Rev. Barber: “Our deadline is victory”

In a defiant press rally on Christmas Eve, the Poor People’s Campaign and other progressive leaders vowed to continue fighting for the Build Back Better Act despite opposition from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

“Senator Manchin plays a Caesar or at least a King Herod in today’s Christmas story,” said Pastor Dr. Liz Theoharis, a co-chair of the Campaign of the Poor. “He says there is no place in this democracy for the 140 million poor and low-income Americans, including the 700,000 West Virginians trapped in poverty and low wages under his supervision. He wants to restrict the lives of poor children just so he can keep his power and wealth. Doesn’t that actually sound like Herod on Christmas Eve? “

The Poor People’s Campaign has held numerous rallies and civil disobedience actions in support of the Build Back Better Act over the past year, while recognizing that legislation is only a first step towards a moral economy.

The campaign co-chair, Rev. Dr. William Barber II, looked into the press event on Christmas Eve in a church in Charleston, capital of the state of Manchin. He introduced several local affected people and community leaders who beat up their senator and others who stood in the way of the landmark public investment law.

“We are not short of resources,” said Alexandra Gallo, a community activist from Charleston. “We have a lack of will to fight inequality.”

Barber also introduced two members of Congress, Chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. And Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Who were instrumental in getting the Build Back Better Act through the House. Jayapal has suffered particularly badly in recent months when she used the power of her faction to prevent her own party’s leadership from holding scheduled votes on the bill until the progressives received certain concessions.

With the support of all Senate Democrats needed to get it passed, Manchin’s recent announcement that it will not vote for the bill is a major blow. But Jayapal, who has a history in the immigration rights movement, remains positive.

“If the things we’re fighting for were easy,” she said at the press event, “we would have got them long ago. And because we’re organizers, we don’t give up. It is in these moments that our strength comes. Our job as progressives is to push the boundaries of what others think is possible. “

Barber, who has been relentlessly critical of Manchin for blocking the law, brought up recent news reports that the senator privately told colleagues that parents would spend the child tax credit money on drugs. “Doesn’t he understand that opioid use is linked to poverty?” He asked.

A year-long extension of this tax credit, which has reduced U.S. child poverty by an estimated 40 percent, is a key piece of legislation, along with other major investments in childcare, home elderly care, public housing, -K, Medicare expansion, to cover dental services, clean energy jobs, and more.

Rep. Lee said she finds a lot of hope in Christmas. “It reminds me that Jesus Christ was born homeless, born in a manger. But it also reminds me that his life was about fighting for the weakest, fighting for justice. “

“Senator Manchin’s comments against Build Back Better have been incredibly disappointing,” she continued. “But we will not give up. Because if we fight, we win. “

The poor people’s campaign plans to unleash a flurry of phone calls to Manchin’s office in early January, and without giving details, Barber hinted that the country would leave the country the day after Anniversary of the January 6th “uprising”, the campaign will organize a “resurrection”.

“We would have loved to have Build Back Better and the voting rights earlier this year,” said Barber. “But our deadline is victory.”

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