Weekly Washington Outlook — February 8, 2016

U.S. Capitol 

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Tuesday, the House will vote on legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 3016– Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Brad Wenstrup / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 3106– Construction Reform Act of 2016, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 2360– Career-Ready Student Veterans Act (Sponsored by Rep. Mark Takano / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 3262– To provide for the conveyance of land of the Illiana Health Care System of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Danville, Illinois (Sponsored by Rep. John Shimkus / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 4056– To Authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to convey to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs all right, title, and interest of the United States to the property known as “The Community Living Center” at the Lake Baldwin Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, Orlando, Florida, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. John Mica / Veterans’ Affairs)
  • R. 677– American Heroes COLA Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ralph Abraham / Veterans’ Affairs)
  • R. 4437– To extend the deadline for the submittal of the final report required by the Commission on Care (Sponsored by Rep.Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs)
  • R. 3234– VA Medical Center Recovery Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Martha Roby / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 2915– Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act (Sponsored by Rep. Julia Brownley / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 3036– 9/11 Memorial Act (Sponsored by Rep. Tom MacArthur / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 890– To correct the boundaries of the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System Unit P16 (Sponsored by Rep. Curt Clawson / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 3894– To amend title 10, United States Code, to require the prompt notification of State Child Protective Services by military and civilian personnel of the Department of Defense required by law to report suspected instances of child abuse and neglect (Sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard / Armed Services Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will consider the following:

  • R. 3293– Scientific Research in the National Interest Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 3442– Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Kenny Marchant / Ways and Means Committee)

 The balance of the week, the House will consider the following:

  • R. 2017– Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers / Energy and Commerce Committee)

Senate:

On Monday, the Senate will consider the nomination of Rebecca Ebinger to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Iowa.

On Tuesday and the balance of the week, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, as well as additional economic sanctions for North Korea in response to the country’s latest long-range missile test.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host President Sergio Mattarella of Italy at the White House. During their meeting, the leaders will discuss shared efforts to counter ISIL and the global refugee crisis. They will also exchange views on economic developments in Europe and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

On Tuesday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

On Wednesday, nine years after he announced his candidacy for president, the president will return to the place where his political career began by traveling to Springfield, Ill. In the evening, the president will travel to the San Jose, Calif. area.

On Thursday, President Obama will attend a DSCC event and a DNC event. Later in the day, the president will travel to the Los Angeles area to tape an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and attend DNC events.

On Friday, President Obama will travel to the Palm Springs, Calif. area. On Monday, February 15th and Tuesday, February 16th, the president will host a summit with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif. to continue important conversations about the Asia-Pacific region. Following the conclusion of the summit, President Obama will return to Washington.

Also this Week:

Budget – The president will release his final budget on Tuesday. While Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan is not scheduled to testify, a number of Administration officials will appear on Capitol Hill with their requests. Among these, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will testify Thursday before the House Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Thursday. He will also appear before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell will make her budget request to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. In addition, Secretary Burwell will testify before the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will appear before the same Committee on Thursday.

Monetary Policy – Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen is scheduled to testify on Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee, as well as Thursday before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. She will answer questions about her semiannual monetary report to Congress.

Immigration – The House Judiciary Committee will convene Thursday to hear about the EB-5 Regional Center Program. The EB-5 program enables certain immigrants to obtain green cards, provided they meet standards for commercial investment within the United States. Elsewhere, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing previously postponed on Wednesday on Canada’s fast-track refugee plan and security implications for the United States

Financial Services – The House Financial Services Housing and Insurance Subcommittee has a hearing scheduled Thursday focusing on the “health” of the Federal Housing Administration. Additionally, on Thursday the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit will hold a hearing to discuss new potential regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), including those on payday loans.

Nutrition – The House will vote on legislation this week (H.R. 2017) that gives restaurants flexibility to comply with Food and Drug Administration regulations on the display of nutritional information.  The vote on this legislation comes as the House Education and Workforce Committee considers how to move forward with a child nutrition reauthorization.  The Senate has put forward a bipartisan reauthorization that is awaiting a floor vote.

And Justice For All: Building Relationships for Immigrant Communities

Luz Gallegos, Community Programs Director for TODEC

Luz Gallegos, Community Programs Director for TODEC Legal Center

By Danny Turkel, Digital Coordinator, NCLR

Founded 31 years ago, the Training Occupational Development Educating Communities Legal Center (TODEC) has been an advocate for immigrants’ rights in California’s Inland Empire. The organization was instrumental in advocating and lobbying for the successful passage of AB 60, a 2013 California law authorizing driver licenses for undocumented immigrants. While some decried the law, thousands of people already driving in California were able to take state mandated driving tests and become officially certified to drive in the state. Public safety aside, the law provided more than just a state-issued license. For the first time, many undocumented immigrants were able to take their children to school without fear of tickets, arrest, confiscation of their vehicles, or even deportation.

Luz Gallegos, Community Programs Director for TODEC, described the fight to make sure all Californians can live their lives productively and effectively.

