Ruben Jones is a man closer to the age where he should be thinking about retirement, contrary to the "teens who don't need the money" stereotype of minimum and low-wage workers, and makes $8.00 working at a Golden Corral location in the Washington, D.C., area. He's worked for the company over the past five years without seeing a raise. He has two children and four grandchildren who live in Ocean City, Md., who he can't visit because he can't afford to make the trip. Ruben works hard every day, but he lives at home with his mother and grandmother because his low wages, even though they are above the minimum wage, aren't enough for him to get his own apartment.
At the end of 2013, an emergency unemployment compensation extension program that started in 2008 under President George W. Bush expired, meaning 1.3 million jobless workers lost benefits that helped them house and feed their families. President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have made it clear they want the program to go on, but House Republicans are refusing to act. Now Harvard economist Lawrence Katz says the "fiscally irresponsible" decision is costing America's economy at least $600 million a week.
Senate Democrats fought back today against years of Republican blockades and obstruction of President Barack Obama’s executive branch and judicial nominations by voting to change Senate rules to guarantee an up or down vote on most nominees. Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
OMG! Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he won’t stand in the way of a vote on President Obama’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Well, sort of. McConnell says that out of the president’s bipartisan package of five nominees, Republicans won’t filibuster the two Republicans and just one of the three Democratic nominees.
Senate votes on several of President Obama’s nominees to vital cabinet and agency positions, including Secretary of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) members, could come as soon as Monday. Republicans have blocked those and other nominations through Senate rules and filibuster threats.
As Congress left Friday for a weeklong vacation for the Independence Day holiday, a July 1 deadline passed without congressional action on student loan interest rates. New subsidized federal Stafford loans issued after that date will incur a new rate of 6.8%, up from the current 3.4% students pay. Time still exists to fix the rate increase, however, as most students don't sign their loan paperwork until early August. Without legislation to reverse the increase, some 7 million students will see rates on their subsidized loans double at a time when student loan debt has reached more than $1 trillion and more and more economists are saying the massive student loan debt problem is becoming a drag on the economy.
It’s time to get the U.S. Senate back on track and end the gridlock of the “silent filibuster” and actually force filibustering senators to take the floor and talk if they want to block legislation. You can help.
While activists today deliver tens of thousands of letters to their senators on Capitol Hill urging them to stop the misuse and abuse of the Senate filibuster, you can, too, by calling 1-866-937-5062 and telling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) to publicly support strong rules reform by co-sponsoring Senate Resolution 4.
Given the choice between supporting American workers or the corporations that ship U.S. jobs overseas, Senate Republicans sided with the job exporters today and blocked a vote (56-42) on the Bring Jobs Home Act. That’s not a surprise to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
It's no surprise Republicans are on the side of corporations making big bucks sending American jobs to China and India. After all, their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, made a fortune outsourcing jobs, too.
If 80,000 people are out of work when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) runs out of spending authority tomorrow, they can blame Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Coburn is single- handedly blocking a bill to reauthorize the FAA that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House earlier this week.