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 Supreme Court declined to review lower-court rulings on marriage equality in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to deny appeals from states that want to prohibit same-sex marriage makes our nation one where gay and lesbian couples have a right to the pursuit of happiness and that’s cause for celebration. In thirty states and the District of Columbia, you will soon be able to marry who you love—period. If we get organized and fight together, equality will always beat discrimination.

“In the coming days at state capitols, city halls, court houses and chapels all around the nation, committed couples will promise to be legally bound together for the first time. We share their joy and wish them luck, yet stand in solidarity with the countless Americans who continue to wonder when the freedom to marry will reign in their communities. The fight for equality isn’t done until all Americans can marry who they love in their home state, and further until these individuals cannot be legally fired, denied housing, or refused service for doing so.

“Thirty states down—twenty to go.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C.-Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) joined CPC Peace and Security Task Force Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan after the United States signed a bilateral security agreement with the Afghan government in Kabul today that allows the United States to keep troops and tie up taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan for the next decade.

"As military operations in Iraq and Syria capture national headlines, we must not forget our troops still serving in America's longest war,” said Rep. Grijalva. “We cannot ask these service members and their families to sacrifice forever. As partnering nations bring the last of their troops home from Afghanistan, we must do the same.  Our focus for stability in Afghanistan must shift to economic, community and political development, not military muscle from beyond its borders."

“The bilateral security agreement signed in Afghanistan today will continue the longest war in American history—a significant change to policy that was not approved by Congress,” Rep. Ellison said. “We’ve spent billions to stabilize Afghanistan that could have been invested in Head Start for kids, food assistance for working families, and job assistance for our veterans. We have spent enough money and time to help the Afghan government and security forces stand on their own. It’s time to bring our troops and our tax dollars home.”

“The war in Afghanistan has already cost too any lives and too much treasure. The American people have had enough of the endless war. It's time to bring our troops home and focus on our domestic priorities. We owe it to our brave servicemen and women to bring them home after completing their mission – the future of Afghanistan can only be secured by Afghans,” said Rep. Lee.

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WASHINGTON-Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today after Speaker Boehner told the New York Times that he prefers to not hold a vote authorizing action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other groups until next year.

"Speaker Boehner should recognize the gravity of this situation and call members of Congress back to Washington to vote on ongoing military actions in Iraq and Syria. Congress needs to fulfill its constitutional duties by having a robust debate and a vote on Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that is tailored to these specific actions. Military authorizations from a decade ago should not justify war policy today. Americans are wary of any expanded military campaigns and their voices should be heard through their elected representatives."

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Washington, D.C.–Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) sent Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) a letter urging him to create a Select Committee on Income Inequality instead of spending as much as 3.3 million tax dollars on another investigation into Benghazi. An analysisfrom Think Progress shows the Republican-led House of Representatives is on track to spend more investigating Benghazi than it does on nine other House committees.

The letter, signed by 25 members of Congress, calls on Speaker Boehner “to focus on the issues that everyday people face instead of spending taxpayer dollars on an investigation that will not help families put food on the table.”

The text of the letter is below. A PDF with signatures is available here.

Dear Speaker Boehner:

The loss of four American lives, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, on September 11, 2012 was a terrible tragedy. However, your decision to establish yet another investigation into Benghazi despite the thirteen hearings across eight different Congressional Committees, twenty-five thousand pages of documents and fifty briefings is redundant. Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry and other Obama administration officials have answered repeated questions on this issue and we believe that Congress should refocus its attention on issues that address the real economic struggles of the American people. Thus, we urge you to establish a Select Committee on Income Inequality to focus on the issues that everyday people face instead of spending taxpayer dollars on an investigation that will not help families put food on the table.

As Members of Congress, we remain focused on the issues that touch Americans in their everyday lives. The growing income divide in America is no secret. Hardworking people can’t find work, and when they do, their wages aren’t always enough to cover their day-to-day needs. Renowned economist Thomas Piketty recently found that for the majority of people who work for a living, income inequality in America is “probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world.” We find this unconscionable and it cannot continue. 

Mr. Speaker, with respect to economic security in this country, you yourself recently said that “the American people are concerned about this issue, and our priorities will continue to be the priorities of the American people.”  Yet we wonder why you continue to prioritize politics over policies that will help create good paying jobs that narrow the income gap. If House Republicans are serious about focusing on jobs and our economy, we again urge you to establish a Select Committee on Income Inequality to investigate and develop common sense solutions to our country’s widening income gap. 

What happened in Benghazi was a tragedy, not a politically motivated scandal. No amount of hearings or select committees will change that fact.  We urge you to stop the political witch-hunt and focus on the issues that touch people at their kitchen tables. 

