New Democrat Coalition Announces ‘20 for 2020’ Policy Agenda

March 3, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The New Democrat Coalition has rolled out an ambitious policy agenda it says will reinvigorate the government while also establishing the group’s goals for the remainder of the 116th Congress.

In announcing their “20 for 2020” plan on Friday, the coalition, comprised of 104 centrist, pro-growth Democrats, said it outlines a path forward for Congress “to enact durable change on some of our nation’s most pressing issues and ensures America will lead the future.”

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., the  chairman of the coalition, noted during brief remarks that the membership of the New Democrats includes 42 freshman members of the House, and that as a result of their membership, the group is now the chamber’s largest Democratic caucus.

He went on to say that members’ primary focus is on making sure the federal government, “is doing a better job solving problems on behalf of the American people.”

“Together, working with our colleagues across the aisle, our coalition will advocate for these priorities to create greater opportunity … for more people in more places,” Kilmer added.

The 20 for 2020 plan calls for doing so by closing skills and opportunity gaps for all workers and by making it easier for Americans with good ideas to start businesses.

It also calls for enacting comprehensive immigration reform; expanding  affordable health coverage; reducing health care costs and lowering prescription drug prices; investing in affordable housing; and funding the modernization of the nation’s infrastructure.

The coalition is also calling on Congress to restore the United State’s global leadership on climate change and technological innovation, to restore trust in elections, and to reverse President Trump’s protectionist policies when it comes to trade and the digital economy.

“These are priorities that Congress must tackle to achieve long-lasting and bipartisan change,” Kilmer said.

Economics and Health Care

When it comes to the issue of the economy, Kilmer said Congress needs to “revolutionize” economic development so that it takes into account those workers who have been left behind in today’s economy.

“Congress needs to do more to prepare those entering the workforce, and it needs to up-skill those who at the mid-point of their career and to relaunch those who have found themselves displaced,” he said.

“Our view is that we need to empower workers to navigate economic change rather than be victimized by it,” Kilmer added.

Rep. Annie Kuster, of New Hampshire, the coalition’s vice chair for communications, said she and her colleagues recognize that healthcare is the top priority of most voters and most Americans.

“Millions of Americans received health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but partisan attacks by [the Trump] administration have undermined the benefits and stability of the ACA, leaving healthcare out of reach, unaffordable or at risk for many, many more.

“Our plan calls on Congress to focus on durable solutions  that lower drug prices and find new cures and make health care more affordable and accessible for everyone,” she said.

Cybersecurity and Climate Change

Rep. Suzan Delbene, of Washington, the coalition’s vice chair for policy coordination, said another of the group’s priorities is “to help Americans get ahead of the changing digital economy” particularly as regards consumer privacy and cyber engagement.

In addition, she said, the New Dems “have long advocated for a trade strategy where the U.S. leads the world in opening up new markets and setting global standards.”

“That’s why Congress should pursue a trade agenda that respects the rules-based trading system and enact new agreements that meet the needs of a 21st century economy, while also promoting American excellence and values abroad.”

Rep. Scott Peters, of California, said among the biggest concerns of he and his constituents is the “existential threat of climate change.”

“The United States has to be a responsible part of an international community and should reclaim its role as a global leader by advancing climate solutions and technologies that strengthen our economy and national security while urging other nations to act,” he said.

Peters said the coalition is currently at work on a specific set of climate-policy endorsements premised on the belief that the administration has wrong-headedly created barriers to the deployment of ‘climate-forward’ technologies while failing to create a stable environment in which real progress can take place.

Pragmatic Solutions

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, of Pennsylvania, the coalition’s freshman leadership representative, said the people of her state are “a pragmatic people” who “place a high priority on working across the aisle” and delivering wins for “our community and our country.”

“One thing I very much appreciate about the pragmatic and deliberate New Democrat Coalition is its commitment to those same priorities,” she said.

“While the top line [reports] on our economy paint a very pretty picture, they’re not fully representative of the whole picture,” Houlahan said. “Too many people are working multiple jobs just to afford rent … and they don’t necessarily have benefits. We’re struggling with the crumbling infrastructure … and while unemployment is low, businesses are struggling to find people to fill jobs that have specific skill sets.

“There is much work to be done and I’m very confident that the New Democrat Coalition’s  vision for 2020 will begin to address these very critical issues,” she continued. “We need a whole of government approach, really a whole of nation approach. It’s time to get back to the notion of the U.S. as the shining city on the hill.” 

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