“We just celebrated the one-year anniversary of the passage of AB 60, which is
the California driver license law for undocumented immigrants. There were situations where the police would be outside the schools in the mornings and afternoons, giving tickets, and once they found out a parent didn’t have a driver’s license, they would take their vehicle away,” said Gallegos. “The parents felt that they were being targeted. A high percentage of families living in the area were undocumented.”TODEC logo

The confiscation of the family car had a detrimental impact: children weren’t able to get to school, nor parents to work.

Compounding the issue, the various police departments in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial counties were less than receptive to working with the community to address the driver’s license issue, among others.

“Once AB 60 passed, one of the sheriffs in an area we serve said that his department wouldn’t respect the law, but through building relationships and sitting down and discussing our constituents’ side, he finally agreed that he would uphold the law and allow his officers to do so as well,” said Gallegos.

Relationship-building has been a tool consistently invoked in the fight against police abuse, and while that may seem obvious to an observer, those working on the ground to correct the police violence epidemic see it as the most valuable tactic available. Once both sides of the debate sit down to discuss their views and issues, the debate softens and workable solutions are usually found.

“Relationships are important—not only with the police officers and captains, but also with the sheriffs because they are elected officials and it’s very important for them to see that the community is paying attention to them as well. That brought a lot of accountability.”

Ending abusive policing tactics is a challenge we must undertake as a nation if we wish to live in a peaceful, trusting society. Allowing distrust and violence to become ingrained in our collective lives would undermine the basic tenets of our democracy.

Weekly Washington Outlook — April 27, 2015

Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACapitol-Senate.JPG

Image Source: Wikimedia

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Tuesday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 1075 – To designate the United States Customs and Border Protection Port of Entry located at First Street and Pan American Avenue in Douglas, Arizona, as the “Raul Hector Castro Port of Entry” (Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 651 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 820 Elmwood Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island, as the “Sister Ann Keefe Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 1690 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 700 Grant Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the “Joseph F. Weis Jr. United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Doyle / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 172 – To designate the United States courthouse located at 501 East Court Street in Jackson, Mississippi, as the “R. Jess Brown United States Courthouse” (Sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 373 – Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 984 – To amend the National Trails System Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 1324 – Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis / Natural Resources Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will meet for a Joint Meeting of Congress to receive his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan.

The balance of the week, the House will consider two appropriations bills:

  • R. 2029 – Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dent / Appropriations Committee)
  • R. 2028 – Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson / Appropriations Committee)

The House may also consider this week the Conference Report to S. Con. Res. 11, the House-Senate negotiated budget resolution, and H.R. 1732 – Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee).

Senate:

On Monday evening, the Senate will vote to confirm a nominee to be the Deputy NASA Administrator. Later in the week, the Senate will consider H.R. 1191, legislation that would require Congressional review of any nuclear agreement with Iran. On Wednesday, the Senate will join House colleagues to hear from his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan. It is also possible by Thursday of this week that the Senate will vote to override the President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8, which would block the National Labor Relations Board rule to speed up union elections in certain circumstances.

White House:

On Monday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for an official visit. The two leaders will celebrate the strong global partnership that the United States and Japan have developed during the 70 years since the end of World War II, and underscore the common values and principles that have made the bilateral relationship so enduring.The president and first lady will officially welcome Prime Minister Abe with an arrival ceremony, followed by a bilateral meeting and press conference. The two leaders will discuss a range of economic, security, and global issues, including progress on the Trans Pacific Partnership, Japan’s expanding role in the Alliance, and climate change. That evening, the President Obama and the first lady will host a State Dinner for Prime Minister Abe.

On Wednesday, the president will honor the 2015 National Teacher of the Year and finalists at the White House, thanking them for their hard work and dedication each and every day in the classroom.

On Thursday and Friday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday, “Birthright Citizenship: Is it the Right Policy for America?” The hearing comes after Senator Vitter (R-La.) offered an amendment several times in the last month that would require parents of children born in the United States to prove their immigration status in order for their children to receive citizenship. This amendment has been widely criticized from both sides of the political aisle as being unconstitutional and contrary to American values. Elsewhere, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee will hear from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on DHS’ FY2016 appropriations request.

Appropriations – The House will vote this week on two appropriations bills: Energy and Water and Military Construction-VA. The amendment process for both bills will be open. Elsewhere, the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee will mark-up its spending bill on Wednesday. In the Senate, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will testify before the Appropriations Committee Homeland Subcommittee on Wednesday and the NIH Director Francis Collins will testify before the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on Thursday.

Budget – The House may vote this week on a conference report on a joint budget resolution. If passed by both chambers, the budget resolution would allow the Republican-controlled Congress to use reconciliation to possibly enact sweeping entitlement, health, and other reforms that could not pass otherwise with the Senate’s filibuster rules. The Senate may also consider the conference report, which is unamendable, this week or next.

