Week Ending March 11, 2011
Senate Budget Votes Fail; Next Budget Fight Begins
This week, the Senate rejected the draconian House budget plan (H.R. 1) to indiscriminately cut federal spending for the current fiscal year by $58 billion regardless of its impact on jobs, the economy, the middle class and seniors. The vote was 44-56 with only three Republicans joining the unanimous Democratic opposition. These Republicans want a spending bill with even deeper cuts. The Democratic alternative bill would have reinstated funding for critical labor, education, transportation, health and other public services and cut an additional $6.5 billion from current spending. The alternative failed to gain the necessary 60 votes and was defeated 58-42.
Round three began with House Republicans preparing another stop-gap spending measure that reportedly cuts an additional $6 billion, but no details have been released. Congress has one week until the current funding measure expires on March 18. Vice President Biden has been leading negotiations with congressional leaders in attempts to resolve the budget stalemate. At the same time, a group of eight Republican senators have threatened to block any legislation until the Senate addresses the debt ceiling.
We need our leaders in Congress to work together to get our economy back on track. Republicans are refusing to compromise and are again risking a government shutdown and nearly one million American jobs. AFSCME continues to fight for a strong budget that cuts wasteful spending without sacrificing American jobs, our children's education and our safety. We will continue to update and engage you in the fight to protect the middle class.
Assault on Workers' Rights Examined By Congress
On Tuesday, Wisconsin AFSCME member Janice Bobholz testified at a congressional forum held by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee titled "The State-by-State and Congressional Assaults on Workers' Rights and the Middle Class." Ms. Bobholz is an information systems coordinator and deputy sheriff for the Dodge County Sheriff's Department. She spoke for the many Wisconsin workers currently in the fight of their lives to protect their collective bargaining rights. Twenty-two Democratic members of Congress attended the forum that included four other public employees from Ohio and Indiana. Ms. Bobholz testified: "Governor Walker has out rightly defied the labor laws currently still in place by not meeting with the state labor unions once he was elected. He instead spent the first 30 days in office passing tax cuts in excess of $150 million to big corporations. It is no secret that he has put Wisconsin up for sale. Then he blames the entire state's economic problems on public servants. Clearly he has another agenda."
Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), a member of the panel, said after hearing the witnesses: "If you undercut collective bargaining, you undercut the middle class. If you undercut the middle class, you undercut the American economy. So we think this is an issue every American should follow and engage in." The Chairman of the panel, Rep. George Miller (D-CA), concluded the session with this thought: "In these fights over worker's rights, our economic future is at stake. Indeed, the character of our country is at stake."
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