Sunday, April 18, 2021

EdAction in Congress April 18, 2021 - Education Votes

EdAction in Congress April 18, 2021 - Education Votes
EdAction in Congress April 18, 2021

Senate advances bill to address hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S. 937) will soon come to the Senate floor following an overwhelming, bipartisan 92-6 vote in favor of advancing it. Introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the bill would strengthen federal efforts to address hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans in several ways: designate a Department of Justice employee to expedite the review of COVID-19 hate crimes, provide guidance for state and local officials for online reporting of such crimes, and require the department to issue guidance to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.

Stop AAPI Hate reported 3,795 incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021. The organization estimates that these are only a fraction of the actual incidents that occurred, which included physical assault, verbal harassment, online harassment, and civil rights violations such as refusal of service and workplace discrimination. Elderly Asian Americans have been knocked to the ground and pummeled. Some citizens have been spat on. A woman in Marietta, Ga. was confronted in a pharmacy by someone who sprayed her with Lysol and yelled “You’re the infection! Go home! We don’t want you here!”

In our current climate, words can easily incite violent—even deadly—acts. Such xenophobia must be condemned, especially during this unprecedented public health crisis. We must stand together to affirm that these words and actions do not represent who we are. TAKE ACTION 

Paycheck Fairness Act heads to the Senate

After passing the House by a vote of 217-210, the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2021 is heading for the Senate. To address the persistent gender pay gap in the United States, the bill would require employers to demonstrate that gender is not the reason they pay employees different wages, strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws, and put in place robust remedies for discrimination.

Women earn just 82 cents for every dollar White men earn—and the pay disparity is worse for Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous women. This gender gap exists across nearly all occupations, including female-dominated professions such as education. The Paycheck Fairness Act will help end these disparities and show our students that we believe in equal pay for equal work. TAKE ACTION

Tell Congress to repeal unfair Social Security penalties

More than 2.5 million people dedicated to public service, including many educators, have their Social Security benefits reduced—or lose them entirely—due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO).

The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82), reintroduced in January of this year by Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), would fully repeal both the GPO and WEP; Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) will introduce the bill in the Senate this week. The Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act (H.R. 2337), introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal (D-MA) in April, starts to fix problems caused by the WEP—a step in the right direction toward full GPO/WEP repeal.

The WEP reduces the Social Security retirement, disability, spousal, or survivor benefits of people who work in jobs in which they pay Social Security taxes and jobs in which they do NOT pay Social Security taxes—for example, educators who take part-time or summer jobs to make ends meet. The GPO reduces the Social Security spousal or survivor benefits of people who get a government pension (federal, state or local) but did NOT pay Social Security taxes themselves.


Cheers and Jeers

92 senators voted to advance the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.


Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) voted against advancing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.