WASHINGTON — Today, Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) applaud the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water Rule to limit pollution in rivers, lakes, and wetlands. 

“I congratulate the Obama Administration for bringing long-overdue clarity to the vital issue of clean water,” Rep. Grijalva said. “One in three Americans gets their drinking water from streams currently lacking clear protection. This Rule will help prevent the destruction of our nation’s water resources and support the numerous industries and jobs that depend on clean water.

“The Supreme Court left the scope of the Clean Water Act unclear, but protecting clean drinking water is far too important to be open to interpretation,” Rep. Grijalva continued. “It’s time to implement a clear Clean Water Rule that protects our drinking water supplies and ends the regulatory uncertainty that allows unscrupulous polluters to hide in the regulatory shadows. The new Rule does exactly that, without creating any new permitting requirements and maintaining all existing exemptions.”

 "Clean water is vital to life in Minnesota. 970,000 Minnesotans drink water from public water systems that would be further protected under the EPA’s final rule, while others rely on our state’s waterways for business and recreation,” Rep. Ellison said. “But an ongoing statewide assessment of our waterways by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency found that half of the waters assessed so far are unfit for swimming and fishing. This is why the EPA’s rule is so critical to our state.

 “I applaud Administrator Gina McCarthy for writing a strong Clean Water Rule,” Rep. Ellison continued. “I look forward to working with my state and local partners to keep Minnesota’s water clean for generations to come.”

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) announced guidance on President Obama’s Executive Order to increase workplace protections.

“We applaud the Department of Labor for their commitment to workers, who deserve dignity on the job. The guidance released today will allow the federal government to be a leader in the fight for good jobs and hold federal contractors accountable to fair work standards. Taxpayer money should never support companies that exploit their workers. We are happy to see that DOL is taking clear steps to ensure that all federal contract workers are safe on the job and receive the pay they deserve. ”  

The Progressive Caucus has led the fight in calling for better workplace protections since March 2014 when they sent a letter to Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to collect data on contractors that engage in wage theft. Last summer, CPC members successfully attached wage theft amendments to four appropriations bills. The Progressive Caucus has continued to stand with workers calling for an end to wage theft and for increased workplace protections.

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement after President Obama announced a federal ban to limit certain types of military equipment from being transferred to local police departments.

“We applaud President Obama for taking an important first step to de-militarize local police departments. Weapons made for war zones do not belong on the streets of our communities.

“While the president is making our neighborhoods safer, House Republicans are trying to expand the use of military weapons in border communities. At a time when the relationship between police and the communities they serve is in crisis, Congress should be limiting the transfer of military weapons to local law enforcement, not increasing it. We should build on President Obama’s actions today by passing Rep. Hank Johnson’s Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 1232) to rein in the Pentagon’s surplus weaponry program.”

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement after House Republicans passed H.R. 36, which would eliminate safe abortion services after 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

“The bill passed by Republicans today is an attack on women’s reproductive health. Young women, women of color, and low-income women already struggle to get the health care they need. But Republicans continue working to restrict health care options for American women. H.R. 36 jeopardizes the well-being of women and punishes physicians who provide compassionate care. 

“Americans overwhelmingly trust women to make their own health decisions. They support upholding Roe v. Wade, but H.R. 36 violates that Supreme Court decision. Republicans should stop passing bills that violate women’s constitutional rights. Rather than focusing on limiting a woman’s right to choose, we should pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would ensure women do not face significant barriers to the care they deserve.” 

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) joined New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and national progressive leaders today to launch The Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality

The Progressive Agenda is an important first step in growing the paychecks of working Americans. The coalition assembled today is proof we can do great things for people when we organize together. Mayor de Blasio and all of the partners involved in creating The Progressive Agenda are dedicated to the idea that no one working full-time in America should live in poverty.

“Too many Americans leave work wondering if they can afford to make ends meet every month. If we enact the initiatives in The Progressive Agenda our economy will work for all Americans — not just the super-wealthy. We want to thank Mayor de Blasio and we look forward to working with this coalition to move all the priorities of working Americans to the forefront of the national conversation.  It is time to meet the calls of the American people for justice, fairness and an end to income inequality.” 

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today after the Senate blocked consideration of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

“Today’s delay of Trade Promotion Authority is just a taste of the fierce opposition ‘fast track’ will face — if it is ever brought up for a vote. Republicans and Democrats in the House know agreeing to TPA denies them the chance to protect working families from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership. A bipartisan coalition will stand together against fast tracking a trade deal that puts corporate profits over working families.”

In March, the CPC released its Principles for Trade, a model to put working Americans first in trade negotiations.

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA) violates federal law.

“The Second Circuit’s ruling today is welcome news to Americans who want their civil liberties protected. Mass collection of phone records violates our right to privacy and makes for bad law enforcement. The Congressional Progressive Caucus called for the end of the NSA’s bulk telephone data collection program in 2013 when its existence became public.

“Our resources are too important to waste on programs that don’t make American families any safer and come at the expense of the freedoms we swear to protect. We applaud the court’s ruling that the NSA’s systematic collection of data on the private lives of Americans is unjustified and illegal.”

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today after Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe addressed a joint session of Congress.

“While we appreciate hearing directly from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today, the fact remains that a Trans-Pacific Partnership withoutenforceable protections against currency manipulators will leave working families behind. In 2013, currency manipulation by Japan, which held down the price of the Yen in relation to the dollar, displaced nearly 900,000 American jobs. But President Obama says draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership doesn’t include enforceable currency manipulation chapters.

