Week Ending April 23, 2021

A Big Step Toward D.C. Statehood

  • AFSCME Updates
    • Congress Begins FY 2022 Funding Process
    • Call Your Senators to Urge YES Vote on PRO Act
  • House Action
    • D.C. Statehood Passes House
  • Senate Votes
    • Vanita Gupta Confirmed as Associate Attorney General
  • New Bills and Proposals
    • Senate Republican Infrastructure Counter Proposal Falls Short
    • Lower Drug Costs Now Act Reintroduced
    • Sherrod Brown Introduces Full Repeal of GPO and WEP
    • College for All Act Would Make College Free for Many
    • Healthy Food for Young Children Act
    • $25 Billion Proposed to Update School Bus Fleets

Congress Begins FY 2022 Funding Process

Congress is turning its attention to budget decisions as it holds hearings and prepares to write funding bills for the next fiscal year (FY) 2022, which begins Oct. 1. Cabinet secretaries have started sharing the president's request officially in hearings, and more details are expected in May. Federal funds to state and local governments account for more than 30% of state budgets and more than 20% of state and local budgets combined. A robust federal budget is vital to supporting essential public services that AFSCME members provide. AFSCME is urging Congress to support key areas for federal investments, which we identify here. We encourage you to share these priorities with your members of Congress.

Show Your Support for the PRO Act

Celebrate May Day and International Workers’ Day by joining an event and calling your senators to show your support for workers, like those in Amazon warehouses, to have access to fair union elections and the benefits and the protections of union membership as we urge the Senate to pass the PRO Act.

Call 1-888-853-7037 to urge your senator to vote YES on the PRO Act.

D.C. Statehood Passes House

The House passed, by a vote of 216 to 208 along party lines, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51) which would make the District of Columbia the 51st state in the nation. Senate passage faces the challenge of 60 yes votes to overcome a filibuster. AFSCME supports this bill, as President Lee Saunders notes, to grant D.C. residents “the same rights and privileges as all other Americans living in the 50 states.” It also goes to the heart of the timely question of whether our nation is a true democratic republic that affords all of its citizens the full voting rights of the U.S. Constitution.

Vanita Gupta Confirmed as Associate Attorney General

The Senate confirmed Vanita Gupta to the post of associate attorney general at the Department of Justice by a bipartisan vote of 51 to 49. In his statement about her confirmation, Saunders said, “Vanita Gupta has dedicated her life and career to the fight for basic fairness. … She will be a knowledgeable, experienced, effective Associate Attorney General, and AFSCME looks forward to working with her.”

Senate Republican Infrastructure Counter Proposal Falls Short

Senate Republicans released a $568 billion counter proposal to the $2.2 trillion American Jobs Plan offered by the Biden administration. The Republican plan is inadequate to meet America’s infrastructure needs and is unlikely to garner bipartisan support. It makes modest investments in transportation, water and broadband, and relies heavily on expanding privatization. Bipartisan discussions continue at the White House and on the Hill.

Lower Drug Costs Now Act Reintroduced

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) have reintroduced the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) to lower prescription drug costs. Details are here.

Sen. Sherrod Brown Introduces Full Repeal of GPO and WEP

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 1302), which repeals the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). S. 1302 is the companion bill to H.R. 82, introduced by Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.). AFSCME endorsed these bills to continue our nearly four decades of urging Congress to enact full repeal of these harmful Social Security provisions that penalize more than 2 million public sector retirees.

College for All Act Would Make College Tuition Free for Many

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Ore.) introduced the College for All Act (H.R. 2730 and S. 1288). Modeled after the Biden campaign’s Plan for Education Beyond High School, it would allow students in families who earn less than $125,000 a year to attend public colleges and universities tuition and debt-free; address the adjunct labor crisis; invest $10 billion annually into student support programs at underfunded institutions; and double Pell Grants and GEAR UP and triple TRIO funding. AFSCME endorsed this bill and supports efforts to make college affordable for everyone.

Healthy Food for Young Children Act

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) introduced the Access to Healthy Food for Young Children Act (S. 1270). This bill improves the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which provides healthy meals to young children in child care centers and day care homes. The bill would increase child participation by reducing the area eligibility threshold, giving child care centers and homes the option of serving a third full meal or snack to children who are in care settings for eight or more hours, and reducing application paperwork. AFSCME supports this bill to help our child care providers afford the cost of healthy meals for the children they care for across the country.

$25 Billion Proposed to Update School Bus Fleets

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) introduced the Clean Commute for Kids Act (S. 1271 and H.R. 2721) to update the Clean School Bus program with $25 billion in federal grants over 10 years, designating 40% to replace school buses that serve mostly nonwhite, poorer communities. AFSCME members are school bus drivers and their fleets are aging. Many of the buses need repairs and expose students, bus drivers and communities to diesel pollution.

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