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Federal Legislative Update April 2013

April 26, 2013
April 19, 2013
April 12, 2013

April 26, 2013

URGE CONGRESS TO TAKE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM


The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin “marking up” the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill on May 9, with committee action expected to stretch for multiple weeks, and floor votes possible by June. While review of the entire bill and potential amendments continues, the bill includes the following elements of most importance to NEA:
  • A 5-year path to citizenship for DREAMers who arrived before age 16 and completed high school or a GED
  • Prioritizing family unification
  • A 13-year pathway to citizenship for those in the United States prior to Dec. 31, 2011

The United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us. NEA continues to urge Congress to:

  • Enact and expand the DREAM Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
  • Preserve the unity of families, traditional and nontraditional.
  • Create a realistic path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens who call America home.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

SUPPORT & CO-SPONSOR BILLS TO CREATE ESP OF THE YEAR AWARD


The House and Senate are taking steps to provide long overdue recognition to the important work performed each day by education support professionals. Bipartisan bills to create a national Education Support Professional of the Year Award have been introduced in both chambers: S. 456 by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and H.R. 1763 by Representative Dina Titus (D-NV). Urge your Senators and Representative to support and co-sponsor these bills.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

SPEAK OUT FOR SOCIAL SECURITY FAIRNESS, CO-SPONSOR BILL TO REPEAL GPO & WEP


A bipartisan bill was introduced in the House this week to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO), which reduces public employees’ Social Security spousal or survivor benefits by two-thirds of their public pension, and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which reduces the earned Social Security benefits of an individual who also receives a public pension from a job not covered by Social Security. This week, Representatives Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced a bill that would amend Title II of the Social Security Act and repeal GPO and WEP. A bipartisan bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate the week of May 6.

GPO and WEP penalize people who have dedicated their lives to public service by taking away benefits they have EARNED. Nine out of ten public employees affected by the GPO lose their entire spousal benefit, even though their spouse paid Social Security taxes for many years. The WEP causes hard-working people to lose a significant portion of the benefits they earned themselves. Urge your Representative to support and co-sponsor the bill to end GPO and WEP, and restore Social Security fairness.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

  • E-mail Congress — Tell your Representative to support and co-sponsor the bill to end GPO and WEP, and restore Social Security fairness.

TELL CONGRESS TO RESTORE BUDGET CUTS, NOT MAKE MORE


To end delays in airline flights caused by furloughs of air traffic controllers due to the sequester, Congress has passed the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013. The vote in the Senate was unanimous and the vote in the House was 361-41. NEA decried this piecemeal approach, noting that educators and special-needs students are facing nearly $3 billion in cuts, and asking: Where is the bill to end their sequester cuts?

Meanwhile, work is beginning on fiscal year 2014 funding bills, with significant differences expected in the overall funding levels used by Senate Democrats and House Republicans — a reflection of the vastly different budgets each has passed. The NEA-supported Senate budget would preserve federal funding for education, provide new revenue, and help create jobs; the NEA-opposed House budget would slash funding even more for education and healthcare for kids. Keep the pressure on and tell Congress, “No more cuts to kids and education!”

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

  • Email Congress or call 1.866.293.7278, our Educator Connector Line — Tell your Senators and Representative to support the Senate budget that protects funding for education and demands new revenue.
  • Share your story — Tell us how budget cuts are hurting your students.
  • Take the Kids Not Cuts pledge — Already took it? Ask friends to sign it and join the fight.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) for leading the effort that culminated in a total of 63 Senators voting to end the filibuster of the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 743), setting up the measure for final passage when the chamber returns from its scheduled week-long recess. This bipartisan legislation would allow states and local governments to collect sales tax from remote sellers like amazon.com — a vital step that would help stop the erosion of their tax base and provide needed resources for education and other critical priorities.

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Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Dina Titus (D-NV) for introducing legislation to create an ESP of the Year Award. The original co-sponsors in the Senate are Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). The original co-sponsors in the House are Representatives Lois Capps (D-12), Susan Davis (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Denny Heck (D-CA), Michael Honda (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Tom Petri (R-WI), David Price (D-NC), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

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Representatives Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) for introducing a bill that would amend Title II of the Social Security Act and repeal GPO and WEP.

thumbsup Representatives Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Tim Walz (D-MN) for opposing the piecemeal approach to dealing with the sequester taken by the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013,and urging action to address and fix the entire sequester.

Jeers to:

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30 Senators who voted to filibuster the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would generate tens of billions of dollars in badly needed revenue for state and local governments.

