Tell Congress to raise the federal minimum wage
This week, the House is expected to vote on the Raise the Wage Act of 2019 (H.R. 582). The bill would gradually increase the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $15 an hour in 2024, index future minimum wage increases to wage growth, and phase out the subminimum wage for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities. Education support professionals, many of whom do not earn a living wage, have played a key role in advocating for higher pay. 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 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. Send an email urging your senators to cosponsor S. 150 and an email urging your representative in the House to VOTE YES on H.R. 582.
Repeal the excise tax on “high cost” health plans
The House will also vote in July on the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act (S. 684/H.R. 748), which would repeal the 40 percent excise tax on “high cost” employer-sponsored health plans scheduled to take effect in 2022. Under the Affordable Care Act, “high cost” employer-sponsored health benefits whose value exceeds specified thresholds will be subject to a 40 percent excise starting in 2022: $11,200 for single coverage and $30,150 for family coverage, the Tax Policy Center projects. Insurance companies would pay the tax, but the burden would be borne by the 180 million Americans with employer-sponsored health coverage—including educators—in the form of benefit reductions, higher deductibles, or both. The effective date of the tax has been postponed twice; the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act would do away with it entirely. Send an email urging your senators to cosponsor S. 684 and an email urging your representative in the House to VOTE YES on H.R. 748.
Cheers and Jeers
Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) introduced the Relief for Defrauded Students Act of 2019 (H.R. 3662) to make the borrower defense rule permanent and allow for student loan relief in cases of misconduct by institutions.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Senate companion to the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act (H.R. 1011), which would codify and expand restrictions on where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can take action or conduct raids.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the High Speed Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R. 3606) with 30 cosponsors; the bill would ban the manufacture, possession, sale, or transport of bump stocks and acceleration devices like those used in the Las Vegas massacre two years ago where 58 people died.
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), David Perdue (R-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) introduced the Farm to School Act (S. 2026/H.R. 3562), which would expand and strengthen the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant Program.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act, which would end family separations at the border, bolster health and safety protections for children and families, provide additional guardrails, and set minimum standards to ensure that government funds are not used to traumatize or harm asylum seekers.