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) released the following statement today after President Obama announced a new policy towards Cuba.

“The United States isolated Cuba for 53 years in a failed attempt to promote democracy and freedom. President Obama’s new course recognizes our old approach towards Cuba didn’t work.

“Isolating Cuba separated the people of Cuba and their Cuban-American family members, and impaired our ability to build constructive relationships in Latin America. By restarting diplomatic relations and establishing a new embassy, the U.S. can start conversations on issues like commerce and human rights that have been dormant between our nations for too long. We applaud President Obama for his bold new approach and welcome news that, for the first time, both the U.S. and Cuba will attend the Summit of the America’s in 2015.

“The president has laid out a promising path forward and now it is up to Congress to act. Congress must lift the trade embargo and normalize travel between our two nations, which are only 90 miles apart. The Congressional Progressive Caucus looks forward to working with President Obama and members of Congress who want to stabilize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.”

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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 ahead of a House Rules Committee hearing on a deal to partially fund the government through September of next year.

“We support a government funding bill that invests in creating jobs and American families. Unfortunately, the CROmnibus fails to do that.  

“Republicans, who learned nothing from the financial crisis of 2008, included a provision that allows Wall Street to engage in some of the same risky practices that crashed the world economy. The short-term funding of the Department of Homeland Security sets up another government shutdown battle in February and is motivated by Republicans who refuse to fix our broken immigration system.  Continuing cuts to education and environmental protections while spending billions on endless wars is the wrong priority for American families.  Sneaking in last minute provisions, like turning our democracy into an auction house by raising campaign contribution limits, is the wrong way to govern.

“Republicans are once again using a potential crisis with the federal budget to hurt working families. The Progressive Caucus stands with the American people and opposes the bill.” 

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WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today after Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the 500 page executive summary of the CIA torture report, which chronicles the use of torture at secret facilities abroad by the CIA from late 2001 through January 2009.

“The report released today describes torture policies that are contrary to American values and to our Constitution. The Bush administration’s oversight failures tarnished our standing within the international community. The report proves that compromising our values as a nation will not make us any safer.

“No country should be allowed to violate human rights with impunity. We thank Senator Feinstein for releasing this report and for holding our nation accountable. We applaud President Obama’s leadership in ending the use of torture when he came to office in 2009 and for supporting the release of the report.

“Now that we know the extent of this dark chapter in our history, the work of reconciliation can begin. Seeing these crimes in the light of day is the only way we can ensure our nation never allows the use of torture again.” 

The Progressive Caucus will always be committed to ending torture and has long called for the closing of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay. Most recently, the CPC sent a letter to President Obama requesting the release of video recordings to members of Congress reportedly showing Guantánamo Bay detainees who are being force-fed while on hunger-strike.

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WASHINGTON-Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Chair-Elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Linda Sánchez (D-CA), and Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Judy Chu (D-CA) released the following statements after the Department of Justice (DOJ) released revised racial profiling guidance for federal law enforcement.

“Justice should be blind – the fact that law enforcement uses profiling at all is a blatant departure from the values we hold dear,” Rep. Grijalva said. “The rules announced today will help close this gap in justice, and further validate what study after study has already shown: Profiling is bad law enforcement.

“Unfortunately, loopholes in this rule that allow profiling to continue under certain circumstances only perpetuate a flawed policy, sowing distrust within targeted communities and leaving the American people less safe. We can and must close the door on all forms of profiling, not only with federal law enforcement, but all the way down to the local authorities that work day in and day out in our communities.”

"The profiling rules the Department of Justice released today earns a grade of C for protecting the civil liberties of all Americans," Rep. Ellison said. “It does some good things and fails on others. For example, the Progressive Caucus has long urged the DOJ to issue guidance that prevents law enforcement from discriminating based on national origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. We are glad to see these groups included in the revised guidance. However, loopholes still exist. The FBI, TSA, and Customs and Border Patrol agents can still profile in the name of national security.