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Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) for introducing the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act (PEPTA), which neither protects employee benefits nor reduces costs nor increases transparency — it imposes costly regulations and threatens to tax state and local government bonds.

April 19, 2013

TELL CONGRESS: NOW IS THE TIME FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM


This week, the “Gang of Eight”—a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators—unveiled its plan to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. “The proposal rightly reflects our moral values and robust tradition as a nation of immigrants,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “We commend the senators for making the centerpiece of the bill a clear and inclusive roadmap for aspiring Americans to become citizens. We also appreciate their commitment to keep families together and to expedite the process for citizenship for DREAMers. We agree that efficient, fair, and effective avenues for legal, family-based immigration are vital to keeping America strong.” Read the complete statement here.

NEA staff is carefully reviewing the 800+ page legislation. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to work on the legislation for several weeks in May, with the measure potentially going to the floor by June.

The United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us. NEA is urging Congress to:

  • Enact and expand the DREAM Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
  • Preserve the unity of families, traditional and nontraditional.
  • Create a realistic path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens who call America home.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

TELL CONGRESS: PASS COMMON-SENSE MEASURES TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE


This week, the U.S. Senate voted on several amendments to a gun violence/school safety bill (S. 649). Each amendment needed 60 votes to pass. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to muster 60 votes for the Manchin-Toomey amendment that would strengthen background checks for gun purchases. The vote was 54 in favor and 46 against. The amendment was the linchpin to the entire bill, which Senator Reid has now tabled pending future action. See how your Senator voted. (NOTE: Senator Reid supported the amendment but changed his vote for procedural reasons to make it easier to bring it back to the floor.)

“The U.S. Senate caved to special gun lobby interests, ignored the cries for help from Sandy Hook families and other victims of violence, and failed to protect children from gun violence,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Comprehensive background checks are overwhelmingly supported by the public, as well as by 90 percent of educators.” Read the complete statement here.

Educators continue to speak up in favor of common-sense steps to help keep students safe. NEA member Katie Lyles, an art teacher in Colorado, survived the massacre at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Spurred to action by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., she has joined the fight for common-sense measures to prevent gun violence. “Learn from my experience,” Lyles says in an op-ed published on CNN.com. “Do not wait until you experience violence first hand to realize that we need to take action. We need to take action now.”

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

  • E-mail Congress or call 1-866-331-SAFE (7233) — Thank your Senators who voted YES on the Manchin/Toomey background checks and tell those who voted NO that they got it wrong.
  • Check out and share NEA’s latest information graphics, highlighting the prevalence of gun violence — every 30 minutes someone is hurt or killed by a gun:

    http://on.fb.me/16YeQKP
    http://on.fb.me/15UQ8YB

TELL CONGRESS: NO MORE CUTS TO KIDS AND EDUCATION


Appropriators are beginning work on fiscal year 2014 funding bills, with significant differences expected in the overall funding levels that Senate Democrats and House Republicans are planning to use—a reflection of the divergent budgets passed by the Senate and the House. The NEA-supported Senate budget would preserve federal funding for education, provide new revenue, and help create jobs; the NEA-opposed House budget would slash funding even more for education and healthcare for kids. Keep the pressure on and tell Congress, “No more cuts to kids and education!”

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

  • Email Congress or call 1.866.293.7278, our Educator Connector Line — Tell your Senators and Representative to support the Senate budget that protects funding for education and demands new revenue.
  • Share your story — Tell us how budget cuts are hurting your students.
  • Take the Kids Not Cuts pledge — Already took it? Ask friends to sign it and join the fight.

HEADS UP: TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK BEGINS MAY 6


In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10 this year, Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced H. Res. 167, which recognizes the roles and contributions of America’s teachers to building and enhancing our nation's civic, cultural, and economic well-being. The measure has 11 co-sponsors: Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), David Loebsack (D-IA), Richard Neal (D-MA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Phil Roe (R-TN), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Michael Simpson (R-ID), and Timothy Walz (D-MN).

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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The 54 senators who voted YES on comprehensive background checks for commercial gun purchases, including Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John McCain (R-AZ), and Pat Toomey (R-PA), the only 4 Republicans to support the measure. Special cheer for Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin (D-WV) for leading the bipartisan push for background checks.

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Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, for moving forward with higher funding levels for fiscal year 2014 instead of agreeing to the continued, deeper cuts imposed by the sequester.

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Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) for holding a moment of silence on the House floor to express support for gay, lesbian, and transgendered students who face bullying and harassment in school.