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WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with CPC Equal Protection Taskforce Chair Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), released the following statement today after meeting with a delegation of children who are growing up without one or both of their parents as a result of deportations.

“Some of the 1,100 people deported each day are parents. Hearing their kids describe the pain caused by their absence emphasizes the tragic impact that further delaying executive action will have.

“President Obama raised expectations about executive action in June – now he needs to exceed those expectations if he wants to overcome the disappointment his delay has caused. Bold reforms should keep families together and provide protections for LGBT individuals. Until it is signed, the administration should change its deportation strategy to reflect the reforms the executive order will bring to families. Children are counting on the president to act boldly to ensure there are fewer – not more – kids like the delegation we met who are forced to grow up without their parents.”

The meeting, which was facilitated by We Belong Together, allowed members of the Progressive Caucus to hear directly from kids who are suffering as a result of our broken immigration system.

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WASHINGTON,D.C—Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with CPC Peace and Security Task Force Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), introduced a concurrent resolution urging Congress to debate and vote for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria.

The text of the resolution is below. A PDF is available here.

H. CON. RES. 114

Urging Congress to debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria.

Whereas Congress has a constitutional duty, enshrined in article I, section 8, clause 11 of the United States Constitution, to debate and examine the significant consequences of another multi-year United States military intervention in the Middle East;

Whereas the War Powers Resolution provides that 60 days after the President informs Congress that he has introduced Armed Forces into an overseas theater, the President `shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces' unless Congress has authorized such use of the Armed Forces;

Whereas the United States military has engaged in over 100 airstrikes in Iraq since August 8, 2014;

Whereas currently there are over 1,000 United States military personnel deployed in Iraq;

Whereas the United States military has flown surveillance sorties over Syria to collect information on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS);

Whereas the Obama administration has stated that the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243) is obsolete and has supported its repeal;

Whereas the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) should not apply to ISIS because ISIS has no operational connection to al Qaeda or the Taliban and is not currently considered an `associated force' of al Qaeda;

Whereas any new authorization for the use of military force should be narrowly tailored and limited;

Whereas ISIS is a violent extremist organization that has terrorized and committed unconscionable atrocities against religious and ethnic minority communities in the course of attempting to create a de-facto state within the borders of Iraq and Syria;

Whereas the threat posed by ISIS requires a robust response from a broad international coalition, with regional partners playing prominent and leading roles;

Whereas Congress should support a comprehensive strategy for defeating ISIS that cuts off access to ISIS supplies and financial resources and isolates extremist elements by addressing the legitimate political grievances and aspirations of local religious and ethnic communities in Iraq and Syria;

Whereas this issue should be immediately referred to and debated by the United Nations Security Council;

Whereas the House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution 105 on July 25, 2014, by a vote of 370-40; and

Whereas House Concurrent Resolution 105 expressed the sense of Congress that the President shall not deploy or maintain United States Armed Forces in a sustained combat role in Iraq without statutory authorization: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress--

          (1) should debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role                 in Iraq or Syria

          (2) does not support the deployment of ground combat troops in Iraq or Syria;

          (3) should ensure that any such statutory authorization is narrowly tailored and limited; and

         (4) should ensure that any statutory authorization includes robust reporting requirements.

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with CPC Peace and Security Task Force Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), released the following statement tonight after President Obama laid out his strategy to isolate and degrade the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in a speech to the nation.

“Congress must weigh in when it comes to confronting ISIL through military action. The voices of the American people must be heard during a full and robust debate in Congress on the use of military force. Speaker Boehner should put legislation authorizing military action on the floor of the House of Representatives before Congress leaves for the upcoming district work period.”

Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with Progressive Caucus members Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) released the following statements in support of fast food workers striking today across the country to demand employers raise wages to $15 an hour and allow workers to organize unions without retaliation. 

 

“Today, fast food workers from across the country stand united as they strike for fair compensation, and I am proud to stand by their side,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) said.  “We are a nation that believes in the dignity of hard work, but too many Americans with full time jobs still struggle to make ends meet. We must raise the minimum wage and pay workers a living wage to ensure the American Dream remains within reach for all who are willing to work for it.”

 

Thousands of fast food workers will be out in the street today, demanding a living wage and the right to organize,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said. “They’re doing it because they have families to feed and parents to look after. They’re doing it because they have basic needs that can’t be met at $7.25 an hour. They’re standing for the possibility of a better future and an economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few. I’m proud to stand with them.”

 

“The federal minimum wage of $7.25 is a starvation wage,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). “I applaud the fast-food workers all across the country who are striking today to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. Nobody who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty."

