Marshall, Moran Deliver to Protect Lawrence, Manhattan, and St. Joseph, MO/KS from Losing Vital Federal Resources

Source: United States Senator for Kansas Roger Marshall

Marshall, Moran Deliver to Protect Lawrence, Manhattan, and St. Joseph, MO/KS from Losing Vital Federal Resources

(Washington, D.C., July 14, 2021) – Today, U.S. Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. and Jerry Moran announced that following their pressure, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) halted its plans to change Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area population threshold definitions from 50k to 100k. This change would have significantly impacted Lawrence, Manhattan, and St. Joseph, MO/KS qualification as a Metropolitan Statistical Area and in turn disqualified the cities from receiving vital federal funding for programs that rely on these definitions for qualifications. Following the OMB’s announcement, the senators issued these statements:
“Distribution of funds through multiple federal programs is tied to MSA designations. Losing these MSAs could have meant the loss of vital federal dollars to communities and our state’s economy,” said Senator Marshall. “The OMB should never be in the business of picking winners and losers while adopting bureaucratic standards affecting our Kansas communities, and I am pleased OMB reversed their plans.”
“This decision helps makes certain that several Kansas communities continue to qualify for critical federal funding as the economy recovers,” said Senator Moran. “I am pleased the Metropolitan Statistical Area definition will not be changed, and Kansas communities will not be adversely affected for unjustified reasons made in Washington.”
Background:
In March, Senators Marshall and Moran wrote a letter to OMB pressuring then to halt their plans to change Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area definitions from 50k to 100k. You may click HERE or scroll below to view the letter in its entirety.
March 17, 2021
Acting Director Rob Fairweather
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20503
Dear Acting Director Fairweather:
Re: OMB-2021-0001
We write to you today to express our concern for the recommended changes proposed by the Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee (Committee) published in the Federal Register on Jan. 29, 2021, regarding reclassification of a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as an area with a population nucleus of at least 100,000. In Kansas, this change would potentially remove three Kansas MSAs, or one third of the state’s current number of MSAs, affecting five Kansas counties. 
As noted by the Congressional Research Service, despite being intended purely for statistical purposes and not be used for funding formulas, in practice, Metropolitan, Micropolitan, and Core Based Statistical Area designations and metrics can have a significant role in the development of legislative policy and the distribution of federal funding for certain programs.  The Committee’s report to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) fails to provide evidence that this change to a significant population threshold standard, which has influenced federal policymaking dating back to 1950, is rooted in analyses of the benefits produced or had a compelling research-based process. 
The federal government distributes billions of dollars annually through programs that utilize population statistics. Several of these programs are widely used in Kansas, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant and Department of Health and Human Service’s Medicare payment system for hospital inpatients. Losing one third of our state’s MSA designation could mean the loss of vital federal dollars to communities already struggling to rebuild economic engines damaged by the current Covid-19 crisis.
A former chief statistician of the OMB who helped develop the Committee’s recommendations even stated:
“There are winners and losers when you change these designations…A typical complaint comes from economic development when you are trying to attract investment. You want to say you are a part of a dynamic [Metropolitan Statistical Area]. There’s a perception associated with it. If your area gets dumped out of an MSA, then you feel disadvantaged.”
The OMB should never be in the business of picking winners and losers while adopting bureaucratic standards affecting our communities. The Committee fails to provide the compelling research and evidence of benefits necessary for the OMB to justify that adopting this new threshold is not arbitrary, and we urge the OMB to maintain the nucleus core population at the current threshold.
Sincerely,
Roger Marshall, M.D.United States Senator                                                            
Jerry MoranUnited States Senator
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Senator Murray Statement on Budget Deal

Source: United States Senator for Washington State Patty Murray

Senator Murray: “This budget deal is a strong first step toward delivering the most consequential federal investment in our families and communities in decades… American families in Washington state and across the country are counting on us to help them in a real, meaningful way—so make no mistake, Senate Democrats are going to get this done to build back fairer and stronger for everyone.”

Washington, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement on the newly announced budget deal, following a meeting between President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats.

“This budget deal is a strong first step toward delivering the most consequential federal investment in our families and communities in decades. At a critical moment in our nation’s history, this plan would make an incredible difference in the lives of people in Washington state and across the country—including on challenges I’ve been focused on for a long time. We are going to make child care affordable for working families, help ensure every kid is ready for kindergarten by providing universal pre-k, create a national paid leave program for the first time ever, and we are going to make a landmark investment in climate action that will help us create millions of good paying union jobs at the same time.