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Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) for pointed questioning of Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the fiscal year 2014 budget and problems associated with shifting more education funding away from core formula grant programs to competitive grants that leave many students behind.

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Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY) for introducing the Rebuilding America's Schools Act (H.R. 1629), which would increase aid for school construction and renovation across the country.

Jeers to:

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The 46 senators who voted NO on comprehensive background checks for commercial gun purchases, including Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Mark Pryor (D-AR), the only Democrats to oppose the measure.

April 12, 2013

TELL CONGRESS: NOW IS THE TIME FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM


NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen addressed tens of thousands of people from all across the nation who gathered at the U.S. Capitol April 10 to send a resounding message to Congress that the time is now to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Lily was joined by the winners of NEA’s contest to identify compelling stories of people inspired to stand up for immigration reform, elementary school teacher Kari Johnson from Wisconsin and DREAMer Tania Hernandez Castillo from Texas, and middle school teacher Eric Luedtke from Maryland, who was instrumental in passing the DREAM Act in his state.

Bipartisan legislation is moving forward in both the House and the Senate, and key senators are expected to unveil their plan early next week. The United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us. NEA is urging Congress to:

  • Enact and expand the DREAM Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
  • Preserve the unity of families, traditional and nontraditional.
  • Create a realistic path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens who call America home.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

TELL CONGRESS: HELP KEEP STUDENTS SAFE BY PASSING COMMON-SENSE MEASURES TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE


Bipartisan support for action on preventing gun violence is building in the Senate. A contemplated filibuster fizzled as the Senate voted to allow debate on common-sense gun control legislation by a comfortable margin of 68-31. The Senate is expected to spend the next couple weeks debating the bill and amendments, including a bipartisan agreement brokered this week by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) on comprehensive background checks for gun purchases. One possible amendment is a measure passed this week by the Senate Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee that addresses mental-health needs to help make our schools safer.

To help prevent gun violence, NEA supports:

  • Expanded access to mental-health services.
  • Providing a safe and secure learning environment for all students, with additional counselors and social workers, and professional development for school staff in bullying prevention, cultural competence, and conflict management.
  • Common-sense legislation to prevent gun violence, including comprehensive and enforceable background checks to prevent dangerous people from purchasing guns.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

  • E-mail Congress or call 1-866-331-SAFE (7233) — Tell your Senators and Representative to support legislation to prevent gun violence and keep schools safe.
  • Check out and share NEA’s latest information graphics, highlighting the prevalence of gun violence — every 30 minutes someone is hurt or killed by a gun:

http://on.fb.me/16YeQKP
http://on.fb.me/15UQ8YB

TELL CONGRESS: NO MORE CUTS TO KIDS AND EDUCATION


President Obama released his 2014 budget proposal, which calls for a new $75 billion investment to fund pre-school for all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. But it also proposes using a new formula — the chained CPI — to calculate Social Security cost-of-living increases, which would lead to benefit cuts over time. Read NEA President Dennis Van Roekel’s statement on the highs and lows of the budget proposal here.

The House and Senate have already passed budget proposals for 2014 that embody radically different visions for America’s future. The NEA-supported Senate budget would preserve federal funding for education, provide new revenue, and help create jobs; the NEA-opposed House budget would slash funding even more for education and healthcare for kids. With the Senate, House and President’s budgets all in the mix, Congress now moves forward in search of agreement on an overall budget and individual funding bills for next year. Keep the pressure on and tell Congress, “No more cuts to kids and education!”

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

  • Email Congress or call 1.866.293.7278, our Educator Connector Line — Tell your Senators and Representative to support the Senate budget that protects funding for education and demands new revenue.
  • Share your story — Tell us how budget cuts are hurting your students.
  • Take the Kids Not Cuts pledge — Already took it? Ask friends to sign it and join the fight.

HEADS UP: E-RATE 2.0 PLAN UNVEILED


FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called for “rebooting, reinvigorating, and recharging the nation’s largest education technology program — the E-Rate” at the Washington Education Policy Summit on April 11. Since its inception in 1996, the program has helped connect schools and classrooms to the Internet, opening the door to 21st century skills for countless students. Commissioner Rosenworcel’s five-point plan for E-Rate 2.0 includes using resources more efficiently and effectively, setting goals and standards for broadband capacity in schools, forming creative public-private partnerships, making it easier for rural schools to get wired, and giving all kids access to the Internet at home and in school. NEA will be watching this issue and asking for your help as it is debated in the coming weeks and months.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) for brokering a crucial compromise on comprehensive background checks for guns bought at gun shows or online. Said Toomey: “What matters to me is to do the right thing, and this is the right thing to do.”