Education – The Senate HELP Committee passed its bipartisan ESEA reauthorization legislation, the Every Child Achieves Act, unanimously out of Committee earlier in April. While the bill would require states to set rigorous college and career goals, maintain annual assessments, and include English Learners in their accountability systems, civil rights and business groups remain concerned that the accountability system is not strong enough. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment during the mark-up that would require states to intervene when schools were chronically under-performing or not serving particular subgroups. This amendment was withdrawn but is likely to serve as the framework for trying to improve the bill as it moves to the floor at some point at the end of May or early June.

Health – The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the King v. Burwell case before the Supreme Court. The hearing comes shortly after Senator Johnson (R-Wis.) introduced a “contingency plan” backed by Senate Republican leadership if the Supreme Court finds against the federal government.

Border Facilities – The House will vote under suspension of the rules on Tuesday to name the Douglas Border Crossing in Arizona after former Governor Raul Castro. Governor Castro was Arizona’s only Latino Governor and also served as Ambassador to Bolivia and Argentina. He passed away earlier this month.

President Obama’s Immigration Town Hall — Full Video

Last night, President Obama joined MSNBC anchor Jose Diaz-Balart for an immigration town hall. The president answered some tough questions from Diaz-Balart and the audience and reiterated his defense of his administrative relief. Watch the full video below.

The Latino Outlook is Positive but Improvement is Still Needed

By Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President, Programs, NCLR

ImmigrationRally_7_10_2013Latinos are well aware of discrimination and inequality yet we are optimistic about the future, a new poll shows. The State of the Latino Family Survey of 1,000 Latinos, ranging from new immigrants to long-time citizens and conducted by Univision, The Denver Post, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, shows that the Latino community is particularly hopeful about their economic prospects, their personal health, and the quality of public education.

What is striking about the survey is that the pollsters chose to include undocumented immigrants living in the United States, providing a fuller picture of the Latino community’s stance on a variety of issues. Nonetheless, while optimism is apparent throughout the survey, differences exist among demographic groups, highlighting the complexity of the Latino community. Some findings show that Latinos who are newer to the United States have a much more positive outlook than those who have lived in the country longer. This latter group was more prone to “express disappointment with persistent inequality and diminishing opportunities.”

The poll focused on the following areas: social progress, economics, education, health, and the Latino experience.

Social Progress

Latinos have seen progress in health care access, equal opportunity, and education. The optimism for these particular issues, however, is somewhat guarded, especially considering that those surveyed believe there is an uptick in violence and crime, affordable housing is scarce, and discrimination against Latinos and immigrants has not diminished. The difference in attitudes is most stark when generational and socioeconomic differences are considered. For example, 56 percent of fourth-generation Latinos believe that things are getting worse on the job front compared to 40 percent of new U.S. citizens.

LatinoFamilySurvey_chart1

LatinoFamilySurvey_chart2

Economics

When asked about the economy and personal finances, an overwhelming 73 percent of respondents said they were optimistic about the future. Just 10 percent of those surveyed said they were not optimistic at all. The survey also showed that undocumented immigrants and the highest-income earners had the most positive outlook. Unfortunately, there is still progress to be made in ensuring that Latinas feel secure about the economy. A full 54 percent said they had no savings to draw from were they to fall on hard times, and just 61 percent said they could take on another job or more hours, compared to 73 percent of men who said the same.

Education

LatinoFamilySurvey_chart3Education is always one of the highest priorities for Latino parents, and respondents are confident about the instruction their children receive. According to the poll, 77 percent of Latinos with children said they believe that their schools are providing a quality education. An impressive 60 percent of Latino parents said they are actively engaged in their children’s education, whether it be attending parent-teacher conferences or volunteering at the school. Attendance at functions such as school board hearings, however, was weaker; the time commitment necessary for such events was often cited as a barrier, as were language and citizenship differences.

Health

The survey revealed that Latinos are also positive about their health outlook. In fact, 63 percent said they were in “good, very good, or excellent health.” Compare this to the 12 percent who rated their health as “poor.” Interestingly, while 75 percent said they have some kind of health insurance, 40 percent reported that they usually seek medical care outside of a doctor’s office. Twenty-five percent said they go to clinics or community health centers, while 16 percent said they go to hospitals or urgent care centers for medical attention.

The Latino Experience

Finally, on the Latino experience overall, the community is undeniably concerned about being the targets of discrimination in American society. Almost 70 percent said they are concerned about excessive force being doled out against them. Interestingly, more than 20 percent said they felt that Latinos are discriminated the most in Arizona, surely a result of the state’s notorious anti-immigrant atmosphere embodied by laws such as SB 1070.

LatinoFamilySurvey_chart4

This is an important poll, to be sure, though we should keep in mind that while Latinos remain optimistic about their future, there is still much work to be done politically, legislatively, and programmatically to guarantee better opportunities. Harnessing the optimism of our diverse and complex community will help us break down the barriers to education and the workplace, helping more Latinos enjoy full participation in American life.