“The DOJ acknowledges discriminatory profiling is wrong and doesn’t help prevent crime, so why should it be allowed in cases of national security? An articulable suspicion of a particular crime must be the basis for stopping people, not just race or assumptions about religion or national origin. Our federal law enforcement agents should be required to uphold our basic Constitutional principles. Profiling guidance from the DOJ should protect all Americans from being unjustly mapped, monitored, and targeted."

“While I commend the Administration and the Department of Justice for the new policy it released today to help curb racial profiling on the federal level, their guidance for local law enforcement falls short of preventing the next Michael Brown or Eric Garner tragedy,” Rep. Fudge said. “It is imperative that they take the next step of establishing actual policy for all local police departments. 

"This next step - addressing profiling in our communities - is critical because it is the negative - and often deadly - interactions of black and brown people with local law enforcement that most affects the quality of life for Americans nationwide. Further, if our national leaders are earnestly seeking to stem the tide of unfair and inequitable profiling in our country, they must also move to extend the same dignity and protections to those at our southwest border as well. 

"Until all of these audiences are taken into consideration and protected equally, we will still have a long way to go to achieving the 'justice for all' ideal upon which our country was founded."

"The Department of Justice's updated guidance for federal law enforcement comes at a critical point in our nation’s history. The new profiling guidelines for law enforcement are long overdue and a step in the right direction,” Congresswoman Linda Sánchez said. “While I welcome the Department's expansion of characteristics for protection, the exclusion of certain law enforcement is concerning.  It is important that all law enforcement - from the federal level down to the local level - follow the newly released updated guidance on profiling. The Hispanic Caucus commends Attorney General Holder's leadership on this issue. We look forward to continue working with the Department of Justice to prevent unfair, discriminatory profiling practices across all communities."

“Updating the racial profiling guidance comes at a crucial time when communities of color are increasingly feeling that they are being treated differently by law enforcement and before the law,” Rep. Chu said. “These changes are a positive step forward in that religion and national origin are included in the definition of profiling and that data collection and enhanced training will be required.

“However, I still have serious concerns about the remaining loopholes for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection that permit continued use of biased-based profiling. These entities would have a license to profile racial, religious and other minorities at our airports and borders under certain national security contexts. Law enforcement’s practice to map entire communities based on their race, ethnicity or religion would be allowed to continue. These gaps are very troublesome for the American Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian communities, who are increasingly subject to this type of surveillance. Our work is not done here. I will continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security to effectuate meaningful change and stronger protections for these communities.”

The CPC, CBC, CHC, and CAPAC previously sent a letter to Attorney General Holder asking him to update discriminatory profiling guidelines so that a person’s race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation cannot make them a target for police.

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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 Progressive Caucus members Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released the following statements in support of workers striking today across the country for a living wage and collective bargaining rights. 

 

“In the most prosperous nation on earth, the fact that people willing to work full time are not afforded the dignity of a livable wage is completely unacceptable,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva said. “American taxpayers should not have to subsidize highly profitable corporations who refuse to pay employees enough to stay off of public assistance. We must recognize that growing out of the recession takes more than jobs – it takes income. It takes American workers having enough in their pockets to put food on their table, clothes on their back, and revenue back into our economy.”

 

“Too many hardworking fast food workers don’t make enough to live on while the company executives pocket $9,200 an hour,” Rep. Keith Ellison said. “Even after a year and a half of organizing, workers are continuing to march until they get a wage increase and the right to organize. States and cities around the country are standing with working families by increasing wages and Congress should follow their lead by raising the federal minimum wage now.”

 

“The federal minimum wage of $7.25 is a starvation wage,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “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.”

 

“When a growing number of workers are paid so little, it slows down the economy for everybody,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. “When workers cannot afford basics -- like groceries, rent, or transportation -- that reduces their purchasing power in their neighborhoods. Many workers are paid so little they qualify for food stamps and other public assistance. That is taxpayers' money that should be going to schools, roads, bridges, and other priorities. Higher pay will put more purchasing power into the hands of workers, so they can put more money back into their community, boost the economy, and create more good jobs.”

