Washington Update (March 28, 2014)

2, 22, 11, 100.

This isn’t some secret code, I promise. Instead they’re numbers to get excited about.

Two Senators signed on to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act this week: Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). That makes 54 co-sponsors, the most we’ve ever had, and it’s because of AAUW members’ hard work. Are your senators co-sponsors? Find out and take action here.

22 Senators, the members of the Senate Help, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, will hold in a hearing on the Paycheck Fairness Act on April 1. Witnesses at the hearing – including an AAUW member from Michigan – will tell the Senators why women need the Paycheck Fairness Act. We’ll have the full scoop for you in next week’s Washington Update.

It’s 11 days to Equal Pay Day on April 8. What are you going to do to mark the day? If you’re holding an advocacy event or activity, make sure to tell us so we can send you materials, spotlight your event, and more. The deadline to request materials is Tuesday, April 1, so be sure to get in touch. Our staff is ready to help!

The final number is 100, as in 100 percent. That’s what we’re fighting for: women’s equal pay for equal work. No more, no less. And because of the persistence of AAUW members, I know we can get there.

Yours in AAUW,

Lisa M. Maatz
Vice President of Government Relations

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The One Thing You Must Do

Equal Pay Day is almost here – do you know what you’re going to do? We have resources to help you plan events, write letters to the editor, or do a social media campaign. Check them out and share them with your friends.

But Because You Want to Do More

Women’s history deserves its own museum. Tell your representative to support legislation that would begin the established process of creating a National Women’s History Museum on the National Mall.

Get Social

Your team may be out of the Sweet Sixteen, but ours isn’t! AAUW’s men’s March Madness bracket picked the University of Dayton to win it all, and they’re still in the running. In both the men’s and women’s brackets, the University of Dayton, where the salaries of women’s sports coaches are, on average, 96 percent of the salaries of men’s sports coaches, comes out on top. Join us in rooting for Dayton and equal pay!

New Resources

The Student Veterans of America released a new report about veterans enrolled in higher education. According to them, over half of all veterans who used their G.I. bill benefits have completed their academic or training programs.

A study by the National People’s Action and the Center for Effective Government discovered that many corporations have structured their tax operations to pay diminishing amounts of state and local taxes. Their analysis found that if these changes were reversed, it would create 2.5 million new jobs and rehire the 667,000 school teachers, first responders, and other state and city workers.


Top Stories

Supreme Court Hears Contraceptive Challenges; Issues Domestic Violence Ruling
The Supreme Court this week heard arguments from two for-profit businesses challenging the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that contraception be provided without co-pay or cost-sharing. The companies claimed that providing certain services violates their religious freedom. AAUW disagrees – businesses have no place in their employees’ medical decisions. Plus, employees are pretty much already paying for their own insurance through contributions and labor. Also this week, the court issued a 9-0 ruling upholding a federal law that prevents people convicted of domestic violence from possessing a firearm.

Federal Agency Says College Football Players Can Unionize
On Wednesday, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board announced that football players at Northwestern University can unionize. This would create the nation’s first union of college athletes. The players argued that college football relies on players’ labor to make profits, so football players should be treated as school employees, and thus be allowed to unionize. A complicating factor in this debate is Title IX, which requires schools to “provide equal treatment in the aggregate to its men’s and women’s programs.” Northwestern is expected to appeal this decision to the full National Labor Relations Board.

Women’s History Museum Gains Momentum in Congress
There was movement in the House of Representatives this week on legislation to study the creation of a Women’s History Museum. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) recently said that the bill will be voted on by the House sometime this year, and on Tuesday a House subcommittee held a hearing on this legislation.

The AAUW Action Fund Lobby Corps recently visited Hill offices to express support for this legislation, and their efforts added 12 legislators from both parties to the list of co-sponsors.


State Spotlight: Connecticut

Connecticut Raises State Mininum Wage
On Wednesday, the Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation that will raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.70 to $10.10 by January 2017. It was signed into law by Governor Daniel Malloy (D) on Thursday.


Cheer of the Week

On Wednesday the Treasury Department announced that domestic abuse survivors who live separately from their spouse will be able to access Affordable Care Act subsidies. AAUW signed on to a letter that urged Treasury to make this much needed change.


Jeer of the Week

Although unemployment insurance extension legislation passed a key Senate procedural vote this week, the House of Representatives continues to resist taking up this critical issue. More than 2 million long-term jobless have lost benefits since they lapsed in December 2013. Tell the House to extend unemployment insurance and keep millions of Americans out of poverty.


Bits and Pieces

  • As the Department of Education’s negotiated rulemaking continues next week, increased attention is being paid to sexual assaults on college campuses. More survivors are coming forward and demanding campus protection, like those at the University of Iowa. AAUW Government Relations Manager Anne Hedgepeth commented that colleges “need to be talking the talk and walking the walk” by putting real weight behind initiatives to end sexual assault.
  • On Monday, Indiana became the first state to withdraw from the Common Core standards. Gov. Mike Pence (R) said he wanted to “develop academic standards that are written by Hoosiers.” Also this week, new polling in five states found bipartisan support for the Common Core standards. AAUW supports the Common Core standards.
  • On Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen praised women for their contributions to America’s economic success. Yellen highlighted women’s increasing workforce participation and their impact on economic productivity and prosperity.
  • On Monday, advocates for the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) called for Congress to take action. If ratified, CEDAW could strengthen American’s global position on women’s rights.
  • On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced that the Affordable Care Act had met its goal of enrolling 6 million people. Open enrollment will close March 31.
  • CLASP released a brief detailing the limited childcare options available to low-wage workers. Volatile and nonstandard work schedules create child care challenges and often force parents to rely on care from non-licensed caregivers.
  • Latifa Lyles was appointed to be the Director of the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. Lyles previously served as Vice President for Membership of the National Organization for Women.
  • On Thursday, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) announced he will not seek re-election.

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