July 16, 2020


Senate Democrats’ Economic Justice Act Would Seek To Reprogram Hundreds Of Billions Of Unspent CARES Act Funds Given To Dept. Of Treasury to Prop Up Wall Street and Big Corporations

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Democrats today unveiled the Economic Justice Act, a major new legislative proposal to make $350 billion in immediate and long-term investments in Black communities and other communities of color.  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.


“We will not make progress until we acknowledge and tackle all of the ways that centuries of racism and oppression have affected the lives of Black and Brown Americans – their health, job opportunities, housing, education, generational wealth and so much more,” said Senator Brown. “Congress must act to eradicate the systemic racism that permeates every aspect of American society. I am proud to join my colleagues in this effort to address some of the disparities that Black and Brown communities have endured for generations. People of color built this country. We must stand with them and work with them to find long-term solutions to these pervasive issues.”


Senate Democrats’ Economic Justice Act would seek to partially offset the cost of the proposal by re-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. Instead of allowing hundreds of billions of dollars in government assistance to sit idly at the Treasury, Senate Democrats would seek to re-program these dollars during negotiations for a fourth COVID-19 bill, in tandem with the robust provisions of the House’s Heroes Act. Importantly, this proposal would be in addition to the historic House-passed Heroes Act, not a replacement or supplement.

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.

Through ten new initiatives, this Democratic proposal would begin efforts to reverse decades of underinvestment in communities of color.

The Economic Justice Act was introduced today by Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Committee on Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Committee on Armed Services Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI), Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).

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


Child Care is Essential Program

Invest in and stabilize child care providers in communities, including communities of color. Ensure that working families have access to child care, and early childhood educators continue to get paid throughout the pandemic. 

$50 billion

Expand and Improve Access to Community Health Care

Support community-based behavioral, mental, and primary health care providers and services to increase access to care and incentivize providers to serve in high need areas, including communities of color.

$40 billion

Federally Supported Jobs, Training and At-Risk Youth Initiatives

Connect workers to in-demand jobs, like new contact tracing and immunization hiring programs and federal job training programs, including adult education and supported jobs programs, training for disconnected youth, registered apprenticeship, and aligned pre-apprenticeship training, and training and wrap-around services provided by community organizations. Create a Pandemic TANF emergency assistance grant program that would provide cash assistance, in-kind support, and subsidized jobs to low-income individuals and families. Invest in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and reform child support.

$25 billion



Capital and Support for Small Businesses

Make investments in community-focused lenders to facilitate more lending to small businesses in communities of color.  Permanently authorize and expand programs offered by the MBDA as well as the SBA, including the 7(a) Community Advantage and the PRIME programs.  Provide tax incentives for new small businesses.


$17 billion for Capital + Support


$3 billion PROGRESS Act (2 years)


$135 billion



Down Payment on Building 21st Century Infrastructure

High-speed Internet, Affordable Housing, Community Development Investment, K-12 Public School/Library/MSI Construction, and Environmental Justice.

$115 billion and policy reforms

New Homeowner Down Payment Tax Credit

With historically low interest rates for home mortgages, provide $15,000 per family to expand access to homeownership.

$40 billion

Renters and Low Income Housing Tax Credits

Reduce rent and utilities to 30% of income for low-income individuals and families and build new low-income rental properties.

$25 billion over 5 years (rent) + $5 billion (LIHTC)

Expand Medicaid Coverage

Incent Medicaid expansion in non-expansion states.

$15 billion

Address Maternal Mortality and Health

Expand comprehensive Medicaid coverage to all pregnant individuals for one-year postpartum; fund grant programs to implement maternal safety standards; improve access to midwife and doula services; and more.

$15 billion



10-20-30 Anti-Poverty Initiative and Hiring and Contracting Opportunities

Require a greater share of federal community and economic development funding go to communities with "persistent" and high poverty rates and create opportunities in federally-funded infrastructure projects for local hiring in communities of color and contracts for disadvantaged businesses.

No cost policy changes.


$215 billion


“Incremental and piecemeal investments will never repair the centuries-old systems that have kept African American and other communities of color at the bottom rung of the ladder,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League. “The Economic Justice Act is the first comprehensive and targeted effort to break down the systems that exacerbate every economic crisis and deny the benefits of every economic upturn for African Americans. We applaud Leader Schumer and his colleagues for a forward-looking approach that incorporates many of the goals the National Urban League has pursued for decades. This economy will only recover when we address the critical issues of childcare, healthcare, infrastructure, homeownership, and access to capital. The Economic Justice Act is a bold plan that sets the table for any real discussion of social and economic justice in this country.