Summer Lee Votes ‘NO’ on GOP Bill to Exploit Horrific War to Protect Ultra-Wealthy Tax Cheats at the Expense of PA Families 

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

Contact: Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov

Summer Lee Votes ‘NO’ on GOP Bill to Exploit Horrific War to Protect Ultra-Wealthy Tax Cheats at the Expense of PA Families 

“I refuse to spend more money on weapons of war and tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy at the expense of children in Pennsylvania, Gaza, and Israel when what is needed now is investment in American families, de-escalation of violence, diplomacy, and humanitarian aid.” says Lee

(Washington DC) – Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12) voted ‘No’ on  Republicans’ proposed cut to the IRS to “pay for” the $14 billion weapons spending–legislation that would cost taxpayers a total of $90 billion. Lee released the following statement responding to Republicans’ plan to exploit the war in Israel and Palestine to make it easier for large corporations and billionaires to cheat on their taxes, urging Congress and the administration to heed the lessons of the 20 year war on terror and prioritize diplomacy, humanitarian aid, and meeting the needs of the American people through tax fairness. 

Lee said, “The only thing crueler than spending billions of US taxpayer dollars on weapons that will result in the deaths of thousands more innocent Palestinian children in Gaza, is exploiting that war – exploiting the death of over 1,400 Israeli mothers, fathers, grandparents, children and hundreds more hostages – to help corporate CEOs and billionaire donors cheat on their taxes. It is unconscionable. Just yesterday, the Israeli government bombed a refugee camp full of civilians in Gaza three times. I refuse to spend more money on weapons of war and tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy at the expense of children in Pennsylvania, Gaza, and Israel when what is needed now is investment in American families, de-escalation of violence, diplomacy, and humanitarian aid.

“Pennsylvanians deserve to know that Republicans’ want to waste $90 billion American tax dollars on weapons and tax evasion for billionaires knowing that would be enough to end hunger and replace every lead pipe in America including Western PA where we just learned that 37 school districts have lead in their drinking water; enough to eradicate student debt or expand Medicare to 7.3 million more peoplewhile providing universal school lunch, or provide universal childcarewhile ensuring access to affordable housing for 450,000 veterans nationwide, or end homelessness in America and ensure every combat-injured veteran in the country can collect the full amount of their retirement and disability compensation for the next 10 years with enough money left over to  reclaim every abandoned mine in Pennsylvania, clean all the toxic rivers and streams in Pittsburgh, and repair every deficient bridge in Pennsylvania so that dangerous bridge collapses like the one that occurred at Fern Hollow in Pittsburgh one year ago this Friday don’t happen again ” Lee continued.

“Unlike the CEOs of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Amazon – who under Republicans’ cruel proposal would double dip on profits from weapons contracts and tax breaks – moms forced to send their kids to school hungry, young folks who can’t pay off their debt, veterans who are struggling to get by after being sent to fight in endless wars – don’t have million dollar lobbying budgets to exploit war to get a free pass to cheat on their taxes. These folks I represent want peace, safety, and security for their own children–and for children in Israel, Palestine, and across the world. It’s up to us to work for them.”

During last week’s Oversight hearing on Republicans’ scheme to defund the IRS, Lee called out the documented history  that depriving the IRS of funding has led to disproportionate audits of poor, Black folks and has allowed the ultra-wealthy to evade paying their fair share of taxes with no consequences.  A study by a team of economists and IRS researchers found that the top 1% of US income owners failed to report more than 20% of their earnings to the IRS yet audits on millionaires have dropped by 92% in the last ten years. Click to Watch Video. 

The IRS commissioner reported that the Republicans proposed cut to the IRS to “pay for” the $14 billion weapons spending would cost taxpayers a total of $90 million. That’s enough to pay for: 

Lee continued, “Post 9/11, our federal government’s decision to fund endless wars cost 4.5 million lives, including over 7,000 US Service Members and displaced tens of millions in a time of deep pain after 3,000 beloved American lives were brutally stolen by Al Qaeda on September 11th. These endless wars cost US taxpayers 8 trillion dollars–dollars that could have and should have gone to ending worldwide hunger by 2030 ($267 billion) and would still have $135 billion to spare–enough to provide universal pre-Kprovide universal family and medical leave, and eradicate student debt in the United States–had Washington made better decisions. In 2007, 57 of the 77senators who voted to authorize the war in Iraq said that they would not vote the same way with the benefit of hindsight. Now is the time for every one of us in Congress and the Biden administration to exercise that hindsight and use every point of leverage to push allies to do the same. 