 

“In recent years, the disparity in income and wealth between very rich and everyone else has continued to increase,” Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) said. “Today, for example, the richest one percent of Americans own more than one-third of our wealth. Yet there are also millions of Americans who work full-time but, earning only the minimum wage, cannot afford to support a family or to save for the future. Our economy should reward hard work. We have a responsibility to honor the dignity of work, and the individual dignity of workers. We have a responsibility to enact a living wage.”

 

“It is time for our workers on the front lines to be paid a fair wage. Doing so will help families avoid poverty and help grow our economy. Sixty eight percent of fast food workers are the main wage earners in their families. Women, especially women of color, are disproportionately represented in this group. I support them and their strike today because a job should be a way out of poverty, not a tether to it,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA).

 

“I proudly join the effort to support the fast food workers' Fight for 15. In America, the land of opportunity, no one who works full-time should be struggling to raise a family,” said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) Increases in minimum wage have not kept pace with the rising costs of basic necessities for the average American family, while income inequality has increased by 23 percent since 2008. If we want to help build real, lasting economic security, the federal minimum wage must be raised to a living wage. At its core, giving America a pay raise is not just about ensuring fair compensation, but also preserving justice and dignity for all workers."

 

“I’m proud to stand with the national movement of fast food workers organizing for $15 an hour. Each and every American worker deserves an honest, living wage for an honest, hard day’s work,” said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA). “I’m also proud to call Seattle home – the city recently approved a $15 an hour minimum wage.  Seattle’s historic action on raising the wage underscores an essential truth: the 20th century American economy was built by the middle class and the middle class was built by a living wage and the right to organize.  For the American economy to thrive in the 21st century, we must guarantee our workers the wages, benefits and on-the-job protections they deserve.  It’s time to follow Seattle’s lead and raise the wage from coast to coast.”

 

"It’s time to raise the pay of fast food workers and everyone earning a low wage in this country,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI). “Companies should pay their workers fair wages and put more money in the hands of consumers to help strengthen our economy. These companies are super-sizing their profits while their workers are struggling to make ends meet."

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Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), released the following statement in response to degrading remarks Erick Erickson made suggesting fast food workers have failed at life while guest hosting Rush Limbaugh’s radio show:

 

“Fast food workers often work 2 to 3 jobs just to put food on the table and to take care of their families. Erick Erickson is clearly out of touch if he thinks this is something to attack. He ought to interview these workers on his radio show – maybe then he will learn what real work is. ”

 

“Over the last year, the Progressive Caucus has been privileged to stand side by side with Americans from all across the country as they organize and rally for fair wages. We have met thousands of hard working men and women, many of whom work far more than 40 hours per week. Contrary to Erickson’s remarks, not one of them has failed at life."

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WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chairs Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) along with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) issued statements this evening in advance of President Obama’s expected executive action enhancing workplace protections for federal contractors.

“President Obama is to be applauded for standing with the thousands of workers that have fought tirelessly and spoken courageously for dignity and fair work practices,” Rep. Ellison said. “This executive order builds on the President’s minimum wage executive order and will allow the federal government to lead in the fight for good jobs and hold workplaces accountable to fair standards.  It’s common sense to award federal contracts to companies that follow the law.”

“Every worker deserves fair pay for hard work, and today President Obama demonstrated his commitment to protecting that right,” Rep. Grijalva said. “This executive order ensures government agencies don’t reward companies that mistreat their workers. Taxpayer money should never support companies that do not support their own employees, and I’m glad to see the president act to ensure that no longer happens.”

“Once again, President Obama is taking strong action on behalf of hard working Americans," said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. "The federal government has no business contracting to those who would violate federal law and trample workers’ rights. If we are to root out wage theft and labor abuses in America, we cannot overlook those perpetrated by federal contractors.”

“I am glad the President is taking action on this important issue, which the Congressional Progressive Caucus has done much to draw attention to in Congress,” said Democratic Whip Hoyer. “Off-the-clock work and denial of overtime pay represents not only a significant violation of our laws but also of the basic American belief that hard work ought to lead to fair compensation and opportunity.  At a time when those earning the lowest salaries are already struggling to make ends meet, combating wage theft goes hand in hand with efforts to raise the minimum wage and invest in education and job training that will help workers rise up into our middle class.”

The Progressive Caucus has been advocating for better workplace protections for the past year. In March, the CPC sent a letter to the Department of Labor urging Secretary Thomas E. Perez to collect data on contractors that engage in wage theft. This summer, CPC members have successfully attached wage theft amendments to four appropriations bills. Just last week, the Progressive Caucus sent a letter to the President asking him to sign a Good Jobs Executive Order to reward contractors that treat their workers fairly.  

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