WASHINGTON-Today, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to sign a Model Employer Executive Order to reward good federal contractors and guarantee workers’ rights to collectively bargain. The text of the letter is below and a signed version can be found here.

  

Dear Mr. President:

 

Thank you for showing your commitment to working families by issuing executive orders that ensure a minimum wage and workplace protections for hundreds of thousands of Americans working under federal contracts. We now ask you to issue a new executive order in defense of these hard-working Americans: a Model Employer Executive Order that gives an incentive for corporations to provide good middle class jobs. 

 

Holding corporations who receive taxpayer money to a minimum standard, as you did with the first two executive orders, is a logical first step. We must also reward those who go above and beyond. A Model Employer Executive Order would give preference for federal contracts to those companies that do more than just the legal minimum by providing living wages, paid leave, and covering health care for their workers.  It would also require contractors to respect their employees’ right to collectively bargain. 

 

The potential impact for working families is substantial. According to a report by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee of the U.S. Senate, “companies that receive government contracts employ an estimated 22 percent of the American workforce, approximately 26 million workers.” The National Employment Law Project interviewed over 500 federal government contract workers and found that 74 percent do not have sick leave, 89 percent do not have health insurance through their employer, and 58 percent receive no benefits at all.  The right to collective bargaining, which is the most effective way workers can fight for these basic benefits, has been under attack. 

 

The corporations that are doing their part to correct the causes of economic inequality should have a competitive advantage when pursuing government contracts.  Instead, they are currently undercut by corporations who only pay the legal minimum and take away workers’ seat at the table.  A Model Employer Executive Order would give a competitive advantage to corporations that treat workers well.  The Congressional Progressive Caucus stands ready to work with you to finish the job of making sure taxpayer dollars are not funding the low wage economy.

 

The CPC previously sent letters to the President asking him to sign a Good Jobs Executive Order and to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers. 

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WASHINGTON-Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) sent a memo to the President urging him to sign a strong executive order on immigration.  The text of the memo’s introduction is below and the full text can be found here

 

 The Congressional Progressive Caucus calls on President Obama to provide comprehensive relief to immigrants residing in our nation through executive action. Expansive and robust action that addresses the economic, family, community and national problems we now face is urgently needed. Republicans in Congress have made it clear they will not engage in a good faith effort to fix our broken immigration system. The president has the legal authority and moral imperative to provide relief for over 7 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the shadows. 

 

Our current deportation system is inhumane and wastes billions of taxpayer dollars. Choices between addressing the needs of millions of aspiring Americans and attempting to satisfy the demands of an uncompromising and entrenched opposition are inevitable. We should stand for what is right for our nation. This memo contains our requests for a new affirmative relief program and an expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

 

The administration should act swiftly and comprehensively. We should not force deserving individuals and families to wait any longer.

 

The CPC previously released a statement calling on the President to stay deportations in order to keep families together until an executive order was signed.

 

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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 after President Obama announced a new agreement with China to reduce carbon emissions.

“We applaud President Obama for negotiating an historic agreement with China to reduce carbon emissions in the coming decades. The United States and China are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, which makes the agreement announced today a vital step towards limiting the worst effects of climate change. It sets the stage for a larger deal that we hope will set emission targets needed to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees. We urge Congress to follow President Obama’s lead and take concrete action to combat climate change now.”

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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 President Obama came out in favor of net neutrality through Title II reclassification of the Internet. 

“President Obama stands with the millions of Americans who submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality over the summer. His plan announced today is a win for communities of color, small businesses and millions of Americans who rely on a free and open Internet. The Progressive Caucus was proud to lead a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler with 34 House Democrats in May calling for net neutrality and Title II reclassification of broadband Internet. 

“The Internet should never be pay-to-play. We urge Chairman Wheeler to listen to the president, the Progressive Caucus and millions of Americans demanding the Internet remain free, open and democratic.” 

The Progressive Caucus letter to Chairman Wheeler can be found here

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 close of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit where American negotiators continued pushing to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Free trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership must be negotiated in the open with Congressional oversight and input from the working people most affected by the policies at stake. Secret negotiations are not the way to cut a deal that will cost American jobs and slash wages.

“The APEC summit ended today without a final deal agreed upon, which is yet another self-imposed deadline negotiators missed. The reason is simple: the Trans-Pacific Partnership is far from the ‘21st-century trade agreement’ it’s been called—it amounts to a corporate handout at the expense of workers in all negotiating nations. We urge American negotiators to fight for the best interest of working families—not the world’s richest corporations.

“We stand with the hard working people fighting the Trans-Pacific Partnership and demand the public be told what’s happening behind closed doors.”

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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