Infrastructure Bill Awaits Biden’s Signature, GOP Continues to Block Voting Rights Legislation & More: November 11 Joint Center Roundup

Biden Administration

Construction worker on tablet

Infrastructure bill passes, awaits Biden’s signature: Congress passed the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, described in a White House fact sheet as a “once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness.” The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now awaits President Biden’s signature to become law, which the White House says won’t happen before Congress is back in session Nov. 15, CNBC reports. The bill, aimed at investment in transportation, broadband, utilities, and other national infrastructure upgrades, is the first significant legislative achievement of the Biden Administration.

Commerce Secretary praises broadband investment: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo praised, in a release, the passage of the infrastructure bill as a key benefit to American workers and businesses, specifically citing $65 billion in funding to expand broadband in rural and underserved communities, among other provisions of the bill. The potential for broadband to increase economic, educational, and health care opportunities in the Black Rural South were among the findings of a Joint Center report released last month.

Next up: Biden’s Build Back Better bill: Now that Congress passed the infrastructure bill, CNBC reports that the focus now shifts to the second part of President Biden’s domestic policy vision, the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill, aimed at investing in strengthening the nation’s social safety net and climate policy. The Build Back Better framework promises significant benefits to Black communities, the Brookings Institution reports, including grant funding for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and investments in affordable housing. The funding comes at a significant moment as students have been protesting for better living conditions at many HBCUs, including Howard University, The Washington Post reports. EBONY speaks with White House Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice to break down other benefits to the Black community including child care, health insurance, and Black business investment.

White House invests in community violence intervention: With passing gun control legislation a non-starter in Washington, the Biden White House is focusing on community violence intervention (CVI) as a more politically palatable strategy to stem gun violence, Politico reports. CVI aims to break the cycle of violence, especially in Black and other metropolitan communities, via programs which provide counseling, education programs, and employment opportunities. Biden promised billions of dollars in funding for CVI efforts, including $350 billion in flexible state and federal funding and $122 billion in school funding from his American Rescue Plan.

Public Company Accounting Oversight Board Chair Erica Williams

SEC appoints Erica Williams to Oversight Board. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission appoints Erica Williams as chairperson of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board at a time when Black organizations are pushing President Biden to also diversify the Federal Reserve Board with Black members. Recent resignations by Federal Reserve governors signal opportunities for diversity in 2022.


The Hill

CBC comes through for infrastructure bill: The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) deserves credit for convincing progressive Democrats to vote for the infrastructure bill passed by Congress last week, The New York Times reports. CBC Chair Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and other caucus leaders played a critical role in bringing Democratic moderates and a larger group of more liberal Democrats to pass the legislation, along with a few Republican lawmakers. MSNBC cites the role of Black lawmakers in influencing progressive Democrats as another example of Black people delivering a win for Biden, and another reason to make Black community needs a priority on the White House agenda.

Two African American people in separate voting booths

Republicans continue to block voting rights legislation: Efforts to advance voting rights legislation continue to be frustrated by GOP lawmakers, with Senate Republicans again blocking debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, The Hill reports. Senators voted 50-49 on whether to bring up the bill, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move forward. Vice President Harris presided over part of the vote.

An upcoming congressional hearing includes Hearings to examine Federal government perspective, focusing on security, trade, and travel flows at the Southwest border ports of entry” (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Nov. 17).


 Movement Building

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund President and Director Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill issued a statement condemning the U.S. Senate filibuster of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Damon Hewitt also released a statement criticizing the U.S. Senate’s failure to advance the John Lewis Voting Rights Act as “a failure for our democracy.” Additionally, the organization announced that it has joined Dechert LLP to represent the Texas State Conference of the NAACP in its suit challenging redistricting maps approved by the Texas State Legislature.

National Urban League President Marc Morial released a statement applauding the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and thanking President Biden for his leadership.


Events

The Joint Center and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy are co-hosting a virtual discussion where panelists will explore current and emerging uses of technology that impact equity of opportunity in employment, education, housing, and financial well-being. Panelists will also discuss the state of reforms and interventions that can shift technology innovation toward more equitable outcomes and technical mechanisms for ensuring that AI use does not erode civil rights and liberties, Nov. 17.

The National Black Caucus of State Legislators presents its 45th Annual Legislative Conference, “Prioritizing Solutions to Challenges within Our Communities,” at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Atlanta, Nov. 30 to Dec. 3.

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