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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A major new legislative proposal is underway in Illinois to make $350 billion in immediate and long-term investments in Black communities and other communities of color. 

U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Shumer (D-NY) and 12 other colleagues Thursday to unveil the Economic Justice Act. 

Duckworth says for far too long, Congress has underfunded critical priorities like public health, child care, infrastructure, and job creation in these communities. Senate Democrats' plan would make a historic federal commitment to communities of color through ten major investments over the next five years.

“This deadly pandemic has put a spotlight on the overwhelming inequities in our healthcare, economic and environmental protection systems that have plagued communities of color for far too long,” said Senator Duckworth.

Duckworth says she's proud to be a part of the Economic Justice Act, which she describes as a 'critical piece of legislation that would help address decades of injustice.'

“The Economic Justice Act makes a robust economic investment in Black and Brown communities across America that have been underfunded for generations,” said Senator Durbin. “The bill would provide $350 billion to help child care providers, expand public health care, improve job training, support at-risk youth, and increase access to capital for minority-owned businesses.  If we are serious about lifting up communities of color that have faced generations of inequalities, it starts by putting our money where our mouth is and passing this bill.”  

The Economic Justice Act would seek to partially offset the cost of the propsal by rte-programming $200 billion of unspent CARES Act funds that were previously provided to the Department of Treasury to facilitate corporate lending by the Federal Reserve. 

Senate Democrats say instead of allowing hundreds of billions of dollars in government assistance to sit at the Treasury, this act would seek to re-program this money during negotiations for a fourth COVID-19 bill, along with the provisions of the House's Heroes Act. This proposal would be in additional to the Heroes Act, not a replacement or supplement. 

Duckworth says the Economic Justice Act has two main objectives: to immediately help communities of color respond to the pandemic through a $135 billion investment in child care, mental health and primary care, and jobs, and to build wealth and health in these communities over the next five years by investing $215 billion as a down payment for infrastructure, a homeowner down payment tax credit, medicaid expansion, and more. 

A summary of Senate Democrats’ Economic Justice Act can be found here and a backgrounder can be found here.

Duckworth, Durbin and Schumer were joined by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in introducing this legislation.