International Workers’ Day 2014

International Workers’ Day is a celebration of the international labour movement that occurs on May Day, May 1, a traditional Spring holiday in much of Europe. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries, and celebrated unofficially in many other countries. In some countries the public holiday is officially Labor Day while in others the public holiday marks the traditional Spring festival known as May Day.

In 2006, May 1 was chosen by mostly Latino immigrant groups in the United States as the day for the Great American Boycott, a general strike of undocumented immigrant workers and supporters to protest H.R. 4437, immigration reform legislation which they felt was draconian. From April 10 to May 1 of that year, millions of immigrant families in the U.S. called for immigrant rights, workers rights and amnesty for undocumented workers. They were joined by socialist and other leftist organizations on May 1. On May 1, 2007, a mostly peaceful demonstration in Los Angeles in support of undocumented immigrant workers ended with a widely televised dispersal by police officers. In March 2008, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced that dockworkers will move no cargo at any West Coast ports on May 1, 2008, as a protest against the continuation of the Iraq War and the diversion of resources from domestic needs. For May Day 2010, marches were being planned in many cities uniting immigrant and native workers including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Albany, Chicago and Los Angeles most of whom protested against the Arizona Senate Bill 1070.

On May 1, 2012, tens of thousands marched in the streets of New York and around the US to commemorate May Day as the worker’s holiday and to protest the dismal state of the economy, the growing divide between the rich and the poor and the status quo of economic inequality. Members of Occupy Wall Street and labor unions held protests together in a number of cities in the United States and Canada on May 1, 2012 to commemorate May Day.




Five Things You Should Know
1. Businesses have created more than 8.5 million private sector jobs in the past 47 months. Learn more …
2. After nearly collapsing, the U.S. auto industry has added nearly 250,000 jobs — the fastest pace of job growth in more than a decade. Learn more …
3. American manufacturers have added more than 500,000 jobs since January 2012, the strongest period of job growth since 1989. President Obama wants to boost that trend. Learn more …
4. Since 2009, the Small Business Administration has helped distribute more than $93 billion in loans for 166,000 small businesses. Learn More …
5. President Obama’s middle-class tax cuts, first signed into law in December 2010, are providing tax relief for 160 million workers to help jumpstart the economy. For the typical family, that’s $40 extra with each pay check. Learn more …

2014 SOTU - Raise the minimum wage

2014 SOTU calls for action on increasing jobs

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.


4/30/14 The Senate GOP blocks the Minimum Wage Boost


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.

On April 11, 2013 the House GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from getting a vote.

On April 9, 2014 the Senate GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from getting a vote.


PBO Equality

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is legislation proposed in the United States Congress that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.

ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 except the 109th. Similar legislation has been introduced without passage since 1974. The bill gained its best chance at passing after the Democratic Party broke twelve years of Republican Congressional rule in the 2006 midterm elections.In 2007, gender identity protections were added to the legislation for the first time. Some sponsors believed that even with a Democratic majority, ENDA did not have enough votes to pass the House of Representatives with transgender inclusion and dropped it from the bill, which passed the House and then died in the Senate. President  George W. Bush threatened to veto the measure. LGBT advocacy organizations and the LGBT community were divided over support of the modified bill.

In 2009, following Democratic gains in the 2008 elections, and after the divisiveness of the 2007 debate, Rep. Barney Frank introduced a transgender-inclusive version of ENDA. He introduced it again in 2011, and Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced it in the Senate. President Barack Obama supports the bill’s passage.



Statement by the President on Senate Passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013

November 07, 2013

For more than two centuries, the story of our nation has been the story of more citizens realizing the rights and freedoms that are our birthright as Americans. Today, a bipartisan majority in the Senate took another important step in this journey by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would help end the injustice of our fellow Americans being denied a job or fired just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.

Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago. In particular, I thank Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Harkin, Senators Merkley and Collins for their leadership, and Senator Kirk for speaking so eloquently in support of this legislation. Now it’s up to the House of Representatives. This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities. They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.

