This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending July 15

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Week Ending July 15

This week in immigration: New toolkit released for schools to welcome immigrants and refugees; New York announces it will cover citizenship application fees for 2,000 immigrants; and Federal Reserve presidents call for immigration reform to boost the economy.

White House releases resources for educators on immigrant integration: In coordination with the White House’s announcement of “Bright Spots” on welcoming and expanding opportunity for Linguistic Integration and Education, the Department of Education released a guide for schools to support immigrants, refugees, and their families with a successful integration process. The Newcomer Toolkit provides information, resources and examples of effective practices that educators can use to support newcomers in our schools and communities. Lessons include understanding legal obligations to newcomers, providing welcoming schools and classrooms for newcomers and their families, and supporting students’ social emotional skills.

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It’s Time to Update Overtime Pay

For the good of American workers, President Obama and the Department of Labor must update the Overtime Salary Threshold

While the cost of living has increased substantially over the last few decades, many government policies have not kept up with it. The overtime salary threshold establishes the maximum salary a worker can make while qualifying for overtime pay. The current threshold, $23,660 per year, is decades-old and lower than the poverty line for a family of four, which is set at $24,008.

The Department of Labor is now considering an update to the overtime rule that would raise that threshold from $23,660 to $50,440, helping 13.5 million workers, which includes 2.1 million Latinos, to receive overtime pay. The economic freedom and stability that comes from earning a fair wage cannot be overstated.

Unfortunately, some members of Congress are attempting to stall consideration of updating the overtime rule, potentially costing millions of Americans the right to earn the pay they deserve. 34.4 percent of all salaried Latino workers would be affected by a reversal of this important policy.

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NCLR has joined with 19 other organizations calling on President Obama and the Department of Labor to implement the proposed update to the overtime salary threshold so millions of Americans, and their families, can lead stable, productive lives. To allow the rule to stay as it has, or even be reversed, would be detrimental to our nation’s economy and workers.

Add your name to our petition telling the President, members of Congress, and the Department of Labor to make this crucial update official. After signing, you will be sent a confirmation email. If you do not confirm your signature through the email, it will not count towards the total number.

Note: This petition is integrated with WhiteHouse.gov’s “We The People” petition platform. If the petition receives 100,000 signatures, the White House will be required to issue an official response.

White House Offers Immigrant Integration Recommendations

Last Spring, the White House Task Force on New Americans released 48 recommendations for federal agencies to work better at facilitating immigrant integration.  This week, the Task Force released its progress report.  Read the whole report below.

White House NewAmericans Progress Report_2015

Weekly Washington Outlook — May 4, 2015

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning the week of May 11th.

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote to override the President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8, a bill that would block a proposed National Labor Relations Board rule on expediting workplace elections in certain circumstances. On Tuesday, the Senate will resume consideration of legislation that would give Congress the authority to review any nuclear agreement with Iran. The Senate also plans to vote this week on a conference report of a joint budget resolution.

White House:

On Monday, the President will travel to New York City to deliver remarks at an event at Lehman College launching the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new non-profit organization. He will also tape an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, and attend DNC events.

On Tuesday, the President will host a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House.

On Wednesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, the President will welcome the United States Air Force Academy football team to the White House to present them with the 2014 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. In the afternoon, the President will travel to the Portland, Oregon area to attend a DNC event.

On Friday, the President will attend an event held at Nike headquarters to discuss how workers will benefit from progressive, high-standards trade agreements that would open up new markets and support high-quality jobs both for Oregon small businesses and large companies like Nike. The President will also make the case that strong bipartisan trade promotion legislation – introduced this month by Senators Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch – is an important step to ensure our trade policy works for the middle class through strong enforcement provisions, transparency, and the requirement that our trade agreements include high-standards to bring greater opportunity to American businesses, level the playing field for American workers, protect the environment, and raise human rights and labor standards around the world. Afterward, the President will travel to Watertown, South Dakota to deliver the commencement address for the graduating class at Lake Area Technical Institute. Lake Area Technical Institute is one of the top community colleges in the nation, and is recognized for rigorously preparing its students with the skills they need to compete in the 21st Century economy. With a two-year graduation rate more than twice the national average, Lake Area Technical Institute focuses on providing its graduates smooth pathways to high skilled careers with private-sector businesses.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will mark-up several bills on Wednesday, including S. 750, “Arizona Borderlands Protection and Preservation Act.” This bill would allow Customs and Border Protection access to federal lands in Arizona for their patrols. It has been criticized by environmental groups, immigration advocates, and others.

