WASHINGTON–Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today on President Obama's Clean Power Plan, the first ever national standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Congressional Progressive Caucus, along with Democratic Members of the House Judiciary Committee and support from the Congressional Tri-Caucuses, today held a forum on family detention. The forum highlighted grave abuses experienced by women and children housed in for-profit detention facilities across the country. The forum allowed Members of Congress to hear directly from a panel that included two former detainees, a whistleblower who once worked as the lead social worker at a detention facility, and two experts who spoke to the psychological, developmental and legal implications of current family detention policies. The event comes just days after a federal judge in California ruled that family detention centersseriously violate a longstanding court settlement, and that the families should be released as quickly as possible.

WASHINGTON—The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and working families introduced a resolution today calling for universal child care. The Progressive Caucus resolution, introduced by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), calls for high-quality, guaranteed, affordable and accessible child care for every American family and a strong child care workforce that is paid a living wage of at least $15 an hour and has a voice on the job. 

“Affordable, high quality child care is a basic necessity that should be available to every family no matter their income level,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Right now, too many Americans can’t afford or are forced to spend most of their paycheck on child care, leaving little leftover to support basic family necessities. It is time for our country to adopt policies that reflect our values. By making high quality child care available to all, we can allow mothers and fathers to work without worry and to spend the time they need to be dedicated parents.”

"The cost of caring for a child in America keeps rising, while our biggest corporations book bigger and bigger profits,” Rep. Ellison said. “It’s time we pledge no family in the United States faces a future without affordable child care.”

“To build the middle class, we need policies that give all Americans the opportunity to create a better life for their children,” Rep. Bonamici said. “As the cost of child care continues to rise, we need policies that support working families. This resolution recognizes the importance of reliable, quality child care, and it recognizes that family-friendly policies are good for workers and for the economy. I’m proud to be working with the CPC to advocate for affordable and accessible child care.”

The text of the resolution can be found here

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) joined Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) in calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to finalize the rule requiring publicly-traded corporations to disclose the ratio of the compensation for their CEO to the compensation of their median worker.

The three lawmakers urged completion of the so-called “Median Worker Pay Ratio Rule” via a letter sent today to SEC Chair Mary Jo White.  This rule would implement section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was enacted more than four years ago. 

The letter was signed by 47 Representatives including Reps. Beyer, Boyle, Brownley, Capuano, Chu, Cicilline, Clark, Conyers, DeFazio, DeSaulnier, Edwards, Ellison, Eshoo, Frankel, Garamendi, Grayson, Grijalva, Gutiérrez, Honda, Jackson Lee, Johnson, Kaptur, Langevin, Lawrence, Lee, Lynch, Matsui, McDermott, McGovern, Moore, Norton, Pallone, Plaskett, Pocan, Rangel, Schakowsky, Scott, Smith, Takano, Tonko, Tsongas, Van Hollen, Visclosky, Walz, Watson Coleman, Waters, and Welch.

The text of the letter is below and signed copy can be found here

Dear Chair White:

We remain disappointed by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) delay in implementing section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This section requires publicly-traded companies to disclose the ratio of the compensation of their CEOs to the pay of their median worker.  This rule has now been delayed three times, and the Commission continues to solicit more comment on a proposal Congress already told it to complete. In the meantime, Commissioners Luis A. Aguilar and Kara M. Stein have offered their public support for a completed rule. We urge you to do the same, and finalize this Congressionally-mandated rule. 

Congress enacted the CEO-to-worker pay ratio disclosure rule in response to public concerns over escalating executive pay and the need for investors and the public to have this information available in an easily understandable format. Finalizing this rule has also never been more needed as income inequality continues to grow.  In 2014, a CEO of an S&P 500 company made, on average, $373 for every $1 earned by the typical rank-and-file production worker in the U.S., according to the AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch website. While executives make critical decisions about the direction of their companies, investors know that it is the quality employees who ensure those decisions are properly implemented. 

The SEC rule must require companies to include all domestic, international, full-time and part-time workers in the calculation of the CEO-to-worker pay ratio. A rule that excludes international and part-time workers would be a clear violation of congressional intent.

In April of last year the Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs adopted similar pay ratio disclosure regulation for public Indian companies. Indian companies will shortly begin disclosing the ratio in their annual financial statements for the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2015. Investors in American-listed companies should be afforded the same ability to consider whether compensating a CEO hundreds of times what the employees earn is a wise use of their resources.

We strongly oppose waiting until 2016 to finalize this rule, and urge the SEC to complete this rulemaking.

WASHINGTON—Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) and 28 of their colleagues introduced the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act today, which raises the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. Details on the bill can be found here. A letter signed by over two-hundred economists support of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 can be found here.

 “In the year 2015, a job must lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it.  The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

“In the richest nation on Earth, full-time work should be compensated with more than a never-ending struggle to make ends meet,” Rep. Grijalva said. “We believe in the dignity of hard work – we should demand the dignity of fair compensation, too. Every American forced to accept less than their worth for labor is an American who cannot contribute fully to our economy, which is why Congress should pass the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act immediately.”

“When I’m on picket lines around the country, people tell me they’re protesting because they’re working harder than ever and still can’t make ends meet,” Rep. Ellison said. “The Progressive Caucus stands in solidarity with the working Americans putting in longer hours and seeing smaller paychecks. In the richest nation in the world, no business should be able to pay so little their workers are forced to find second and third jobs to feed their kids. The Pay Workers a Living Wage Act will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and ensure hard work pays in America.” 

“Raising the minimum wage to $15 would give at least 25 million hard-working Americans – including six million working moms – a raise, lift as many as six million people out of poverty, and infuse more than $32 billion into our national economy,” Rep. Jackson Lee said. “Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do.”

“Recent calls for an increase in the minimum wage have been displaced by the increasing cost of living in our country,” Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton said.  “Today, $15 an hour is the minimum wage a worker needs in order to make a decent living.”

“The low federal minimum wage amounts to corporate welfare,” Rep. Janice Hahn said. “American taxpayers are subsidizing rich corporations by covering the cost of food stamps and healthcare for underpaid and exploited workers.”

“Raising the minimum wage is good for our workers and our economy,” Rep. Grayson said. “People who earn minimum wage put their earnings back into our economy by buying food, clothes, baby supplies, and other necessities. A higher minimum wage also means fewer people collecting government assistance like food stamps. Almost 60% of minimum wage earners in this country are women. A large percentage of them are single mothers. They deserve a salary that reflects the true costs they face. The American worker is long overdue for a raise. No one who works full time should live in poverty.”

Original Co-sponsors: Reps. Adams (D-WA), Blumenauer (D-OR), Chu (D-CA), Clarke (D-NY), