WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and CPC Peace and Security Task Force Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) applauded the P5+1 negotiators after they reached a final agreement with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“The historic agreement struck today between the United States, our allies, and Iran is a triumph of international relations,” said Rep. Grijalva. “President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our P5+1 partners have proven that there is a better paradigm for foreign engagement than the constant threat of military action: it’s called diplomacy.  This deal is the responsible way to avert nuclear ambitions, and to ensure that we all share a safer and more peaceful world.”

The historic agreement reached today proves the power of engagement over isolation — we can choose peace over war. The world is safer thanks to the patient diplomacy and determination of President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and our P5+1 negotiating partners,” said Rep. Ellison. “In the coming weeks, the focus will be on the U.S. Congress to see if Republicans take this deal away from the world. We will stop those who want to push us closer to war.” 

“Today’s announced deal with Iran, if fully implemented, will prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon while ensuring greater stability in the Middle East. I applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our P5+1 partners for their tireless work to obtain a deal that promotes global peace and security,” said Rep. Lee. “In the coming weeks, the world’s attention will shift from Vienna to the halls of Congress. I hope my Republicans colleagues will put partisan politics aside and support this deal instead of pushing us one step closer to another war.”

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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 proposal to raise the overtime threshold to $50,440. The previous threshold was $23,660.  

“We applaud President Obama for standing with American families who deserve fair pay for their hard work. People all over the country are working longer hours, but their paychecks continue to come up short. The Progressive Caucus believes that in the richest nation on earth, no one working overtime should worry about making ends meet. This new overtime rule is a powerful step towards that goal, helping nearly 5 million Americans feed their families, pay their rent, or clothe their children. We look forward to working with President Obama to continue putting more money in the pockets of America’s working families.” 

The Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs signed a letter led by CPC member Rep. Mark Takano to President Obama in January asking for an increase in the overtime threshold. The CPC also called for an increase in the overtime threshold in its Fiscal Year 2016 Alternative Budget.  

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with CPC First Vice Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) released the following statement after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Constitution protects the marriage rights of same-sex couples.

“Today, the Supreme Court enshrined in law what so many of us have known in our hearts: that the freedom to marry belongs to every American, no matter who they love or where they live,” Rep. Grijalva said. “This is a tremendous victory for our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community, and for the institution of marriage in our country. From this day forward, the protections and benefits afforded through marriage will finally extend to every individual in this nation.

“I am thrilled for every couple whose love is validated at long last by this decision,” Rep. Grijalva continued. “But this is far from the end of the fight for equality. In too many states, it is still legal to fire or deny housing to Americans based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Our job is not done until all people are treated as equals, regardless of who they are or who they love.”

“Yesterday, Americans in 13 states couldn’t marry the people they love. Today, thanks to the work of millions, that number is zero,” Rep. Ellison said. “The Supreme Court decision today means no state can discriminate against an American because of who they love.

“The fight for equal rights is not over – too many gay and lesbian Americans are fired from their jobs and pushed out of their communities because of who they love. But today all people committed to equality can celebrate,” Rep. Ellison continued. “Martin Luther King Jr. said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. The Supreme Court’s decision reminds us that when we organize and stand together, it bends a little bit faster.”

“Today, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed what a majority of Americans already know: all couples should have the right to marry, regardless of who they love,” Rep. Pocan said. “This a historic step forward toward fulfilling the promise of equality for all Americans.”

"As we celebrate this victory, we must also recognize that we still have work to do to ensure all Americans are treated fairly under the law, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Rep. Pocan continued. “In a majority of states you can now marry freely, but can still be fired because of who you love.”

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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 Supreme Court upheld healthcare subsidies in states with federal exchanges. 

“The Affordable Care Act provides coverage to millions of previously uninsured Americans. The Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell brings relief to Americans who can now continue their coverage. The ruling means kids won’t miss checkups, seniors will get the medicine they need, and Americans won’t break the bank by going to the hospital when they get sick.

