If Confirmed, Beyer to Focus on Economic Inequality, Climate Change, Corporate Governance and Other Issues.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Speaker Pelosi announced that she is recommending Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) to chair the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC). If confirmed, Congressman Beyer will become the first Democrat to chair the JEC since Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) chaired the committee during the 112th Congress (2011-2013).

In response to Speaker Pelosi’s announcement, Congressman Beyer issued the following statement:

“I am humbled and honored to have Speaker Pelosi’s confidence to lead the 75-year-old Joint Economic Committee, a committee that not only investigates important issues impacting our economy but also serves as an economic think tank for Congress.

“Congress’s stewardship of the U.S. economy is one of its most important responsibilities, especially now as the American people look to the federal government to help them recover and rebuild from the recession. I will approach this responsibility with the seriousness it deserves, guided by my belief that the federal government can and should be a force for good in helping to support American businesses and workers.

“As someone who built a small family-owned business over the course of four decades, I know what American businesses and workers are going through during this troubling time for the U.S. economy, and will use my position as chair to ensure we build our economy back better. Better days are ahead for the U.S. economy but only if we ensure it works for all—people of color, women, low-wage workers, essential workers, young people looking for their first job, families looking to buy their first home and others.

“To that end, as chair, I plan to return the committee’s focus to core issues facing the country, including economic inequality, climate change, corporate governance, health care and college affordability. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues on the Joint Economic Committee on these issues and others during the 117th Congress.”

Speaker Pelosi’s recommendation must be confirmed by a vote of the full committee to take effect. In addition to recommending Congressman Beyer to chair the JEC, Speaker Pelosi announced the House Democratic members of the committee:

  • Representative Don Beyer (D-VA-08) - Chair-designate
  • Representative David Trone (D-MD-06)
  • Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03)
  • Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI-02)
  • Representative Scott Peters (D-CA-52)
  • Representative Sharice Davids (D-KS-03)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the Senate Democratic members of the committee a few weeks ago:

  • Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) – Vice Chair-designate
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
  • Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ)
  • Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA)

Leadership of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House each Congress. During the 116th Congress, the committee was chaired by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), who is expected to chair Congress’ Joint Economic Committee in the 117th Congress, voted for the American Rescue Plan today. Shortly before casting his vote for the sweeping Covid relief legislation, which will soon head to President Biden for signature, Beyer told his colleagues during Floor debate: “my vote today for the American Rescue Plan will be the most consequential vote I have ever cast as a member of the House.”

Beyer’s full remarks during debate are below.

The American Rescue Plan is $1.9T pandemic relief legislation that will put money in Americans’ pockets, bolster a national vaccination strategy, support the needy, hungry, and unemployed, provide funding for state and local governments on the frontlines of the pandemic to protect the jobs of teachers and first responders, sustain jobs and small businesses, and fund the safe reopening of America’s schools.

Text of the bill is available here.

Rep. Beyer’s remarks as delivered:

“Mister Speaker, my vote today for the American Rescue Plan will be the most consequential vote I have ever cast.

Today we show that democracy works.

Today we make available all the resources needed to end the pandemic that has killed 527,000 Americans.

Today we lift millions of American children out of poverty.

Today we make an investment to get our children back to school safely.

Today we authorize economic impact payments to millions of our citizens behind on their rents and car payments and unable to buy groceries.

Today we extend unemployment insurance for the ten percent of Americans still out of work because of the virus.

Today we send national help to the state and local governments who employ the heroes who provide our quality of life: police, firefighters, teachers, child protective service workers, sanitation workers, and many others.

And today we reject the social Darwinism of our Republican friends. We reject the ethic of every man, woman, and child for themselves.

Mister Speaker, I am proud to vote for this bill today, and I yield back.”

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 379,000 in February and the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%.

The unemployment rate was 9.9% for Black workers and 8.5% for Hispanic workers. For men and women, the unemployment rate was 6.3% and 6.1%, respectively. If labor force participation had remained at February 2020 rates, there would be 2.7 million more women age 20 and over in the workforce and 2.3 million more men. (See the Twitter-sized graphic below.) 

“The economy is still down more than 9 million jobs since the pandemic began. And if we continue to add jobs to our economy at this rate, it will take years before employment returns to pre-pandemic levels. This is particularly true for women as the impact of the recession has not been gender-neutral.

“In addition to being overrepresented in hospitality, dining, retail and other industries that have been crushed by the coronavirus, millions of women have had to leave the workforce altogether because of school and child care closures—an issue the JEC Democrats explored in a recent report. Others who have jobs that allow them to work from home are taking care of children and aging parents while maintaining a full work schedule.

“If our economy does not fully recover, some of the gains women have made in the workforce may be threatened. That is one of the reasons why the robust relief provided by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan is so important, and why such relief must continue until the pandemic is over.

