Workin’ Overtime? Making Less Than $50k? You Might Get a Raise.

By Catherine Singley Harvey, Manager, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

How we felt when the proposed rule was announced.

How we felt when the proposed rule was announced. From Diana Ross’ “Workin’ Overtime.” Click to watch her video.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced a proposal to greatly expand the number of workers who would be eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week.

The proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor would raise the salary threshold to determine which workers are covered by overtime protections from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) to about $970 a week ($50,440 a year). The administration estimates that five million salaried workers would see their wages rise next year if this change is approved. Latinos would especially benefit since 44 percent earn less than $50,000 a year.

This widely popular change is long overdue. In 1975, 62 percent of salaried workers were covered by overtime; today only 8 percent are covered. As a result, millions more Americans are working long hours but are still unable to cover basic costs like proper nutrition, school supplies, and rent. In fact, the current salary threshold for overtime is below the poverty line for a family of four. Outdated overtime rules are contributing to stagnant wages that are holding working families back.

Strong resistance from business lobbyists has halted all but one update to the overtime threshold since the 1970s. But President Obama made it a priority for his second term, instructing U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to fix overtime in 2013. Secretary Perez’s proposed rule does that, plus it calls for the salary threshold rise automatically so that it doesn’t get stuck again.

Now it’s up to us, the public, to show our support. Visit fixovertime.org to calculate what the change could mean for your take home pay and to tell Secretary Perez to make fixing overtime a reality.

Weekly Washington Outlook — June 1, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

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

  • R. 404 – To authorize early repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska (Sponsored by Rep. Adrian Smith / Natural Resources Committee) 
  • R. 533 – To revoke the charter of incorporation of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma at the request of that tribe, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin / Natural Resources Committee) 
  • R. 1168 – Native American Children’s Safety Act (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Cramer / Natural Resources Committee) 
  • R. 979 – To designate a mountain in the John Muir Wilderness of the Sierra National Forest as “Sky Point” (Sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock / Natural Resources Committee)
  • R. 336 – To direct the Administrator of General Services, on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, to convey certain Federal property located in the State of Alaska to the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska (Sponsored by Rep. Don Young / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) 
  • R. 944 – To reauthorize the National Estuary Program, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Frank LoBiondo / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) 
  • 802 – Girls Count Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio / Foreign Affairs Committee) 
  • R. 1493 – Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel / Foreign Affairs Committee)

On Monday the House will also consider H.R. 1335 – Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Don Young / Natural Resources Committee)

On Tuesday and the balance of the week the House will vote on H.R. 2578 – Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. John Culberson / Appropriations Committee). In addition the House may also begin consideration of H.R. 2577 – Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart / Appropriations Committee) as well as legislation related to expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act.

Senate:

On Monday, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R.2048, USA Freedom Act, which would end the NSA’s bulk data collection. Later in the week, the Senate will take up its version of a defense authorization bill.

White House:

On Monday, President Obama will host Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands for a meeting in the Oval Office. In the afternoon, the president will host a discussion at the White House with a group of 75 young Southeast Asian Leaders on themes of civic engagement, environment and natural resources management and entrepreneurship. The group is the first cohort from the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Fellows Program. The fellows, ages 18-35 years old, hail from all 10 ASEAN countries and have just completed their five week fellowship in the United States to enhance their practical expertise, leadership skills, and professional contacts to address challenges and create new opportunities in their home communities and countries.

On Tuesday, President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Army Sergeant William Shemin and Army Private Henry Johnson for conspicuous gallantry during World War I.

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

On Thursday, President Obama will welcome the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants to the White House to honor the team and their 2014 World Series victory. The president will also recognize the efforts the Giants make to give back to their community as part of their visit, continuing the tradition begun by President Obama of honoring sports teams for their efforts on and off the field.

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

Also This Week:

Appropriations – The House will vote this week on its Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. The bill as passed out of Committee includes deep spending cuts to the census, juvenile justice programs, and legal services. More details are available in OMB Director Shaun Donovan’s letter to the Appropriations Committee. The House may also begin consideration of its Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill as well. Immigration policy riders are possible on both bills.

Education – Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy once again included the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) in his memo of legislation for this work period. The bill is not on this week’s calendar and timing to bring this back to the floor remains uncertain due to lack of Republican support. In the Senate, the Every Child Achieves Act could be brought to the floor as soon as next week, although many staff members believe this will slip to later in the month or July. In the meantime, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on college affordability as part of its ongoing process to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

Health – The House Ways and Means Committee will mark up a bill to repeal the Medical Device Tax on Tuesday. The tax was levied under the Affordable Care Act and has been the subject of intense lobbying from manufacturers. Elsewhere, the Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the ACA’s effects on employment. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts Subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday “Rewriting the Law: Examining the Process that Led to the Obamacare Subsidy Rule.”

Without DACA, We Will Lose Fierce Advocates for Justice

Living the Dream-01 (2)

By David Castillo, New Media Manager, NCLR

Jesus Chavez at a 2013 immigration rally on the National Mall. Photo: Chavez Facebook page

Jesus Chavez at a 2013 immigration rally on the National Mall. Photo: Chavez Facebook page

As a gay undocumented youth, Jesus Chavez understands well the challenges of living with secrets. He grew up in California’s Central Valley always aware of his immigration status but forbidden from speaking about it.

