House Legislation and Presidential Action
- (02/26/21) Raising the minimum wage in the American Rescue Plan was nixed by Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. MacDonough is the unelected, nonpartisan interpreter of chamber rules, commonly referred to as the Senate referee. She asserts that the push to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour did not meet the strict requirements of reconciliation, a process that allows the majority party to pass big-ticket legislation with a 51-vote majority. The full scale of this decision will be better understood once the House passes the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill.
- (02/24/21) The House has passed a bill today known as the Equality Act, which would secure legal protections for LGBT Americans by amending existing civil rights laws to prevent businesses and institutions from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act would extend protections to cover federally funded programs, employment, housing, loan applications, education and public accommodations. Though the bill passed by a vote of 224 to 206, it will be an uphill battle with the Senate, where it would require 60 votes to advance in the upper chamber.
- (02/24/21) The Biden Administration is reopening temporary facilities to hold an increasing number of migrant children arriving on the US southern border. Though they are expelling children who have arrive with their parents under pandemic-related restrictions under the Trump Administration, the Biden Administration is taking children who arrive unaccompanied into custody. The Biden Administration firmly maintains that it has no choice but to reopen facilities considering capacity restrictions and more children arriving on the border, but immigrant advocates remain concerned that children will be subjugated to inhumane treatment and prolonged stays in these facilities. Read more about the history of these facilities and their current standings here.
- (02/22/21) The House Budget Committee has advanced President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief legislation, set to pass the lower chamber by the end of this week. This legislation includes various initiatives that we’ve reported on in the past couple of weeks, including the Child Tax Credit Bill, raising the minimum wage, enhancing unemployment benefits, and $1,400 stimulus checks. If the vote does not happen by Friday, February 26, it is set to happen the following weekend. There is no set date to pass the relief package, but Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden notes that he would like it to move as quickly as possible considering that some current unemployment benefits expire on March 14.
Status of Jobs
- (02/25/21) First-time jobless claims fell to 730,000 for the week ending on Feb 20. This is a substantial decrease from the previous week’s 841,000 but is still well above anything seen in the U.S. labor market before the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the overall jobless claims number fell, the claims are rising in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which provides benefits to those who normally wouldn’t be eligible. For the weeks of Feb. 13 and Feb. 20, more than 964,000 Americans filed under the program.
Women Who Have Made History
- (02/25/21) Two Black women have made history in the professional sports industry. Danita Johnson has become the first Black president of a Major League Soccer team – D.C. United – and is the third woman in the league’s 26 year history to assume this position. Nichols is the general manager of the Washington Wizards’ G League team, the Capital City Go-Go, and is only the second woman to serve as the general manager in the NBA development league’s history.
- (02/23/21) Lenore Janis, the woman who broke concrete barriers in the construction industry, died on January 31 due to complications related to COVID-19 at 86 years old. Janis was a founder and longtime president of Professional Women in Construction, a nonprofit that transformed from a small, all-volunteer organization into a networking powerhouse for tens of thousands of women. This was one of many Janis’s notable accomplishments, resulting in more women working in the industry than ever before.