“I’m glad this budget plan also allows us to move forward on other major priorities like health care, affordable housing, free community college, and workforce training—and I also want to ensure that we are looking at every possible avenue to make progress on immigration reform.

“There’s a lot of work ahead of us to hammer out a final bill, but American families in Washington state and across the country are counting on us to help them in a real, meaningful way—so make no mistake, Senate Democrats are going to get this done to build back fairer and stronger for everyone.”

Senator Murray, a former preschool teacher who now serves as Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has led the fight for child care reform since she first was elected to the Senate. Senator Murray recently reintroduced her Child Care for Working Families Act, which the American Families Plan is modeled after. Murray’s legislation would finally establish a child care infrastructure, ensure access to high-quality, affordable child care for working families and improve wages for child care workers. 

One of the first votes Senator Murray took in the U.S. Senate was in favor of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and she’s kept up the fight since then to ensure every worker has access to paid family and medical leave. Senator Murray is a strong supporter and cosponsor of Senator Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, which the American Families Plan is modeled after, to provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to all workers.   

Senator Murray recently penned an op-ed in the Seattle Times calling for a landmark investment in climate action, and reiterated her determination to secure major provisions to address the climate crisis in upcoming infrastructure legislation. Pointing to the recent heat wave in the Pacific Northwest as the latest irrefutable evidence of the climate crisis, Murray emphasized that for any climate action to be successful it must utilize the strength of the federal government to enact systemic change, center communities that currently bear the brunt of the climate crisis, and create good paying, union jobs.

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Murkowski Joins Secretary of Energy to Announce Funding to Support Energy Technology Deployment

Source: United States Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski

07.14.21

Applauds Seven Alaska Tribes Awarded Funding to Increase Energy Resiliency & Reduce Energy Costs

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined U.S. Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), Jennifer Granholm, to announce funding from the DOE Office of Indian Energy (OIE) to support thirteen American Indian and Alaska Native communities to deploy energy technology. This includes $5,269,376 which will be distributed among seven tribes in Alaska. The funding will help maximize deployment and implementation of energy technology, including projects to lower the cost of energy, make buildings more efficient, and ensure greater energy resilience.

For audio of the press conference, click here.

“It’s good to be able to focus on good things that can come from the Office of Indian Energy as they work to facilitate and advance the needs of not only Alaska Natives, but American Indian and Indigenous peoples around the country,” said Senator Murkowski. “We face very high energy costs throughout much of the state. In some of our small communities, rural residents can face electricity rates that are about 800 percent higher than the national average. So when you think about what this means when you are paying that much just to stay warm, that is less that you have available to feed your family. I never forget the conversation that I had with a foster mom who approached me at town hall meeting in Aniak with a receipt for 5 gallons of home heating fuel totaling 50 dollars. She was paying ten dollars a gallon for her home heating fuel, and she had an infant foster baby and she said ‘this week I’m choosing to keep my house warm. Next week I’m buying formula.’ These are not choices that families should have to make. And unfortunately, we know that those stories are heard in far too many of our communities and in far too many of our Native communities. The opportunities with these grants will help translate to the resiliency, to reducing the cost, and to making life better for our families.”

“The Department of Energy is committed to working with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to strengthen energy infrastructure on Tribal lands,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “These selections, the first from the Office of Indian Energy this year, underscore the Biden Administration’s commitment to ensuring that communities disproportionately affected by climate change directly benefit from clean energy investments.”

Keolani (Keo) Booth, a member of the Metlakatla Tribe (slated to receive funding through this announcement), Councilman on the Tribal Council, Chair of the Tribes Planning Committee as well as Board Chairman of the Metlakatla Power & Light (MP&L), also shared remarks. 

“I want to start by thanking Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Senator Murkowski for your efforts and insight on prioritizing your project,” said Keolani Booth. “This announcement by Secretary Granholm and our friends at DOE, and our longtime and beloved Senator Lisa Murkowski, is a validation of our efforts directed at reimagining this intertie. Intertie project is all about connection—connection to the electric grid, connection to our neighbor Ketchikan, as well as connection to the global community through high speed broadband in the future. It is about economic development in our community and throughout all of Southeast Alaska. While we cherish our independence and sovereignty as a Native community, we also recognize that we are all stronger together when we are interconnected. Resiliency, as you stated Ms. Murkowski, is all about having multiple options for powering our communities and this project opens up many news options for renewable energy, to both Metlakatla, Ketchikan, and the Southeast Alaska region. Again, I want to thank the federal government for its investment into our community. We look forward to expeditiously executing on this project and providing dependable, renewable power at a long-term reasonable price for all of our consumers.”

Senator Murkowski has worked diligently to enhance and develop the OIE. During her time as Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, she advanced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and improve the OIE. During her tenure as Chairman of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, she helped secure $22 million dollars—a $6 million increase in funding—for OIE within the FY2021 year-end appropriations package. And, in the Energy Act of 2020 which was signed into law last year,  Senator Murkowski helped expand the definition of tribal lands to include any census track where the majority of residents are Alaska Natives or enrolled members of a federally recognized Indian tribe or village.

Alaska communities selected to receive funding: 

  • The Village of Aniak (Aniak, AK ): $167,948 to install energy retrofits on four essential multi-use buildings and the Village’s Community Center. 
  • The Village of Chefornak (Chefornak, AK): $854,964 to help purchase, install, and integrate a battery storage system into its standalone community wind diesel grid. 
  • The Kipnuk Light Plant, a tribally owned utility of the Native Village of Kipnuk (Kipnuk, AK): $855,978 to purchase, install, and integrate a battery energy storage system into its standalone community wind diesel grid. This improvement will displace over 34,000 gallons of diesel fuel. 
  • The Metlakatla Indian Community (Annette Island Reserve, AK): $1,031,110 to complete the electrical intertie between its islanded community and the mainland community of Ketchikan, Alaska. 
  • The Native Village of Diomede (Diomede, AK): $222,848 to install energy efficiency measures in the new store in the Village.
  • The Akiachak Native Community (Akiachak, AK): $123,220 to install energy-efficient retrofits and an LED lighting upgrade. The funding will also support the installation of setback thermostats, in five essential multi-use buildings in the Akiachak Village.   
  • The Native Village of Noatak and the Northwest Arctic Borough (Kotzebue, AK): $1,997,265 to install a high-penetration solar PV and battery energy storage hybrid system to integrate with the Village’s diesel electric grid. This improvement is estimated to save the community more than $178,000 each year. 

Following Bombshell ProPublica Report, Warren and Whitehouse Call for Finance Committee Investigation of Tax Avoidance Schemes by the Nation’s Wealthiest Individuals

Source: United States Senator for Massachusetts – Elizabeth Warren

July 14, 2021

Recent report detailed how the ultra-rich pay income taxes that fall well below the typical rates paid by middle class wage earners

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), members of the Senate Committee on Finance, sent a letter to Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) calling for an investigation into last month’s deeply troubling ProPublica report describing how the nation’s wealthiest individuals are using a series of legal tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of income taxes. 

ProPublica obtained a trove of tax data for the nation’s wealthiest individuals and estimated that some paid just an effective tax rate of 3.5% on their growing fortunes, well below the typical rates paid by middle class wage earners. The ProPublica investigation also found that the vast majority of the tax avoidance is legal. 

“This tax avoidance by the nation’s wealthiest individuals is profoundly unfair,” wrote the senators. “The Finance Committee has an obligation to investigate these matters, hold hearings, and develop legislative policies that address the methods and strategies used by ultra-millionaires and billionaires to avoid paying taxes, and its impact on the nation’s finances and ability to pay for investments in infrastructure, health care, the economy, and the environment.”

Senators Warren and Whitehouse are also requesting that the Finance Committee investigate the role of the nation’s largest financial institutions and wealth management firms that have helped develop these tax avoidance strategies and provide the financial infrastructure that allows them to be effective.  

“Because the majority of tax avoidance loans and other tax avoidance tactics are not disclosed to the IRS, an effective investigation of these tactics must involve the institutions that aid and abet them. The Committee should open an investigation of the role of these financial institutions in tax avoidance, seeking information on how certain lending activities allow individuals to avoid claiming taxable income and the precise methods used by these institutions to do so,” Senators Warren and Whitehouse wrote.

