Victory! And your advocacy helped make it happen
President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law on May 20. Introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), it will strengthen federal efforts to address hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans in several ways: designate a Department of Justice employee to expedite the review of COVID-19 hate crimes, provide guidance for state and local officials for online reporting of such crimes, and require the department to issue guidance to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.
Urge senators to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 1065) passed the House by a vote of 315-101, with 99 Republicans joining every Democrat present voting “aye.” Key provisions include creating a uniform national standard for reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions; prohibit employers from denying pregnant workers employment opportunities; require the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to make rules implementing the law; and address the issue through a framework modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act.
More than three-quarters of women—half the American workforce and nearly 80 percent of educators—will be pregnant and employed at some point in their lives. Women are important breadwinners in their families, yet all too often, pregnant women are pushed out of their jobs or forced to risk their health to continue earning a paycheck when they are pregnant. TAKE ACTION
Anniversary of George Floyd’s death fuels new push for congressional action
Tuesday, May 25 is the anniversary of George Floyd’s death. He struggled for his life for 9 minutes and 29 seconds as a police officer thrust a knee against his neck, maintaining the pressure even as he repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe” and bled on the ground. Americans saw what happened with their own eyes—bystanders recorded it on their cell phones—and responded with an outpouring of anger and grief that has fueled a renewed push for racial justice and an end to the police brutality that disproportionately kills African Americans. One in every 1,000 Black men can expect to be killed by police, according to a 2019 study published in a National Academy of Sciences journal.
The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280) by a vote of 220-212 in March, but the Senate has yet to act. The bill takes initial steps to end police brutality, protect civil rights and liberties, and change the culture of law enforcement agencies. They include ending racial and religious profiling and no-knock warrants, mandatory de-escalation training for police, prohibiting chokeholds and other potentially fatal maneuvers, and requiring police to use dashboard and body cameras—many of the same steps called for by the Justice for Black Lives document issued by NEA’s executive committee. TAKE ACTION
We need to invest in fixing school buildings now, say educators to Congress
Every student and educator deserves a safe learning and work environment, and educators around the country are speaking out about the conditions they face and how it affects their students. Read more
Cheers and Jeers
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) reintroduced the HEAL Act (S. 1660/H.R. 3149), which expand immigrants’ access to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and health insurance sold on Affordable Care Act online marketplaces.
Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the School Safety Drill Research Act (H.R. 3432) to determine the unintentional impact of such drills and help schools move forward with trauma-informed alternatives.