GOP Kills Paycheck Fairness Act AGAIN


GOP Blocks Equal Pay
Senate Republicans again kill Paycheck Fairness Act

4/09/14 01:06 PM - Steven Benen – maddowblog

The third time was not the charm. Democratic efforts to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to overcome Republican opposition in the 111th Congress and the 112th Congress, and as of this morning, it failed once again at the hands of a GOP filibuster.

Senate Republicans filibustered a debate on a Democratic pay equity bill backed by President Barack Obama Wednesday.

Sixty votes were needed to allow the bill to be debated on the Senate floor, but Republicans refused to allow the bill to come up for debate after complaining Democrats weren’t allowing votes on their amendments.

The roll call from the vote is online here. Note that the final tally was 54 to 43 – six votes shy of the supermajority needed to end Republican obstructionism – but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) switched his vote for procedural reasons, leaving it at 53 to 44.

The legislation received exactly zero Republican votes, as was the case with previous efforts to pass the bill.I

In case anyone needs a refresher, the Paycheck Fairness Act is a perfectly credidble piece of legislation that would “enhance the remedies available for victims of gender-based discrimination and require employers to show that wage differences are job-related, not sex-based, and driven by business necessity. The measure would also protect employees from retaliation for sharing salary information, which is important for deterring and challenging discriminatory compensation.”

As we’ve discussed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was an important step forward when it comes to combating discrimination, but it was also narrowly focused to address a specific problem: giving victims of discrimination access to the courts for legal redress. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a broader measure.

Republicans have responded that they endorse the idea of equal pay for equal work, but in recent years, much of the party remains opposed to policymakers’ efforts to do something about it. (This morning, some GOP senators also raised procedural objections about amendments.)

As for the electoral considerations, aren’t GOP lawmakers worried about rejecting measures like these in an election year?

Apparently not.

Senate Republicans aren’t sweating a ramped-up push by Democrats and President Barack Obama for new pay equity legislation – pushing forward women Republicans to rebut charges they have a woman problem and doubting the issue will resonate with voters. […]

Republicans argue that the Democrats’ bill – along with their so-called “Fair Shot” agenda for the year – is a political ploy that will not fool voters.

I’m not sure who’s trying to fool whom in this model. Dems put together a bill; the bill is popular; and they’ve pushed it repeatedly for six years. That sounds less like a p.r. stunt and more like an effort to address a problem.

As for the midterms, Republicans have struggled of late with the gender gap. At a minimum, today’s vote won’t help.



Paycheck Fairness Act Vote Blocked By House GOP

4/11/2013 4:56 pm EDT Laura Bassett – huffingtonpost

House GOP leadership is not likely to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act up for a vote any time soon, but House Democrats used a procedural move to force them to go on record opposing the bill on Thursday.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the sponsor of the equal pay legislation, filed a discharge petition on the bill Thursday morning that would immediately force a vote on it if she could collect 218 signatures. Democrats also put forth a motion on Thursday known as the “Previous Question,” which would have enabled them to put the Paycheck Fairness Act up for a vote, but Republicans killed the effort by a vote of 226 to 192.

Recent Census Bureau data shows that full-time working women make 77 cents for every dollar men make per year. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which DeLauro has introduced in eight consecutive Congresses, would expand the Equal Pay Act to close certain loopholes and allow employees to share salary information with their coworkers. It would also require employers to show that pay disparities between their male and female employees are related to job performance, not gender.

Most Republicans oppose the bill, and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said on the House Floor Thursday afternoon that the bill is a “liberal plot” to perpetuate the narrative that Republicans are anti-woman. DeLauro countered that she has yet to hear a reasonable excuse for Republicans to oppose the bill.

“I think we’re looking at a group of people who either don’t believe there is a pay gap or who just want to be contrary,” DeLauro told HuffPost in a phone interview. “This bill isn’t a liberal plot. We have enough statistical information to demonstrate that no matter what the job is, whether you’re a waitress or bus driver or civil engineer, women are paid less money.”

Every Republican that was present for the vote on Thursday voted against the motion to bring the bill up for a vote, so DeLauro is unlikely to get the number of signatures she needs for her discharge petition. But she said she has managed to drum up bipartisan support for the bill in the past, and she is going to continue to work on her Republican colleagues this session.

For more:


Equal Pay - Women Breadwinners

The Paycheck Fairness Act is legislation twice introduced and twice rejected by the United States Congress to expand the scope of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of an effort to address male–female income disparity in the United States. A Census Bureau report published in 2008 indicated that women’s median annual earnings were 77.5% of men’s earnings, a disparity attributed to both systematic discrimination against women and women’s lifestyle choices.

The House of Represen­tatives approved the bill in January 2009. The United States Senate failed to move the bill forward in November 2010. President Barack Obama said in March 2011 that he will continue to fight for the goals in the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in April 2011.

The 2010 bill had no Republican Party co-sponsors, though a group of four Republican senators had supported an earlier bill to address gender-based wage discrimination, including Susan CollinsKay Bailey HutchisonLisa Murkowski and Olympia Snowe. On June 5th, 2012 the bill fell short of the 60 votes necessary to override a filibuster and did not make it to the Senate floor for debate. The vote went along party lines, excluding a vote against by Democrat Harry Reid. (A vote which left Democrats the option to introduce the bill again at a later time.)



June 04, 2012

FACT SHEET: Fighting for Equal Pay and the Paycheck Fairness Act

Today, the President continues to advocate for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a comprehensive bill that strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work.   The Paycheck Fairness Act is commonsense legislation that, among other things, would achieve the following:

  • Better align key Equal Pay Act defenses with those in Title VII.
  • Bring remedies available under the Equal Pay Act into line with remedies available under other civil rights laws.
  • Make the requirements for class action lawsuits under the Equal Pay Act match those of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
  • Protect employees who share their own salary information at work from retaliation by an employer.

The existing legal tools available to remedy pay discrimination are not enough, so Congress needs to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act now.

For more:


Did You Know That Women Are Still Paid Less Than Men?

On average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. This substantial gap is more than a statistic — it has real life consequences. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families, and over a lifetime of work, far less savings for retirement.

President Obama supports passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a comprehensive and commonsense bill that updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work.


Executive Order: Equal Pay Rules For Federal Contractors


Your Right To Equal Pay


Obama To Sign Executive Order With Equal Pay Rules For Federal Contractors

APRIL 6, 2014 JIM KUHNHENN – tpm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lacking congressional backing to raise wages or end gender pay disparities, President Barack Obama is imposing his policies directly on federal contractors, following a long-established tradition of presidents exerting their powers on a fraction of the economy directly under their control.

This week, the president will sign an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with each other. The prohibition on the wage “gag rules” is similar to language in a Senate bill aimed at closing a pay gap between men and women. That legislation is scheduled for a vote this week, though it is not likely to pass.