Earlier this year, Senator Warren introduced the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act. Senator Whitehouse is an original cosponsor. The bill includes robust anti-evasion and avoidance measures and would level the playing field and narrow the racial wealth gap by asking the wealthiest 100,000 households in America, or the top 0.05%, to pay their fair share. Revenue generated from the Wealth Tax could be invested in child care and early education, K-12, and infrastructure.

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Senator Toomey Thanks Steve Kelly for Years of Service to PA

Source: United States Senator for Pennsylvania Pat Toomey

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced that Communications Director, Steve Kelly, will be leaving his office at the end of the week for an opportunity in the private sector.

“Steve has long been a valued and integral member of my staff,” said Senator Toomey. “He has done a terrific job leading my communications operations, and throughout his years of service, he has become a trusted advisor. More importantly, Steve is a great father and friend. While he will be greatly missed on staff, Kris and I wish him the very best with all his future endeavors.”
Steve has served as Senator Toomey’s Communications Director since 2017. Prior to that, Steve worked as Senator Toomey’s Press Secretary and as a member of Senator Toomey’s 2016 campaign staff. He originally joined Senator Toomey’s office in 2012 as the Central Pennsylvania Regional Manager. Previous to his work in Senator Toomey’s office, Steve worked for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Thune-Wyden Bill to Improve Child Support Enforcement for Native American Tribes Unanimously Passes Senate

Source: United States Senator for South Dakota John Thune

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, applauded the Senate for passing their bill to improve child support enforcement for Native American tribes by allowing the 60 tribes that currently operate their own child support agencies to access the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program to collect past-due child support from non-custodial parents. The legislation would also create parity between tribes and states by allowing tribal child support agencies to obtain other identifiable information of non-custodial parents that can be used to enforce child support. The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.
“I’m grateful the Senate unanimously passed my bill to improve child support enforcement for Native American tribes,” said Thune. “Tribes in South Dakota that operate their own child support agencies should have access to the same programs and resources that state child support agencies have. Our legislation would help ensure that families in Indian Country can collect child support payments that are past due and help put tribal and state child support enforcement programs on equal footing.”
“It only makes sense that Tribes in Oregon and across the nation should have the same tools as state child support agencies, and with the passage of our Tribal Child Support Enforcement Act they are one important step closer,” said Wyden. “Once this bill passes the House and is signed into law, tribal child support agencies everywhere can ensure that kids get the support they deserve.”
States have several enforcement methods at their disposal to enforce child support payments, including the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. With this program, if a non-custodial parent is set to receive a tax refund and owes past-due child support, the U.S. Department of the Treasury can withhold the refund and send it to the state child support agency for disbursement to the family.

On Eve Of Historic Child Tax Credit Payments Starting, Warner & Kaine Applaud Monthly Checks To Virginia Families

Source: United States Senator for Commonwealth of Virginia Mark R Warner

You can watch a video message about the tax credit from Senator Warner here and Senator Kaine here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, on the eve of the historic Child Tax Credit payments beginning for 39 million families across the nation, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement applauding the new monthly payment to millions of U.S. households. Starting July 15, eligible parents will begin receiving automatic monthly payments for the next six months of $250 for every child aged 6 to 17 and $300 for every child under 6. The American Rescue Plan, which both Warner and Kaine voted for, made these payments possible. An estimated 1.6 million children across Virginia will benefit from the expanded child tax credit, including 249,000 children in the Commonwealth who are currently in poverty. The expansion will lift 85,000 Virginia children out of poverty.

“The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on families across the Commonwealth, exacerbating the challenges that low- and middle-income families face,” said the Senators. “In response, Democrats expanded the Child Tax Credit and instructed IRS to make advance payments as part of the American Rescue Plan. These monthly payments will make a huge difference in the lives of families in Virginia and across the nation by providing low- and middle income parents with money to help pay for necessities like food, housing, and health care. We are proud to have supported this expansion, which will cut child poverty in half and improve lives across the Commonwealth.”

To qualify for the monthly Child Tax Credit payments, families must have:

  • ·Filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and claimed the Child Tax Credit on the return; or given their information in 2020 to the IRS to receive the Economic Impact Payment using the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool; and
  • ·A main home in the United States for more than half the year (the 50 states and the District of Columbia) or file a joint return with a spouse who has a main home in the United States for more than half the year; and
  • ·A qualifying child who is under age 18 at the end of 2021 and who has a valid Social Security number; and
  • ·Made less than certain income limits: households earning less than $75,000 for single filers, $112,500 for heads of households, and $150,000 for joint filers.

