The people and places we love and the progress that we need have been under attack by the Trump White House and his allies in the Republican Party since he came down the escalator in Trump Towers five years ago.
We have seen a rise in hate spurred by Trump’s failed leadership and this global pandemic, especially attacks directed at the Asian American, LGBTQ+, Black and Brown communities, Indigienous people, and the Jewish and Muslim communities.
This hate and increase in attacks on marginalized communities are exacerbated by the dangerous rhetoric of this despicable President and his Republican cronies in Congress.
COVID-19 has put a magnifying glass on the disproportionate impact that economic, social and political inequalities have on our residents and entire communities. Whether discussing the racism against Asian Americans or the alarmingly high and disproportionate mortality rates among African Americans, Hispanics, and the elderly, there is a clear message: Leadership has failed us. The people of the Fourth District need a proven progressive fighter – not just someone who says the right things or votes the right way. People need someone with the skills and track record to lead the fight against the hate, backward thinking, and wrong-headed policies coming from Trump’s White House, and to chart a just, fair, and inclusive path forward.
We need to address the underlying causes of inequities by enacting policy changes that contribute to these disparities. We need to improve schools, provide housing that is affordable and safe, implement violence intervention programs, expand mental health and social services, prohibit discrimination against and improve access for the LGBTQ+ community, especially LGBTQ+ youth. We know that so many of our institutions were built upon discrimination and that institutional racism continues to further the economic, social and political inequities and divides that exist. We need a leader in Congress willing to take on those tough fights. Jesse has done that – in her roles in advocacy organizations and in state and local government. Now she is ready to do the same in Congress.
CRIMINAL LEGAL REFORM
There is no question that much of our criminal legal system is broken and too often pulls primarily Black and Brown people into a cycle of incarceration. Right now, we must take steps to ensure that those who are detained are kept safe during the pandemic. We must look to release those whose health is at risk and do not pose a threat to society.
Here is what we need to ensure our system is focused on rehabilitation, not incarceration:
- Passage of Congresswoman Pressley’s “Peoples Justice Guarantee” which outlines a framework for bold, progressive criminal legal reform, including:
- Incentivizing local governments to reduce their prison populations and discontinue harmful policing practices such as Truth in Sentencing and Three Strikes.
- Cap prison sentences for all crimes and abolish the death penalty and sentences of life without the possibility of parole.
- Restore voting rights for those who are incarcerated.
- Legalize cannabis nationwide and expunge criminal records for marijuana-related convictions.
- Increase funding for and expand reentry programs.
- Eliminate for-profit prisons.
- Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences.
- Restore voting rights to citizens who have been convicted of a crime, served a sentence, and re-entered society.
- End cash bail.
- Improve indigent defense.
- Ensure justice in pre-trial services, probation, and parole.
- Expand diversion programs for those suffering from substance use disorder.
- Divest from police and incarceration (see below).
DIVESTMENT FROM POLICE AND INCARCERATION
There is deep, systemic racism in the United States and that flows through too much of law enforcement and our criminal legal system. A systemic problem requires systemic changes. The federal government has invested billions of dollars in the expansion of police departments and jails. There is little to no oversight of this funding and there is no evidence that this investment reduces crime rates and improves the safety of communities.
In Congress, Jesse will advocate for the reallocation of federal funding from policing and incarceration to increased resources for education, housing, building open spaces in our community, mental health services, and community-based solutions, especially in Black and Brown communities that have been disproportionately targeted by police brutality, mass incarceration, and crime. These are investments that improve public safety and overall quality of life, while addressing additional social determinants of health.
Here’s what Jesse will support in Congress:
- Amend the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 to end mandatory support for police forces and make restorative justice and youth employment and education programs eligible for grant fundings.
- Discontinue the federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and divert its more than $300 million in funding to local and state governments to build out non-law enforcement expertise in responding to calls for service. The COPS program has dramatically increased the presence of federal law enforcement officers in some cities.
- End qualified immunity for police and prosecutors, immediately.
