If leadership is strength under fire, the boldness and resolve of Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts during this coronavirus crisis proves she’s got it in spades. Warren is exactly the type of governing partner presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will want as his running mate — someone ready on Day One to help pull our nation out of a health care and an economic crisis bordering on another Great Depression.
As the COVID-19 pandemic strikes every corner and constituency in the country, many Democrats have started to invoke policies taken straight from the New Deal, offering a bold paradigm for how we should respond and rebuild. This invocation of President Franklin Roosevelt is a welcome development considering Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and many of us in the leadership of his campaign, offered a vision of fulfilling FDR’s call for an economic bill of rights. Biden has an opportunity to ensure our party’s promising rhetoric is matched with an effective governing strategy. While Donald Trump has failed to respond to the pandemic, and Republican leadership has offered smallbore legislation and partisanship, Warren has fought hard alongside Biden and congressional Democrats for comprehensive solutions that meet this moment.
We need to look no further than the House Democratic HEROES Act, which sends $3 trillion in relief to struggling workers and families. Many of Warren’s plans serve as the bedrock of this crucial bill. She spent hours on the phone with many of us making sure key priorities were included. Our agenda — the people’s agenda — bears her imprint everywhere. For instance, the HEROES Act includes key proposals from the Essential Workers Bill of Rights, which Warren and I proposed in April.
Frontline workers who put their lives on the line to help us through this crisis deserve hazard pay, child care, and enforceable health and safety protections. Similarly, the bill allocates billions of dollars in emergency funds to community health centers so they can continue to treat an unprecedented amount of patients. This, too, is a much-needed policy modeled on one Warren proposed.
Thanks to the work of Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott of West Virginia and Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the House Democratic bill includes $10,000 in student debt cancellation for millions of students, echoing the plan proposed in March by Democratic Senators Warren, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Patty Murray of Washington,, and Chuck Schumer of New York. Biden endorsed this plan, saying, “We should forgive a minimum of $10,000/person of federal student loans, as proposed by Senator Warren and colleagues.”
Additionally, we should forgive a minimum of $10,000/person of federal student loans, as proposed by Senator Warren and colleagues. Young people and other student debt holders bore the brunt of the last crisis. It shouldn't happen again.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 22, 2020
In November, nobody should have to choose between voting safely and risking their life. The HEROES Act borrows key components of Warren’s election integrity plan to ensure they don’t have to. Under the direction of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the bill ensures $4 billion will help states implement reforms necessary to secure our elections during this pandemic, like automatic vote by mail, same-day registration, no-excuse early voting, and ballots automatically sent to every registered voter.
Warren’s thought leadership has helped unify Democrats behind a holistic strategy with broad popular support. But with millions of Americans unemployed, and over a million infected, Trump continues to deny the reality of this crisis and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says, “We have not yet felt the urgency of acting immediately.” As we gear up to take this fight to the Senate, I know that Warren’s bold leadership, ability to communicate complex ideas clearly, and willingness to work as a true strategic partner with allies to prioritize progressive policies is exactly what we need to rally popular support.
I will always be proud of my leadership on Sanders’ campaign and believe he galvanized a movement that will lead us into the next progressive era. He is an unrivaled figure in modern American history. But it is now time, in this moment of crisis, for progressives to put aside the differences of the campaign and think who would best advance the policy goals we care about and help fulfill FDR’s vision. The choice is obvious. America needs Warren on the ticket in November.
Representative Ro Khanna of California was co-chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign.