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Will Congress Pay as Much Attention to Children as Airplanes?

Congress recently acted with uncharacteristic speed to undo the cuts to air traffic controllers implemented as part of the “sequester” (the across-the-board federal budget cuts), before flying home to their districts for a weeklong break. While making sure that the cuts did not cause them delays at the airport, they ignored the cuts that are affecting vulnerable women and children across the country. These include cuts to a range of crucial supports for families such as child care assistance and Head Start.

The National’s Women’s Law Center’s new fact sheet describes the importance of child care assistance in helping parents afford the care they need to work and support their families, and ensure their children are in safe, reliable care that fosters their learning and growth. Congress should be investing more in child care assistance, not chipping away at the help there is through arbitrary budget cuts. Read more »

Amie’s Story

Amie Crawford

Amie Crawford at the intoduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act

Before the “snowquester” blew into town, I had the pleasure of attending a press conference on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) introduced on Tuesday. The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the minimum cash wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage, and index these wages to keep up with inflation. 

I was excited to be present for the introduction because I believe this bill is hugely important, especially for women. If you ask me why, I might be inclined to rattle off a few numbers: women are 2/3 of minimum wage workers in the U.S., women are the majority of the workforce in the 10 occupations paying less than $10.10/hour, women working full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts…the list goes on. But listening to the speakers at yesterday’s event brought home what those numbers mean for real people, whose stories are more powerful than any statistics.

One of those stories was Amie’s. Amie Crawford might not strike you as the typical minimum wage worker: she has a college degree and worked as an interior designer for decades before the recession hit. Amie herself “used to think that minimum wage jobs were for other people…They weren’t me. They had less education, fewer skills. They didn’t work as hard or try as hard.” Then Amie’s life changed—and she acknowledged, “I couldn’t have been more wrong.” Read more »

Good News for 17 Million Women: Fair Minimum Wage Act To Be Introduced Today

I write an awful lot about why it’s so important for women to raise the federal minimum wage, so I’m especially excited to head to Capitol Hill today for a press conference on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) will introduce at noon. Introducing this crucial legislation is an essential first step towards fairer pay for millions of women across the country.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, increase the minimum cash wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage, and index these wages to keep up with inflation. Women especially stand to benefit from this proposal because they are about two-thirds of workers earning the federal minimum wage or less – and they are the majority of workers in the ten largest occupations that typically pay less than $10.10 per hour. As new analysis from NWLC shows, women are at least two-thirds of the workforce in seven of those ten occupations:

The 10 larges jobs that pay under $10.10/hour, by share of women

Women’s concentration in such low-wage jobs is one of the reasons we still see a large gap between women’s and men’s typical earnings: American women who work full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and the wage gap is even wider for women of color. Read more »

HERVotes Blog Carnival – Turning “Ifs” into “Whens”: College Students Like Me Need Reauthorization of a Full VAWA

This blog was originally published on June 29, 2012. We are re-publishing it today in honor of the HERVotes blog carnival on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Author Dana Bolger is a former NWLC intern, feminist, and student activist. You can follow her on Twitter at @danabolger.

I dream of a day when men on college campuses no longer rape with impunity.

If that day comes, my safety and well-being will be valued more than my laptop’s. Students found responsible for sexual assault will receive more than slaps on the wrist.

If that day comes, the rape of an intoxicated woman, or a girlfriend, or an ex-girlfriend, or a man, will finally be considered “real” rape. There will be no such thing as “gray rape” or “acquaintance rape” or “date rape.” It will all be called by its proper name, the only name: Rape.

If that day comes, victims will no longer be blamed for the crime another person perpetrated against them. Faculty and students will be taught to recognize the signs of dating violence and domestic abuse. The officials who adjudicate disciplinary decisions will receive training appropriate to understand the complex psychology behind the cycle of abuse, rather than being told – as one disciplinary committee member was at my college – that “it’s pretty much common sense anyway.”

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has the potential to begin a journey on which each “if” will turn into a “when.”

But right now, the VAWA bill is languishing in Congress, the surprising target of an effort to turn the issue of violence against women – a problem that everyone should agree merits action – into a partisan battle. On Tuesday the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women rallied on Capitol Hill in a renewed effort to push the reauthorization bill through Congress before the end of the summer. Read more »

Note to the New Congress: We’ve Already Achieved $2.4 Trillion Dollars in Lopsided Deficit Reduction

“Will there be a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff?”