One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do. Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it. I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law. On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans.

Contact your legislator Contact your Congress person to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act, Harkin-Miller Plan & ENDA!!!

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35 thoughts on “International Workers’ Day 2014

  1. WH

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    11:30 AM
    First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden announce a Joining Forces Impact Pledge
    Red Cross National Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

    12:00 PM
    12:15 PM
    Vice President Biden speaks at the Atlantic Council’s conference on the European Union and the transatlantic community
    Washington DC

    1:00 PM
    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press

    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    3:10 PM
    President Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage
    The East Room

    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  2. International Workers’ Day

    International Workers’ Day is a celebration of the international labour movement that occurs on May Day, May 1, a traditional Spring holiday in much of Europe. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries, and celebrated unofficially in many other countries. In some countries the public holiday is officially Labor Day while in others the public holiday marks the traditional Spring festival known as May Day.

    In 2006, May 1 was chosen by mostly Latino immigrant groups in the United States as the day for the Great American Boycott, a general strike of undocumented immigrant workers and supporters to protest H.R. 4437, immigration reform legislation which they felt was draconian. From April 10 to May 1 of that year, millions of immigrant families in the U.S. called for immigrant rights, workers rights and amnesty for undocumented workers. They were joined by socialist and other leftist organizations on May 1. On May 1, 2007, a mostly peaceful demonstration in Los Angeles in support of undocumented immigrant workers ended with a widely televised dispersal by police officers. In March 2008, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced that dockworkers will move no cargo at any West Coast ports on May 1, 2008, as a protest against the continuation of the Iraq War and the diversion of resources from domestic needs. For May Day 2010, marches were being planned in many cities uniting immigrant and native workers including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Albany, Chicago and Los Angeles most of whom protested against the Arizona Senate Bill 1070.

    On May 1, 2012, tens of thousands marched in the streets of New York and around the US to commemorate May Day as the worker’s holiday and to protest the dismal state of the economy, the growing divide between the rich and the poor and the status quo of economic inequality. Members of Occupy Wall Street and labor unions held protests together in a number of cities in the United States and Canada on May 1, 2012 to commemorate May Day.


    • Raising the Minimum 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; and Gregory 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.

    • Paycheck Fairness Act

      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.)


      On April 11, 2013 the House GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from getting a vote.

      On April 9, 2014 the Senate GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from getting a vote.


      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:

    • The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is legislation proposed in the United States Congress that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.

      ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 except the 109th. Similar legislation has been introduced without passage since 1974. The bill gained its best chance at passing after the Democratic Party broke twelve years of Republican Congressional rule in the 2006 midterm elections.In 2007, gender identity protections were added to the legislation for the first time. Some sponsors believed that even with a Democratic majority, ENDA did not have enough votes to pass the House of Representatives with transgender inclusion and dropped it from the bill, which passed the House and then died in the Senate. President George W. Bush threatened to veto the measure. LGBT advocacy organizations and the LGBT community were divided over support of the modified bill.

      In 2009, following Democratic gains in the 2008 elections, and after the divisiveness of the 2007 debate, Rep. Barney Frank introduced a transgender-inclusive version of ENDA. He introduced it again in 2011, and Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced it in the Senate. President Barack Obama supports the bill’s passage.


      • Senate advances gay rights bill

        November 04, 2013, 06:33 pm By Ramsey Cox – TheHill

        “The right to work is fundamental,” Collins said on the Senate floor. “How can we in good conscious deny that right to any LGBT individual? … It’s simply the right thing to do to pass this bill.”

        The bill, S. 815, would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Democrats and gay rights groups say ENDA is needed because not every state has approved such protections.

        The Senate voted 61-30 on Monday to begin debate on legislation that would create workplace protections for gay and transgender people in all 50 states.

        The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, and will now have to move through a series of procedural hurdles before final Senate passage, which is expected later this week.

        Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting to advance the bill: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah).