Appropriations – The Senate Appropriations Committee continues to hold hearings this week. The Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White and the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Tim Massad will both appear on Tuesday before the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will make her first appearance in her new role on Thursday before the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee. When the House returns from recess, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has indicated he plans to bring the Legislative Branch funding bill to the floor before the end of the work period.

Budget – The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on a conference report on a joint budget resolution for FY2016. The measure maintains discretionary domestic spending at sequester levels, but increases defense spending by $96 billion. It also includes reconciliation instructions, setting the stage for a fight over repealing the Affordable Care Act later this summer. The House passed the conference report last week.

Education – Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wrote in his May memo that he still plans to bring H.R. 5, the “Student Success Act” to the floor in the coming weeks. Without any Democratic support, however, the legislation is rumored to still be short of votes needed for passage. Acknowledging this, Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) has recently signaled openness to a different legislative vehicle for passing legislation to rewrite ESEA. The Senate is likely to take up a bipartisan reauthorization bill in early June. The “Every Child Achieves Act,” which passed unanimously out of the HELP Committee earlier in April, still faces challenges from civil rights groups and others about what has been perceived as a weak accountability system.

Weekly Washington Outlook — March 2, 2015

White House at Night

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House will vote on two bills related to veterans’ issues under suspension of the rules:

  • H.R. 294 – Long-Term Care Veteran Choice Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • H.R. 280 – To authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to recoup bonuses and awards paid to employees of the Department of Veterans Affair, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

On Tuesday, the House will convene for a joint meeting of Congress to receive Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Wednesday and the balance of the week the House will consider the following:

  • H.R. 749 – Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • H.R. 1029 – EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • H.R. 1030 – Secret Science Reform Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Science, Space, and Technology

It is possible that members may also vote on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Senate:

On Monday, the Senate will resume consideration of a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. On Monday evening, a vote is scheduled on a House motion to go to conference to reconcile differences between each chamber’s appropriations bill. Later in the week, the Senate will join the House for a joint meeting to receive Israel’s Prime Minister. It is also possible that the Senate may schedule the first procedural vote to override the President’s veto of legislation to authorize the Keystone XL Pipeline or begin consideration of S. J. Res. 8 to block a proposed rule from the National Labor Relations Board.

White House:

On Monday, the president will meet with members of his Task Force on 21st Century Policing to discuss their recommendations on how to strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

On Tuesday, President Obama and the first lady will deliver remarks at the White House about expanding efforts to help adolescent girls worldwide attend and stay in school. These efforts will build on the investments successes achieved in global primary school education by elevating existing programs and public and private sector partnerships.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Saturday, the president and the first lady will travel to Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches. This visit will also highlight the President and his Administration’s overall efforts to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Also this Week:

Appropriations – Last week, after the House failed to pass a three-week continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security in advance of a Friday deadline, both chambers extended their deadline seven days. This week, the Senate will vote on a House-passed motion to conference differing versions of an appropriations bill. The House version has language blocking the president’s immigration actions whereas the Senate passed a “clean” bill; as a result, this motion to negotiate between the two is almost certain to fail in the Senate. In the mean time, House leadership has not signaled how they plan to proceed to avert this Friday’s deadline to prevent a shutdown of the agency.

Immigration – As the fight over DHS funding continues, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday to mark-up four bills, including an updated version of the SAFE Act and related legislation on interior enforcement (i.e. E-Verify).  The Committee will also consider two bills to expedite the return of unaccompanied children and make other changes to the processing of asylum claims. In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and National Interest Subcommittee will hold a hearing Tuesday afternoon on “Oversight of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Ensuring Agency Priorities Comply with the Law.” Representatives from USCIS are scheduled to appear.

Education – In the midst of last week’s wrangling over DHS appropriations, planned consideration of the Student Success Act, a partisan bill to rewrite No Child Left Behind, was pulled off the floor. There is wide speculation that with minimal Democratic support and concerns from conservative members that the bill did not go far enough, House Leadership did not have enough votes for passage. The legislation is not scheduled to return to the floor this week and its fate is somewhat unclear at the moment.  In the Senate, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) continue to negotiate to reach a bipartisan compromise to reauthorize the law.

Health – The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in the King v. Burwell case challenging the legality of premium assistance for enrollees on federal exchanges. Lawmakers in the House and the Senate have signaled they may be interested in finding a “fix” if the court rules against the Administration. Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) made limited details of one possible proposal public with several Senate colleagues, available in a Washington Post op-ed.  The Administration, however, remains confident the court will rule in their favor.  Additional details here: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/king-v-burwell/.