- Make it a crime to deny medical care to someone in custody.
- Ban chokeholds, tear gas, no-knock warrants, stop-and-frisk, and “broken windows” policing.
- Improve oversight – including data on use of force – and expand independent investigations.
- Reassert the Justice Department’s authority to investigate racial profiling, police brutality, violence, and civil rights violations. Increase funding for the Office of Civil Rights.
- Establish all-civilian review boards for police misconduct – including boards that have teeth – and improve data collection on police-involved shootings and ethics violations.
- Expand use of body cameras.
- Support initiatives to diversify our nation’s police departments so that they reflect the communities they serve.
- Link federal funding for policing to meeting clear objectives that comply with policing and incarceration policies as described above.
- Invest in diversifying the teacher workforce, end the over-reliance on high stakes testing, and pass free universal pre-kindergarten to address the inequities that facilitate the school to prison pipeline. You can read more about Jesse’s education plan here.
The treatment of children and families at our borders has been one of the most offensive and unjust actions of this administration’s many racist policies, and will forever be a stain on our nation. The Trump administration has attacked immigration at every level, across the board – from refugees and asylum seekers to those holding H1-B visas to meet our workforce needs, and most egregiously, those being inhumanely separated from their families at the border. We need strong, moral leadership to right these wrongs and find a path that is reflective of the values America aspires to embody.
The Fourth Congressional District has a proud history of welcoming people from distant shores. More than one-sixth of Massachusetts residents are foreign-born: almost 1.2 million people. That includes more than 640,000 naturalized citizens and more than 8,000 Dreamers. Immigrants make up one-fifth of our workforce and have more than $31 billion in spending power per year. First and foremost, we have a moral obligation to fix our broken and unjust immigration system. But we must also recognize the positive impact that immigrants have on the American economy. This is why we must ensure that our foreign-born population is civically and socially integrated and invest in immigrants as an investment in our Commonwealth and our country.
Jesse will fight to reform our dysfunctional and outdated immigration system and policies and stand up for our immigrant communities and immigrant-owned businesses by:
- Supporting a complete overhaul of our dysfunctional and outdated immigration system including passing H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, to protect Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants – not criminalizing their mere existence in our nation.
- Abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and ending family separation policies.
- Ensuring that, under the National Labor Relations Act, undocumented immigrants are considered employees. We must make sure they are protected in our labor laws. The current system sets up a two-tier labor relation system that is rampant with abuse for entire segments of the workforce.
- Enforcing safeguards to protect immigrants and guest workers from falling victim to fraud and ensuring employers are held to a standard where all employees are paid a living wage.
- Ensuring that all COVID-19 relief supports all of our residents of our Commonwealth, including the most vulnerable, regardless of status.
- Fighting for state policies, including drivers licenses for all residents in Massachusetts regardless of status and passing the Safe Communities Act to limit interaction between local police and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to make sure all families feel safe and have peace of mind.
- Addressing and preventing hate crimes through legislation aimed at online extremism and tackling domestic terrorism.
- Continuing to work at the federal and state level to invest in community integration and systems in place for better integration.
STANDING WITH INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES
As we continue to see attacks on tribal sovereignty and an assault on native land, Jesse will continue partnering and working in allyship with tribal nations on issues like environmental protections, supporting the sovereignty of tribal nations, and working with tribes on federal policies that address the disparities and needs of indigenous communities in housing, health care, violence against indigenous women, and education. Recently, we saw the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in our own district targeted by the Trump Administration with revocation of their status and land, an outright threat to their sovereignty and the future of the tribal nation. We must honor our treaties with indigenous communities and address the disparities caused by failed leadership. We cannot stand for the inequities native populations face in health outcomes, violence rates, wealth, education, safe and affordable housing and access to environmental justice.
As your next Congresswoman, Jesse pledges to:
- Strengthen tribal sovereignty by honoring treaty commitments, reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes, and engage in meaningful diplomacy and partnership with tribal leaders.