“This month is Women’s History Month, a time when we recognize the barriers that women have broken throughout history and recommit to challenging those that remain in their way—the gender wage gap, patchy paid sick leave policies and childcare that is unaffordable or inaccessible, among others. These problems have become even more salient during the pandemic, and we need to do more to address them.”

Beyer, Kaine Introduce Legislation to Address the Cost of Police Misconduct to Municipal Governments

Will work to include the bill in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Mar 02 2021

Washington, D.C.—As the world knows by now, one of the officers who arrested George Floyd kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds—killing him and any chance he had of proving his innocence. Not only did this one incident of police misconduct cost Floyd his life—an inhumane and incalculable cost—it will likely cost taxpayers where he lived millions of dollars. Yet cities and counties are not required to report information about these costs to the federal government. New legislation would change this.

Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the incoming Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), former Mayor of Richmond, Va. and civil rights attorney, introduced the Cost of Police Misconduct Act—legislation that would require federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to report police misconduct allegations and related judgments or settlements (including court fees) to the Department of Justice. The legislation would increase transparency and accountability, saving taxpayer dollars and potentially lives.

Beyer and Kaine will work to include the bill in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives last week.

Congressman Beyer:

“Most Americans have no idea how much the cities and counties they live in spend on police misconduct because law enforcement agencies often settle these cases in secret—quietly burying criticism and controversy. You cannot manage what you do not measure. The purpose of this legislation is to measure the problem as much as possible, so we can manage it in a way that not only saves lives—the most important goal—but also taxpayer dollars, which would be better spent on programs and policies that are proven to prevent crime.

“But for police misconduct, George Floyd and many others, most of whom are Black and Brown, would still be alive today. My hope is that we can include The Cost of Police Misconduct Act in the police reform bill that Congress has introduced in George Floyd’s honor, so Americans can better understand what police misconduct costs all of us, both in terms of human life—the most important cost—and taxpayer dollars.”

Senator Kaine:

“Police misconduct causes real harm to real people and the erosion of trust in our justice system and the many good people who work in it. And the financial costs of misconduct are often shrouded in secrecy, thereby making full accountability impossible. The Cost of Police Misconduct Act will require transparency, giving the public powerful information that will spur reform.”

Every year cities and counties across the country spend hundreds of millions of dollars on judgments and settlements related to police misconduct—the costliest of which in many cases are civil rights violations (e.g. use of force) that result in the physical injury or death of residents. Cities and counties typically pay for such judgments and settlements through liability insurance (typical of smaller cities), or from a general or dedicated municipal fund (typical of larger cities), or by issuing bonds. Bonds are particularly common for large judgments or settlements, which exceed insurer liabilities or the capacity of general or dedicated municipal funds, and often result in taxpayers paying nearly double the cost of the judgment or settlement because the city or county must pay fees to financial institutions and interest to investors.

One recent study found that from 2008-2017, residents of Chicago, Ill.(2010-2017), Cleveland, Ohio, Lake County, Ind., Los Angles, Calif. and Milwaukee, Wis., paid an estimated combined total of $1.73 billion in bonds ($837.8 million) and interest payments ($891 million) related to police misconduct. According to a recent NPR report, residents of Chicago alone have paid about a half billion dollars for police misconduct over the past decade. The Cost of Police Misconduct Act would create a source of comprehensive data on the size and nature of such payments to help policymakers, stakeholders and the public understand the scope of the problem and the need for reform.

Mr. Hilary O Shelton, the Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy:

“For too long, law enforcement agencies have paid out millions upon millions of dollars in taxpayer monies to compensate for misconduct charges against mistreated Americans. This payout comes without having to officially alert the taxpayers of our Nation of the damages, liabilities, harm or in some cases even unintentional, unreasonable and reckless use of force. In too many cases these deeply disturbing actions even result in permanent disability or even death. By requiring police officers and units to report to the public the amount of money that is being spent defending and settling misconduct and liability charges, we will be incentivizing law enforcement agents to better serve and protect the American public in a manner befitting their uniform, as well as providing the people of our nation with a more transparent understanding of how their tax money is being misspent.”

Katherine Hawkins, Senior Legal Analyst with The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO):

“Though the negative impact of police misconduct and racial injustice has been evident for a long time, recent tragedies like those involving George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have poignantly highlighted how much work we still have to do. Among a wide range of other reforms, it is critical that Congress enact policies that would result in a higher quantity and quality of data around how often instances of police misconduct occur and what the true costs are of that misconduct. It will be exceedingly difficult for us to ever make evidence-based decisions around policing reform without good data. It is important to remember that police misconduct, beyond the loss of life and of trust, can result in costly legal settlements that effectively defund other vital government services at a time when municipal budgets are under huge strain."

