A 33-year-old single mother from West Virginia. Arizona home health care worker. Climate activists on hunger strike. An Afghan veteran. Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders as well as progressive members of Congress. All gathered on Wednesday morning at the United States Capitol in Washington to demand that Congressional Democrats keep their promises to voters on poverty, health care, immigration, minimum wage, climate action and voting rights.
Led by Reverend William Barber, the activists implored Democrats to take a bolder stand against Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, two holdouts without whom the Democrats’ social policy and climate change bill will not pass.
“We say this stuff is absolutely essential,” Barber said. “We say it’s urgent, but then we treat it like we have options and more time, but it’s not.”
“People are dying of poverty and low wages. People are dying from the lack of housing. People are dying from lack of health care. People are dying from the lack of a living wage. People are dying from global warming and we are not doing what we should be doing to change it, ”the Reverend continued. “All of these things are created by man, they are not ordained by God. And if we do it like that, we can change it.
He said members of Congress were “too cordial” with Manchin and Sinema in rushing to meet all their demands instead of pushing them to agree to a larger bill backed by nearly every other caucus member. .
“What if some members of Congress go on hunger strike?” ” He asked.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California said the legislation reflects “our priorities as a country” and much more needs to be done to lift Americans out of poverty and prevent catastrophic climate disaster. Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin warned of the threat to American democracy posed by the extent of voting restrictions in Republican-led states across the country.
“There is an effort to deactivate government as a tool of the common good,” he said, urging Congress to prioritize democratic reforms like filibuster and protect voting rights.
So weak in their hunger strike, climate activists could not stand the floor at the press conference.
Abby, a 20-year-old climate activist, said she dreams of a future where she can live free from the fear of floods and heat waves, where she can start a family with a sense of optimism. as to the future.
“I am here on this hunger strike because I would do anything to make this future real,” she said. Addressing her comments to Joe Biden, she implored him to do everything in his power to reduce carbon emissions. “My generation deserves to live,” she said.
Barber said he was frustrated that the president and the media were so focused on listening to Manchin and Sinema, rather than listening to people like Abby. The result, he said, has been a debate about a turnover rather than the poverty reduction and climate preservation programs that are now in danger of being removed from legislation.
“It’s not about a shortage. It’s not about ‘we don’t have enough’. I’m so sick of that damn line that I don’t know what to do, ”Barber said. “The richest nation in the history of the world cannot pretend we don’t have enough. What we don’t have enough of is conscience and moral fiber.