        Another GOP supporter of ENDA, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), was not present for the vote.

        The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would enforce the new workplace rules.
        The White House said President Obama “welcomes the Senate’s bipartisan first step” towards passage of the bill.

        “[Obama] thanks the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood up for America’s core values of fairness and equality,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement.

        Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) — the first openly gay U.S. senator — said the vote was about “freedom, fairness and opportunity” and said Republicans who support the bill would be remembered for their “courage.”

        ENDA, which was first proposed in 1994, passed the House in 2007 but has never passed the Senate.

        Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said a federal law is needed “to ensure all Americans, no matter where they are, will not be afraid to go to work.”

        But even if the bill passes the Senate, as expected, it appears to be going nowhere in the Republican House.

        Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday said he is opposed to ENDA because it could open businesses up to lawsuits.

        “The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

        Boehner’s office also said the Speaker believes current law already prohibits employers from firing their workers because of their sexual orientation.

        Conservative groups such as Heritage Action have urged members of Congress to block ENDA, warning it would undercut First Amendment freedoms.

        “The legislation would severely undermine civil liberties, increase government interference in the labor market, and trample on religious liberty,” Heritage Action said in a statement.

        Democrats have included language in the bill that would exempt military and religious organizations from complying with the non-discrimination measure.

        For more:

  3. Obama will keep up minimum wage push

    04/29/14 06:28 PM EDT By Justin Sink – TheHill

    President Obama will continue his push for a minimum wage increase on Wednesday even as the Democratic-led Senate is poised to vote down his proposal raising the rate to $10.10 per hour.

    The speech — the first event for the president after a week-long trip to Asia — comes as the legislation to increase the current $7.25 rate faces long odds of passage. Democrats would need both total party discipline and to win over at least five Republican lawmakers.

    That scenario appeared increasingly unlikely on Tuesday, with moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) indicating that she would not support the bill.

    “It’s obvious the votes aren’t there for $10.10,” she told the Associated Press. “It seems clear to me that politics is trumping concern for low-income workers.”

    If the Senate is unable to advance the legislation, the president seems likely to seize on GOP obstruction as the White House looks to hone in on its economic messaging ahead of the midterm elections.

    Obama has aggressively championed the minimum wage effort in recent months, traveling to Michigan and Connecticut to promote the initiative.

    “You can give America the shaft or you can give it a raise,” Obama said during the speech on the University of Michigan campus earlier this month.

    “Politically, you would think people would rush to do this,” Obama said. “Nearly 3 in 4 Americans support raising the minimum wage.”

    The president has also visited businesses, including a deli, Gap clothing store, and Costco warehouse where employers pay their workers above the minimum wage. And in January, the president announced he was signing an executive order forcing federal contractors to pay their employees at least $10.10 per hour.

    The White House hopes these efforts will give Democrats traction as they seek to draw contrast with Republican lawmakers over the economy — still the top issue reported by most voters –heading into a difficult midterm environment where his party is fighting to keep the Senate.

    In a speech at George Washington University on Monday, Vice President Biden previewed that effort with a blistering attack on the budget offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

    “The middle class has been through enough,” Biden said. “It’s time for the budget to give them a fair shot, and the Republican budget does not. I believe ours does.”

    Biden framed his speech as ” basically our first comment on the debate that will be ensuing over the next several months into the election,” an indication of the renewed focus the White House plans to place on economic issues.

  4. Allies enhance NATO air-policing duties in Baltics States, Poland, Romania

    29 Apr. 2014

    Fighter jets from Poland, the United Kingdom and Denmark take over NATO air policing duties over the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Thursday (1 May 2014) as part of enhanced collective defence measures agreed to by Allies earlier this month.

    French fighter aircraft arrived in Poland on Monday (28 April 2014) to conduct training activities and air policing duties and Canadian jets left Canada on Tuesday (29 April) for deployment to Romania for similar duties there.

