EdAction in Congress

EdAction in Congress November 10, 2019

Tell senators to VOTE NO on DeVos ally nominated as appellate judge

The Senate is expected to vote early this week on Steven Menashi’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit—a position in which he could do even more harm than he already has. Just days ago, the New York Times confirmed that as acting general counsel under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, he helped devise an illegal scheme that deprived thousands of students of debt relief and violated federal privacy laws—a scam that earned DeVos a contempt of court citation and $100,000 fine. Menashi also helped presidential adviser Stephen Miller develop the administration’s disastrous immigration policies. Urge your senators to VOTE NO when Menashi’s nomination comes to the floor. TAKE ACTION

NEA members urge Congress to strengthen and improve PSLF

NEA members Shaniqua Williams and Maggie Gannon went to Capitol Hill last week to advocate for strengthening and improving the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. “I want to buy a house, but my student loans are the size of a mortgage,” said Gannon, a second-grade teacher in Culpeper, Va. “The current administration has threatened to take PSLF away. If it does, I’m going to be paying this debt in retirement,” said Williams, a school counselor in Frederick County, Va. Both Gannon and Williams tell their stories in videos that will be released soon, part of a broader campaign sponsored by NEA and the Coalition to Preserve PSLF.

The College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674), a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), has cleared the House Education and Labor Committee and is headed to the floor. NEA supports the bill and successfully advocated for expanding eligibility for PSLF to include adjunct and contingent faculty—a huge victory. Tell your representative to support H.R. 4674 and your senators that students and educators need a comprehensive HEA reauthorization. TAKE ACTION

Support H.R. 4540 to address Social Security inequities

Forty-three members of the House from both sides of the aisle are cosponsoring the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act (H.R. 4540), which begins to address inequities for nearly 2 million retired educators and other public employees subject to Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Among those subject to the WEP, current retirees would get an extra $150 a month and future retirees an extra $75 a month on average. Moreover, the bill includes a guarantee that no one would get less than the amount provided under current law.

The WEP reduces the Social Security benefits of people who work in jobs covered by Social Security and jobs NOT covered by Social Security over the course of their careers—for example, educators compelled to take part-time or summer jobs to make ends meet. After years of congressional inaction, this bill is a step in the right direction. NEA continues to push for full repeal of the WEP and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) that reduces the Social Security spousal or survivor benefits of people not covered by Social Security themselves. Tell your representative to support H.R. 4540. TAKE ACTION

Cheers and Jeers

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) sent NEA-opposed judicial nominee Steven Menashi a letter seeking information about his role in the Department of Education’s failure to fulfill its legal obligation to protect students and borrowers from predatory for-profit colleges and student loan companies.

Senate Judiciary Committee members Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) voted NO on Steven Menashi’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Todd Young (R-IN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), James Lankford (R-OK), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Gary Peters (D-MI) sponsored a resolution designating November 2019 as National Homeless Children and Youth Awareness Month.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent Betsy DeVos a letter calling on her to cooperate fully with the House Education and Labor Committee’s investigation into the Department of Education’s role in Dream Center Education Holding’s misrepresentation of accreditation at its Illinois Institute of Art and Art Institute of Colorado campuses.

Senate Judiciary Committee members Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) voted YES on Steven Menashi’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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