Week of September 17-21, 2018


  • Senators Demand That FBI Examine Kavanaugh Assault Allegations
  • Congress Poised to Pass Labor Spending Bill
  • House and Senate Finalizing Legislative Package to Respond to the Opioid Crisis

Senators Demand That FBI Examine Kavanaugh Assault Allegations 

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has become even more contentious. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford courageously came forward to share her allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School. Ford was just 15 years old at the time and Kavanaugh was 17. Dr. Ford presented a credible account of how Kavanaugh assaulted her at a high school party. 

After pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) postponed this week’s committee vote, which likely would have advanced Kavanaugh’s confirmation from the committee to the full Senate. Grassley wanted to schedule a two-person-only hearing for Monday, pressuring Ford to testify alongside Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee and shutting down the option for further investigation. But Ford and many senators requested that the FBI to do an investigation before she testifies. At this time, it’s unclear when she will testify, but Republican leaders have made it clear they will continue to press forward with the Kavanaugh vote as soon as possible regardless of whether Dr. Ford testifies.

What You Need to Know:  AFSCME urges senators to investigate the allegations and hear from Ford before moving forward. AFSCME President Lee Saunders said, “The charges of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh are deeply disturbing. They speak directly to his character and his integrity and deserve to be fully heard – as part of a fair, thorough, non-partisan process. That means we need an FBI investigation before another hearing takes place.” AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride also recently joined a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court, where she stood with organizations representing survivors of sexual assaults and harassment. Similarly, read the press statement that AFSCME signed on to along with other unions regarding the importance of not rushing a  hearing. 

We can’t afford another justice who will rig the rules against us on the Supreme Court.
Call your senator at 1-855-712-8430. Tell them to vote “NO” on Kavanaugh!

Congress Poised to Pass Labor Spending Bill 

With a bipartisan 93 to 7 vote, the Senate passed legislation on September 18 providing funding for Labor, Health and Human Services and Education programs, as well as Defense programs. The House is expected to approve the legislation next week, clearing the way for President Donald Trump to sign it into law.

Labor-HHS-Education is the largest spending bill (after Defense) and the most critical to supporting the work of AFSCME members. It provides funding for programs addressing job training, health care, child welfare, services for the elderly, education and other important public services. AFSCME supported the final legislation, which provided an increase in funding and excludes “poison pill” policy provisions that had been proposed by House Republicans, including several proposals to make it more difficult for workers to organize and language attacking the Affordable Care Act.

What You Need to Know:  If the House passes the legislation as expected, Congress will have completed work on five of the 12 annual spending bills, including the funding bills of most critical importance to AFSCME members. To prevent a shutdown when the fiscal year ends at the end of September, the legislation also includes temporary funding for the seven remaining spending bills through December 7. 

House and Senate Finalizing Legislative Package to Respond to the Opioid Crisis 

This week, the Senate passed its version of legislation to respond to the nationwide crisis of opioid addiction. The Senate bill, like the House-passed bill, does not include the robust federal investment needed for community mental health and substance use disorder treatment groups to boost and sustain staffing levels to solve this public health problem. The House and Senate now must move to reconcile differences between the respective bills. At this point, behind-the-scenes discussions continue with a bipartisan commitment to quickly hammer out differences in the bills with the goal of a voting on a final conference agreement as early as next week. AFSCME is advocating for the the final bill to include the House student loan repayment program for the substance use disorder workforce. AFSCME also wants the final bill to include the Senate bill’s provision, which allows state and local governments to use federal opioid overdose prevention grant funds to train emergency medical service (EMS) workers and other first responders to protect themselves from exposure to fentanyl and other opioids. AFSCME is urging that the final bill exclude a provision from the House that shifts costs onto employer plans from Medicare for individuals with end-stage renal disease. AFSCME is seeking to ensure that this bill also removes federal barriers for short-term in-patient mental health and substance use disorder treatment in public facilities.

What You Need to Know:  With public pressure for Congress to act to address opioid addictions and related overdose deaths hurting communities across the nation, a final bipartisan legislative package is likely to be enacted this year. While AFSCME is pressing for the final proposal to make meaningful improvements in the working conditions of behavioral health care and EMS workers, we are concerned that the final bill will not include significant increases in federal funding for staffing levels in community mental health and substance use disorder treatment organizations.

Sign Up to Receive the Weekly Report and Action Alerts via Email and Become an AFSCME e-Activist!!!

In an effort to move toward electronic transmission which will allow us to put important federal legislative updates in your hands sooner, we urge you to sign up to receive the Federal Legislative Report via your email address.

Please go to www.afscme.org/join and check the "Federal Legislative Report" box under subscriptions on the bottom of the page.

Get the AFSCME Legislative Report delivered via email by signing up here.

Thank you!

You will begin receiving the AFSCME Legislative Report via email.