    A ceremony is planned on Wednesday ( 30 April 2014) at the Siauliai airbase in Lithuania when the United States will hand over responsibility for the mission to Poland, the United Kingdom and Denmark. The three countries will officially take over the task on Thursday (1 May 2014). The United States led the mission from 1 January to 30 April 2014. Poland will lead the mission and provide four MiG-29 aircraft. They will be backed up by four British Typhoon jets. The Polish and British aircraft will operate out of Siauliai airbase in Lithuania.

    For more:

  5. American’s PrepareAthon

    America’s PrepareAthon! is an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and communities to prepare for specific hazards through drills, group discussions, and exercises.

    The first National Day of Action is scheduled for April 30, 2014 and will revolve around taking the actions to prepare for these four specific hazards:

    * Tornadoes
    * Wildfires
    * Floods
    * Hurricanes

    Campaign Goals

    The goal of this campaign is to increase the number of individuals who:

    * Understand which disasters could happen in their community
    * Know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage
    * Take action to increase their preparedness
    * Participate in community resilience planning

    What can I do?

    * Starting on March 31st, 2014 register to participate in America’s PrepareAthon! and provide details about the activities you’re planning.

    * Plan your own local community or organizational preparedness event
    * Participate in discussion forums online with like-minded community members
    * Learn the actions to take for disaster preparedness and practice them!

    Where can I find more information?

    * America’s PrepareAthon website
    * Frequently Asked Questions
    * Talking Points

    * Disaster Survivor Video

    * Other Resources

    To move people to action, the President, through Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-8), has directed all federal agencies to work with their stakeholders across the country to “coordinate a comprehensive campaign to build and sustain national preparedness, including public outreach and community-based and private-sector programs to enhance national resilience…”

  6. ADP Says Companies in U.S. Add Most Workers in Five Months

    Apr 30, 2014 5:40 AM PT By Michelle Jamrisko – bloomberg

    Companies added more workers in April than at any time in the previous five months, signaling further progress in the labor market, a private payrolls report showed.

    The 220,000 increase in employment followed a revised 209,000 gain the prior month that was stronger than initially estimated, according to figures today from the Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Research Institute. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an advance of 210,000 in April.

    The additions to headcounts indicate companies are upbeat about the outlook for demand after harsh weather took a toll on spending at the start of the year. Employment growth that boosts paychecks would help drive bigger gains in the consumer purchases that account for almost 70 percent of the economy.

    “The job market is gaining strength,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc., said in a statement. Moody’s produces the figures with ADP. “The recent pickup in job growth at mid-sized companies may signal better business confidence.”

    For more:

  7. 11:30 AM ET
    First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden announce a Joining Forces Impact Pledge
    Red Cross National Headquarters, Washington, D.C

    • April 30, 2014

      Remarks by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden at Joining Forces Impact Pledge Announcement

      Red Cross National Headquarters
      Washington, D.C.

      11:33 A.M. EDT

      DR. BIDEN: (Applause.) Thank you, Chrissandra. Wow, you are quite impressive, isn’t she? (Applause.) Thank you for your service, and keep up the good work in school. And I love the fact that you love your teachers. (Laughter.)

      Chrissandra’s story is a lot like the stories I’ve heard from other military children and families I’ve met when I visited bases all around the world — moving from school to school, making new friends, joining new sports teams, and, despite it all -– just like Chrissandra — continuing to excel in school. And I’m always impressed by their resilience and their strength.

      But no matter how resilient our military families are, they face challenges that most Americans do not have to shoulder: sending their loved ones into harm’s way, uprooting their lives and starting over again and again and again. And that is why what all of you in this room are doing is so important. You are stepping up and working together to support our service members and their families.

      When the First Lady and I started Joining Forces three years ago, we knew Americans would answer our call, but we had no idea how much they would step up. In our workplaces, our schools, and in our communities, what we have seen is inspiring. All of you in this room are a testament to that. Every one of you –- the nonprofits, the philanthropies and the foundations here today -– are doing critical work to support our troops and their families.