In addition, Obama on Tuesday will direct the Labor Department to adopt regulations requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data based on sex and race. The president will sign the executive order and the presidential memo during an event at the White House where he will be joined Lilly Ledbetter, whose name appears on a pay discrimination law Obama signed in 2009.

This week’s steps showcase Obama’s efforts to take action without congressional approval and illustrate how even without legislation, the president can drive policy on a significant segment of the U.S. economy. At the same time, it also underscores the limits of his ambition when he doesn’t have the backing of Congress for his initiatives.

For more:


“Equal pay is a family issue. Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and are a growing number of breadwinners in their families. More women are also working in positions and fields that have been traditionally occupied by men. When women are not paid fairly, not only do they suffer, but so do their families.”


“I’m eager to work with Congress whenever I can find opportunities to expand opportunity for more families. But wherever I can act on my own, without Congress, by using my pen to take executive actions, or picking up the phone and rallying folks around a common cause, that’s what I’m going to do.”

2/12/14 President Barack Obama


Understand the Basics of Equal Pay


2015 US Government Budget



Why Paul Ryan’s Budget Is A Fantasy

Rep. Paul Ryan, the chair of the House Budget Committee, released the fiscal-year 2015 House Budget proposal on Tuesday, a largely political document that will help shape the partisan debate ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

As with some of his past budget proposals, Ryan will have trouble explaining the details and the means that get to the end — a balanced budget. This year, the consensus on the most implausible parts of his plan comes on two fronts.

The first are the levels at which non-defense discretionary spending is set in the budget. Discretionary spending is comprised of  spending on programs that have to be reauthorized by Congress every year, not including entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The second is an accounting trick that is likely to be controversial, and that some call a gimmick.

The last year of the budget window, 2024, gives a good example of what Ryan does to balance the budget:

  • He ups non-defense discretionary cuts by $50 billion in 2024.
  • He assumes lower war spending by about $25 billion that same year.
  • He still needs a trick to get the budget to complete balance. Ryan uses a “dynamic” scoring method that helps balance his budget — one that could generate controversy. The “macroeconomic feedback effect” assumes the macroeconomic effects of cutting deficits will lead to about $74 billion in savings in 2024.

The non-defense discretionary spending levels, especially in the last year, seem to be the most implausible part of the budget. In 2024, per the budget, the non-defense discretionary spending levels would be $467 billion — a 22 percent cut from post-sequester levels.  In raw dollars, that’s lower than it was in 2005. It’s also much lower than the 2013 level of $576 billion.

Loren Adler, a research director at the  at  Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told Business Insider it would “c ertainly be one of the toughest pieces to feasibly achieve.”

In inflation-adjusted terms, it amounts to about a 29 percent cut from current levels. According to a Senate Democratic aide, it’s also 28 percent below the average amount of the non-defense discretionary spending levels during the Bush administration.

By 2024, the Ryan budget adds $483 billion to defense spending beyond sequester-set spending caps. But to get overall savings, the budget cuts $791 billion from non-defense discretionary spending.

“NDD levels by end of budget window totally implausible — damage to safety net as well,” Jared Bernstein, a former Obama administration economist and now a senior fellow at the left-leaning  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said in an email.

Ryan also uses the accounting trick to achieve balance. It’s a method he hasn’t employed in past budgets, and one that usually isn’t used by the Congressional Budget Office when scoring legislation. Ryan says the “macroeconomic feedback effect” of the deficit-cutting provisions in his budget will amount to $175 billion in savings over the 10-year budget window. And about $74 billion of that will come in the last year — coincidentally providing the U.S. with a $5 billion surplus.

Here’s Ryan’s reasoning for doing so:

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated several times over nearly 20 years that congressional action to reduce deficits will ultimately result in lower interest rates and faster economic growth by freeing up savings for use in productive investment. In addition, CBO has estimated that the positive economic effects of deficit reduction will feed back into the budget and further reduce deficits and debt over the medium and longer term.

Ryan notes the CBO used such dynamic scoring, for example, in 1998, when analyzing the 1998 bipartisan budget resolution that planned to balance the budget. But in general, the CBO says it does not usually analyze the macroeconomic effects due to several reasons (emphasis added):

Doing macroeconomic analysis of all proposed legislation would not be feasible; nearly all legislation analyzed by CBO would have negligible macroeconomic effects anyway (and thus negligible feedback to the federal budget); and estimates of macroeconomic effects are highly uncertain.

In his budget last year, Ryan included guidance about the macroeconomic effects to argue how his budget would be even better for deficits than the numbers showed. However, he did not employ the scoring method to achieve a balanced budget.


Republican budget proposes deep cuts in domestic programs

4/1/14 2 hours ago By David Lawder – Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Representative Paul Ryan, the leading Republican voice on budget policy, rolled out a new fiscal blueprint on Tuesday that calls for deep cuts in domestic programs, increased defense spending and a goal of erasing annual deficits in 10 years.

Ryan’s budget, called the “Path to Prosperity,” has almost no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate but is expected to serve as a campaign manifesto for Republicans in November’s congressional elections.

It proposes to kill President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare reforms and revives cuts in social programs such as the popular Medicare entitlement for the elderly that Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, has proposed in other recent budgets.

The plan calls for savings of $5.1 trillion over a decade, with the goal of reaching a balanced budget by 2024 with no new tax revenues but increased defense spending.

Nearly $2.1 trillion would be saved over a decade by the proposal to kill Obamacare, according to the plan.

A sweeping overhaul of Medicare has been slightly revised, with phased-in changes applying to workers 55 years old and younger, compared to last year’s proposal which affected workers who were 54 and younger.

The document aims to bolster Republicans’ credentials as the party of fiscal prudence, but could open them up to fresh attacks from Democrats, who are calling for steps to reduce the gap between the rich and poor.

For more:–business.html;_ylt=AwrTWVVA.TpT_kMAeebQtDMD


Pelosi Statement on Ryan Republican Budget

April 1, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today after Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released this year’s version of the House Republican budget:

“Today, Republicans have laid out their vision for a less prosperous America, demonstrating, yet again, the weakness of their arithmetic and the strength of their indifference to the concerns of struggling middle class families across the country.  They are proving the lengths they will go to protect the special interests at the expense of the public interest.  They are undermining seniors, students, and the middle class, crippling our economic competitiveness, and gutting our nation’s investments in the future – all to protect loopholes for the wealthy few and corporations that ship jobs overseas.

“Under this Republican budget, the wealthy and well-connected wouldn’t be asked to pay even a little more.  But seniors would be asked to pay more for preventive services and prescription drugs and see the end of the Medicare guarantee.  Families would witness devastating cuts to research, innovation, education, clean energy, and manufacturing, ceding economic leadership to other nations.  All Americans would see a budget that rejects comprehensive immigration reform, with its promise of job creation, stronger small businesses, a growing economy, and a shrinking deficit.