- Ensure the survival of native languages by passing the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act.
- Fund the Indian Health Agency and invest in telehealth services to adequately combat the opioid crisis on tribal land and address the health disparities and lack of accessibility that indigienous nations experience.
- Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act with adequate protections for indigienous victims of sexual or domestic violence and ensure that tribes have access to the resources they need to address the epidemic of violence against Indigienous women. We need to enforce tribal sovereignty in criminal proceedings to address the disparate and alarming rates at which Indigienous women experience violence, abduction, and murder.
- Invest in key transportation and sanitation infrastructure for tribal nations.
- Pass legislation to ensure that native grant funding is secured so that tribes have the ability to create safe, affordable housing, invest in education and have access to entrepreneurship and economic development.
- Expand high speed internet access to ensure tribal communities have access.
- Prevent fossil fuel companies from leasing native land for extraction, pass a Green New Deal that includes protections for native land, and ensure tribal members have access to clean, safe drinking water. You can read Jesse’s full plan on protecting the environment and addressing the climate crisis here.
FIGHTING FOR LGBTQ+ RIGHTS
We know that the LGBTQ+ community continues to face profound discrimination in our health care systems, our workplaces, and our communities. Jesse has fought for LGBTQ+ rights throughout her career – from ensuring LGBTQ+ people had access to reproductive health care services during her time at Planned Parenthood to leading the business community in support of Question 3 in 2018 to defend the rights of transgender people.
During the COVID-19 crisis – and always – our local, state, and federal leaders must consider the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community, especially transgender women of color and others who are the most marginalized and vulnerable. We also know that both the LGBTQ+ community and the Black community are experiencing disparate harm from COVID-19 because of centuries of discrimination and poor policy choices in health care, housing, transportation, and the environment.
When Jesse is in Congress, she will be a fierce ally for the LGBTQ+ community. She will use her platform to stand up for LGBTQ+ rights and stand adamantly opposed to discrimination in all forms, by pushing to:
- Pass the Equality Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.
- Fight back against the weaponization of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to ensure religion is not used as a license to discriminate.
- Restore and expand the Obama-era anti-discrimination protections in health care, education, housing, and more that the Trump Administration has dismantled.
- Ban conversion therapy.
- Ensure schools are safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth and expand mental health and youth homeless services.
- Improve health outcomes for the LGBTQ+ Community as a condition for facilities receiving federal funding and supporting a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy.
- Ensure fair treatment of LGBTQ+ people in the criminal justice and immigration systems.
- Work to end violence against the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color.
- Discredit the epidemic of cynical attacks against the transgender community and reverse the ban on transgender military service.
DEFENDING AND EXPANDING WOMEN’S RIGHTS
Jesse has spent her career championing women’s rights, from her leadership at the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus to increase the number of pro-choice, pro-civil rights women elected to public office, her fight for access to reproductive health care, including abortion and birth control, as a leader at Planned Parenthood, her leadership of the Strong Women, Strong Families initiative during her time in Gov. Patrick’s administration to ensure women can succeed in whatever workplace they choose, and her work to pass equal pay legislation and paid family and medical leave while leading the progressive business community at the Alliance for Business Leadership.
Jesse will go to Washington to continue to fight for women and girls by pledging to:
- Ensure reproductive health care is affordable and accessible for all people. Read Jesse’s full plan here.
- Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
- Pass a National Paid Family Medical Leave.
- Close the boyfriend loophole to ensure domestic abusers do not have access to guns.
- Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
- Rescind Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ dangerous Title IX rules that gut protections for student survivors of sexual assault.
- Repeal the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
- Enact affordable childcare and expand access to early education.
- Address the causes of disparate maternal health outcomes for Black women and all women of color.
- Expand economic opportunity by reinvesting in minority and women-owned economic development programs and raising the minimum wage to create meaningful pathways out of poverty and address the gender and racial wealth gaps. You can read more about Jesse’s plan to build a fair economy here.
