Local Democratic Party leaders and voters gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Indianapolis headquarters July 8 to explain the benefits of the American Rescue Plan and urge senators to pass the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
The American Rescue Plan passed in the United States House of Representatives on March 10 by a vote of 220-211 days after passing in the Senate. Despite having bipartisan support among the American people – a CBS News poll conducted in March found roughly 75% of Americans supported the plan – every Republican senator who voted against the plan.
Brett Voorhies, president of the Indiana AFL-CIO, said Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun “turned their back on Hoosiers” by opposing the bill.
Neither Young nor Braun responded to a request for comment. In previous statements, Braun expressed concern that the plan would increase taxes for Hoosier families making over $400,000 a year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for Hoosier households is $57,603.
Now signed into law, the bill provides emergency grants, lending and investment to small businesses impacted by the pandemic, as well as provide funds for widespread vaccinations, expand child care assistance and make broadband internet more accessible throughout the country.
While the push for the American Rescue Plan came as a result of COVID-19, Democratic officials say the bill will benefit Hoosiers for years to come by strengthening the middle class and creating jobs.
U.S. Rep. Andre Carson said it could create 15 to 20 million jobs over the next decade, as well as improve infrastructure throughout the country.
“We have roads and bridges that have to be repaved and resurfaced, we expand our broadband footprint in rural communities and urban centers and invest in smart roads,” Carson said in an interview following the event. “In five to 10 years, we’ll be driving electric cars, and that means we need charging stations. We need critical rail infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. All of these things mean jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Councillor Ali Brown of District 5, said the plan’s expansion of broadband internet throughout the state will benefit Hoosier’s long after COVID-19.
“What it does is allow kids to explore a world outside of their school,” Brown said in an interview. “That access isn’t just about getting Zoom, it’s about allowing someone to work from home to care for their family or loved one. So many people never get a chance to leave where they’re from, and the internet allows for more thoughts, more opportunities and more possibilities.”
The pandemic highlighted the “digital divide,” as many low-income Hoosiers struggled to access school materials or work from home.
In total, the American Rescue Plan will distribute $300 billion throughout the United States.
Along with the rescue plan, Democrats also called for the passing of the PRO Act during the rally. The bill, co-sponsored by Carson, would eliminate Right to Work laws. Indiana is one of 28 states with such a law.
However, Jon Hooker, leader of the state Democratic Party’s labor caucus, said the laws allow management to “intimidate” workers from unionizing. Further, he said workers in states with Right to Work laws make 3% less annually than workers in other states, regardless of whether they’re a union member.
The PRO Act passed in the House of Representatives in March and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.
“America is strongest when we strengthen the middle class,” Carson said at the July 8 event. “… We are on the cusp of passing one of the most monumental pieces of legislation in American history.”
Carson encourages Hoosiers to contact Young and Braun to urge them to vote in favor of the bill.
“And if they don’t,” Carson said, “they’ll see you at the polls next year.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.