disease and stroke.

On July 28, frontline community members came to Washington to call on Congress to support 100% clean, renewable energy and the rest of President Joe Biden’s historic American Jobs Plan as a justice issue.

Surrounded by colorful signs and banners and with the US Capitol as the backdrop, frontline community members spoke about the toll climate change will take — and has already taken — on their lives. Speakers included Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán, CA-44; Samuel Jordan, Maryland State Conference (MSC) NAACP and the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition (BTEC); Reverend Lenox Yearwood, Hip Hop caucus; Kim Sudderth, Mothers Out Front; Susan Parker, Wicomico Environmental Trust; and Anthony Lorenzo Green, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, Single Member District 7C04.

“By investing in clean energy infrastructure, we are also investing in a livable climate future for our children, justice for frontline communities like mine in Hampton Roads and good-paying jobs for all,” said Virginia Organizing Manager Kim Sudderth from Mothers Out Front. “Congress needs to meet us in this moment to heed the science and to make good on this administration’s promises. We must act now. Our children’s future is at stake.”

Finally, on August 4, youth activists of all ages came together near Capitol Hill to urge Congress to support 100% clean, renewable energy and the rest of President Joe Biden’s historic American Jobs Plan as a justice issue.

Surrounded by colorful signs and banners and with the US Capitol as the backdrop, youth leaders spoke about the dire impacts climate change will have on their futures. The event was co-hosted by Mom’s Clean Air Force, MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Coalition, Sunrise Frederick, and CCAN Action Fund. Speakers included US Senator Tina Smith (D-NM); Thomas Moberly, Sunrise Movement Frederick; Thomas Potter, MaryPirg Student Climate Action Coalition; Kallan Benson, Fridays for Future; and Dakota Gant, Black and Green Collective, Founder; North American Youth Representative to the Pan-African Youth Leadership Network for the Sustainable Development Goals (PAYLS); and Stephanie Klein from Mom’s Clean Air Force.

CCAN Action Fund’s Maryland Grassroots Coordinator Emily Frias said: “We’re here today to protect younger generations from a dangerously warming planet. Climate change is already wreaking havoc, and it’s going to get even worse over the coming decades. We need clean energy now. If we’re not even protecting our kids, then who are we protecting?”

On August 11, one week after our final rally, the US Senate passed a historic $3.5 trillion budget plan! It was a successful summer, and we couldn’t have done it without all our friends and allies that supported the event series and made it happen.

Check out a gallery of photo highlights below. Then sign the petition to tell your Senators: Pass the American Jobs Act!

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