By Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, NCLR
In a major win for homeowners, ending months of congressional stalemate, the Senate voted today to confirm Representative Mel Watt (D–NC) as Director of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA). Rep. Watt’s confirmation brings fresh ideas and new resolve to the FHFA during a time when struggling homeowners need it most.
After months of advocacy work by NCLR and like-minded organizations, Rep. Watt’s confirmation is a welcome improvement to FHFA’s leadership. Civil rights and consumer advocates look forward to a new chance for homeowners and honest mortgage lenders alike.
Rep. Watt replaces former FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco, who has presented a considerable obstacle to a working housing finance system. While NCLR has frequently testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services in support of principal reduction, DeMarco has long opposed the policy. Continue reading →
It’s no secret that visitors to the HealthCare.gov site encountered serious problems in the initial months of open enrollment of the Affordable Care Act. Consumers have been deeply frustrated in their attempts to understand their options and enroll in a health plan so that their coverage begins on January 1, 2014. Over the past few weeks, however, HealthCare.gov has been revamped. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fixed the bugs on the HealthCare.gov site and improved the overall user experience.
Recently, HHS announced a variety of improvements to the functionality of the health care website. One new option gives consumers the opportunity for a fresh start on the enrollment experience. For those consumers who either have an open application or submitted an application, but have found themselves stuck somewhere along the process, there is now a “remove” button. According to HHS, once a consumer is logged in, a “remove” option will be available. By hitting “remove,” a consumer can delete the application and then start over. Continue reading →
The House: The House will reconvene Monday afternoon to consider under suspension of the rules the Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act (H.R. 3627), sponsored by Congressman Pittenger (R-N.C.). The bill would direct the Attorney General to prepare a report detailing child abuse penalties in each state. The balance of the week, the House will consider a number of Veteran Affairs and Foreign Affairs Committee-backed bills under suspension of the rules as well as the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act (H.R. 2019). This bill redirects federal funding for conventions to pediatric research. It is possible that the House will bring to the floor a budget conference report, a farm bill conference report, or legislation for the so-called “doc fix” this week as well.
The Senate: On Monday, the Senate will vote on a House-passed bill (H.R. 3626) that extends a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of entirely plastic guns for another ten years. The Chamber will next resume consideration of the FY2014 defense authorization bill and will vote on the confirmation of Patricia Ann Millett for a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Later in the week the Senate is expected to vote on several other pending judicial and executive nominees, including Congressman Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
White House: The President and the First Lady will be in South Africa this week attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral. No other public events are scheduled for the week. Continue reading →
This week in immigration reform: the Fast for Families continues in front of the Capitol, drawing new fasters, media attention, and a visit from the President; Speaker Boehner signals his intentions to work on reform in 2014 by hiring an immigration expert; a new survey shows once again that the American public supports immigration reform that includes a road to citizenship; and NCLR, its Affiliates, and partner organizations hold roundtables, conduct phonebanks, and march and rally for reform. NCLR kept the community informed this week in a number of media appearances, among them All In with Chris Hayes,NBC Latino, Univision, California News Service, New America Media, Cronkite News Service, and VivirLatino. Continue reading →
With so much at stake for the Latino community, as well as all Americans, NCLR is committed to ensuring that those eligible can maximize the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
Recently, the federal government announced that it had extended the deadline to enroll in a health plan. In order to have insurance coverage that would start on January 1, 2014, consumers now have until December 23, 2013 to enroll. We have revised our “Key Dates” resource in English and Spanish for consumers as they continue along the road to enrollment.
However, it’s important to know that states operating their own Marketplaces are allowed to set their own enrollment deadlines and some will keep the original December 15, 2013 deadline. So it’s important for you to know the deadline of the state you live in.
We encourage you to not delay. Act now. Understand your options. Ask questions and get clarification. And then enroll so you can ring in the New Year with insurance coverage.
Relatively strong job growth in November pushed the Latino unemployment rate to its lowest level in five years. Today’s Monthly Latino Employment Report from the National NCLR shows that the Latino unemployment rate for November was 8.7 percent thanks to an increase in the number of Latino jobseekers who found work last month. The overall U.S. unemployment rate also declined to 7.0 percent.
Kudos to the Carlos Rosario International Public School, a member of the national NCLR Affiliate Network in Washington, DC! The school won an award for its outstanding adult education programs from the Migration Policy Institute’s (MPI) National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. MPI recently announced that Carlos Rosario was one of four winners of its 2013 E Pluribus Unum Prizes for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives. As an award recipient, the school will receive a $50,000 grant.
“This is terrific news. The Carlos Rosario International Public School is a culturally vibrant learning center that has helped thousands of immigrants gain the work skills they need to find good jobs and build stable lives in Washington, DC,” said Sonia Pérez, NCLR Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives. Continue reading →
In a speech in Washington this week, President Obama said that income inequality is the “defining challenge of our time.” Speaking at the Arts and Recreation Center in the low-income southeast Washington neighborhood of Anacostia, the president underscored an issue that has repeatedly ranked at the top of concerns Americans have about the future and their own upward mobility. Indeed, Latinos have said in poll after poll that the economy is their top priority as well and agree, as the president pointed out, that the “basic bargain at the heart of the economy has frayed.” President Obama said that his last three years in office would be dedicated to addressing the ever-widening income gap.
Watch the president’s whole speech below followed by a look at income inequality by the numbers:
A look at some of the statistics related to income inequality, some of which the president outlined, are revealing and provide some insight into the challenge that lay ahead. Continue reading →