      One example is the National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI, which Chrissandra just talked about. There are military children in every school district in the country. They need a safe and nurturing school environment. They deserve access to the highest-quality teaching and education. As a teacher and Blue Star mom, this is particularly close to my heart.

      NMSI is improving the caliber of science, technology, engineering, and math courses at our military-serving schools. As a result of partnering with business and foundations, NMSI has been so successful that since its inception in 2010, it has expanded from just four schools in two states to 71 military-impacted high schools in 18 states today. And that’s just incredible. (Applause.) It means that thousands of military children are getting access to AP courses, challenging themselves and preparing them for college and careers. That is the power of a nurturing school and a caring teacher.

      For more:

  8. Clean Air Act wins big at the Supreme Court

    04/30/14 09:32 AM By Steve Benen – maddowblog

    Yesterday turned out to be a busy news day, but here’s hoping a Supreme Court ruling on pollution doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Adam Serwer did a nice job summarizing what the case is all about.

    States are obligated to meet certain emissions standards under the Clean Air Act, but sometimes pollution from neighboring states affects their ability to meet those standards. Those upwind states are supposed to adopt practices that prevent their pollution from affecting downwind states. That pollution can be nothing short of lethal, a brief filed in the case from the American Thoracic Society noted that “Air pollution measurably and substantially shortens lives.”

    In 2011, the EPA established a rule for how upwind states could reduce the effect of their emissions on downwind states, but several states and cities challenged the rule, arguing that the EPA’s determination for who should reduce emissions and how wasn’t exactly proportionate to the amount of pollution each state was producing.

    Scientific experts said that the nature of air pollution, which is affected by things like wind, atmospheric conditions, and humidity made that standard scientifically impossible to meet – sometimes reducing a state’s contribution to air pollution in one state will also significantly reduce its contribution to a third state.

    In a rare Supreme Court loss for big business, the justices sided with the EPA, ruling in favor of the Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor” provision, which limits interstate pollution.

    For more:

    • APRIL 30, 2014

      Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden at the Atlantic Council’s Toward a Europe Whole and Free Conference

      VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: Well, Governor, thank you very, very much. And

      what a distinguished crew that I’m about to speak to. And I tell you, I’ve been trying to follow, as much as I can, the — all that’s been going on the last couple days, and I’m delighted to be able to be here to give — and I’ll try to make it as brief as possible, Brent — the — our perspectives, so — because you’ve been going a long time.

      To the current and foreign — the current and former foreign ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania — all places that I’ve spent a lot of time — I’m delighted you’re here. And to the defense ministers from Estonia, Georgia, Czech Republic and Montenegro as well, and to the many ambassadors and our close friends, I want to — I want to tell you what an honor it is to be before you. And also, Steve Hadley and Brent Scowcroft and Secretary Albright, it’s an honor to be able to speak before you as well, and to NATO’s future leaders, who we’re relying on a great deal.

      We’re here today — we’re here today to celebrate the fruits of two actually very audacious and consequential notions — maybe two of the most consequential and audacious notions of the last hundred years: the idea that after centuries of conflict, culminating in two world wars, Europe could reinvent itself in a single community defined by peace, anchored in political and economic integration, collective self-defense, and a free flow of commerce and people; and no less important, the idea that the door to this transatlantic community would remain fundamentally open to free nations who share the values and commitments we have, and to those who dream from inside the captive nations of the day they too might join a Europe whole and free.

      For more:

  9. April 30, 2014

    Op-Ed by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden in

    Today as part of the third anniversary of Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will announce commitments and a pledge made by philanthropies nationwide to support veterans and military families. At the event, taking place at the American Red Cross and hosted by the Council on Foundations and the White Oak Steering Committee, the First Lady and Dr. Biden will be joined by organizations supporting military and veteran families and foundations from across the country.

    The following op-ed by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden appeared this morning on

    We’ve all seen those wonderful surprise videos from when one of our troops comes home from a long deployment — the father bear-hugging his family at mid-court at a basketball game or the little boy with tears in his eyes sprinting into his mother’s arms at the front of his classroom.