“The Republican effort to take affordable health care away from American families is done. It’s time for us to work together to ensure more Americans can afford the care they need. It’s time for every state to do the right thing to help those still struggling by adopting the Medicaid expansion. It’s time for American families to live without  fear that the next unexpected health care bill will make it impossible to make ends meet. It’s time for Congress to start a discussion about how we can build on this landmark law to lower costs, expand access, and put health care security for every American above the profits of the private industry.

“The Affordable Care Act is saving lives. And now, for the second time, the Supreme Court has affirmed it is the law of the land.”

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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 House Rules Committee rejected a CPC amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act requiring the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to audit the use of targeted lethal force operations conducted by unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Congress must exercise its oversight authority and demand more transparency in the U.S. drone program. The White House acknowledged last month that a drone accidentally killed Warren Weinstein, an American hostage, while targeting al-Qaeda operatives.  Mr. Weinstein’s death is not an isolated tragedy; U.S. drone strikes have killed at least five Americans since 2002.  

“Targeted drone strikes claim the lives of innocent civilians too often, creating deep resentment towards the U.S. around the world. We are disappointed that the Rules Committee rejected this opportunity to begin bringing accountability to this program.”

The Progressive Caucus amendment would have required that the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community audit the effectiveness of existing U.S. efforts to report, track and investigate civilian deaths caused by the drone program. The Progressive Caucus also attempted to offer this amendment on last year’s intelligence authorization bill and has held ad-hoc hearings on accountability for the drone 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 The Trade Act failed on the floor of the House of Representatives after the defeat of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which included Medicare cuts.

“The defeat of The Trade Act is a big step towards stopping the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership. Today’s victory belongs to people who rely on Medicare, union members, environmental organizers and every single working family in America.  

“The fight is far from over. President Obama and the Republican majority will not stop pushing until they get the rubber-stamp they need to sign another bad trade deal. The Progressive Caucus will push too, but on the side of Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet. We will oppose any trade deal that lowers wages, endangers our air, land and water and supports human trafficking.” 

A vote on the Trade Adjustment Assistance portion that failed is expected as early as next week. 

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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 introducing an amendment to The Trade Act in the Rules Committee.

“The Trade Act continues to force seniors to pay for trade deals that destroy American jobs. Chairman Ryan is attempting to change how Trade Adjustment Assistance is funded in a separate bill, but it’s nothing more than a bait-and-switch effort to gin up support for a quick passage of Trade Promotion Authority. There is no guarantee the Senate will pass the separate bill removing Medicare cuts. The only way to ensure seniors won’t be hurt is to remove these cuts from The Trade Act itself. If Chairman Ryan recognizes the need to protect seniors from these cuts in separate legislation, why not remove the cuts completely?

“Seniors should not have to pay when trade deals go bad. A vote for The Trade Act is a vote to cut Medicare. Progressives will oppose any bill that includes Medicare cuts.”

The Progressive Caucus amendment removes the Medicare cut, increases overall funding for Trade Adjustment Assistance to $575 million and expands Trade Adjustment Assistance to include public sector workers.

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), reacted after the Department of Education outlined its debt relief process for students who attended Corinthian Colleges. 

“Yesterday, the Department of Education took the first step in providing relief for student debt resulting from the Corinthian College for-profit scheme,” Rep. Grijalva said. “I am glad to see progress in helping some students who are now unfairly burdened with debt for an education they never received, but I urge the department to take their actions further and ensure all students who are in a similar situation receive relief from these deceptive practices of for-profit schools. We have an obligation to ensure no one is unfairly burdened from these schemes, and we must live up to that commitment.”

“The Department of Education’s announcement is a good first step, but the process to get debt-relief will be very difficult for students who were ripped off by Corinthian,” Rep. Ellison said. “The Progressive Caucus urged Secretary Duncan to issue automatic and class-wide discharge of debt for students. Instead, the Department of Education placed the burden of proof on individuals. The Progressive Caucus will keep pushing for a better deal for students.” 

