Week Ending February 26, 2021

House Approves American Rescue Plan; Senate Calls Needed!

  • Fund the Front Lines Updates
    • House Approves American Rescue Plan, Action Shifts to Senate
    • Member Spotlight: Jay Gilbert, Portland Public Works
    • Call Your Senator to Support the American Rescue Plan, 1-888-981-9704
  • Equality Act Passes House
  • New Bills in Congress
    • The WATER Act
    • Workplace Violence Prevention Act
    • Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act
  • Biden Cabinet Confirmations
    • Vilsack Confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture

House Approves American Rescue Plan, Action Shifts to Senate

With only Democratic votes, the House of Representatives approved the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan for COVID relief with $350 billion in aid for states, counties, cities and towns, and more for vaccine distribution, schools, public transit and other public services. The only Democrats to vote no were Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.). Now, we still need to make it through the Senate. We’ve been working with allies, including state and local elected leaders to push this over the finish line. Over 800 of them signed this letter.

Join us on Twitter to share the letter and tag your U.S. senators.


Jay Gilbert Works 16-hour Shifts to Clear Snow in Portland, Maine

An essential public service for Mainers is snow removal, and it’s even more important during a pandemic, when access to health care is critical. Jay Gilbert, a Council 93 member, was one of the drivers navigating 18 inches of snow, 13-degree temperatures, breakdowns, equipment failures and impatient drivers during his 16-hour shift in a January storm. He and his team moved the snow for the next team to clear out 11,000 cubic yards of it in eight hours from the downtown area, enough snow to make 250,000 snowballs. Watch him in action here.

Public employees like Jay are on the front lines every day, regardless of pandemic risks and major snowstorms. They shouldn’t be thanked with pink slips. 

Call Your U.S. senator NOW
at 1-888-981-9704

Share your front-line stories and urge a YES vote on the American Rescue Plan with  $350 billion in aid to states, counties, cities and towns. We can’t afford anything less.

Equality Act Passes House

The House of Representatives, with bipartisan support, passed the Equality Act (H.R. 5) to broadly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. AFSCME supports this bill to promote equality and fairness. It now moves to the Senate for consideration. 

The Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) reintroduced legislation (H.R. 1352) to increase access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water in America, a top AFSCME priority. President Saunders notes this bill will address “years of austerity measures and privatization schemes [that] have eroded the infrastructure in poor, marginalized communities, exposing people to lead and other poisons.”

Workplace Violence Prevention Act

Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) re-introduced the bipartisan Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195) to curb rising rates of workplace violence facing health care and social service employees such as nurses, EMS workers, psychiatric staff and child protective service workers. AFSCME supports the bill. As President Saunders notes, “Protecting our public service workers, who perform their jobs with grit and courage – and never more so than during the last year of this pandemic – is a matter of the greatest urgency.”

Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) introduced the Coronavirus Medicaid Response Act (S. 439, H.R. 1353) to help states and families now and in future economic downturns. It would automatically increase federal funds for Medicaid as triggered by a rise in unemployment. President Saunders said this bill “would help the nation recover from this pandemic and enhance the health security of working families even in the worst of times.”

Tom Vilsack Confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture

AFSCME applauds the confirmation of Tom Vilsack as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He will make sure that the USDA nutrition programs that millions of Americans rely on are administered in an equitable way to help reduce food insecurity.

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