In general, the Cost of Police Misconduct Act would require:

  1. Federal law enforcement agencies and state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG) to report on an annual basis allegations of misconduct by law enforcement officers and judgments or settlements related to such misconduct, including settlements reached before a lawsuit has been filed, and, for each allegation and judgment or settlement reported:
    • the race, ethnicity, sex, and age of each officer and civilian involved;
    • the year in which the alleged misconduct took place;
    • the year in which the alleged misconduct was reported;
    • the type of misconduct alleged, which may include a body camera violation (whether a failure to wear or record), use of force (including type of force), a collision, racial profiling, negligence, property damage, sexual harassment or assault, false testimony, wrongful death, failure of duty to intervene and/or wrongful imprisonment;
    • any personnel action taken by the officer involved, which may include resignation or retirement;
    • any personnel action taken by the law enforcement agency involved, which may include termination, demotion or relocation of the officer;
    • the total amount paid to satisfy a judgment or settlement (and related court fees) with respect to such allegation regardless of the source of the payment;
    • the source of money used (e.g. general operating budget, law enforcement agency budget, bond) to pay a judgment or settlement (and related court fees); and
    • the total amount spent on all such judgments and settlements (and related court fees).
  2. The Attorney General to create and maintain an online searchable database of the information reported.
  3. The Comptroller General to conduct a study of the information reported to determine the leading cause of such judgments and settlements and what can be done to prevent them, and to, in consultation with the Attorney General, submit a report about the aforementioned study to Congress as well as make it publicly available.
  4. The Attorney General to issue a press release annually about the data reported for the previous year. 
  5. The Attorney General to determine the number of federal agencies that have law enforcement authority and make this information publicly available, as well as update it annually. (As a recent DOJ IG report explains, the federal government does not know the exact number of agencies that have law enforcement authority. In order to determine if these agencies are in compliance with this law and others, the federal government needs to know how many of them exist.)

JEC Turns 75

The Committee was created on February 20, 1946.

Feb 19 2021

Washington, DC—On February, 20, 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed the Employment Act of 1946, which, among other things, created two sister organizations—the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), which analyzes economic conditions and advises Congress on economic policy, and the Council of Economic Advisers, which does the same for the White House.

Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement in honor of JEC’s 75th anniversary:

“Seventy-five years ago this Saturday, President Harry S. Truman signed the Employment Act of 1946 into law, which established the Joint Economic Committee. Congress passed this legislation, which also created the Council of Economic Advisers, to address massive fluctuations in national employment rates as the nation demobilized following World War II with the Great Depression still very fresh in the national consciousness.

“Congress intended the Joint Economic Committee to play a major role in shaping U.S. economic policy, which it has, thanks in large part to the brilliant economists who have staffed it over the years. Today, once again, its role as a think tank for Congress amid a historic economic crisis is as essential as it has ever been. Millions are out of work, wondering how they are going to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table—and policymakers looking to alleviate their suffering should once again avail themselves of the counsel of the best economic minds in the country.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, I have held weekly conversations to bring together Members of Congress and the leading economists in the nation. We have heard again and again that the danger is not doing too much, it is doing too little. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Joint Economic Committee to ensure that Congress does as much as possible to get our economy back on track. Anything less would be a disservice to the American people, as well as the legacy of this committee.”

Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement in response to the confirmation hearing testimony of Neera Tanden, Director-designate for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who appeared this morning before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. If confirmed, Tanden, who is Indian American, would become the first woman of color and first South Asian American to lead OMB.

Today’s hearing was the first of two for Tanden. She testifies before the Senate Budget Committee on Thursday.

“Neera has spent her career putting the Affordable Care Act and other big, bold policies into practice for working families. She has the experience and expertise to lead the Office of Management and Budget in a way that moves our country and economy forward.

“She understands that the federal budget can be a force for good that lifts people out of poverty and helps them achieve their dreams. She understands this because she has lived it. She also understands that the federal budget must address the many crises before us—the coronavirus and the related recession as well as climate change, racial equity, immigration and health care.

“During the worst pandemic in more than 100 years, it is important to have one of the chief architects of the Affordable Care Act leading the federal agency responsible for making sure that government delivers programs and services as efficiently and effectively as possible, which includes testing, vaccinations and insuring the uninsured.

“I commend Neera on a job well done at the first of two confirmation hearings and look forward to the next. It was easy to see why we would be so lucky to have her brilliance and barrier breaking leadership at OMB.”

Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 49,000 in January and the unemployment fell to 6.3%. The unemployment rate was 9.2% for Black workers and 8.6% for Hispanic workers.

The number of long-term unemployed, who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, remained at 4 million and accounts for almost 40% of unemployed workers. 

