Week of September 24-28, 2018

  • Kavanaugh Nomination Moves to Senate Vote
  • Congress Passes Labor, Health and Education Funding Bill
  • House Approves Republicans’ Tax Cut 2.0 Package

Kavanaugh Nomination Moves to Senate Vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 10 on a strict party-line-vote to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be Associate Justice to the Supreme Court.  Senate Judiciary voted despite Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s courageous testimony, which alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh. She testified about her very painful and life-changing experience as a survivor of this attack when they were both in high school. In an unprecedented move, Dr. Ford was denied the opportunity to engage directly with Republican senators on the panel. Instead, an outside prosecutor, Ms. Rachel Mitchell, Deputy County Attorney from Maricopa County, Arizona was hired to question her, while Judge Kavanaugh was extended the customary courtesy of direct questioning by all senators.

In the wake of the current court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, AFSCME opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination to this lifetime appointment because his previous judicial record shows a clear pattern of opposition to the interests of working families and the rights and liberties of all Americans. His rulings and decisions have consistently furthered the special interests of corporations and stripped bargaining power from unions by preventing them from fairly representing workers. This, coupled with multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and the refusal of the administration to request a full FBI investigation to refute these claims, should disqualify Kavanaugh from holding the responsibility of upholding, enforcing, and interpreting our nation’s laws, particularly with thorough non-partisan investigation of the facts.

What You Need to Know: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) called for an FBI investigation, limited to one week, prior to a final floor vote in the Senate. He appears to have sufficient support from colleagues to block a final vote absent an FBI investigation.  The American Bar Association withdrew their earlier endorsement of Judge Kavanaugh pending a full FBI investigation to examine the allegations. President Saunders noted “Brett Kavanaugh’s record makes it unmistakably clear that he elevates the interests of corporations at the expense of the rights and freedoms of working people. For that reason alone, he does not belong on the United States Supreme Court. … he also lacks the character and temperament for this lifetime appointment.

“The courageous, compelling and credible testimony offered by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford makes it even more urgent that this nomination not go forward until, as Senator Flake has now requested, the FBI investigates sexual assault charges against Judge Kavanaugh.

“But the FBI should not be constrained by arbitrary timetables or limitations in scope. They must be empowered to do their job. These are serious allegations, and this is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. This moment calls for all due diligence.”

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 Passes Labor, Health and Education Funding Bill

With a bipartisan 361 to 61 vote, the House passed the annual appropriations bill providing funding for Labor, Health and Human Services and Education programs. The Senate approved the legislation last week, so the legislation now heads to the president for his signature. The president has indicated that he will sign the legislation into law, despite earlier threats to veto it without the addition of funds to build a border wall, which was rejected by Congress.

The Labor, Health and Education funding bill is the most important of the 12 annual appropriations bills for AFSCME members, providing 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 provides an increase in funding for many programs and excludes harmful “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: With passage of the Labor, Health and Education measure, Congress has now completed work on only five of the 12 annual funding bills. To prevent a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends at the end of September, the Labor, Health and Education bill also included temporary funding for the seven remaining spending bills through December 7.

House Approves Republicans Tax Cut 2.0 Package

The House voted 220 to 191 along party lines to approve their troubling second package of tax giveaways, which disproportionately benefits the very wealthy and diverts $2.8 trillion during 2026 to 2035 away from funding needed to preserve and strengthen Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, public education, and other vital public services.  Among other provisions, the Republican tax package would permanently raise the exemption in the federal estate tax to $22 million per couple.  Given that less than one in 1,000 American estates exceed $22 million, this tax break exclusively benefits the wealthiest Americans.  In addition, before the full House vote, Republicans on the House Rules Committee voted to refuse to allow the full House to vote on several helpful Democratic amendments, including one to preserve individuals’ full federal itemized tax deductions for State and Local Tax (SALT) expenses and thereby strengthen the finances of states and localities.

What You Need to KnowAFSCME strongly opposes this tax cut 2.0 package (H.R. 6760).  Instead, AFSCME advocates that Congress should invest in needed public services, and increase federal revenues through closing troubling tax loopholes, ending unfair tax incentives that send jobs and profits overseas, and requiring the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.  Further congressional action on this tax package is unlikely to occur this year as it does not have sufficient votes in the Senate.

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