    These scenes make us feel good. They tug at our heartstrings and often move us to tears. And they remind us of the sacrifices our military families are making for our country every single day.

    And for most of us, it’s easy to assume that surprise homecoming — that feel-good moment — is the happy ending to the story. But in so many ways, for so many of our troops, veterans and their families, it’s really just the beginning.

    For more:

    • April 30, 2014

      Remarks by the President on Raising the Minimum Wage

      East Room

      3:02 P.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Please have a seat. Good afternoon.


      THE PRESIDENT: Aloha. (Laughter.) Got a Hawaiian guy here.

      After 14 months since I’ve called on Congress to reward the hard work of millions of Americans like the ones who we have here today to raise the federal minimum wage, we saw this morning a majority of senators saying “yes,” but almost every Republican saying “no” to giving America a raise.

      They blocked a bill –- sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman George Miller, who is right here in front. (Applause.) A bill that would have gradually raised the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. By preventing even a vote on this bill, they prevented a raise for 28 million hardworking Americans. They said no to helping millions work their way out of poverty — and keep in mind, this bill would have done so without any new taxes, or spending, or bureaucracy. They told Americans like the ones who are here today that “you’re on your own” -– without even looking them in the eye.

      We know these Americans. We depend on them. The workers who’d benefit from a minimum wage increase often work full-time, often in physically demanding jobs. They average 35 years of age. Most low-paying jobs are held by women. But because Republicans in Congress said “no” to even allowing a vote on the floor of the Senate, these folks are going to have to wait for the raise they deserve.

      Now the good news is outside of Washington folks aren’t waiting. While Republicans have been deciding whether to even allow a minimum wage bill to even come up for a vote, you’ve seen 10 states and the District of Columbia go ahead and raise theirs. (Applause.) Yesterday, the Hawaii legislature voted to raise their minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Maryland did the same thing earlier this month -– and I know we’ve got some Maryland state legislators here today. Thanks for the good work. (Applause.)

      So the actions that have been taken in just four states — Maryland, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Hawaii -– means that over a million workers will see a raise. What’s more, we’ve seen big companies like The Gap, and small businesses — from a pizza joint in St. Louis to an ice cream parlor in Florida — increasingly choosing to raise wages for their employees because they know it’s good business. They know that it means employees are more likely to stay on the job, less turnover. It means that they’re going to be more productive, and customers see the difference. That’s one of the reasons I issued an executive order requiring employees on new federal contracts to be paid a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. (Applause.)

      So Americans have been way out in front of Congress on this issue. In fact, about three in four Americans support raising the minimum wage. And that’s because we believe that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, nobody who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. That’s a basic principle. (Applause.) And at a time when those at the top are doing better than ever, while millions of Americans are working harder and harder just to get by, that three out of four Americans understands that America deserves a raise.

      For more:

    • April 30, 2014

      Statement by the President

      The Hawaii Legislature did the right thing for their workers by taking action to increase their state’s minimum wage to $10.10. I commend the state legislature and look forward to Governor Abercrombie signing the bill into law soon. Hawaii joins a large and growing coalition of states, cities, counties and businesses that have given their citizens and employees the raise they deserve. This important step in Hawaii is yet another sign that the American people support raising the minimum wage, and I urge Republicans in Congress to follow Hawaii’s lead and lift wages for 28 million Americans. With a Senate vote on this crucial issue planned for today, it’s time for Republicans in Congress to listen to the majority of Americans who say it’s time to give America a raise.

  10. House passes first 2015 appropriations bill

    April 30, 2014, 07:35 pm By Cristina Marcos – TheHill

    The House passed the first fiscal 2015 appropriations bill of the year on Wednesday to fund military construction projects and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Passed in a 416-1 vote, the $71.5 billion measure would provide $158.2 billion for veterans programs and $6.6 billion for military construction projects. Its passage is the earliest start to the annual appropriations process since 1974.