“Democrats have a better approach: creating jobs, strengthening the middle class, investing in our infrastructure and our children’s education, closing the opportunity gap, and responsibly reducing the deficit.  Together, we can reignite the American Dream and build an economy that works for everyone.”


Hoyer Statement on Republican Budget for Fiscal Year 2015

April 1, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in response to the House Republican budget for Fiscal Year 2015:

“No one ought to be surprised at the budget unveiled by Chairman Paul Ryan and House Republicans today, which once again asks those with less to give more and those with more to give less.  This year’s Republican budget builds on the disastrous approach Republicans have followed over the past three years, embracing the painful and irrational sequestration cuts and slashing funding that supports investments in opportunity, growth, and security.

“While anyone who looks at the FY2015 Republican budget can readily see that it would do serious damage to our economy and society, Republicans do their best to hide the extent of the damage.  As in previous years, Chairman Ryan relies on gimmicks, magic asterisks, and spurious accounting assumptions to presume that his budget will achieve its anticipated deficit savings.  Additionally, his budget ends the Medicare guarantee as we know it, turns Medicaid into a block grant, repeals the Affordable Care Act [aka ObamaCare], fails to invest in job creation, and does not include any new revenue.  His budget simply doesn’t work – and would lead to significant harm for our country.

“Last week, I delivered a speech in which I called on both parties in Congress to maximize every opportunity to move us closer toward the long-term fiscal sustainability that our country needs.  Our budget process is just such an opportunity; unfortunately, House Republicans chose to make it a partisan messaging exercise rather than a real effort to achieve balanced deficit savings and invest in the programs that strengthen our economy, grow our middle class, and help more of our businesses and families Make It In America.”


Statement by the White House Press Secretary on the House Republican Budget

April 01, 2014

To build real, lasting economic security for the middle class, the President and Democrats in Congress have a plan to grow our economy from the middle out, not the top down, and create more opportunities for every hardworking American to get ahead. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress do not have a plan that works for the middle class and the House Republican Budget is the same old top-down approach. Because of a stubborn unwillingness to cut the deficit in a balanced way by closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and well connected, the House Republican Budget would slow the economy, stack the deck against the middle class, and threaten the guaranteed benefits seniors have paid for and earned.

The House Republican Budget would raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000 in order to cut taxes for households with incomes over $1 million. It would force deep cuts to investments in our roads and bridges, scientific research to cure diseases like Alzheimer’s and at every level of education from early childhood to community college. It would end Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher program and risking a death spiral in traditional Medicare. Instead of ensuring that Americans earn a fair wage for a hard day’s work and lifting millions of people out of poverty, the House Republican approach undermines Americans working hard to support their families by slashing food stamps and Medicaid. And rather than expanding health coverage for all Americans and making it more affordable, it would repeal the Affordable Care Act, raising health care costs on families and businesses and eliminating coverage for the 3 million young adults who have gained coverage by staying on their parent’s plan, the millions of people who have signed up for private insurance plans through the Marketplaces, and millions more who can continue to gain coverage through Medicaid.

The House Republican Budget stands in stark contrast to the President’s Budget, which would accelerate economic growth and expand opportunity for all hardworking Americans, while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way. The President has put forward a Budget that rewards hard work with fair wages, equips all children with a high-quality education to prepare them for a good job, puts a secure retirement within reach, and ensures health care is affordable and reliable, while at the same time asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share and making tough cuts to programs we can’t afford. And by paying for new investments and tackling our true fiscal challenges, the President’s Budget builds on the progress we’ve already made to cut the deficit by more than half since 2009 and cuts the deficit as a share of the economy to 1.6 percent by 2024. It also stabilizes the debt as a share of the economy by 2015 and puts it on a declining path after that.

Budgets are about choices and values. House Republicans have chosen to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest rather than create opportunities for middle class families to get ahead. The President believes that is the wrong approach and that we should instead be making smart investments necessary to create jobs, grow our economy, and expand opportunity, while still cutting the deficit in a balanced way and securing our nation’s future.


A State-by-State Breakdown of the Damage That Would Be Caused by the House Republican Budget

Amy Brundage April 09, 2014 05:13 PM EDT

House Republicans this week are voting on a budget that protects tax breaks for the wealthiest rather than create opportunities for middle-class families to get ahead. It is the same old top-down approach and would raise taxes on middle-class families with children by an average of at least $2,000 in order to cut taxes for households with incomes over $1 million.

As in previous years, the House Republican Budget proposes deep funding reductions that would result in severe cuts to critical areas that are needed to support job creation, economic growth, a strong middle class, and assistance for lower income individuals, especially when compared to the overall level of investment in the President’s budget. Since House Republicans aren’t willing to identify specifically what they actually want to cut, one way to assess the potential damaging impact is to look at what would happen to key programs if the cuts compared to the President’s budget were applied evenly across the board.

The results show the potential extent of the damage across the country. Within a few years:

  • In Florida, 290,000 seniors benefited from the closure of the Medicare Part D prescription drug donut hole in 2013 alone and at least that many likely would have to pay more for their needed medications in future years.
  • In California, more than 50,000 fewer students would receive Pell Grants to help them pay for college.
  • In Ohio, the proposed Medicaid block grant would cut federal Medicaid funding for the state by more than $30 billion over the next decade, likely resulting in more uninsured individuals and less care for those still covered.
  • In Texas, 12,000 fewer children would receive Head Start services.
  • In Pennsylvania, more than 100,000 people would lose job search assistance.
  • In Missouri, 1,700 fewer victims of domestic violence would be served through the STOP Violence Against Women Program.

A full list of state-by-state impacts can be found here.



President Obama’s 2015 Budget Proposal


Committed to Passing Bipartisan Immigration Reform


President Obama understands the importance and urgency in fixing the broken immigration system and outlined his vision for a 21st century immigration policy:

  • Responsibility by the federal government to secure our borders:Today, our borders are more secure than at any time in the past several decades, and the Administration continues to refine and strengthen its strategy. Enforcement resources should be focused on preventing those who would do our nation harm from entering our country.
  • Accountability for businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers: Employers who deliberately hire and exploit undocumented workers must be held accountable. At the same time, we must give employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.
  • Strengthening our economic competiveness by creating a legal immigration system that reflects our values and diverse needs: Our immigration laws should continue to reunify families and encourage individuals we train in our world-class institutions to stay and develop new technologies and industries in the United States rather than abroad. The law should stop punishing innocent young people whose parents brought them here illegally and give those young men and women a chance to stay in this country if they serve in the military or pursue higher education. A smart 21st century system should also provide farmers a legal way to hire the workers they rely on year after year, and it should improve procedures for employers who seek to hire foreign workers for jobs if U.S. workers are not available.
  • Responsibility from people who are living in the United States illegally: Those people living here illegally must also be held accountable for their actions and get on the right side of the law by registering and undergoing national security and criminal background checks, paying taxes and a penalty, and learning English before they can get in line to become eligible for citizenship. Being a citizen of this country comes not only with rights but also with fundamental responsibilities. We can create a pathway for legal status that is fair and reflects our values.


