Congressional Black Caucus’ Jobs and Justice Act Calls for Federal Drug Reform

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WASHINGTON D.C. – The Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday introduced a 1,300 page omnibus legislation, called The Jobs and Justice Act of 2018, which includes individual bills authored by various CBC members, as well as the National Urban League’s Main Street Marshall Plan, which addresses economic and social inequities and injustice in African American and low income communities. The act is intended to ensure protections for and encourage economic mobility for African Americans and marginalized groups.

Among several policy points, the legislation calls for decriminalization of marijuana, as well as a federal reinvestment fund for communities negatively impacted by the War on Drugs. It also would eliminate mandatory minimums on federal drug offenses.

Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY) introduced the legislation with other CBC members, and said in a statement, “The Jobs and Justice Act’s expansive scope is a necessarily thorough approach to fixing the inequities faced by minority and low-income communities. In this omnibus bill are three pieces of legislation I’ve introduced—all aimed at providing minorities with equitable opportunities and building up communities—and many more that I have proudly co-sponsored.”

Highlights from the bill include:

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Jobs

  • Invests $100 billion in public schools for physical and digital infrastructure improvements.
  • Includes the 10-20-30 formula to direct additional resources to communities with a history of high poverty.
  • Provides tax incentives for hiring young people, veterans, and the unemployed.
  • Raises the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • Expands access to the New Markets Tax Credit.
  • Creates local incubators for small businesses and startups.
  • Strengthens Pell Grant funding.
  • Invests in emergency relief to address homelessness and increases access to mortgage financing.
  • Modernizes the HBCU Capital Financing Program.
  • Provides $7.5 billion dollars to upgrade water infrastructure systems.

Justice

  • Eliminates mandatory minimums for federal drug offenses.
  • Establishes a national commission on solitary confinement.
  • Bans the box for ex-offenders.
  • Gives ex-offenders access to Pell Grants, TANF, and SNAP.
  • Abolishes the federal death penalty.
  • Ends racial profiling.
  • Decriminalizes marijuana and establishes a reinvestment fund for communities negatively impacted by the War on Drugs.
  • Makes mid-term and presidential elections federal holidays.
  • Restores the Voting Rights Act.
  • Provides $7.5 billion dollars to upgrade water infrastructure systems.
  • Clarifies the Dickey Amendment to allow federal research on the intersection of gun violence and mental health.

CBC member and civil rights icon Representative John Lewis (D-GA), who authored six of the bills included in the Act, added in a statement, “I applaud Cedric Richmond, our chair, for his vision and hard work in preparing this bill. I am proud to join my Congressional Black Caucus colleagues as an original cosponsor of this landmark legislation. This is a good, necessary, and timely bill. We took our time to develop thoughtful proposals to serve those who expect us to give voice to the real issues and challenges African Americans face in very corner of our country.”

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