    House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) expressed optimism that the House could pass all 12 annual appropriations bills before the August recess, which has not been done in more than a decade. It will still be a challenge for both the House and Senate to clear each individual bill before Oct. 1, but the 2013 budget deal has eased the process for appropriators this year.

    “With an agreed-upon budget, an early start, the cooperation of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and ample floor time, I believe we can complete our work – our congressional duty – on time, on budget, and under regular order,” Rogers said.

    The measure would provide $45 billion for VA medical services, such as mental health care, job training and suicide prevention efforts. It would also appropriate $344 million to modernize the VA’s electronic health record system.

    “The bill before us today touches every sailor, soldier, Marine and airman,” said Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Military Construction-Veterans Affairs subcommittee.

    Read more:

  11. WH

    Thursday, May 1, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    Vice President Biden meets with Liberal Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    11:30 AM
    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney briefs the press

    12:00 PM
    12:30 PM
    President Obama has lunch with Vice President Biden

    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    2:25 PM
    President Obama Honors the 2014 National Teacher of the Year and finalists

    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  12. Senate Democrats plan vote to reverse Citizens United decision

    04/30/14 10:23 AM EDT Alexander Bolton – TheHill

    Senate Democrats will schedule a vote this year on a constitutional amendment to reform campaign finance [Citizens United] as they face tens of millions of dollars worth of attack ads from conservative groups.

    The Senate will vote on an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) that would overturn two recent court cases that have given corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals free rein to spend freely on federal races.

    “The Supreme Court is trying to take this country back to the days of the robber barons, allowing dark money to flood our elections. That needs to stop, and it needs to stop now,” said Senate Rules Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who announced the plan.

    “The only way to undo the damage the court has done is to pass Senator Udall’s amendment to the Constitution, and Senate Democrats are going to try to do that,” he said.

    Schumer said the vote would take place by year’s end and called on Republican colleagues to join Democrats to ensure “the wealthy can’t drown out middle-class voices in our Democracy.”

    Read more:

  13. Consumer Spending in U.S. Jumps by Most in Five Years

    May 1, 2014 5:47 AM PT By Victoria Stilwell – TheHill

    Consumer spending surged in March by the most in almost five years as warmer weather brought shoppers back to auto-dealer lots and malls, a sign the U.S. economy gained momentum heading into the second quarter.

    Household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, climbed 0.9 percent, the most since August 2009, after a 0.5 percent gain in February that was larger than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 77 economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.6 percent gain. Incomes increased by the most in seven months.

    Continued gains in employment will probably lift consumer confidence and give households the means to spend after usually harsh winter weather held back the world’s largest economy. Companies such as Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) are optimistic that stronger growth will boost sales in the coming months, providing a firm footing for growth in the second quarter.

    “As the weather improved, it looks like things started to pick up,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida, who correctly forecast the gain in spending. “The second quarter is gonna be much stronger than the first.”

    For more:

  14. Manufacturing in U.S. Expanded in April by Most This Year

    May 1, 2014 7:49 AM PT By Shobhana Chandra – TheHill

    Manufacturing expanded in April by the most this year with broad-based gains that signal factories will help propel the U.S. economy in the second quarter.

    The Institute for Supply Management’s index rose to 54.9 from the prior month’s 53.7, the Tempe, Arizona-based group’s report showed today. Readings above 50 indicate expansion. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 54.3.

    Sales are increasing at automakers such as General Motors Co., while demand for machinery and equipment is prompting manufacturers such as United Technologies Corp. to raise forecasts. The purchasing managers’ index of exports climbed to a five-month high, showing improving overseas markets will further bolster the outlook.

    “Manufacturing is doing well,” said Robert Stein, deputy chief economist at First Trust Portfolios LP in Wheaton, Illinois, who accurately projected the April index. “It’ll be a large portion of the rebound in economic growth this quarter.”

