Thursday, November 11, 2010

Congress Must Pass PFA & Other Critical Legislation

With the House and Senate expected to reconvene on November 15th, this will be the last opportunity for the 111thCongress to pass legislation deemed imperative by the coalition of more than 200 national civil and human rights organizations.

Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act and the DREAM Act, a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” an extension of unemployment insurance, and the confirmation of President Obama’s judicial nominees have been identified as top priorities for the final months of 2010. Also, critically important is a Senate vote on the ratification of the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Here's what Wade Henderson, President & CEO of The Leadership Conference, has to say about these final months and lame duck priorities: “Now that the midterm elections are over, Americans expect Congress to work together on the important needs of our country..Each of these priorities will make our nation stronger and more just, and they deserve to be high on the list of ‘must-do’ legislation before the current Congress adjourns.”

As a member of the LCCR coalition of 200 organizations, 9to5 agrees with these priorities:

  • Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act would deter pay discrimination by strengthening penalties for equal pay violations. “This Congress showed some remarkable backbone for women’s equality when it passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference. “Passing this legislation would reinforce this Congress’ commitment to narrowing the pay gap to help support family incomes and strengthen our economy.”
  • An extension of unemployment insurance, which is set expire at the end of this month, would provide a lifeline for millions of workers in the stalled economy. “Congress has never cut off unemployment benefits when the jobless rate was this high. Extending them will help the economy recover while providing badly needed assistance to workers unable to find jobs,” Henderson said.
  • Passage of the DREAM Act, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged to bring up for a vote during the lame duck session, would allow immigrant youths the opportunity to serve in our military, attend college, and earn citizenship. “The DREAM Act will help ensure that children who have worked hard, graduated from high school, and obeyed the law have the opportunity to be productive workers in the American economy,” Zirkin said.
  • The repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell,” which has been under consideration for several months, would strengthen our military and advance LGBT equality. “Our service members should not have to live in fear of dismissal simply for being gay or lesbian. In the face of two wars and dwindling recruitment, our military needs our best and brightest citizens to serve regardless of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation,” Henderson said.
  • The confirmation of pending judicial nominees who have faced a level of obstructionism that is unprecedented in American history. “People all over America are being denied justice because our overworked courts have more than 100 empty benches without judges to hear cases,” Zirkin said. “The Senate must put aside petty partisanship, eliminate obstructionist tactics, and commit to taking yes-or-no confirmation votes on the pending judicial nominees before adjourning.”
  • Ratification of CEDAW, a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women around the world. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law has scheduled a hearing on the CEDAW treaty on November 18. “Ratifying the CEDAW treaty would continue America’s proud bipartisan tradition of promoting and protecting human rights,” said June Zeitlin, CEDAW Project director.
Write or call your members of Congress and ensure they know that these priorities are YOUR priorities.

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