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All 16 Republican Senators who voted to YES on cloture, allowing the debate on gun control legislation to proceed: Lamar Alexander (TN), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Richard Burr (NC), Saxby Chambliss (GA), Tom Coburn (OK), Susan Collins (ME), Bob Corker (TN), Jeff Flake (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), John Hoeven (ND), Johnny Isakson (GA), Dean Heller (NV), Mark Kirk (IL), John McCain (AZ), Pat Toomey (PA), and Roger Wicker (MS).

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Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA) for questioning Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew about the chained CPI at a Ways and Means Committee hearing on President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal.

Jeers to:

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Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Mark Pryor (D-AK), who voted NO on cloture for gun control legislation.

April 5, 2013

JOIN THE NATIONAL RALLY AND CALL-IN DAY FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM


Thousands are expected to attend a national rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, April 10, and speak up about the need for Congress to fix our broken immigration system, support our student DREAMers, preserve family unity, and create a path to citizenship. That same day, many more back home will call Congress as part of a national day of action (see call-in-number below). Bipartisan work on immigration reform is moving forward swiftly in both the House and the Senate — now the time is now to ensure Congress gets it done right.

The United States is a nation of immigrants and how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us. NEA is urging Congress to:

  • Create a realistic path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens who call America home.
  • Preserve the unity of families, traditional and nontraditional.
  • Incorporate and expand the DREAM Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

TELL CONGRESS: HELP KEEP STUDENTS SAFE BY PASSING COMMON-SENSE MEASURES TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE


The Senate returns from recess on April 8 and will begin to turn its attention to gun violence prevention legislation, which is expected to be on the floor for a few weeks. This week, National Rifle Association leaders unveiled their “National School Shield” program, which primarily calls for putting an armed guard in every school. “We are deeply concerned about increasing the presence of guns on school grounds, which has never proven to be a deterrent,” NEA president Dennis Van Roekel said in response. Read his complete statement here.

A poll of NEA members found 68 percent oppose arming educators, and more have been speaking out on what is needed to help keep students safe. “Instead of arming our school staff with guns, we should be arming them with the resources needed to continue to provide the best possible education for our students,” NEA member Jean Fay, a Massachusetts paraeducator and native of Newtown, Conn., wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post. Read her complete column here.

NEA supports a comprehensive approach to keeping students safe and preventing gun violence, like:

  • Expanding and enhancing mental-health services.
  • Providing a safe and secure learning environment for all students, with additional counselors and social workers, and professional development for school staff in bullying-prevention, cultural competence and conflict management.
  • Common-sense legislation to prevent gun violence, including universal background checks for gun purchases.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON: TELL CONGRESS NO MORE FUNDING CUTS FOR KIDS AND EDUCATION


President Obama will release his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year on Wednesday, April 10, as the House and Senate Appropriations Committees begin their work on new funding bills. But the House and Senate budget plans embody radically different visions for America’s future. The NEA-supported Senate budget would preserve federal funding for education, provide new revenue, and help create jobs; the NEA-opposed House budget would slash funding even more for education and healthcare for kids. Keep the pressure on and tell Congress, “No more cuts to kids and education!”

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

  • Email Congress or call 1.866.293.7278, our Educator Connector Line — Tell your Senators and Representative to support the Senate budget that protects funding for education and demands new revenue.

CHEERS AND JEERS


Cheers to:

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President Obama for continuing to urge Congress to act to prevent gun violence: “Why wouldn’t you want to close the loophole that allows too many criminals to buy a gun without even the simplest of background checks? Why on Earth wouldn’t you want to make it easier rather than harder for law enforcement to do their job?”

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Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, on the “National School Shield” proposed by NRA leaders: “Arming school personnel and training them for shootouts will only exacerbate problems… We need to invest in mental health and other preventive efforts. We need to enforce the laws that are on the books by cracking down on gun trafficking and straw purchasing. And, we need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill by making sure everyone purchasing a gun gets a background check.”

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Representative Richard Hanna (R-NY) for introducing the STEM Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 1353), which would help make it affordable for students and educators to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the post-secondary level, and provide financial incentives for updating STEM materials and equipment in K-12 schools.

Jeers to:

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Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) for becoming the fifth Senator to threaten to filibuster the gun violence prevention bill.