For the immediate time President Obama has issued two important policies for immigration:

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
President Obama’s new DREAM relief policy [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA] would allow undocumented youth who qualify to request temporary relief from deportation, making them eligible to receive work permits and a social security number. For more:

Family Unity Immigration Policy Change
President Obama’s  final rule in the Federal Register that reduces the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents), who are in the process of obtaining visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States under certain circumstances. The process will be effective on March 4, 2013 and more information about the filing process will be made available in the coming weeks at


January 25, 2013

Readout of the President’s Meeting with Congressional Hispanic Caucus Leadership

The President and Senior Administration Officials met this morning with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss the need to make things fairer for and grow the middle class by fixing our broken immigration system so everyone plays by the same rules. The President thanked the Members for their long standing leadership on the issue, and reiterated that this is a top legislative priority.

The President was pleased to hear from CHC members and noted that they share the same vision, including that any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship. The President further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay. The President made it clear he will continue to lead on this issue, and that he looks forward to working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other key Members of Congress in a bipartisan process to move this debate forward at the earliest possible opportunity.


Readout of [Homeland Security] Secretary Johnson’s Meeting with Organizations Committed to Passing Bipartisan Immigration Reform

March 25, 2014

WASHINGTON—Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson met with important stakeholders from across the country to discuss the need for commonsense immigration reform, and hear firsthand their comments and perspective on a wide range of immigration issues. The meeting was part of Secretary Johnson’s focus on the effective and sensible enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws, including the ongoing review to assess how the Department of Homeland Security can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law.

As part of that effort, Secretary Johnson has been taking a hard look at these tough issues, meeting with a range of stakeholders and employees, and assessing where we can further align our enforcement policies with our goal of sound law enforcement practice that prioritizes public safety.

During the meeting, Secretary Johnson underscored his focus on supporting the passage of commonsense immigration reform this year – which remains the only path to fixing our broken immigration system.

Participants in today’s meeting included:

Josh Bernstein, Director of Immigration Policy and Strategy, Service Employees International Union
Greg Chen, Director of Advocacy, American Immigration Lawyers Association
Ron Coleman, Government Affairs Manager, California Immigrant Policy Center
Joanne Lin, Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
Brian Erickson, Policy Advocate, ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights
Jose Manuel Escobedo, Deputy Director for Policy, Border Network for Human Rights
Kamal Essaheb, Immigration Policy Attorney, National Immigration Law Center
Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy, Center for American Progress
Matthew Ginsburg, Associate General Counsel, AFL-CIO
Melissa Crow, Director of the Legal Action Center, American Immigration Council
Giev Kashkooli, Political/Legislative Director, United Farm Workers
Richard Morales, Detention Prevention Coordinator, PICO National Network
Royce Bernstein Murray, Director of Policy, National Immigrant Justice Center
Jumana Musa, Consultant, CAMBIO
Brittney Nystrom, Director for Advocacy, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
JJ Rosenbaum, Legal and Policy Director, New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice and National   Guestworker Alliance
Linda Sarsour, National Network for Arab American Communities
Paromita Shah, Associate Director, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Silky Shah, Interim Executive Director/Communications Director, Detention Watch Network
Tania Unzueta Carrasco, Immigration Strategist, National Day Laborer Organizing Network


March 26, 2014

Statement by the President on Immigration Reform

Last year, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense bill to fix our broken immigration system – a bill that would grow our economy, shrink our deficits, and reward businesses and workers that play by the rules. But so far, Republicans in the House have refused to allow meaningful immigration reform legislation to even come up for a vote.

That’s why, today, I applaud the efforts of Democrats in the House to give immigration reform the yes-or-no vote it deserves. Like the Senate bill, the House bill would strengthen our borders, modernize our legal immigration system, and keep more families together. It would make sure everyone plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are living in the shadows. And according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it would grow our economy and reduce our deficits by $900 billion over the next 20 years.

Immigration reform is the right thing to do for our economy, our security, and our future. A vast majority of the American people agree. The only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country. And I want to thank the leaders in Congress who are doing their part to move us forward.


Pres Obama’s European Travel: NS Summit, EU-US Summit & NATO


2014 Nuclear Security Summit The Netherlands, the organising country, will focus on the following achievable and visible goals:

  1. Optimal security for and, if at all possible, a reduction in the use of highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
  2. Ratification of the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material by more countries to ensure that the amendment enters into force as soon as possible.
  3. More frequent reviews of state security structures by IAEA advisory missions.
  4. National registration and protection of highly radioactive sources (e.g. medical equipment).
  5. Greater role for industry in nuclear security, to enhance the security culture and existing regulations.States should provide information to their own people and the international community to demonstrate that they are taking appropriate measures to maintain the security of their nuclear material and facilities.
  6. These confidence-building measures will increase trust in the international protection system.

For more:

NSS  2014 2014 Nuclear Security Summit

2014 NSS Family Photo

2014 Nuclear Security Summit
24-25 March 2014
World Forum Convention Center The Hague, Netherlands


.2014 EU-US Summit

President Obama’s European Travel Itinerary

March 24, Monday

President Obama arrives in the Hague, Netherlands

President Obama meets with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte
Amsterdam, Netherlands

President Obama tours the Rijksmuseum with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

President Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Rutte hold a bilateral meeting
U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Rutte deliver remarks
U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a bilateral meeting
U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends opening Nuclear Security Summit sessions
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends first plenary Nuclear Security Summit sessions
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends Nuclear Security Summit scenario-based policy seasons
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends a G-7 meeting
Dutch Prime Minister Rutte’s residence, Catshuis, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama meets with Dutch King Willem-Alexander
Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

President Obama participates in a family photo
Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

President Obama and Dutch King Willem-Alexander hold a working dinner
Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

March 25, Tuesday

President Obama meets with Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev
U.S. Ambassador’s residence, The Netherlands

President Obama holds a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends plenary Nuclear Security Summit sessions
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama attends additional Nuclear Security Summit sessions
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama speaks at the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit 
World Forum Convention Center , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan hold a bilateral meeting
United States Ambassador’s residence, The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe hold a trilateral meeting
United States Ambassador’s residence , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama meets with U.S. Embassy members
United States Ambassador’s residence , The Hague, Netherlands

President Obama travels to Brussels, Belgium

March 26, Wednesday

President Obama meets with Belgian King King Philippe and Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo
Flanders Fields Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama attends a wreath laying
Flanders Fields Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama tours battlefield
Flanders Fields Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium

President delivers remarks
Flanders Fields Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama attends the US-EU Summit
Council of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama meets with European Commission Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy – US-EU Summit
Council of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama attends a US-EU Summit working lunch
Council of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama, European Commission Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy hold a press conference – EU-US Summit
Council of the European Union, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama meets with employees and family members of the U.S. Tri-Mission to Belgium
The Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
The Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama in Address to European Youth
The Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR) aka Paleis voor Schone Kunsten (PSK) The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium

President Obama departs for Rome

March 27, Thursday

President Obama meets with His Holiness Pope Francis
The Holy See Vatican City, Italy

President Obama meets with Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin
The Holy See, Vatican City, Italy

President Obama participates in a restricted bilateral meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy
Quirinal Palace, Rome, Italy

President Obama participates in a extended bilateral meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy

President Obama and Italian President Napolitano hold a working lunch
Quirinal Palace, Rome, Italy

President Obama and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy participates in a bilateral meeting
Villa Madama, Rome, Italy

President Obama and Italian Prime Minister Renzi hold a press conference
Villa Madama, Rome, Italy

President Obama tours the Colossum
Rome, Italy

President Obama meets with members of The Holy See,The Holy See, and the UN Agencies in Rome
U.S. Ambassador’s residence, Rome, Italy

March 28, Friday

President Obama and His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of His Majesty hold a bilateral meeting
Rawdat Khuraim,  Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

President Obama spends the night
Ritz Carlton, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

March 29, Saturday

President Obama Presents to Dr. Maha Al Muneef the State Department’s 2014 Women of Courage Award
Ritz Carlton, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

President Obama meets and greets with Embassy personnel
Ritz Carlton, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

President Obama departs Saudi Arabia for the White House


Overtime Pay Compensation Executive Order


The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (abbreviated as FLSA; also referred to as the Wages and Hours Bill) is a federal statute of the United States. The FLSA established a national minimum wage, guaranteed ‘time-and-a-half‘ for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in “oppressive child labor,” a term that is defined in the statute. It applies to employees engaged in interstate commerce or employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, unless the employer can claim an exemption from coverage.

On Saturday, June 25, 1938, to avoid pocket vetoes 9 days after Congress had  adjourned, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat,  signed 121 bills. Among these bills  was a landmark law in the Nation’s social and economic development —  Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). Against a history of judicial opposition,  the depression-born FLSA had survived, not unscathed, more than a year of  Congressional altercation. In its final form, the act applied to industries whose  combined employment represented only about one-fifth of the labor force. In these  industries, it banned oppressive child labor and set the minimum hourly wage at  25 cents, and the maximum workweek at 44 hours.


Overtime Pay Said to Reach More Workers Under Obama Order

3/12/14 By Angela Greiling Keane – bloomberg

Some U.S. workers who are deemed ineligible for overtime compensation under what’s known as the “white-collar exemption” would be able to collect extra pay under an executive order President Barack Obama plans to issue tomorrow, according to a White House official.

The order will direct the Labor Department to modify overtime rules so millions more people will be eligible for overtime pay for working more than 40 hours a week, said the White House official, who requested anonymity because the plan hasn’t been announced.

Workers now classified as executive, administrative or professional may include managers of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores who could receive overtime pay under the new rules, the official said.

President George W. Bush in 2004 set $455 per week as the threshold for what constitutes a white-collar worker for overtime pay purposes. The White House official didn’t say what the new threshold would be.

The move would mark the latest in a series of executive orders this year from Obama, who said in his State of the Union address in January that he plans to use that power to make changes rather than waiting for Congress to act. Obama is also trying to boost pay for lower-wage workers by increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. That change would require the approval of Congress.

The push for a higher federal minimum wage has become a centerpiece of Obama’s attempt to frame Democratic Party priorities before the November midterm elections that will decide control of the U.S. House and Senate.

Minimum Wage
Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, and business groups say that raising the minimum wage would lead to a reduction in jobs, hurting those it aims to help. A Congressional Budget Office report last month found that raising the rate in three steps as Obama proposes would reduce U.S. jobs by 500,000, or 0.3 percent, while lifting 900,000 people out of poverty.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans, including 45 percent of Republicans, support the president’s call to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years, according to a Bloomberg National Poll. Twenty-eight percent of poll respondents oppose such action.

While the wage-increase proposal resonates with most Americans, the poll indicates that Republicans are finding persuasive counter-arguments, including the potential loss of jobs.

2014 SOTU - Raise the minimum wage

Raising the Minimum Wage to $10.10. As he said in his State of the Union speech on January 28th, President Obama will continue to call on Congress to pass the Harkin-Miller plan to raise the Federal minimum wage for working Americans in stages to $10.10 and index it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years. The President knows this is important for workers and good for business.


US Office of Personnel Management app for Federal jobs  USAJOBS

US Dept of Education Federal Student Aid app StudentAid


Helping Middle Class Families Afford College



America is home to the best colleges and universities in the world — and increasing college attainment has never been more important to our economic competitiveness — yet tuition and fees have skyrocketed over the past decade, making it more difficult for American families to invest in a higher education for their future. Today’s college students borrow and rack up more debt than ever before. In 2010, graduates who took out loans left college owing an average of more than $26,000. Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever.

Our nation’s commitment to placing a good education within reach of all who are willing to work for it helped build a strong American middle class over the past several generations. In keeping this promise alive, President Obama has expanded federal support to help more students afford college, while calling for a shared responsibility in tackling rising college costs. President Obama’s efforts of reform in higher education funding have produced the largest investment in student aid since the G.I. Bill, while resulting in a more efficient, reliable, and effective system for students to help them afford college and manage debt:

Doubling Investments in Pell Grants
The President has raised the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,635 for the 2013-14 award year — a $905 increase since 2008. Under the President’s leadership, the number of Pell Grant recipients has expanded by 50 percent over that same time, providing college access to millions of additional low-income and middle-class students across the country. The Obama Administration’s landmark investment in the Pell Grant was enacted in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which ended student loan subsidies for private financial institutions and banks and shifted over $60 billion in savings back to students.
Helping Students Manage Student Loan Debt
The Administration’s “Pay as You Earn” plan expands income-based repayment to enable 1.6 million students to take advantage of a new option to cap repayment of student loans at 10 percent of monthly income — an option that student borrowers can begin to use at the end of this year. These changes will reduce the burden of student loans in a fiscally responsible way. Additionally, millions of borrowers are now eligible to consolidate Direct Loans and FFEL Loans and save up to half a percentage point on their interest rate.For more information: Everything you need to know about income-based repayment
Expanding Education Tax Credits
President Obama established the American Opportunity Tax Credit in 2009 to assist families with the costs of college, providing up to $10,000 for four years of college tuition for families earning up to $180,000. Over 9.4 million students and families benefit from the American Opportunity Tax Credit each year.