Dodd-Frank – Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will appear before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. The hearing is expected to be somewhat contentious and may address conservative proposals to change the agency’s structure.

Budget – Cabinet officials are continuing to appear before Congress to make this week defending their budget requests. Notably on Wednesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will testify before the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee.

Labor – The Senate could vote as soon as this week on S. J. Res. 8, a resolution of disapproval of the National Labor Relations Board’s actions to expedite workplace union elections when unions are engaged in collective bargaining.

Weekly Washington Outlook — January 5, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House has not yet released its weekly schedule. On Tuesday, members will be sworn-in and formerly elect a Speaker; despite several Republican members challenging Speaker Boehner, he is widely expected to be chosen. The House will also vote on its rules for this Congress, which reportedly includes dynamic scoring of major legislation. Later in the week, the House may vote on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and amend the Affordable Care Act.

Senate:

On Tuesday, newly-elected Senators will be sworn-in to office and a vote is scheduled to elect Senator Orrin Hatch to be the president pro tempore. At this time, there is no legislative business scheduled for the floor for this week. The Senate is expected to vote as soon as next week on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

White House:

The White House has not released a public schedule for this week. However, on Tuesday, the president will host President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the White House. The two leaders are expected to discuss economic, security, and social issues. On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Detroit to talk about auto manufacturing. On Thursday, the president will speak about homeownership in Phoenix. On Friday, President Obama and the vice president will discuss college access and affordability at an event in Tennessee.

Also this Week:

Appropriations – As part of the agreement to fund the government at the end of last year, the Department of Homeland Security only received appropriations until February 28 of this year. It is possible a Homeland Security spending bill could be on the floor next week after Republicans meet this week to discuss their strategy for continued opposition to the president’s executive actions on immigration. There has been some speculation that a border security measure could be attached, but this is not yet clear.

Health – The House could vote as soon as this week on legislation that would change the definition of full-time employment under the ACA from thirty to forty hours a week. Members may also vote on a bill that would allow employers to exclude employees with healthcare coverage through the Defense Department or Veterans Affairs Department from the employer mandate.

Budget – The House will vote this week on a package of rules for this Congress that includes a provision requiring dynamic scoring for major pieces of legislation.  Dynamic scoring takes into account the macroeconomic impact of a given bill. This policy change is motivated in part by a long-standing Republican wish to show that tax cuts are beneficial to the economy as a whole and this picture is not fully captured under current scoring assumptions. Elsewhere, new House and Senate Budget Chairs Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) are considering replacing Congressional Budget Office Direct Doug Elmendorf. His term has expired, but no decision has yet been made.

Education – While not yet officially scheduled, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, has said he plans to hold a hearing in early January on testing as a lead-up to re-authorization the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Weekly Washington Outlook – June 30, 2014

U.S. Capitol

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

The House:

The House is in recess, returning Tuesday, July 8.

The Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning Monday, July 7.

White House:

On Monday, the president will welcome back to the White House, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. The two leaders will discuss ways to advance peace and global security, social inclusion, and free trade. Other agenda items include UN Security Council matters, other multilateral and regional issues, and ongoing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as expanding educational exchanges and deepening collaborations in the areas of energy, science, and technology. The vice president will also participate. In the afternoon, President Obama will host a reception at the White House in recognition of LGBT Pride Month; the first lady will also attend.  On Tuesday, the President will hold a Cabinet meeting; Vice President Biden will also attend. In the afternoon President Obama will deliver remarks on the economy at the Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington. On Wednesday, the president will host top economists for lunch to discuss ways to accelerate economic growth, expand opportunity, and improve the competitiveness of the American economy. The vice president will also attend. On Thursday, President Obama will attend unspecified meetings at the White House. On Friday, the president and the first lady will celebrate the Fourth of July by hosting military heroes and their families for an Independence Day celebration with a barbecue, concert and a view of fireworks on the South Lawn. Staff and their families from throughout the Administration will also attend this event for the concert and fireworks viewing.

Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court ends its session for the year with the announcement of a 5-4 decision to narrow the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. In the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Court decided that closely-held private companies are exempted on religious grounds from a requirement that employer-provided health plans include a range of contraception options at no additional cost to the individual.  Additional details available.