At 14, Chavez vividly recalls watching coverage of the 2006 immigration reform rallies in cities and towns across the country. It was then that he realized why his parents had gone to great lengths to ensure that he and his siblings kept their undocumented status quiet. The rallies were in response to an anti-immigrant measure passed in the House of Representatives that would have ramped up enforcement measures and deportations.

“It made me realize how dangerous it was to reveal this secret,” said Chavez. “The idea of family separation…I couldn’t live in the United States without my mom.”

This early introduction to activism impacted Chavez’s college and career decisions. He had always been a bright student in school. He excelled in academics and also exhibited athleticism, which he still credits with helping him stay disciplined.

When it came time to apply for college, he knew his status would pose financial difficulties, so he hustled to find the money he would need to attend. When he graduated from high school, Chavez had managed to win $14,000 in private scholarships to help fund his academic career at University of California, Berkeley. It was a remarkable feat that showcased his tenacious spirit.

In college Chavez got involved with the undocumented youth movement, serving as the co-chair of Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE). When President Obama made his historic announcement on the creation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Chavez and RISE provided support to students who wanted to come out of the shadows. They worked with the law school’s immigration lawyer to help students through the application process.

Ironically, when it came time to apply for himself, Chavez realized he found greater joy in seeing others celebrate their deferred action. “At the time, I was working three jobs and wasn’t sure I would need DACA. I was happier for others because they realized they could now work legally, they could do study abroad programs,” he said. “Now that I am working for myself, having DACA has been amazing. I’ve been able to not just get jobs that I like, but also grow professionally. Having DACA is something I’m really thankful for.”

Jesus’s professional growth and activism has indeed gained him recognition in his young career. In 2013, he moved to Washington, DC, to intern with the National LGBTQ Task Force. Today, he works as the operations manager for PFLAG, another LGBT civil rights organization. He also held posts with the Latino GLBT History Project and attended the Union=Fuerza LGBT Latino conference.

Most recently, Chavez received the “Next Generation Award” by Washington’s LGBT magazine, Metro Weekly, for his commitment to improving the lives of all people. He admits to nearly rejecting the award because he didn’t think his experience warranted the honor. He ultimately changed his mind, but when speaking about the award, Chavez’s humility comes through.

“The Next Generation Award speaks to the undocuqueer movement and how they are using two identities to make themselves heard so we can reach equality,” said Chavez. “There are so many undocumented LGBT people who struggle, not only because they’re undocumented, but because they’re out and deal with lots of criticism. We need to keep fighting for what we think is right.”

Jesus’s story is certainly exceptional, and his accomplishments from college to now underscore the value of his contributions. The world is sorely in need of fighters like Chavez who are fiercely committed to advocating for what is right. Take DACA away and we lose a great talent.  Chavez is an excellent example of why we must keep fighting for the president’s executive action on extended DACA and DAPA.

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.

CHIPping Away at the Number of Uninsured Kids

By Steven Lopez, Senior Health Policy Analyst, NCLR

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Last week, President Obama signed into law H.R.2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), among other things. Since its creation in 1997, CHIP has played a critical role in reducing the number of uninsured children nationwide. According to a Government Accountability Office report, since CHIP began, the percentage of uninsured children has decreased by half, from 13.9 percent in 1997 to 6.6 percent in the first three months of 2014.The same report notes that when compared to uninsured children, CHIP enrollees had better access to care, including preventive care, and had comparable access to care when compared to children with private insurance.

NCLR has been a longstanding advocate of quality, affordable, and accessible health coverage for all and we recognize that by investing in programs like CHIP, we are making a critical investment in the future of the country. CHIP has been a particularly important lifeline for Hispanic children, who are more likely to be covered by the program than by private insurance. A recent evaluation of CHIP highlighted that in the 10 states examined, more than half of the children enrolled were Hispanic. But given today’s climate, just because a program is working doesn’t mean it will avoid being the centerpiece of a political showdown. Luckily, Congress decided that protecting our children’s health and well-being is something that we can all agree upon. And while we would have liked to have seen CHIP extended for four years instead of two, maintaining funding for a program that has been an essential coverage pathway for so many children, particularly Latino children, is certainly a win.

HEALTH-child-getting-ear-checked_1However, the work is not done. Now that we know the program’s funding is secure, we need to ensure those who are eligible are enrolled. Latino children continue to be disproportionately uninsured. In fact, they are 1.5 times more likely to be uninsured compared to all children. However, programs such as CHIP present an opportunity to further reduce this disparity. According to a report NCLR released last fall with Georgetown University, 66.1 percent of uninsured Hispanic children in the United States—or 1.3 million Hispanic children—were eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled in 2012. Outreach to eligible families, particularly Latinos, is critical to increasing awareness of CHIP, its benefits, and the fact that unlike the ACA open enrollment period, enrollment in programs like CHIP and Medicaid occurs throughout the year.

We applaud Congress for exemplifying how to solve problems by working together and President Obama for acting swiftly to sign the bill into law. Now let’s make sure that every child not only has the opportunity for coverage, but is enrolled. To learn more about coverage opportunities in your state, go to InsureKidsNow.gov or call 1-877-Kids-Now.