Trump agrees to reopen government without funding “the wall”
President Trump unexpectedly announced on Friday afternoon that he had agreed to reopen the federal government until Feb. 15, without receiving any money for his long-promised wall, to give Congress time to negotiate an agreement on border security. The day before, the Senate voted down two proposals to reopen the government. Six Republicans joined the entire Democratic caucus in supporting the approach advanced by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, which would have provided $14 billion in disaster aid and reopened the government for three weeks. One Democrat supported the McConnell/Trump proposal that included $5.7 billion to build the wall the president repeatedly promised would be paid for by Mexico. Meanwhile, disruption caused by the shutdown spread. The Wall Street Journal reported federal funding for school meal programs could soon be exhausted. The leaders of the unions representing air traffic controllers and airline pilots associations said, “We cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented.” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García tweeted that the shutdown was a manufactured crisis that never should have happened, and that the president “needs to stop using working families as pawns.”
Still time to submit comments on Title IX changes that threaten equal access to education
Nearly 3,500 people answered last week’s call to action and submitted comments on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ push to change Title IX regulations in ways that threaten equal access to education for all students. The Department of Education’s proposed rule, open for public comment until Jan. 30, drastically scales back Title IX compliance requirements, dramatically narrows the definition of sexual harassment, and waters down the likely standard of proof for evaluating claims — even though sexual harassment often goes unreported. The message is that victims are not to be believed, which would further discourage students from coming forward. Click here and urge the Department of Education to withdraw the entire proposed rule — for maximum effect, use your own words and include details from your own experience.
Tell Congress to raise the federal minimum wage
The Raise the Wage Act of 2019 gradually increases the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour in 2024, indexes future minimum wage increases to wage growth, and phases out the subminimum wages for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities. The last increase in the federal minimum wage was in 2009. According to the Economic Policy Institute, some 40 million Americans — nearly 30 percent of the workforce — would benefit from the increase, with the women and workers of color who dominate the ranks of the poorly paid gaining the most. One in five children comes from a household with an annual income below the Census Bureau’s official poverty threshold: $25,100 for a family of four. Click here and tell your members of Congress to support the Raise the Wage Act.
Cheers and Jeers
Republican Senators Lamar Alexander (TN), Susan Collins (ME), Cory Gardner (CO), Johnny Isakson (GA), Lisa Murkowski (AL) and Mitt Romney (UT) for voting with Democrats to reopen the government until Feb. 8
Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) for introducing and Mike Kelly (R-PA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Don Norcross (D-NJ), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Chris Smith (R-NJ) for being original cosponsors of the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019 (H.R. 748), which repeals the Affordable Care Act’s 40 percent excise tax on “high cost” health coverage
Representative Anthony Brown (D-MD) for introducing a bill that prohibits anyone younger than 21 from buying semi-automatic rifles except active duty military personnel and some police officers
50 Republican senators who voted “yes” on the bill that would have provided $5.7 billion to build the president’s wall