Also this week and beyond:

Unaccompanied Children – The working group appointed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to address the situation with unaccompanied children held its first meeting last week. By all accounts, this was productive and positive and members framed the issue as a humanitarian crisis. In the coming weeks, they are likely to make at least one trip to the Southern border in order to make appropriate recommendations on possible Congressional action. Elsewhere, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will visit Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and CBP facilities this week as part of the Administration’s ongoing response to influx of unaccompanied children. The White House this week also sent a letter to Congressional Leadership, providing additional details of the actions being taken. These include additional enforcement resources, an increase in immigration judges, and a request for emergency supplemental appropriations.

Appropriations – The Senate Appropriations Committee will continue its work on individual spending bills next week, but Senate Leadership is struggling to find a path forward for a stalled “minibus” that includes Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD spending bills. The measure was pulled from the floor earlier in the month over yet another disagreement about the process for considering amendments. Elsewhere, after the Agriculture-FDA bill was pulled from the House floor earlier this month, it appears the process will begin again with the Energy-Water bill in early July. It is likely that Financial Services would follow, in an effort to return again to regular order. At the Committee level in the House, Chairman Rogers indicated that Labor-HHS-Education will be marked-up this month, but Congressional staff has said it is unlikely this would be brought to the floor.

Workforce Investment Act – Last week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a re-authorization to the Workforce Investment Act.  The House is expected to take up the measure in the next work period.

Highway Trust Fund – Lawmakers are expected to devote the beginning of the July work period to finding a short-term “patch” for the Highway Trust Fund, expected to be insolvent by the end of the month. Without an injection of revenue immediately, an estimated 700,000 construction jobs are in jeopardy and 100,000 projects are potentially on-hold. To address the shortfall, the Senate Finance Committee began marking-up an $8 billion bill that would keep the fund afloat for six months to allow time to negotiate a more permanent solution. In the House, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has said that he prefers a fix through at least 2015. House and Senate negotiations are expected to take place this week, with the hope that a compromise could be on the floor of each chamber as soon as possible.     

Nominations – On Monday, the President will nominate former CEO of Procter & Gamble, Bob McDonald to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Later in the month, the Senate is expected to vote to confirm both Julian Castro as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Shaun Donovan to head the Office of Management and Budget.

Supporting Immigrant Integration is Investing in America’s Future

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR
(Originally posted on
The Hill Congress Blog.)

AllInRally3While the ongoing fight to reform this country’s broken immigration system has been long and arduous, one thing has been made clear over the past year: Americans understand the value that immigrants bring to this country.

The path our lawmakers will choose to modernize our immigration system remains unclear, as is the question of addressing the tragic outflow of unaccompanied refugee children from Central America. But for the benefit of our economy and our communities, we hope that a solution comes quickly. In the meantime, we have an opportunity to bolster our economy by harnessing the potential of the millions of lawfully present immigrants already living in the United States.

Earlier this week, Reps. Tony Cardenas (D–Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R–Fla.) introduced the “New American Success Act,” a bill designed to help these new arrivals through the naturalization process and to better integrate them into American society. This long-overdue legislation brings to light a pressing need that has gone unaddressed. For decades, this country has lacked a coherent federal strategy to maximize the speed and depth of immigrant integration. The various agencies that run programs for new arrivals too often work in silos. To better coordinate all of these agencies’ efforts, the “New American Success Act” would establish a National Office of New Americans within the White House, charged with creating a comprehensive federal strategy to better assist new arrivals through the naturalization process. The office would help to determine which programs are operating effectively, which need to be improved upon, and how agencies can align their work in order to maximize their efforts.

(Read the whole post at The Hill.)

Weekly Washington Outlook – April 21, 2014

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

The House:

The House is in recess, returning Monday, April 28.

The Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning Monday, April 28.

White House:

On Monday, the president and the First Family will participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll.  The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling, and Easter egg rolling.  On Tuesday, President Obama will travel to Oso, Wash., to view the devastation from the recent mudslide and to meet with families affected by this disaster, as well as first responders and recovery workers.  Following his visit to Washington state, the president will travel to Tokyo.  On Wednesday night, the president will arrive in Tokyo and remain overnight.  On Thursday, President Obama will hold a state call with the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the Imperial Palace.  Later in the morning, the president will participate in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at the Akasaka Palace.  In the afternoon, the president will visit the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation to tour and deliver remarks at a youth and science event with students.  Later in the afternoon, Mr. Obama will visit the Meiji Shrine and host a roundtable meeting with Select USA business leaders. In the evening the president will attend the Japanese State dinner at the Imperial Palace with the Imperial family. On Friday morning, President Obama will meet with employees and family members of the U.S. Embassy to Japan. He will then travel to the Republic of Korea. In the afternoon, the president will participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial to honor fallen soldiers. Following the ceremony, he will tour the Gyeongbok Palace. Later in the afternoon, the president will visit the Blue House to participate in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with President Park of the Republic of Korea . In the evening President Obama will join President Park for a working dinner. On Saturday morning, the president will participate in a roundtable meeting with business leaders to discuss trade policy. Following the roundtable, President Obama will travel to Yongsan Garrison. Here, he will be briefed by U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command officers and deliver remarks and visit with troops and their families to thank them for their extraordinary service to our nation. In the afternoon, Mr. Obama will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the evening, he will join King Abdul Halim and Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia for the State dinner at the Istana Negara Palace. On Sunday, the president will visit the National Mosque of Malaysia. Following his visit, he will participate in a bilateral meeting and working lunch followed by a joint press conference with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia at the Prime Minister’s Office. In the afternoon, the president and Prime Minister will take part in an event at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center. In the evening, the president will travel to Malaya University to participate in a town hall with participants in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.