Warner and Kaine urge eligible Virginia families to make sure they receive their checks by visiting the IRS website to ensure they are enrolled. Most families who are eligible will not need to do anything to receive these payments; IRS will use the information they have on file to automatically deposit the funds into their bank account or through a mailed check.

If you believe you are eligible but have not filed a tax return for 2019 or 2020, please file your return or register for payments as a non-filer to automatically receive your monthly payment. For more information, click here

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Durbin, Senators Introduce Bill To Protect Consumers From Shady, High Cost Lending

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin

07.14.21

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today introduced legislation that would cap fees and interest on consumer loans at an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 36 percent—the same limit currently in place for loans marketed to military service members and their families.  Studies show that while lenders today offer easy credit, these transactions often come with high interest rates, steep late fees, and other hidden charges.  This predatory business model exploits hard-working Americans, trapping them in long-term debt cycles that drain bank accounts and cause serious, long-term financial harm.

“It is time for federal legislation that cracks down on predatory lending and closes loopholes used to exploit hard-working Americans.  The Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates Act would eliminate high-cost payday loans and other costly forms of credit that trap vulnerable consumers in endless debt cycles.  Too many Americans suffer long-term financial harm from these predatory loans and deceptive tactics, and we must put an end to it,” Durbin said.  

“Back in 2007, we kicked payday lenders—who prey on families when they’re at some of the most vulnerable times in their lives—out of Oregon,” said Merkley. “Americans in every corner of this country deserve the same protections from these lenders’ predatory practices. Let’s make this the year that Congress passes the Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates Act, so we can stand up to these lenders and help ensure that Americans seeking to recover from the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis are not lured into a vortex of debt.”

“Payday lenders make their money through ultra-high interest rates and fees paid by the people who can least afford it,” said Whitehouse. “This bill would impose sensible limits to help end the inescapable cycle of debt too many Americans currently face. In the long run, we need to restore states‘ rights to set usury limits and protect home state consumers from lending abuse.” 

In 2006, Congress enacted a federal 36 percent annualized usury cap for certain credit products marketed to service members and their families, which curbed payday, car title, and tax refund lending around military bases.  Eighteen states, including Illinois, and the District of Columbia have enacted usury laws that protect borrowers from high-cost payday loans and other costly forms of credit. 

Various federal and state loopholes allow unscrupulous lenders to charge cash-strapped consumers 400 percent APR for payday loans on average, 300 percent APR for car title loans, and up to 17,000 percent APR for bank overdraft loans.

To protect consumers from predatory lending practices, the Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates Act would:

  • Establish a maximum APR equal to 36 percent and apply this cap to all open-end and closed-end consumer credit transactions, including payday loans, car title loans, overdraft loans, credit cards, car loans, mortgages, and refund anticipation loans;
  • Encourage the creation of responsible alternatives to small dollar lending by providing tolerances for initial application fees and ongoing lender costs;
  • Ensure that this federal law does not preempt stricter state laws; and
  • Create specific penalties for violations of the new cap and support enforcement in civil courts and by State Attorneys General.

The legislation is endorsed by Americans for Financial Reform, Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), Consumer Federation of America, National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income clients), Woodstock Institute, AARP IL, AgeGuide Northeastern Illinois, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Capital Good Fund, Chicago Jobs Council, Chicago Urban League, Citizen Action Illinois, Great Lakes Credit Union, Heartland Alliance, Housing Action Illinois, Illinois Asset Building Group, Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, Jane Addams Resource Corporation, Legal Action Chicago, Metropolitan Family Services, New America Chicago, Northwest Side Housing Center, Revolution Workshop, Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity, and Shriver Center on Poverty Law.

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Durbin Gives Remarks In Judiciary Committee Hearing For Circuit & District Judicial Nominees And Executive Nominee

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin

07.14.21

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during the nominations hearing for Myrna Pérez, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit; Jia M. Cobb, to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia; Sarah A.L. Merriam, to be United States District Judge for the District of Connecticut; Florence Y. Pan, to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia; Karen McGlashan Williams, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey; and Matthew G. Olsen, to be an Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division.  During his statement, Durbin noted that with these six nominees, the Biden Administration and the Senate continue to bring diversity and professional balance to the bench and the Justice Department. 