SUPPORTING OUR IDD & DIFFERENTLY ABLED COMMUNITIES
Those within our communities who are differently abled or have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) continue to face discrimination, a lack of access and accommodation in critical opportunities and services, and disparate health outcomes, especially during public health crises like COVID-19. As the former State Director of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Jesse has always focused on ensuring policies are inclusive to all people
Here is Jesse’s plan to support and expand the rights of those with disabilities. She will:
- Fight for Economic Security and Opportunities for differently abled people and individuals with IDDs, including competitive work opportunities. Pass the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act to eliminate compensation below the minimum wage for people with disabilities.
- Ensure that all essential public spaces, workplaces, and businesses are accessible.
- Guarantee consistent access to affordable and high quality health care by passing Medicare for All.
- Increase access to technologies that can serve to expand opportunities for people. Pass the Digital Equity Act.
- Protect the civil rights and liberties of those with different abilities and IDDs to ensure they can access key functions of our democracy, education system, and are not discriminated against in our workplaces or when seeking housing.
- Lead on Paid Family and Medical Leave to support family members of those with different abilities or IDDs who may require additional assistance or care.
- Ensure Veterans Affairs has the resources to provide disabled veterans with the services and health care to which they are entitled.
EXPANDING VOTING RIGHTS
Voting rights have been under attack for decades and the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to gut the Voting Rights Act has only made it worse. These efforts disproportionately and intentionally make it harder for BIPOC and low-income voters to engage in our democracy.
Now amid the pandemic, voting rights face an even larger threat. Here’s what we need:
- Reinstate the Voting Rights Act.
- Implement universal, automatic vote-by-mail with ballots sent directly to registered voters with prepaid return postage and appropriate accommodations for those with disabilities.
- Remove witness requirements.
- Expand no-excuse absentee voting, early voting, same-day registration, automatic registration, and online registration.
- Eliminate ID requirements.
- Dismantle decades of voter suppression efforts.
- Protect in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic by equipping all polling locations with appropriate PPE and soap/hand sanitizer, six-foot markers, proper signage, and curbside voting for those with physical or health limitations.
- Secure funding to invest in voting machines and ensure secure elections.
- Make it a federal crime to intentionally participate in voter suppression.
PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF ORGANIZED LABOR
Jesse knows first-hand the importance that labor unions can make in people’s lives and our economy. In one of her first jobs out of college, Jesse was hired as a clerical worker and joined AFSCME Council 93 (HUCTW). When Jesse’s employer abruptly decided to close her division and lay everyone off, the union stepped in to make sure she received adequate compensation. As a young professional, supporting herself and barely making ends meet, this lifeline made a world of difference to Jesse and she knows it makes a world of difference to others.
Unions, and support for them, are an important part of Jesse’s story. She has always viewed organized labor as a pivotal part of any working economy and critical to charting a fair, just, and inclusive path forward from the current crisis facing our nation.
That is why, in Congress, it will be a top priority for Jesse to protect the rights of organized labor, including a pledge to:
- Advocate and protect sustainable project labor agreements.
- Fight to close loopholes in federal wage law that protect corporations above working people.
- End the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.
- Advocate for an increase in funding to ensure the Department of Labor better monitors corporate violations.
- Support the PRO Act so that unions can more easily organize.
- Advocate for multi-employer pension reforms, such as the Butch Lewis Act, which would provide low-interest loans to help fund declining pension plans.
- Support federal employees’ right to collective bargain.
Jesse understands that there is no silver bullet when it comes to ending inequity and discrimination in America. The list of issues that must be tackled is long, because discrimination is woven into the fabric of every policy area across the country. Racism cannot be addressed without reforming housing or environmental policies. Homophobia cannot be addressed without reforming our approach to health care. Sexism cannot be addressed without reforming workplace policies. And the intersectional nature of the crisis of inequity is not limited to the examples above. The lens of inequity and discrimination must be applied to the assessment of every single policy that is proposed or being implemented by members of Congress.