 

“The incomes of workers have continued to decline, year after year, in the richest nation in the history of the world. We know the reason – increases in wealth have been diverted to investors, even as the women and men whose labor allows our economy to function must work harder each year for less and less,” Rep. Yvette Clarke said. “We share a responsibility to build an economy that rewards work, not inherited wealth, by mandating a living wage and investing in the development of each individual person. We have the ability to end income inequality and one of the ways that we can do that is by allowing all workers to unionize.  Unions will help workers fight for a living wage; fight for paid sick leave; and fight for solid pensions. We need only the resolve to act.”

 

“Today, I stand with the fast food workers and federal contract employees that are peacefully demanding a living wage and the right to collectively bargain. We need to turn up the street heat for a real living wage,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Instead of taxpayers subsidizing low-wage workers, companies need to pay a living wage and respect the right to collective bargaining. When families are able to earn more money and have a seat at the table, our economy grows.” 

 

"There is no need to impoverish workers for the benefit of shareholders and CEOs,” said Rep. Alan Grayson. “Everyone who works full-time should make enough money to survive."

 

“These rallies are working – the President, the Department of Labor, and the federal contractors who employ these low-wage workers have been listening,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. “Raising the minimum wage and incentivizing fair labor practices for federal contractors is the next logical step.  These workers, who have the least, and the most to lose, have taken the lead.  It’s time for federal contractors to follow.”

 

The Progressive Caucus has been advocating for higher wages and workers’ right to organize for the past year.  Specifically, the CPC has sent letters to the President asking him to sign a Good Jobs Executive Order and to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers. Just last month, the CPC sent another letter to the President asking him to finish the job he started by rewarding good contractors and guaranteeing workers’ rights to collectively bargain through a Model Employer Executive Order.

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WASHINGTON, DC – Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), released the following statement today in response to a reported agreement in Congress on extending certain tax breaks. The provisions that are included in the deal, such as permanent extension of tax breaks for corporate research and continued fossil fuel subsidies, will add nearly $450 billion to our budget deficit while providing little relief to the middle class and phasing out renewable energy credits.

“The tax extension package will once again be a boon for corporate profits while largely leaving out middle-class and low-income families who are struggling just to get by. If we can find hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to make corporate tax breaks permanent, we should be able to help those struggling to find work. We should be making permanent those tax breaks that help working families without adding restrictions that exclude children in need. This deal is a permanent step backwards for those who think we have a system that is rigged in favor of the wealthy.” 

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WASHINGTON-Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statements after a grand jury declined to indict the officer involved in the shooting of teenager Michael Brown.

“Last night, the pain of a community erupted onto the streets of Ferguson as America learned that no charges will result from Michael Brown’s death,” Rep. Grijalva said. “As emotions continue to run understandably high, it is crucial to bear in mind a lesson history has taught us time and again: justice is not won through destruction or violence, but through unity and perseverance. Just as violence can tarnish peaceful protestors standing for justice, excessive force by law enforcement can only further divide our nation.

“We must honor Michael through peace, and by fixing the failures in our system, from racial profiling to the militarization of local police.  There is much work to be done, but we owe it to the Brown family, the Ferguson community, and to every child hoping to inherit a more fair world than the one we currently have, to live up to this challenge."

Once the news trucks have left St. Louis and the city of Ferguson is calm, a family will still be without their son,” Rep. Ellison said. “Michael Brown’s family will always mourn the senseless shooting of their child - a shooting that should never have happened. Our country has an indefensible history of racial violence. The same violence that killed Emmett Till and beat Rodney King is alive today as Michael Brown’s family grieves.

“I understand the anger and fear that many in Ferguson and around the country feel, but all must remain peaceful. Protest injustice, but do not meet violence with violence. I urge the federal government to continue its investigation of Michael Brown’s shooting. The fight for equality is not over. We have tremendous work to do, including protecting the right to vote. But right now, my thoughts are with Michael’s parents, whose son will not be coming home.”

