Education News

Education Insider for September 22, 2019

Democratic House takes action on gun violence; Republican Senate resists

The House is a hotbed of activity on gun-related issues while the Senate literally does nothing despite broad public support for comprehensive background checks, “red flag” laws, according to a Monmouth University Poll released this month. More than 200 days ago, the House voted 240-190 to expand background checks and 228-198 to close the “Charleston loophole” that allowed a white supremacist to buy a gun and kill nine African Americans in a church. This month, House committees passed five more bills. They  would ban high-capacity magazines, take guns away from potentially dangerous people before tragedy strikes, and enhance data on school shootings—deaths, injuries, and demographics. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to bring the Background Check Expansion Act (S. 42) to the Senate floor—or any other legislation to help prevent gun violence. “Well, we’re in discussions about what to do on the gun issue in the wake of these horrendous shootings,” he said after a shooting on Labor Day weekend in Odessa, Tex., killed seven and injured 25 more—the fourth massacre in less than two months. Tell your senators to support S. 42 and encourage McConnell to bring it to the floor. TAKE ACTION

DeVos ally would be a disaster as appellate judge

Steven Menashi, an architect of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ disastrous policies, could do even more harm if the Senate confirms his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Menashi failed to protect students from predatory online institutions, failed to ensure student loans are forgiven for public service, weakened protections against sexual assault and harassment, and more. He is openly hostile to education and civil rights—to give just two examples, he lamented that our education system promotes “egalitarianism” and opposed student financial aid because it “punishes” affluent families. Moreover, Menashi worked with presidential adviser Stephen Miller on immigration policies that have terrified and traumatized our students, their families, and entire communities. Tell your senators to VOTE NO on Menashi because he cannot be trusted to be fair-minded and dispense equal justice to all who come before him. TAKE ACTION

Tell the Senate to reject Scalia for Labor Secretary

Eugene Scalia, President Trump’s nominee for Labor Secretary, has devoted his career to undercutting workers’ rights, protecting corporations, and threatening retirement security. He defended Boeing after it retaliated against employees who had gone on strike. He opposed protecting workers from repetitive stress injuries and “intrusive safety regulations.” He defended employers who violated federal law by requiring retirement plan participants to pay excessive administrative fees. He even represented the e-cigarette industry in its efforts to sell vaping products to teenagers. America deserves a Labor Secretary who puts the health and well-being of workers and consumers first—not one who is anti-worker, anti-union, and anti-public sector. Tell your senators to VOTE NO on Eugene Scalia for Labor Secretary. TAKE ACTION

Cheers and Jeers

Led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Patty Murray (D-WA), 20 senators delivered back-to-back floor speeches calling for Republican leadership to take action on gun violence: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sens.  Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Udall (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said he’s not inclined to support judicial nominee Steven Menashi. “My thought is, look, if he’ll treat a United States senator the way he treated us, I wonder how he would treat the people.”

30 Democratic senators signed a letter urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai not to set an overall cap for Universal Service Fund programs. “Such a proposal would harm broadband development, rural health care opportunities, classroom learning, and life-long learning through public libraries by forcing them to compete in order to receive necessary funds,” they wrote.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) offered legislation to extend $255 million in annual mandatory funding for historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions for a two-year period.

Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) introduced the RETAIN Teachers Act (H.R. 4342) to help attract teachers and keep them in the classroom by streamlining burdensome paperwork for programs designed to help teachers finance their education and repay student loans.

Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) introduced the Pell Grant Restoration Act (H.R. 4298) to give students who are victims of predatory for-profit colleges a second chance at higher education with a full slate of Pell benefits.

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) questioned Labor Secretary nominee Eugene Scalia sharply about his record on workplace protections, LGBTQ protections, disability discrimination, and more.

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