    For more:

  15. Michelle Obama – Girl Power Tag!

    Published on Apr 29, 2014

    The amazing Michelle Obama talks Girl Power! Find out what the first lady thinks of Girl Power! #17girlpower

    • May 01, 2014

      Remarks by the President Honoring the 2014 National and State Teachers of the Year

      East Room

      2:18 P.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Well, welcome to the White House. Let me start off by saying thank you to a leader of unbelievable passion and expertise and dedication; somebody who every single day wakes up and thinks about three things — either his family, basketball — (laughter) — or how to give child a world-class education — our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. (Applause.)

      I also want to thank our members of Congress who are here today. I am thrilled to have them here and always encourage all members of Congress to focus on education and teachers. And I am thrilled to be welcoming all our state and national teachers of the year. So give them a big round of applause. Good job. (Applause.)

      This is a phenomenal group –- in addition to being very good-looking. (Laughter.) The best of the best. And they’d be the first to say that they’re only here because they’re surrounded by outstanding teachers who give all to their students every single day. Today is a chance to thank not just the teachers on this stage but teachers all across the country. We really can’t say enough about how important their role is in making sure that America succeeds. So thank you for what you’re giving our children and what you’re giving our nation.

      Now, it’s been a while since I was in school, but I still remember all the wonderful teachers who made me who I am, who opened the world up to me, who made me feel that maybe I had something to offer, and maybe saw things in me before I saw them in myself. We all had teachers like that. Talk to anybody who’s succeeded in business, or written a play, or invented an app, or broken an athletic record, and they’ll tell you about a teacher or a coach who inspired them and who challenged them, and taught them values, and encouraged them to be curious and ask questions, and explore new realms and new ideas. Everybody has got somebody like that in their lives.

      For more:

  16. Findings of the Big Data and Privacy Working Group Review

    John Podesta May 01, 2014 01:15 PM EDT

    Over the past several days, severe storms have battered Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and other states. Dozens of people have been killed and entire neighborhoods turned to rubble and debris as tornadoes have touched down across the region. Natural disasters like these present a host of challenges for first responders. How many people are affected, injured, or dead? Where can they find food, shelter, and medical attention? What critical infrastructure might have been damaged?

    Drawing on open government data sources, including Census demographics and NOAA weather data, along with their own demographic databases, Esri, a geospatial technology company, has created a real-time map showing where the twisters have been spotted and how the storm systems are moving. They have also used these data to show how many people live in the affected area, and summarize potential impacts from the storms. It’s a powerful tool for emergency services and communities. And it’s driven by big data technology.

    For more:

    • May 01, 2014

      FACT SHEET: Big Data and Privacy Working Group Review

      Driven by the declining cost of data collection, storage, and processing; fueled by new online and real-world sources of data, including sensors, cameras, and geospatial technologies; and analyzed using a suite of creative and powerful new methods, big data is fundamentally reshaping how Americans and people around the world live, work, and communicate. It is enabling important discoveries and innovations in public safety, health care, medicine, education, energy use, agriculture, and a host of other areas. But big data technologies also raise challenging questions about how best to protect privacy and other values in a world where data collection will be increasingly ubiquitous, multidimensional, and permanent.

      For more;

  17. May 01, 2014

    Readout of the Vice President’s Meeting with Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba of Japan

    Today, Vice President Biden met with Liberal Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba at the White House. The two leaders underscored the importance of the U.S.-Japan Alliance to regional and global security. They discussed Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and steps that both countries have recently taken to impose costs on Russia. The Vice President emphasized the need to keep building strong support for the alliance, to include ensuring the successful conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations that provide meaningful economic benefits to the people of both countries. The Vice President and Secretary General Ishiba also agreed to cooperate on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan in order to reduce the impact of U.S. bases in Okinawa, while enhancing the deterrent value of the Alliance.

  18. *******************

    Come on over to my newest post titled: ”VP Biden Speaks @ Miami Dade Commencement & WH Correspondents Dinner 2014 ″


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