 CPC Member Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014 to reform the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which provides surplus military equipment to local law enforcement. The CPC endorsed this legislation, which would halt the transfer of weapons and equipment that is inappropriate for local policing. Congress will have the opportunity to enact these reforms in the coming weeks as the House debates the annual defense authorization bill. In addition, the CPC, CBC, CHC, and CAPAC sent a letter to Attorney General Holder asking him to update discriminatory profiling guidelines so that a person’s race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation cannot make them a target for police.

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WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) along with CPC Equal Protection Task Force Chair Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) released the following statements after President Obama announced executive action on immigration that would bring relief to nearly 5 million people living in the United States. 

“I am proud of President Obama for standing by his word, and standing with immigrant communities tonight,” Rep. Grijalva said. “The actions he announced will provide relief for millions of people who want nothing more than to be our fellow citizens and contribute to our society. The President’s actions are not all-encompassing – they are a strong starting point with clear opportunities to build from.  This country was built on the hopes and dreams of people coming here in search of a better life and President Obama has proven he is dedicated to making this dream a reality for millions more.”

“The action President Obama described tonight will bring relief to millions who live in fear of the knock at the door that could change everything,” Rep. Ellison said. “He joins President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush in taking executive action to keep families together. Politics too often stands in the way of what is right. The president’s action is a first step towards fixing an immigration system that is inhumane and cruel. I proudly stand with President Obama and the millions of people who will be helped by his leadership.”

The President displayed strong leadership this evening as he announced new executive action that shifts the prosecutorial focus to locking up and deporting real criminals, keeping America safe and strong, rather than needlessly tearing apart families who love this country,” said Rep. Polis. “This was a bold, but necessary step to fix our broken immigration system, but it is still only a stop gap. In order to truly solve this problem and reap the many benefits that immigration reform will bring to our country, Congress must step up and pass comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.”

The CPC previously sent a memo to the President urging him to sign a strong executive order to provide relief for over 7 million undocumented immigrants. 

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 statements today urging Congress to let diplomacy work in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russia (P5+1) and Iran after the House passed a resolution condemning human rights violations in Iran. 

“After years of inaction, the ongoing negotiations between the United States and Iran represent significant progress, and have the potential to make meaningful strides on nuclear proliferation and human rights in Iran,” Rep. Grijalva said. “The give and take of international diplomacy is delicate and should not be rushed for the sake of a deadline. I encourage all parties involved to continue their good faith efforts to bring about a lasting and meaningful deal that moves our nations forward.”

 

“The expansion of human rights for all Iranians is more likely to happen if current negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are successful. Diplomacy with Iran empowers human rights leaders in Tehran because it weakens the claim that Iran is under constant threat which justifies the police state,” Rep. Ellison said. “Diplomacy empowers advocates to push for rights like freedom of speech and religion. If Congress wants to help improve human rights in Iran, we must engage and support the P5+1 nuclear talks.”     

 

“Iran’s human rights situation is tragic and deplorable; violations of human rights should be condemned. I hope this resolution is not used to undermine diplomatic efforts to reduce and provide for inspections of Iran’s nuclear program,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Maintaining diplomatic negotiations is vital to enhancing our regional security objectives and promoting human rights.”

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WASHINGTON- Today, the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) chose their leadership for the 114th Congress and re-elected Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) as Co-Chairs.

The rest of the Progressive Caucus leadership for the 114th Congress is listed below:

Caucus First Vice Chair: Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)

Caucus Whip: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Vice Chair and Liaison to the CBC: Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)

Vice Chair and Liaison to the CHC:  Rep. Elect Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)

Vice Chair and Liaison to the Native American Caucus: Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)

Vice Chair and Liaison to CAPAC: Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)

Vice Chair and Liaison to the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

Vice Chair and Liaison to the LGBT Equality Caucus: Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)

Vice Chair and Liaison for New Members: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)

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