The Progressive Caucus previously sent a letter to Secretary Duncan in April urging the Department of Education to forgive loans incurred by all students attending Corinthian Colleges. 

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting an audit detailing the enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

The full text of the letter is below and a signed copy can be seen here

Dear Attorney General Lynch:

We write to request a formal audit detailing state level compliance and federal enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

Our representative democracy is threatened by chronically low levels of voter turnout. In 2014, only thirty-six percent of eligible voters cast ballots, the lowest turnout since WWII. Even more alarming is the income disparity between voters and non-voters. In 2012, sixty-two percent of those making $150,000 a year or more voted, while only twenty-seven percent of those earning less than $10,000 a year voted.

The federal government should be doing more to ensure that our political system works for all Americans. A healthy democracy requires the highest possible rate of voter participation. One of the most successful ways to increase voter participation is to simply& the voter registration process.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of implementation of the National Voter Registration Act. The goal of the NVRA is to simply the voter registration process and make it more accessible by requiring voter registration services to be provided where government delivers public services to its citizens. Since 1995, states subject to the NVRA have offered citizens the opportunity to register to vote whenever they obtain a driver’s license or apply for Medicaid, and in some states, at public libraries. Unfortunately, data suggests that voter registration at places like the Department of Motor Vehicles has remained stagnant in the twenty years that the NVRA has been in effect. This suggests significant problems with implementation, compliance and enforcement. Studies indicate that failure to comply with and properly enforce the NVRA has translated to millions of missed opportunities to register Americans to vote.

We write to request an audit of the NVRA that addresses the following questions:

I. How is state compliance with the NVRA currently measured, and what data is collected and reported?

2. What is the federal response to states that fail to comply with NVRA requirements?

 3. What kind of training is provided by state and federal officials to social service providers that are charged with implementing NVRA?

4. The NVRA stipulates that voter registration services must be provided where government delivers public services. What measures is the DOJ taking to ensure that the NVR.A is being implemented elsewhere beyond the Department of Motor Vehicles?

 5. What states are registering the most voters through the NVRA and how are their best practices being observed and implemented in states failing to register voters?

After twenty years, it is time to analyze the NVRA’s effects and implement meaningful changes to ensure that the goals set forth twenty years ago are being met.

We look forward to working with you on the important issue of improving access to voter registration.



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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with 59 House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi urging them to not use Medicare as an offset for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The letter was also signed by Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Brendan F.Boyle (D-PA), Robert A. Brady (D-PA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Bonnie Coleman (D-NJ), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Gene Green (D-TX), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Michael M. Honda (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Henry C. "Hank" Jr. Johnson (D-GA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Dan Kildee (D-MI), John B. Larson (D-CT), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA),  Ted Lieu (D-CA), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Richard M. Nolan (D-MN), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chellie Pingree (D-ME),  Mark Pocan (D-WI), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL), Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Mark Takai (D-HI), Mark Takano (D-CA), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL).

The full text of the letter is below and a signed copy can be seen here.

Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi:

We write to urge you to fund a more robust Trade Adjustment Assistance program that is not offset by cuts to critical social programs like Medicare.

American workers rely on Trade Adjustment Assistance when trade deals send jobs overseas. While it is clear we need Trade Adjustment Assistance, it is not clear why the offset should be extended budget limitations on Medicare, as proposed. More than 50 million seniors rely on Medicare; we should be investing in the trust fund, not using savings to fund other programs.

We ask that the current Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation change in two ways. We should find an offset to Trade Adjustment Assistance that does not cut from critical programs that working families rely on. We should also increase funding for Trade Adjustment Assistance to account for projected job losses due to big trade deals, and extend assistance to public sector workers who have lost their jobs.

Trade Adjustment Assistance supports displaced workers and Medicare provides America's seniors the healthcare they need. We look forward to working with you to fund a Trade Adjustment Assistance program that leaves no one behind.


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