Also this week and beyond:

Immigration Reform – Last week, both Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor made statements about immigration reform as the President marked the anniversary of the introduction of the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Majority Leader’s came after the president called him to wish him a happy Passover and was widely considered an over-reaction to what was otherwise categorized as a “pleasant” conversation. Later in the week, after much speculation about the status of immigration reform in the House, Speaker Boehner’s press secretary emailed a number of reporters asking their editors to “chill” and emphasizing that the focus remained on job creation.  He provided the following quote:  “Nothing has changed.  As he’s said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won’t happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law.”

Smarter Sentencing Act – While the Senate could begin consideration of Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senator Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) Smarter Sentencing Act as soon as the next work period, the Administration is planning to grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of imprisoned non-violent drug offenders.  It is possible that new procedures to handle the large number of applications could be announced as soon as this week.

Housing Finance Reform – The Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a mark-up of the Johnson-Crapo housing finance overhaul bill for April 29.

Minimum Wage – A procedural vote to advance a minimum wage hike has been postponed again and is now expected in the Senate sometime in early May. However, the next work period in the Senate is now likely to be dominated by judicial nominations and several bipartisan measures, including the long-stalled Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. As a result, it is possible that a vote on minimum wage could be put off once again.

Tax Reform – Following the recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he plans to bring to the floor the so-called “extenders package” approved by the Senate Finance Committee last week. The measure extends retroactively the majority of tax credits that expired at the end of the year. In the House, Ways and Means Chairman Dave exercise. Camp is instead examining making certain tax credits permanent rather than going through the annual extenders

Keeping Job-Seekers Out of the Cold

The 1.3 million Americans struggling to find work are one step closer to getting relief today after the Senate approved a procedural vote that will allow debate to begin over whether to extend unemployment insurance through March 31, 2014.  If the bipartisan measure is passed, it will reinstate unemployment benefits that ran out shortly after Christmas Day.

As the Senate prepared for the vote and the proceeding debate, President Obama gathered with reporters, advocates and supporters at the White House to make the case for why Congress should pass the extension immediately. NCLR was also in attendance at the White House event, which featured our very own Alicia Criado, who was asked to join the president on stage.

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Alicia Criado (second row from bottom, first from right) represented NCLR at today’s White House event.

Watch video of the full remarks below:

Even as the overall unemployment rate inched down at the end of 2013, more than 37.3 percent of the nearly 11 million unemployed had been out of work for 27 weeks or longer or long-term unemployed.  While Hispanics make up 18.4 percent of the long-term unemployed, they are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to apply for unemployment insurance benefits or to receive them once they apply.  Nevertheless, the extension is still critical in the Latino community, which as of November 2013 has an 8.7 percent unemployment rate. That’s higher than the national average of 7 percent.

In a letter to Senators, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda highlighted the unemployment problem in the Latino community and asked Senators to help Latinos by passing an extension of benefits. It was signed by NCLR Vice President Eric Rodriguez, and Javier Palomarez, both co-chairs of the NHLA Economic Empowerment Policy Committee.

From the letter:

“With Latino unemployment at 8.7 percent, above the national average of 7 percent, Latinos know the hardships of living through periods of unemployment. A timely extension of unemployment insurance benefits will be critical for many Americans, who have already been squeezed by multiple rounds of federal budget cuts in recent years, leading to less support for job training, child care, rental assistance, and education.”

While this first vote was a positive step forward, passage is by no means certain. We need your help to make sure Congress knows the Latino community is watching and waiting for action. Join our Mobile Action Network today by texting JOBS to 62571 and you’ll be signed up for all the latest news and information you need about issues impacting working families.