House passes bipartisan budget bill
On July 25, the House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (H.R. 3877), which lifts the budget caps introduced in 2011 and prevents severe cuts in non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. Bipartisan support for the deal demonstrates how damaging the budget caps’ automatic cuts of $55 billion to NDD programs, including educating funding, would have been. Congress is now on track as the Senate takes up its appropriations bills to make investments to education programs such as Title I and IDEA, programs serving students most in need. In addition, the bill adequately funds the 2020 Census, which is critical to ensuring an accurate allocation of federal dollars for programs serving students and their families. In its letter urging passage of the bill, the NEA stated, “Lifting the caps for the next two years is essential if Congress is to move closer to adequate investment in America’s students and schools.”
NEA Supports Social Security 2100 Act
On July 25, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 860). This legislation would strengthen Americans’ retirement safety net by increasing Social Security benefits across the board, calculating the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) more accurately, by adopting a formula to better reflect the costs incurred by seniors, and increasing the minimum benefit to ensure that low-earning workers do not retire into poverty. NEA wrote to Congress in support of the Social Security 2100 Act, which would also improve the viability of the Social Security program by gradually raising the payroll tax rate from 12. 4 percent to 14.8 percent. For the average worker this would mean paying an additional 50 cents per week every year to keep the system solvent. In addition, the bill would—for the first time ever—subject annual earnings over $400,000 to the payroll tax. Presently, payroll taxes are not collected on wages over $132,900. Send an email urging the House of Representatives to support the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 860).
Cheers and Jeers
The House for passing by a vote of 233-195 the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), sets a minimum standard of care for children, women, and families taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection by establishing basic health and medical standards supported by NEA.
Democratic New Jersey Reps. Mikie Sherrill, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Bill Pascrell, and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) for their work on housing affordability, including seeking measures to eliminate homelessness for 112,000 children, who account for 20 percent of the homeless population, according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. At an Opportunity Starts at Home event in the U.S. Senate July 24, they presented bills they have offered to address the housing crisis.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Subcommittee Chairwoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit for their July 25 hearing on school bus safety. NEA’s letter supporting the Stop for School Buses Act (H.R. 2218) introduced by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) was made part of the formal record for the hearing.
Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY), members of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, for bringing together a working group to discuss the School-to-Prison pipeline, ways to address it, and their legislative priorities for responding to the problem. NEA is a participant in the working group.
Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA) for introducing a package of bills (H.R. 3891, H.R. 3892, and H.R. 3893) focused on making higher education more affordable and accessible, expanding career- and technical-education programs, and exposing students earlier in their academic careers to career options.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) for reintroducing the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2019 (H.R. 3934), which permanently repeals the windfall elimination provision (WEP). The legislation does not eliminate the Government Pension Offset (GPO), and therefore would create winners and losers.