“The folks of all religions, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds I represent all want their families, their neighbors, and their world to be safer, healthier, and free-er for all,” Lee continued. “They know that funneling billions more dollars into arms dealers’ pockets won’t keep our children safe from weapons of war at home or across the world. It won’t keep our loved ones safe from toxins in our air and drinking water. They know that lining the pockets of weapons manufacturers won’t help families struggling to afford housing, medicine, or grocery costs. They know defense contractors won’t safeguard Medicare and Social Security or shield our communities against the climate crisis. That means recognizing that our country’s security starts with funding humanitarian aid (which typically makes up 1% of federal budget) and diplomacy (which typically makes up only 4%), climate resilient infrastructure, assistance to end food and housing insecurity, and disarm white supremacy that continues to threaten marginalized communities in districts like mine forever scared by the trauma of hate-fueled mass shootings. 

“Now is the time to recognize that the power of life and death, the power of war, the power of prosperity, and the pathway to peace and justice comes through Congress. The decisions that we make now in the face of unimaginable pain and anger from the communities we love and serve will help determine the trajectory of the world going forward. Now is the time to take responsibility seriously even when the political pressure is high and the status quo tells us that it’s ‘normal’ to spend our constituents’ tax dollars on weapons and wars rather than balancing diplomacy, humanitarian aid, and meeting the needs of the people we represent. Now is the time to prioritize peace and the safety and the safety of all children and all people in the world.”

In addition to 4.5 million lives, the post-9/11 war on terror cost American taxpayers over $8.043 trillion. This averages out to $402.95 billion per year. That could have paid for:

The recent national security supplemental requests for overseas conflicts included a total of $74.7 billion for weapons, $52 billion for weapons shipped overseas in addition to the $886 billion FY2024 defense budget. 

Each year, almost half the Pentagon’s base budget goes to defense corporations, with one-third of that amount going to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. Roughly$452 billion of FY2023’s budget went to defense contractors. Lockheed Martin receives an estimated 90% of its revenue from the federal government. Only $800 million (less than 1%) of FY2023’s $858 billion defense budget was appropriated for Ukraine.

The $52 billion for weapons + $265 billion (30% reduction in the defense budget taken from the share of the budget going to contractors) = $317.8 billion could pay for one year of:

Relevant polling: 

Additional background: 

It would cost $25 billion to end hunger in America. It would cost $92.7 billion to entirely offset inflation price increases of groceries. 

o    Nationwide, 10.2% of households were food insecure.

o    In PA, 9.2 percent of households in Pennsylvania have experienced food insecurity in 2021

o    Over 1,042,615 PA households experienced cuts to SNAP(averaging a loss of $82 per month) due to Congressional action in December of 2022. 