Keeping Student Loan Interest Rates Low
In his 2012 State of the Union address, the President called on Congress to keep interest rates low for the 7.4 million borrowers who take out subsidized Federal student loans for this school year. With President Obama’s leadership, rates on new subsidized Stafford loans remained at 3.4 percent — instead of doubling to 6.8 percent — this past summer. This bold action saved students an average of $1,000 on the life of their loans, and President Obama has committed to keeping interest rates low for student loans moving forward.

In August, President Obama signed a bill that takes an important step in fulfilling our nation’s obligations to students. The bipartisan legislation cuts rates on all new loans this year and save a typical undergraduate student $1,500 over the life of those loans. Learn more: Fact Sheet on Bipartisan Student Loan Deal

For more:


US Department of Education – Federal Student Aid


FACT SHEET: The President and First Lady’s Call to Action on College Opportunity

January 16, 2014

To view the White House report on Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students, click HERE. To view the list of Commitments to Action on College Opportunity, click HERE.

The President believes he has a job to do, and every day he is fighting to create more opportunities for working and middle class Americans. And while he will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to move our country forward, the President is committed to partnering with colleges and universities, business leaders, nonprofits and others to do everything he can to support more college opportunities for students across the country.

Today, in response to the President’s call to action, the President and First Lady are joining with leaders in higher education to announce over 100 new commitments to expand college opportunity. To help more students afford and graduate from college with the skills they need, the Administration has already taken action including doubling Federal investments in Pell Grants and college tax credits and reforming student loans. Last August, the President laid out an ambitious new agenda aimed at improving college value, removing barriers to innovation and competition, and ensuring that student debt remains affordable. As the Administration continues to push for changes that keep college affordable for all students and families, we can and must do more to get more low-income students prepared for college, enrolled in quality institutions, and graduating if we are to achieve our North Star goal of leading the world in the share of college graduates by 2020. Together, the President, the First Lady and these leaders in higher education are taking another step to help ensure that every child, rich or poor, has the opportunity for a quality college education so they can get ahead.

Over 100 New Commitments to Expand College Opportunity: The participants in today’s event were asked not simply to attend an event – but to commit to new action in one of the following areas crucial to college opportunity:

* Connecting more low-income students to the college that is right for them and ensuring more graduate

* Increasing the pool of students preparing for college through early interventions

* Leveling the playing field in college advising and SAT/ACT test preparation

* Strengthening remediation to help academically underprepared students progress through and complete college

Today, over 100 colleges and universities and 40 organizations are announcing new commitments to action to build on their existing efforts in this area. Together, these actions will serve hundreds of thousands of students across the country.

For more:


Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013


Raise the Wage

Joined By Business Leaders and Workers, Rep. Miller, Sen. Harkin Unveil Bill to Raise the Minimum Wage to $10.10
Mar 5, 2013 Issues: Labor and Jobs, Federal Budget and the Economy
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Joined by business leaders and workers, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced the introduction of legislation, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, to raise the federal minimum wage. Miller and Harkin’s proposal would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from its current $7.25—in three steps of 95 cents—then provide for automatic annual increases linked to changes in the cost of living. Miller and Harkin’s bill would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers—which currently stands at just $2.13 an hour—for the first time in more than 20 years, to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.
“Millions of Americans clean our offices, wait on customers in restaurants and stores, and provide care for our children, parents, or grandparents.  Yet, despite all they do to keep our economy running, minimum wage workers earn just $7.25 an hour – not enough to pay the bills, much less aspire to the American Dream,” Harkin said. “Building the middle class in this country means building opportunity for workers earning at or near the minimum wage, who are falling further and further behind each day. They are working hard and playing by the rules, and they deserve a chance to build a better life for their families.  That’s why this legislation is so important.
“Raising the minimum wage is also about growing our economy.  With an increase in the minimum wage, workers will have more money to spend. This is just basic economics: increased demand means increased economic activity,” Harkin continued. “They will spend their money in their communities, giving a boost to Main Street and generating new jobs.”
“Income inequality is one of the greatest threats to America’s long-term economic vitality, yet we are widening that inequality with wages that subject people to live in poverty. Even during a so-called ‘golden age of corporate profits,’ millions of working families are falling behind because their paychecks aren’t keeping up. That’s immoral and that’s undermining our economy,” Miller said. “Raising the minimum wage is especially critical for working women who make up a disproportionate share of minimum wage workers today. As we mark Women’s History Month, we should ensure that working women and families don’t fall into poverty even though they work for a living. It’s time for them to get a raise. It’s time to grow our economy from the bottom up. It’s time for $10.10.”
The unveiling of the bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, comes three weeks after President Obama highlighted increasing the minimum wage in his State of the Union address. At a news conference in Washington today, Harkin and Miller were joined by Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce;Andy Shallal, owner of several Washington-area restaurants; Amie Crawford, a Chicago fast-food worker; andGregory Reynoso, a New York pizza delivery driver, to discuss why raising the minimum wage is good for both the economy and for working families.
“Raising the minimum wage puts dollars in the pockets of people who are by necessity most likely to spend them immediately at the grocery store, the childcare provider, the auto-repair shop and other local businesses. Raising the minimum wage boosts the economy from the bottom up, which is exactly what we need to repower our economy and create lasting jobs,” said Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. “Many of the members of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce were once employees themselves. They know that the typical low-wage worker is an adult woman, and they know that raising the minimum wage helps women workers and business owners succeed. 17 million women will get a raise under the Harkin-Miller proposal.”
“For restaurants and other businesses to be sustainable and successful, we cannot just talk about the food we serve, but rather about how we treat and compensate the very people who are cooking our meals, serving our meals, and washing our dishes,” said Andy Shallal, owner of several Washington-area restaurants. “Our minimum wage at Busboys and Poets and Eatonville is $10.25 per hour and has been such for over a year. We hire tipped as well as non-tipped employees. If tipped employees don’t earn $10.25 after tips, we make up the difference. My restaurants are growing and thriving, and fair pay is fundamental to our success.”
Fast Facts on the Minimum Wage
  • The minimum wage has lost more than 30 percent of its buying power since its peak in 1968.  If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be worth approximately $10.56 per hour today.
  • More than 30 million American workers will get a raise under Sen. Harkin and Rep. Miller’s bill.  More than half—17 million—of them are women. The vast majority (88 percent) are adult workers.  Eighteen million children (23 percent of American children) have parents who will get a raise.
  • The minimum wage today pays only $15,000 per year, which is $3,000 below the poverty level for a family of three.  The Fair Minimum Wage Act will boost the minimum wage to $21,000, lifting families above the poverty line.
  • Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour will increase GDP by nearly $33 billion over the course of three years as workers spend their raises in their local businesses and communities.  This economic activity will generate 140,000 new jobs over the course of three years.

Highest Minimum-Wage State Washington Beats U.S. in Job Creation

Mar 4, 2014 9:00 PM PT By Victoria Stilwell, Peter Robison and William Selway – bloomberg

When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state’s minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. The prediction hasn’t been borne out.