That was the question that rang out for months from policy makers, journalists, and concerned onlookers everywhere. And in the first few days of January, the American Taxpayer Relief Act was signed into law, resolving several of the tax and budget issues known as the “fiscal cliff.” Among other things, it requires the very wealthiest to pay a fairer share of taxes, extends tax credits that benefit hardworking families for five years, extends unemployment insurance benefits for a year, and delays across-the-board spending cuts for two months.

However, another series of fiscal showdowns are looming. Read more »

Did You Know That Our Military Women Don’t Have Abortion Covered in Cases of Rape and Incest? Veterans Are Working to Fix This.

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. I have had the honor of meeting some of the incredible veterans – retired military officers and non-commissioned officers – who have come together to right a wrong. Currently, federal law bans coverage of abortion for military women (and military dependents) who become pregnant due to sexual assault. The vets are working to get this unfair law changed.

These officers told us that the first thing they had been taught was that it was their responsibility to “take care of the troops.” To a person, these veterans are fighting against this ban as an extension of that responsibility.

Specifically, they support an amendment to the National Defense Re-Authorization Act (NDAA) that Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) offered in the Armed Services Committee to end this ban. And, they succeeded. The Shaheen Amendment passed out of Committee with a bi-partisan vote. In fact, both Senators Carl Levin and John McCain (the Chairman and Senior Republican on the Committee) voted for the provision. Read more »

Yesterday, Women Showed Up

While we only know of one woman who made sure to cast her vote even though her water had broken and her contractions were five minutes apart, she was far from alone in her determination to make her voice heard at the polls yesterday in an election season where women’s health, reproductive rights, and fair pay were frequent flashpoints. Women made up the majority of the electorate on Tuesday—53 percent. Unmarried women were 23 percent of voters, up from 20 percent in 2008. And women’s votes were key to yesterday’s results.

Five new female Senators were elected, resulting in a record 20 women in the Senate. In New Hampshire as of January, for the first time ever in a state the governor, both senators, and all House members will be women.

Women made the difference in rejecting a proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. Read more »

Women’s Records in the 2012 Election

Last night was a historic night for women in American political life. A record number of women ran for Congress in 2012. And while still far from equal, the numbers of women in the next Congress will be historically high.

With a few races too close to call, there will apparently be between 75 and 79 women in the House of Representatives, up from 73 currently serving. There will be 20 in the Senate, up from 17 currently serving. This means that women will comprise about 18 percent of the next Congress, up from under 17 percent in the current Congress.

Other historic achievements last night:

  • Senator-elect Mazie Hirono (D-HI) became the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Senate and Hawai’i’s first female Senator.
  • Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) became the first openly gay person to be elected to the Senate and Wisconsin’s first female Senator.

Medicare: Meeting Women’s Needs Today and Tomorrow

We strongly disagree with former Senator Alan Simpson, who told Bloomberg News earlier this week, “Medicare is on automatic pilot. It will use up every resource in the government.”

Senator Simpson is known for his rhetorical flair and long-standing interest in our nation’s fiscal health. He recently co-chaired a national commission on fiscal responsibility and is well known for telling Americans that we need to make tough fiscal choices. Unfortunately, he characterizes Medicare as a budget conundrum, not the critically important health insurance program it really is. Medicare covers hospital care, doctors’ visits, diagnostic tests, rehabilitation, home health care, preventive care and more for more than 47 million older Americans and individuals with disabilities. For 47 years it has been a pillar of our nation’s health care system, and – because Medicare enrollees are older, sicker and need more health care services than the rest of the population – is an important source of revenue for health care providers. For example, Medicare payments represent 28 percent of national spending on hospital care and 45 percent of spending on home health services. Read more »

24 Hours to Turn Up the Heat!

 Stand Up for Tax Fairness
Take Action
Call your Members of Congress at 1-888-744-9958 and tell them that it's time for the richest Americans to pay their fair share.
Call 1-888-744-9958 today!

It's go time!

In less than 24 hours Congress will start to vote on whether to end — or extend — the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest two percent.

Ending the Bush-era tax cuts on income above $250,000 per couple, as President Obama and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) have proposed, would help restore fairness to the tax code and protect programs vital to women and their families. It would give 98 percent of Americans their full tax cuts next year.

And the wealthiest two percent would still receive tax breaks on their first $250,000! We simply can't afford to give even more tax breaks to those who need them least when so many women and families are struggling just to make ends meet.

Calling is easy. And only takes a couple of minutes. Dial 1-888-744-9958 and listen to easy instructions and a sample script. Read more »