Progressive Leaders Demand Congress Act on Key Priorities; Dreamers, Disaster Relief and CHIP Must Be Addressed

Categories: Health Care, Immigration, Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Contact: Shin Inouye, 202.869.0398,

WASHINGTON – Today, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, UnidosUS, the Center for American Progress, and 52 other leading civil rights organizations sent a letter to Congress demanding action by January 19 or earlier on urgent and unfinished business. The leaders cited the need to provide permanent protection for Dreamers, relief to areas affected by recent natural disasters, and reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“Enough is enough – Congress must do its job and act to protect families in America without any further delay,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Lawmakers have failed to provide desperately needed disaster aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, restore access to health care for millions of low- and middle-income children, and protect Dreamers. Congress was able to muster the will to pass a massive tax cut for millionaires, billionaires and corporations. It is shameful that they have failed to protect the most vulnerable families. The time to act is now.”

“Congressional Republicans need to figure out if they care more about partisan politics or protecting people,” said Neera Tanden, CEO of the Center for American Progress. “The key elements of any long-term spending bill — from reauthorizing CHIP for 9 million children to providing electricity for nearly 700,000 Puerto Ricans living in darkness and shielding every Dreamer now in danger of deportation — are issues that the vast majority of the American public supports.  The facts are simple, the need is urgent, and the time for action is now.”

“Congress’ unwillingness to pass legislation that help the children of our country is beyond inexcusable.  Whether it’s reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), providing disaster relief to Puerto Rico, or passing a clean DACA bill to give children a chance at a prosperous future, Congress’ leadership needs to act now and urgently pass legislation to protect the best interests of our kids and our nation,” said Janet Murguia, President and CEO, UnidosUS.

The full text of the letter is available here and pasted below:

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Leader Pelosi,

January 19 marks the end of the first full year of the Trump presidency. Over the past year, we have seen a sustained and unprecedented assault on our core values and on American communities all across the country. Throughout these challenges, we have learned one critically important lesson: We are strongest when we stand together.

At the end of December, Congress passed a short-term spending bill and left town without addressing several of the most pressing issues that affect the lives and well-being of tens of millions of people throughout the country. By January 19—the date by which the Republican-controlled Congress must pass legislation to avert a government shutdown—you must ensure that there will be no further delays on these key priorities, which already have been held hostage for too long.

On or before January 19, Congress must pass legislation that provides permanent protection for Dreamers. Approximately 15,000 young people already have lost Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection since the president ended the program in September, and every day that Congress fails to act before March 5, an average of 122 additional DACA recipients will lose protections. We know these young people. We work with them and pray with them, and our children are educated alongside them and by them in our schools. Nearly three-quarters of DACA recipients have a spouse, child, or family member who is a U.S. citizen. By voting three times on spending bills that offer no protections to Dreamers who are losing status right now, Congress has for months appropriated funds that will be used to deport these young people. This must stop.

On or before January 19, Congress also must pass legislation that provides critical—and long-overdue—relief to the millions of Americans affected by natural disasters in recent months. In September, Hurricane Maria dealt a devastating blow to the people of Puerto Rico, and today, electricity still has not been restored for more than 660,000 power customers on the island. This would not be tolerated for Americans living anywhere else, and it cannot be ignored any longer.

On or before January 19, Congress also must reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which ensures critical health care services for 9 million children across the country. The small patches that Congress passed twice in December do nothing to provide the stability that patients and health care providers need to ensure proper continuity of care.

American families and America’s children have waited too long for Congress to do the right thing on these and other issues: Enough is enough. We, the undersigned, ask that you ensure that all these priorities are addressed together as part of any deal on raising the budget caps or providing further government funding.


Neera Tanden, President and CEO, Center for American Progress

Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza)

Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice

Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union

Caroline Fredrickson, President, American Constitution Society

Lee Saunders, President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

John C. Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)

Deepak Bhargava, President, Center for Community Change

Olivia Golden, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Ana María Archila, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy

Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund

Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs

Murshed Zaheed, Vice President, Politics, CREDO

Heather C. McGhee, President, Demos

Thea Lee, President, Economic Policy Institute Policy Center

Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life

Mark Magaña, President and CEO, GreenLatinos

Chad H. Griffin, President, Human Rights Campaign

Elisa Massimino, President and CEO, Human Rights First

Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg, Co-Executive Directors, Indivisible

Rachel B. Tiven, CEO, Lambda Legal

Cristóbal J. Alex, President, Latino Victory Project

Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters

Brent A. Wilkes, CEO, League of United Latin American Citizens

Amanda Ballantyne, National Director, Main Street Alliance

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel, MALDEF

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director/CEO and Co-Founder, MomsRising

Anna Galland, Executive Director, Civic Action

Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP

Ilyse Hogue, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Angelo McClain, Ph.D., LICSW, CEO, National Association of Social Workers

Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights

Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center

Becky Belcore & DJ Yoon, Co-Directors, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)

Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK, Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Michael Keegan, President and CEO, People For the American Way

Scott Reed, Executive Director, PICO National Network

Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO, PolicyLink

Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Mohammad Ali, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, Small Business Majority

Michael Breen, President and CEO, Truman National Security Project

D Taylor, International President, UNITE HERE

Cristina Jiménez Moreta, Executive Director and Co-founder, United We Dream

Arturo S. Rodriguez, President, United Farm Workers

María Teresa Kumar, President and CEO, Voto Latino

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For almost 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.