Saying Goodbye to the 112th Congress and Hello to the 113thJanuary 04, 2013
The 112th Congress officially adjourned Wednesday, ending what’s been described as the least productive Congress ever. For some context, just 219 bills passed by the 112th Congress have been signed into law. The Congress before that passed 383 bills, and the one before that saw 460 bills signed into law. Clearly, a lot of important work was left unfinished and will have to be taken up by the 113th.
For one thing, the 112th didn’t pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), a much-needed update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. AAUW is a strong supporter of this legislation and led efforts to bring it before both chambers for a vote. Unfortunately, the PFA didn’t get the required procedural votes, so it will have to be reintroduced in the 113th Congress.
Another item still on Congress’ to-do list is the passage of an inclusive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization. The Senate passed an AAUW-supported, bipartisan, comprehensive VAWA in April 2012, while the House of Representatives passed a different, damaging bill the following month. Due to resistance in the House, the two bills were not reconciled, and the reauthorization was not passed.
In addition to PFA and VAWA, the 113th Congress will face many other items on its agenda:
- The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which sets parameters for K–12 education and funding, is due for reauthorization. AAUW will be paying attention to many issues during this process, including
- upholding Title IX protections,
- opposing private school vouchers,
- ensuring that charter schools are held to the same standards as other schools,
- requiring that schools be held accountable for demonstrating that they are meeting educational goals for all students,
- opposing single-sex education programs that don’t pay proper attention to civil rights protections, and
- supporting requirements that schools collect comprehensive data on student achievement and graduation.
- The Higher Education Act, which is the most significant federal law for American colleges and universities, is up for reauthorization. AAUW supports increasing access to higher education for traditional and nontraditional students.
- Both the Workforce Investment Act and the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act will need reauthorizing in the 113th Congress. AAUW will watch these bills closely to ensure that they promote training in careers and fields that are nontraditional for women and help move women into higher-paying occupations.
We’re also keeping pressure on the Obama administration. AAUW believes President Obama should pay attention to women’s priorities, especially since women’s votes decided the 2012 election. See AAUW’s list of what Obama should do on day one of his new term.
These are some of our top priorities for the 113th Congress. What are yours?