EdAction in Congress

EdAction in Congress June 6, 2021

Senate to vote on key bills already passed by the House

During the month of June, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) plans to take up several NEA-supported bills already passed by the House that address priority issues for working people and vulnerable populations. Despite repeated efforts to move these bills in a bipartisan way, obstructionism has prevailed and mired the Senate in gridlock. Please urge your senators to push for action and support all four of the bills described below.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 205) would require employers to demonstrate that gender is not the reason they pay employees different wages for the same jobs, prohibit employers from asking job candidates about their salary histories, and protect employees from facing retaliation if they discuss their pay with colleagues. Today, women earn just 82 cents for every dollar White men earn. This pay gap is even wider for Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous women, and exists across all occupations—including those that are dominated by women and vital to our nation, such as education and nursing. TAKE ACTION

The For the People Act (S. 1) rests on three pillars: reaffirming and expanding voting rights, strengthening oversight to end big money in politics, and ensuring an ethical government. It would, among other things, institute automatic voter registration, place new limits on partisan practices like gerrymandering, and require candidates for president and vice president to release their tax returns for the previous 10 years. The need for action is clear: More than 360 bills introduced in 47 state legislatures include provisions to make voting more difficult—for example, by shortening the time for absentee and early voting, requiring voters show an ID at the polls, and purging voter rolls. TAKE ACTION

The Equality Act (S. 393) would give LGBTQ Americans explicit protection from discrimination in key areas of life: employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and other federal laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. The current patchwork of laws—most states lack non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity—leaves many students and educators vulnerable to discrimination and sends the message LGBTQ Americans are second-class citizens. TAKE ACTION 

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (S. 529) would require a background check for every gun sold and most transfers. Firearms are the leading cause of death for African American children, and the second leading cause of death for all American children. Everytown for Gun Safety identified 549 incidents of gunfire on school grounds between 2013 and 2019. The U.S. government’s K-12 school shooting database shows a record number of incidents of gun violence in the last 3 years—the most since 1970, which is as far back as the data goes. TAKE ACTION

Send us stories and photos demonstrating the need for school modernization

The pandemic has heightened awareness of the sorry condition of too many of America’s public schools—failing HVAC systems, leaks that breed mold, and hazardous building materials that disproportionately harm students of color, students with disabilities, and students in rural areas. Half of our public schools are over 50 years old. Right now, Congress is crafting an infrastructure package and debating whether it should include funds for public school facilities. To help demonstrate the pressing need to modernize school facilities, please complete this form to share your stories and photos.

Cheers and Jeers

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) reintroduced the ACCESS to Careers Act, which would provide grants for states and community colleges to increase student success and career readiness—for example, by increasing work-based learning opportunities and creating career pathways for in-demand jobs.

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