"If the Administration wants the U.S. to lead good trade deals, we must include rules to stop Japan and other countries from inflating the value of the dollar. Congress should not be asked to fast track a Pacific trade deal without a chapter on currency manipulation.”

In March, the CPC called for enforceable currency manipulation protections in its Principles for Trade, a model to put working Americans first in trade negotiations.

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WASHINGTON— Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), CPC Peace and Security Task Force Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and CPC Equal Protection Task Force Chair Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) released the following statement today after Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) introduced a renewal of the PATRIOT Act with no reforms and no amendments.  

“We oppose Senator McConnell's proposed reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. Americans have been clear that mass collection of private data and invasions of privacy by intelligence agencies must be addressed. We would be abdicating our oath to uphold the constitution if we reauthorized the PATRIOT Act without meaningful reform. Ensuring our safety shouldn’t come at the cost of our civil liberties. ”

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WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs U.S. Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and U.S. Representative Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) introduced resolutions in the Senate and House of Representatives supporting efforts to ensure that students have access to debt-free higher education.  Over the last 30 years, the cost of college has increased by 300 percent, forcing some students to take on overwhelming student loan debt or putting a college degree entirely out of reach for others. Student loan debt is now the highest form of personal debt in the nation, reaching over $1.3 trillion for 38 million student loan borrowers across the country.

“A higher education is the best way for people to move up the economic ladder, but the rising cost of college in Hawai‘i and across the country has made it harder for students to earn a degree and get ahead,” said Senator Schatz.  “Our message is clear: we need to do more to make college more affordable for all students so that they can graduate without debt holding them back.  The federal government, states, and schools all have a role to play in cutting the cost of college.  This is a problem we can solve, and we can start by working to make sure institutions receiving federal funding are doing their part to make a degree more affordable and accessible for all students.”

“Going to college is absolutely essential to getting into the middle class and getting ahead once you're there, but far too often it ends up breaking students' banks,” said Senator Schumer.  “When students graduate with loads of debt, the ripple effects are endless; they're less likely to start a business, to buy a house, and to realize their full potential.  When it comes to making college affordable, I'm hopeful that debt-free college is the next big idea."

“A student at a public university today faces tuition prices that are more than 300 percent of what his or her parents faced just 30 years ago, and total outstanding student loan debt now stands at a staggering $1.3 trillion,” said Senator Warren.  “Our country should be investing in higher education and working with colleges and universities to bring down tuition costs so that students don't have to take on crushing debt to get an education.”

“Education remains the single greatest avenue of upward mobility our society has ever known,” said Representative Grijalva.  “But the mounting costs of higher education place it out of reach for too many Americans, holding them back from their full potential or burdening them with unimaginable debt for years to come. In the richest nation on earth, there is no excuse for erecting and maintaining these barriers to professional growth.”

“Americans—young and old—know continuing their education is the best path to a financially secure future. But students who go to college face mountains of debt, and too many face difficult choices about their careers and their families because of it,” said Representative Ellison.  “The Debt Free College Resolution is critical because students shouldn’t be punished for investing in their own future—they should walk across the stage on graduation day and take their diploma into a brighter future.”

“Too many young people I’ve talked to are saddled with insurmountable debt just as they’re beginning their adult lives,” said Representative Clark.  “Congress can and should ensure that students who are working hard to begin their careers, start a family, and contribute to our economy are able to graduate from public colleges debt-free so they can focus on pursuing their dreams rather than being held back by a lifetime of debt."

“We all know a college education is important towards achieving long-term success.  However, an entire generation is being weighed down by more than $1 trillion in student loan debt,” said Representative Pocan.  “It’s time to end the reliance on debt as a way to finance a college education for many low- and middle-income students. I’m proud to stand with my progressive colleagues to fight for the goal of providing debt-free college at public institutions across the country. Debt free college is a big, bold way to ensure every student has a chance at success.”

“Crushing student loan debt is making it harder for graduates to save to buy a house, start their own business, or put money aside for a secure retirement,” said Representative Israel.  “A college education is the most important investment that young people can make and should be viewed as a tool of opportunity rather than a financial burden. That is why I am proud to add my name to this initiative calling for a goal of debt-free college that will hopefully generate more conversation about how to alleviate that financial strain and empower graduates to achieve the American dream.”

“A highly educated workforce is key to the success of our nation. However, higher education has become increasingly inaccessible as costs have skyrocketed,” said Representative Rangel.  “We must ensure that everyone can afford to attend college and become more competitive.  Students should be spending more time focused on thriving at school and less time worrying about how they'll pay for it. I look forward to working with my colleagues to reduce the burden of student loan debt and to help expand opportunities for our future generations.”

“We tell students that education opens the doors of opportunity. But when these students pursue higher education, even at public institutions, they too often graduate saddled with debt that takes decades to payback, keeps them from investing in their families, and suffocates our nation’s economic growth,” said Representative Watson Coleman.  “Like a high school diploma in the past, a college degree has become a virtual prerequisite for a middle class job. We need to make affordable higher education a right for all, not just a privilege for the fortunate.  Congress has the ability to make debt-free higher education a reality, supporting our students and continued American competitiveness.”

“A college education provides opportunities and breaks down inequalities,” said Representative McGovern.  “As a nation, we should encourage and incentivize those who wish to pursue a higher education - not penalize them by saddling them with debt for years to come.”

The resolutions were introduced by the following: U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Peter Welch (D-Mass.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).

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