In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 — the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued at an average 0.8 percent annual pace, 0.3 percentage point above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.

The debate is replaying on a national scale as Democrats led by President Barack Obama push for an increase in the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum, while opponents argue a raise would hurt those it’s intended to help by axing jobs for the lowest-skilled. Even if that proves true, Washington’s example shows that any such effects aren’t big enough to throw its economy and labor market off the tracks.

2014 SOTU - Raise the minimum wage

Raising the Minimum Wage to $10.10. As he said in his State of the Union speech on January 28th, President Obama will continue to call on Congress to pass the Harkin-Miller plan to raise the Federal minimum wage for working Americans in stages to $10.10 and index it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years. The President knows this is important for workers and good for business.

Contact your legislator Contact your Congress person to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013!!

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Opportunity for All: Ready to Work

President Obama signs exec action for long-term unemployed

President Obama signs exec action for long-term unemployed

The State of the Union Fact Sheet: Opportunity for All

The State of the Union Fact Sheet: Opportunity for All can be found HERE and below.

MIDDLE CLASS SECURITY & OPPORTUNITY AT WORK – Making Progress Through Executive Action

* Raising the Minimum Wage to $10.10 for Those Working on New Federal Contracts. The President will issue an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for the individuals working on new federal service contracts.

* Creating “myRA” – A New Starter Savings Account to Help Millions Save for Retirement. The President is using his executive authority to create “myRA” (my Retirement Account) – a new simple, safe and affordable “starter” retirement savings account that will be available through employers and help millions of Americans save for retirement.

* Building a 21st Century Workplace for America’s Working Families.
In spring of 2014, the White House, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Center for American Progress (CAP), will host a Summit on Working Families to set an agenda for a 21st century workplace to ensure America’s global economic competitiveness in the coming decades.

“Made In Rural America” Export and Investment Initiative.
President Obama directed his Administration, working through the White House Rural Council, to lead a new “Made in Rural Americaexport and investment initiative. This initiative is charged with bringing together federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad.

* Aggressive Reform and Expansion of SelectUSA to Create the First-Ever Federal Effort to Bring Jobs from Around the World to the U.S. The President has made bringing investment back to the U.S. a core priority of the federal government. He is using his executive authority to create the first ever whole-of-government effort to attract investment through expansion and enhancement of SelectUSA.

* Launching Four New Manufacturing Innovation Institutes in 2014. Launching Four New Manufacturing Innovation Institutes in 2014. To support investment in our manufacturers’ competitiveness and accelerate innovation in manufacturing, the President will use his executive authority to launch four new manufacturing innovation institutes this year, a co-investment by the private sector and Federal agencies, led by the Departments of Defense and Energy.

Wide Bandgap Semiconductors, Raleigh, NC
Focus: Electronic optoelectronic and power devices

Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, Chicago, IL
Focus: Manufacturing and software companies to develop interoperable software and hardware for supply chains and to reduce manufacturing costs.

One Institute, Detroit, MI
Focus: Lightweight and modern metals manufacturing and design technologies

National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, Youngstown, OH
Focus: Developing and commercializing manufacturing technologies through public-private partnerships between U.S. industry, universities, and federal government agencies

Government-wide Review of Federal Training Programs to Help Americans Get Skills in Demand for Good Jobs. In the coming days, the President will announce the details of a plan to conduct a program-by-program review of federal training programs to be more focused on the skills needed in high-demand sectors.

Partnering With CEOs to Put the Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work. The President is asking every business leader in America to help the long-term unemployed get into jobs because we are stronger when America fields a team at full strength.

* Cutting Red Tape for Infrastructure Investment. In order to accelerate economic growth, the President is taking action to improve the efficiency of the Federal permitting process, cutting through red tape and getting more timely decisions on Federal permits and reviews, while ensuring that projects that are approved lead to better outcomes for our communities and the environment that would lead to new jobs.

* Increasing Fuel Efficiency for Trucks and Saving Families Money. The President will propose new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty trucks to run on natural gas or other alternative fuels and the infrastructure needed to run them.

* Partnering with States, Cities and Tribes to Move to Energy Efficiency and Cleaner Power. As part of the Climate Action Plan, the President directed his Administration to work with States to develop clean energy and energy efficiency policies that would lead to new jobs.

* Promoting Safe and Responsible Production of Natural Gas. Natural gas is helping to reduce carbon pollution, and the Administration is taking steps to make production safer that would lead to new jobs.

* Aggressive Reform and Expansion of SelectUSA to Create the First-Ever Federal Effort to Bring Jobs from Around the World to the U.S. The President has made bringing investment back to the U.S. a core priority of the federal government. He is using his executive authority to create the first ever whole-of-government effort to attract investment through expansion and enhancement of SelectUSA.

Continuing to Work With Congress

Continuing to Work With Congress

* Extending Emergency Unemployment Insurance for Americans Looking for Work.
The President urges members of both parties to come together right now to at a minimum pass a bipartisan three-month extension under consideration in the Senate.

* Raising the Minimum Wage to $10.10. The President will continue to call on Congress to pass the Harkin-Miller plan to raise the Federal minimum wage for working Americans in stages to $10.10 and index it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years.

* Rewarding Hard Work by Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). President Obama’s Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit expansions benefit 15 million families each year, providing an average tax cut of about $800. The President is now calling on Congress to pass a significant increase in the EITC for workers without children, including non-custodial parents.

* Removing Retirement Tax Breaks for the Wealthiest While Improving Them for the Middle Class. The President’s budget will propose to establish automatic enrollment in IRAs (or “auto-IRAs”) for employees without access to a workplace savings plan, in keeping with a plan that he has proposed in every budget since he took office. And, the President wants to work with Congress to make sure that when we take steps to reform our tax code that we also reform upside-down retirement tax incentives.

* Supporting Workplace Fairness for Women. The President reiterated his call for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to fight pay discrimination.

* Workplace Equality for LGBT Workers. Today, federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion, and disability. It’s time to add sexual orientation and gender identity to that list, so that no American worker can lose his or her job simply because of who they are or who they love. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would provide strong federal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers. Last year, a bipartisan majority of the Senate passed ENDA, and the President renews his call for the House to do the same.

* Continuing to Call for a Grand Bargain on Jobs to Pay for Investments in Infrastructure by Reforming Business Taxes and Closing Loopholes that Help Companies Ship Jobs Overseas. As the President first proposed in Chattanooga in July 2013, he stands ready to work with Congress on a grand bargain for middle-class jobs that pairs comprehensive reform to simplify our business tax code with investments to rebuild America’s infrastructure that create more good construction jobs that our economy needs right now.

* Transforming Communities Across the Country into Global Centers of Advanced Manufacturing through a National Network of Manufacturing Institutes. The President is continuing to call on Congress to create up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes over 10 years, tripling that number from the 15 institutes originally proposed in his 2012 and 2013 State of the Union addresses.