Key quotes:

“First, with these nominees, the Biden Administration and the Senate continue to bring diversity and professional balance to the bench.  Today’s slate includes Myrna Perez, who would be the first Latina to serve on the Second Circuit since Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  We will also hear from Florence Pan, who would be the first Asian-American woman to serve on the D.C. District Court.”

“The slate also includes professional diversity.  We have two sitting federal magistrate judges, a judge of the D.C. Superior Court who was previously an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and a former D.C. public defender.”

“And in Mr. Olsen, we have an accomplished national security expert who has spent decades working to protect America from enemies foreign and domestic. 

“We have a civil rights champion in Ms. Perez, who has devoted her career to protecting and defending Americans’ right to vote.  It is a fitting time for her to join the bench, particularly after recent rulings by the Supreme Court… This type of legal experience is underrepresented on the court.  And it is rare to see a voting rights attorney nominated to the federal bench.  This perspective will bring diversity to our courts.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations. 

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Senator Hassan Joins Colleagues in Introducing Legislation to Support Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Maggie Hassan

July 14, 2021

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) in introducing the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act to authorize over $1 billion in supporting the direct care workforce and family caregivers. Given low wages and high turnover, the direct care workforce has long experienced staffing shortages.

Currently, 4.5 million workers – including nearly 2.3 million home care workers – make up the direct care workforce, and this industry is expected to grow by more than a million jobs by 2028, not including the jobs that will need to be filled as existing workers leave the field or exit the labor force. Better pay and benefits, strategies to recruit and retain professionals in the field, education and training enhancements, and better career advancement opportunities are some of the investments needed to meet the demands of this workforce shortage.

“Caregivers are too often the unsung heroes in our communities,” said Senator Hassan. “The support and care that they provide is paramount to ensuring that our senior citizens and individuals with disabilities can live with dignity. Investing in our direct care workforce and family caregivers is an investment in our families, our communities, and our economy, and I will continue to push forward this legislation in the Senate.”

“If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic lifted a veil and exposed how critically important America’s direct care workforce is for older Americans and people with disabilities who rely on them,” said Joseph Macbeth, President and CEO of National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc. “The Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act will begin to address a decades-long failure in recruiting, training and educating, retaining, and advancing of direct care professionals and provide much needed support for family caregivers. This legislation will help us build a stable, competent and professional direct care workforce that supports millions of Americans to remain living at home and in their communities will go a long way in fulfilling the promises of the Olmstead Decision and the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Specifically, the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act would: 

  • Direct the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Administration on Community Living (ACL), to award grants to states or other eligible entities for initiatives to build, retain, train, and otherwise promote the direct care workforce, including self-directed workers and direct care supervisors or managers, and to provide grants for states or other eligible entities for educational and training support for both paid and unpaid family caregivers.
  • Direct ACL to develop a center to offer technical assistance to grant awardees and other entities interested in direct care workforce development and in supporting family caregivers, aimed at collaboration across federal agencies. The assistance at the center includes:
    • Working with states, key stakeholders, and other interested entities to establish career development and advancement strategies for direct care professionals, which may include occupational frameworks, national standards, recruitment campaigns, pre-apprenticeship and on-the-job training opportunities, apprenticeship programs, career ladders or pathways, specializations or certifications, or other activities.
    • Exploring the national data gaps, workforce shortage areas, and data collection strategies for direct care professionals.
    • Developing recommendations for training and education curricula for direct care professionals and family caregivers.
    • Disseminating information and best practices from lessons learned through the grants.

This legislation is supported by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the ARC of the United States, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc. (NADSP), PHI, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

This bill builds on Senator Hassan’s ongoing work to support home health care workers and Direct Support Professionals. Last month, Senator Hassan helped unveil the Better Care Better Jobs Act which would make a historic investment in home-and-community-based services by expanding access to quality home care services and lifting up the caregiving workforce that provides them. Senator Hassan also helped secure more than $12.6 billion in dedicated emergency funding for State Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in the American Rescue Plan. Earlier this year, Senator Hassan also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to address the critical need for more Direct Support Professionals in the workforce.

To read the bill text for the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act, click here.

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