o    In Allegheny county, 161,070 people are food insecure 

  • It would cost $5.2 billion for universal school lunches 
    • 1 in 8 children in America worry about their next meal.
    • In PA, 1 in 8 children go to school hungry
    • Under Governor Shapiro’s new plan, 1.7 million of Pennsylvania’s public school students will receive free breakfast each day this school year. However lunch is not covered.
    • In Allegheny county, 43,000 children face food insecurity 
  • It would cost $62.4 billion to give 1.4 million public school teachers a 50% raise. And it would cost $78.9 billion to provide a dozen new teachers in every public primary school 
    • 17% of teachers require a second job outside the school system to make ends meet. 
    • In PA, the average starting salary for a public school teacher is $47,827
    • PA is experiencing a teacher shortage and new data from the Department of Education shows a 73% decline in the number of teachers entering the profession between 2012-’13 and 2021-’22 
    • An Economic Policy Institute report from 2022 found that the “teacher wage penalty” between education and other similarly educated professions was 23.5% nationally and 15.2% in Pennsylvania.
  • It would cost $97 billion to expand the child tax credit, which sent nearly every American family up to $300 per child per month 
    • The end of the Child Tax Credit saw 15.3 million more people with incomes below the poverty line, and saw the poverty rate for children more than double from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022.
    • 1.3 million Pennsylvania families received $250-300 a month for each child under the age of 17 and would be eligible under an extended child tax credit
    • Due to strong federal investment—especially the expanded Child Tax Credit—child poverty precipitously dropped by almost half between 2020 and 2021, reducing from 9.7 percent to 5.2 percent—the lowest rate on record. Alarmingly, Census data from September 2023 revealed that the child poverty rate more than doubled between 2021 and 2022 to 12.4 percent following the expiration of these targeted investments in workers and families.
  • It would cost $30 billion a year to eradicate student debt
    • Approximately 61% of all college graduates have federal student loan debt. This also contributes to the racial wealth gap–85% of Black college graduates take on student loan debt and take out an average of $39,500 versus their white counterparts who usually take out $29,900; and the average white college graduate has over seven times more wealth than Black college graduates. 
    • In PA, 64% of college graduates have student loan debt, ranking the commonwealth among the highest in the nation for student debt
    •  The average debt load of a Pennsylvania college graduate during the same timeframe was $39,375. In Pennsylvania, 22 percent of college graduates had private student loan debt, with an average total of $42,361.
  • It would cost $70 billion to provide universal childcare
    • On average, Americans pay $16,000 to care for a single infant annually–approximately 21% of the US median income for a family of three in 2021.
    • The average annual cost of infant care in Pennsylvania is $11,842—that’s $987 per month. The average household income is $86,142 which means that the average family needs to spend around 13.7% of their household income support their Child Care.
  • It would cost $35 billion to provide universal Pre-K for a year 
  • It would cost 7.4 billion to end homelessness 
  • It would cost $168 billion annually to provide housing subsidies to all who are eligible
  • It would cost $26 billion to address the repair backlog in public housing nationwide
    • 2.2 million people, including 750,000 children depend on public housing 
    • In PA, 2.5 million residents are impacted by the public housing repair backlog 
    • About 11,600 people are in the queue for low-income housing through the Allegheny County Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. For the voucher program, more than 11,300 people are on the city and county waitlists, which have been closed for some time
  • It would cost $48.7 billion to provide every American household with renewable power from offshore wind. 
    • Only 13.1% of the nation’s energy comes from renewable sources. 
    • It would cost $86.7 billion to transition every fossil fuel worker to work on clean energy projects. 
    • On average, Pennsylvania residents spend about $206 per month on electricity. That adds up to $2,472 per year.
    • A new Center for American Progress analysis found that, per acre, Americans are getting significantly more return on investment from offshore wind energy leasing than they are from oil and gas leasing. This is true across the board, from taxpayer revenue to energy production, consumer energy costs, and carbon emissions. The average acre from an offshore wind lease sale brings in nearly 12,500 percent more revenue for taxpayers than 1 acre of oil while providing enough electricity to drive an electric vehicle almost 65 times farther than a gasoline-powered vehicle.
  • It would cost $60 billion to establish savings accounts for every child born in America funded annually by contributions from the federal government – “baby bonds”
    • To offset this cost annually, the legislation would increase the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 28 percent (including the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax, or NIIT), eliminate step-up basis of capital gains at death, and increase the estate tax in a number of ways
  • It would cost $2.5 billion to clean rivers and streams in Pittsburgh 
    • In Allegheny County, about 67-percent of streams were impaired.
    • Nearly 28,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s streams are impaired by pollution according to a 2022 State Department of Environmental Protection report. One-third of all Pennsylvania waterways are now considered polluted enough to harm wildlife, recreation or drinking water
    • PA ranks third worst in the country for chemical releases of chemicals linked to reproductive harm. A 2022 report found that more than 5.8 million pounds of toxic substances were dumped into waterways by industrial sites across the Commonwealth in 2020, including chemicals like nitrates from farming and byproducts from petroleum, steel and coal-related industries that are linked to cancer, reproductive harm and developmental issues in children. 
  • It would cost more than $5 billion to reclaim all abandoned mines in Pennsylvania 
    • Pennsylvania still has roughly 5,000 abandoned underground mines, many of which are leaching toxic metals and other hazardous contaminants into our water and dangerous methane into our air—contributing to local environmental issues and the overall climate crisis
    • Pennsylvania accounts for one-third of the country’s AML problem areas in 43 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
    • Acid mine drainage through abandoned mines is the number one water pollution problem for our state–impacting than 7,000 Pennsylvania streams with acid mine drainage and more than 5,500 miles with impaired water quality due to runoff from abandoned mines
  • It would cost $13 billion to ensure access to affordable, stable housing for 450,000 low income-veterans nationwide 
    • On a single night in January 2020, 37,252 veterans were experiencing homelessness, and 7.9 percent of those experiencing homelessness were veterans, 12.9 percent of whom report income at or below 150 % of the poverty line, 9.2 % receive public assistance, and half of veterans between 25 – 54 had less than $3,000 to $4,000 in their bank accounts.
    • In Pennsylvania, U.S. military veterans are estimated to make up a large portion – 11 percent – of homeless adults

In a July Oversight Hearing on Defense Spending, Lee questioned DoD’s Director of Contracting on its exorbitant spending on everything from the F-35 program to Viagra in the NDAA the expense of school meals, repairs to roads and bridges, and housing for the most vulnerable. 

Since taking office in January, Lee, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and Space, Science and Technology Committee, has delivered historic levels of federal investment totaling over $870 million brought back to Western PA, including over $200 million for infrastructure, over $50 million for affordable transit, and over $500 million to keep clean energy manufacturing at home in Pennsylvania. These investments will help improve Western Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and transit, ensure cleaner air and drinking water, lower housing costs, fund research institutions, fuel clean manufacturing, fund STEM innovation and entrepreneurship, boost workforce development, and create thousands of good paying union jobs.  Lee and her team have also delivered casework and constituent services to over 1,330 constituents with issues ranging from helping our seniors and disabled community access Medicare and social security to helping folks secure housing and helping families with immigration support and passports.

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