* Supporting and Scaling Innovative Partnerships Between Community Colleges and Other Public and Non-Profit Entities to Reorient Training Efforts to be Job-Driven. The President wants to work with Congress to increase funding to allow more workers of all ages to access training programs that will provide the skills that lead to good jobs and careers, and are more accountable for results.

* Leveling the Playing Field and Opening New Markets for American-Made Products. The President wants to work with Congress to update its guidance and role in trade and pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation with the support of a broad coalition of both parties in Congress.

* Fully Funding SelectUSA to Increase by Five-Fold the Number of People Who Wake Up Every Day With the Sole Focus of Bringing Jobs Home. The President will work with Congress to fully fund the SelectUSA initiative so that we can increase by a factor of five the number of dedicated personnel that wake up every day entirely focused on bringing jobs to the U.S. The initiative will make sure that we have experts overseas and put in place the investment specialists we need in headquarters to handle the increase in cases already seen from the influx of demand for SelectUSA.

* Protecting American Innovation from Patent Trolls. The President renews his call for Congress to pass patent legislation, which enjoys strong bipartisan support. In the coming weeks, he will announce progress on Administration initiatives on patent reform to simplify and strengthen our patent system for a 21st century economy — helping companies focus on innovation, not litigation.

* Supporting America’s Job Creators through a Small Business and Entrepreneurship Agenda. The President wants to work with Congress on a small business package that will broaden capital access, cut and simplify taxes for small businesses, and invest in intensive entrepreneurship education.


A Down Payment on Expanding Opportunity for America’s Long-Term Unemployed

Secretary Tom Perez, Gene Sperling February 21, 2014

As part of his plan to build an economy where everybody who is willing to work hard and take responsibility can get ahead, President Obama is focused on doing everything we can to create new jobs here in America – while also connecting more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.

That’s why this week the administration announced the availability of applications for $150 million in “Ready to Work Partnership” grants designed to help those facing long-term unemployment upgrade their skills and build bridges to jobs in growing areas like information technology and advanced manufacturing. These competitive grants will support partnerships between employers, nonprofit organizations and America’s public workforce system that not only continue building the pipeline of skilled workers, but do so by helping the long-term unemployed overcome some of the barriers they face in finding jobs.

For more:

USDA StrikeForce

Secretary Vilsack Expands StrikeForce Initiative to Address Rural Poverty in Four Additional States

Targeted efforts now operational in persistent poverty areas in 20 states, including Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia

PINEVILLE, Kentucky, January 17, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers today to announce the expansion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s StrikeForce Initiative into four additional states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia.

“The StrikeForce strategy of partnering public resources with local expertise is helping to grow rural economies and create jobs in persistent poverty communities,” said Vilsack. “This is a strategy that is working in rural America and I am pleased that we continue to build on these efforts to bring assistance to areas that need it the most.”

Vilsack also noted that the StrikeForce strategy is having concrete results in communities across the country.

Since 2010, through StrikeForce, USDA has partnered with over 400 community organizations, businesses, foundations, universities and other groups to support 80,300 projects and ushered more than $9.7 billion in investments into rural America, including:

* The Farm Service Agency saw a 14 percent increase in the total direct farm loan applications received in StrikeForce areas since the beginning of the initiative.

* In fiscal year (FY) 2013, the Farm Service Agency provided nearly $9.3 million to fund microloans in StrikeForce areas. Approximately 84 percent of the loans were provided to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers.

* Last year, the number of landowners applying for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs in StrikeForce areas increased by 82 percent over the previous year.

* In FY 2013, the Rural Housing Community Facilities Program obligated a total of $68 million to fund hospitals, libraries and other projects in StrikeForce areas—a 4.5 percent increase over 2012.

* Between 2012 and 2013, the Food and Nutrition Service doubled the redemption of SNAP benefits at farmers markets from $2 million to over $4 million in StrikeForce states—a more than 100 percent increase.

* In 2012, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service increased the number of children in StrikeForce states receiving free or reduced price school breakfasts by 7.4 percent.

“Through StrikeForce, we are able to reach people in new ways and bring resources to them directly,” said Vilsack. “We are learning better ways to help communities leverage their assets and bring opportunity to their residents.”

Today’s expansion brings StrikeForce attention to more than 700 rural counties, parishes, boroughs, tribal reservations, and Colonias in 20 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

USDA identifies census tracts with over 20 percent poverty (according to American Community Survey data) to identify sub-county pockets of poverty. As areas of persistent poverty are identified, USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of USDA programs and help build program participation through intensive community outreach.

StrikeForce is part of the Administration’s commitment to addressing persistent poverty across America. Last week, President Obama announced the first five of twenty Promise Zones, including one in southeastern Kentucky, that target federal resources to cities, rural areas and Tribal communities suffering the worst poverty.

Visit to learn more.


North American Leaders’ Summit 2014



Canada's Prime Minister Harper, President Obama and Mexico's President Pena Nieto hold a press conference

Canada’s Prime Minister Harper, President Obama and Mexico’s President Pena Nieto hold a press conference

On February 19. 2014, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto will host President Obama and  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the 2014 North American Leader’s Summit (NALS) to be held in Toluca, Mexico.

This meeting  built on wide-ranging and ongoing cooperation among the United States, Canada, and Mexico with a particular focus on economic competitiveness, energy and the environment, and defence and security cooperation. They will also have the opportunity to exchange views on a number of important regional and global security issues.

Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have a successful history of cooperation on environmental issues. This cooperation includes efforts to safeguard North America’s natural resources and ecosystems, as well as efforts to address the global challenges posed by climate change.

The United States, Canada and Mexico celebrate the 20th anniversary of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Other successful cooperative agreements like the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) , the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) safeguard the natural resources of North America.

U.S.-Canada Trade

U.S.-Mexico Trade


North American Leaders’ Summit 2014
February 19, 2014
Toluca, Mexico


President Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Harper and Mexico’s President Pena Nieto hold a bilateral meeting
Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Mexico, Toluca, Mexico

President Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Harper and Mexico’s President Pena Nieto hold a working lunch
Cosmovitral, Botanical Gardens, Toluca, Mexico

President Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Harper and Mexico’s President Peña Nieto meet with North American Business, Civil Society and Education Leaders
Salon del Pueblo, Palacio de Gobierno, Toluca, Mexico

President Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Harper and Mexico’s President Pena Nieto participates in the Trilateral North American Leaders Summit Meeting
Courtyard, Palacio de Justicia, Toluca, Mexico

President Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Harper and Mexico’s President Pena Nieto hold trilateral meetings
Courtyard, Palacio de Justicia, Toluca, Mexico

President Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Harper and Mexico’s President Pena Nieto hold a press conference
Patio Cental, Palacio de Gobierno, Toluca, Mexico



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