Week Ending September 13, 2019

Congress Returns from Summer Recess with Full Agenda Ahead

  • Support for Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act Increases
  • Trump Border Wall Funding Faces Likely Rejection
  • Partisan Bickering Slows Funding Bills, CR Pending

Support for Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act Increases

The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act (H.R. 3463) has swelled to 150 co-sponsors in the House thanks to the many letters submitted by affiliates and more than 13,000 calls from AFSCME members. 

  • Federal Right to Join a Union -  This legislation would set a federal floor to ensure the collective bargaining rights of state and local public employees, including over wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment; require access to  dispute resolution mechanisms; use voluntary payroll deduction for union dues and bar rigged recertification elections.
  • Leaders Committed to Action this Year - The legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) and Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa). 

What You Need to Know:  The bill is needed to unrig a system that favors the wealthy over working people.  It marks another big step forward in the growing political and grassroots momentum behind unions after years of attacks on workers from right-wing special interests and politicians. We urge AFSCME members and affiliates to contact their members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 3463.

Call your representatives today at 1-866-584-5728.

Urge them to support H.R. 3463, the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, to level the playing field for working families. This bill will protect our rights as public employees to have a voice on the job and to join together in a union for a fair return on our work.

Trump Border Wall Funding Faces Likely Rejection

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has once again condemned President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration on the southern border after the president’s secretary of defense, Mark Esper, authorized diverting $3.6 billion in military construction funds for Trump’s political pet project. A third House vote rejecting the declaration is expected. Previously, the House and the Senate acted in a strong bipartisan fashion to reject the president’s emergency declaration but failed to override his veto. 

  • Funding:  Half of the $3.6 billion comes from domestic projects while the other half is taken from military bases in 20 countries. Twenty-three states and three territories, including Puerto Rico, would miss out on needed funding.
  • Nixed Projects:  The construction projects affected by this shift in funds vary in nature, but many include “high risk” and “life safety violations” projects that the armed services deemed important. Other projects include child care facilities for soldiers’ children and two “readiness centers” in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

What You Need to Know:  Both chambers are expected to consider Trump’s plan to divert assigned military funds to build his border wall. If the Trump plan is rejected, it is still not clear if there are enough votes to override an expected Trump veto. 

Partisan Bickering Slows Funding Bills, CR Pending 

Ten days remain before the federal fiscal year ends on September 30, but none of the 12 annual funding bills is final. These bills include essential funds that state and local governments rely on to operate public services and that fund AFSCME members’ jobs. The House has passed 10 bills and the Senate is just getting started. 

  • Temporary Stopgap Needed to Avoid Shutdown - The House is expected to vote next week on a clean stopgap measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to continue funding at current levels through late November, with a Senate vote expected shortly thereafter. 
  • Clean Spending Bills Expected - As part of the decision in late July to lift tight budget caps, Democrats agreed to exclude partisan and controversial policy provisions, referred to as “poison pill riders,” from funding bills in exchange for a $27 billion increase for domestic spending. This may limit Democrats’ ability to block controversial Trump administration regulatory actions if the agreement holds, but Republicans have already tried to breach the agreement.

What You Need to Know:  AFSCME is strongly advocating for Congress to pass a clean CR that also extends funding for Community Behavioral Health Centers (CBHCs) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS). AFSCME is also urging the Senate to honor the budget agreement and increase funding for key spending bills.

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