Right now Congress’s to-do list is long. Before we even get to the budget, we must take care of several urgent, overdue responsibilities that Republicans have ignored. We must fulfill our promise to 800,000 Dreamers — aspiring young Americans who will lose their legal immigration status if we don’t act. We also need to renew expired funding for community health centers and the Children’s Health Insurance Program so that tens of millions of families and nine million children don’t lose access to affordable health care.
These are basic responsibilities and they cannot wait. But our vision is bigger. We must look beyond the bare minimum, to stop lurching from crisis to crisis trying desperately to keep the lights on. This is the moment to focus on our core values and to carefully choose what we will invest in.
At a time when the American economy is rigged in favor of the rich and giant corporations, the coming federal funding bill is a chance to show that our country still respects hard work. We recognize that we cannot do everything we’d like to do before the end of the year, but there is room in the budget to take real, immediate steps in this direction — by easing household costs for working parents and students, by protecting workers’ pensions and Social Security, and by improving access to health care for veterans and for people who need mental health services.