“Almost a year into the pandemic, and job growth continues to be shaky and slow—resulting in a U.S. economy that has 9.9 million fewer jobs than in February and an unemployment rate that is almost double what it was then. 

“Behind these numbers are millions of Americans who are wondering if they are ever going to return to work and how they are supposed to take care of their families until they do. This is why Congress must provide the American people with robust relief now—right now, and why such relief should continue until the pandemic is over.

“If Congress can pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan with bipartisan support, great. But, if not, we must do what is needed to rescue millions of Americans who are on the verge of hunger and homelessness—as well as businesses and state and local governments that are struggling to stay afloat too.

“According to CBO, if Congress does not pass additional relief, the U.S. will not return to pre-pandemic employment levels until 2024. There is no reason to put the American people through that sort of pain when relief is right at our fingertips.”

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement in response to the confirmation hearing testimony of Cecilia Rouse, the Chair-designate for the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), who appeared today before the Senate Banking Committee. If confirmed, Dr. Rouse will become just the fourth woman and the first African-American Chair of the CEA in the 74 years of its existence.

Along with the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, the CEA was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. The primary purpose of the CEA is to advise the president on economic policy.

“Cecilia Rouse is among a long list of barrier breaking Biden nominees and after listening to her testimony today it is not hard to see why.

“A leading labor economist and a national expert on the economics of education, Dr. Rouse understands that when it comes to the economy, policy must go where the pain is, and there is a lot of pain across the country right now—especially among the millions of Americans who are out of work. She also understands that the pain Americans are in is not being experienced equally—women, people of color, low-wage workers and others are bearing the brunt.

“During one of the worst jobs crises since the Great Depression, I can think of no one better to lead the Council of Economic Advisers. In addition to her previous service as a member of the CEA during the Obama-Biden administration, Dr. Rouse has spent her career studying the reasons why our economy loses jobs, how people can increase their job prospects, and ways we can break through barriers to job growth. I look forward to working with the CEA under Dr. Rouse’s leadership.”

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement after the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported its initial estimate of fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP), showing that real GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.0%.

Overall, real GDP decreased by 3.5% in 2020—the first year since 2009 that the U.S. experienced negative economic growth.

“That our economy is smaller than it was a year ago—a first in over a decade—means that theWashington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement after the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported its initial estimate of fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP), showing that real GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.0%.

Overall, real GDP decreased by 3.5% in 2020—the first year since 2009 that the U.S. experienced negative economic growth.

“That our economy is smaller than it was a year ago—a first in over a decade—means that the previous president left Americans in a lot of pain. But you do not have to look any further than the local movie theater, gym or restaurant to know that the economy President Biden inherited is weak.

“In addition to producing less goods and services in 2020 than we did in 2019, we have almost 10 million fewer jobs than we had a year ago and nearly a million people filing for unemployment each week. It will take years to climb out of this economic hole that the previous president put us in.

“To bring about a strong, inclusive recovery we need to meet current challenges with big, bold action. This means making sure families, workers, businesses and state and local governments have the support they need to survive the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. The good news is that President Biden understands this and has, through his American Rescue Plan, proposed big, bold action to build our economy back better.” previous president left Americans in a lot of pain. But you do not have to look any further than the local movie theater, gym or restaurant to know that the economy President Biden inherited is weak.

“In addition to producing less goods and services in 2020 than we did in 2019, we have almost 10 million fewer jobs than we had a year ago and nearly a million people filing for unemployment each week. It will take years to climb out of this economic hole that the previous president put us in.

“To bring about a strong, inclusive recovery we need to meet current challenges with big, bold action. This means making sure families, workers, businesses and state and local governments have the support they need to survive the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. The good news is that President Biden understands this and has, through his American Rescue Plan, proposed big, bold action to build our economy back better.”

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement after the Senate voted (84 to 15) to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary.

Secretary Yellen previously served as Chair of the Federal Reserve and Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). She is the first woman to serve as Treasury Secretary, and the first person to lead CEA, the Federal Reserve and Treasury.

“During these tough economic times, it is so important to have a crisis-tested trailblazer like Secretary Yellen leading the Treasury Department. The country will be counting on her insights, expertise and unmatched experience to help us recover from this crisis.

“Secretary Yellen has made it clear that she will use government as a force for good in the lives of all Americans, including women, people of color, low-wage workers and others who have been disproportionately harmed by the coronavirus. She also indicated in her testimony that she will ensure the Treasury Department brings its resources to bear in the fight against climate change, a priority I applaud.

“Secretary Yellen has demonstrated her willingness to take bold, decisive, and prudent action to help the U.S. economy, and that is what we need now. I congratulate Secretary Yellen on her confirmation, and look forward to working with her on the economic challenges before us.”