Sen. Warren cites legislative gains, funds for local projects
For Democrats across the country, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock’s victory in a runoff election versus Republican Herschel Walker represented a hard-fought victory for the party, one that helped secure a solid 51-vote majority in the Senate.
For Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Warnock’s victory means she will continue to work with a key ally in the Senate.
The pair helped spearhead important victories, such as a $35 cap on the cost of insulin for seniors and the student loan forgiveness program that would wipe away as much as $20,000 for individuals earning less than $125,000 a year, which the two senators pushed for in a meeting with Biden in March.
“As partners, we share our values and a willingness to fight,” Warren said in an interview with the Banner.
A Democratic majority in the Senate means the party will not have to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris to break tie votes. It also means the party will be able to more easily confirm judicial appointments by the Biden administration. While Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema last week changed her registration from Democrat to Independent, she is expected to vote with the Democratic majority on most issues. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who over the last two years has voted against his Democratic colleagues on major policy issues, will likely no longer be able to block the party’s agenda.
“We now have a one-vote majority in the Senate,” Warren said. “So we’re not beholden to one senator refusing to support us.”
A Republican majority in the House, however, will remain a challenge for the party, Warren says.
“Legislation will likely be bottled up,” she said. “We’re going to have to use all our tools to continue to move our country forward as radical Republicans have taken over the House.”
The partisan divide in Congress aside, Warren and her colleagues in the Massachusetts delegation have been able to wrangle resources for Massachusetts from the Biden administration, including funding for replacement of the River Street bridge in Hyde Park and for a cleanup of the Neponset River superfund site in Dorchester and Milton, as well as funding for MBTA projects, including money for electric buses and $62 million to support renovation of the international terminal at Logan Airport and the reconstruction of roadways there.
“These are all things that will be felt in our communities and will make a big difference,” she said.
Warren said she sees the state’s ailing public transit system as key to the Massachusetts economy. She and other members of the state’s congressional delegation secured $196 million in Federal Transit Administration funding for the MBTA.
“It’s about getting to work, to school, to shopping — all these depend on public transit,” she said.
A project near to Warren’s heart is the extension of high-speed rail from Boston to Worcester to Springfield. While commuter rail service currently exists between Worcester and Boston, there is no such service between those cities and Springfield.
“If we had high-speed rail along that route, it would change the economy of our entire state, because more people would have the opportunity to move around the state for jobs, education and health care,” she said.
With the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, Warren said she expects Republicans to seek to further erode abortion rights.
“If Republicans have a majority in Congress and take the White House, no one will be safe,” she said. “We need to do more in this state to protect people who want to access abortions.”
Warren said state officials should make sure that providers keep private the information of people who seek abortion services, whether they are Massachusetts residents or from out of state.
For Warren, a former teacher and professor, education has been a central focus of her 10-year tenure in the Senate. While Biden’s student-debt relief plan is on hold while the Supreme Court hears two challenges to the forgiveness program, Warren remains hopeful it will take effect. If it does, one-third of all African American borrowers will see their debt loads completely erased, as will half of all Latino borrowers.
“That’s why this is so important in helping close the racial wealth gap,” she said.
Warren has also pushed for an increase in the National Science Foundation budget. In August, Biden signed into law an act that doubled the budget, a move Warren says will benefit local universities and the state’s biotechnology sector.
“That’s particularly important in Massachusetts,” Warren noted. “We punch way above our weight class. We get more science funding than another other state in the union except California.”
The investments in research will help solve problems like climate change and health care inequality, Warren added, and increased science funding will also translate into more jobs in Massachusetts.
“New jobs. Good jobs. Jobs for scientists, jobs for lab assistants, jobs for clerks who help keep the laboratories running,” she said. “Those are jobs right here in Massachusetts, and I’m so happy about this victory.”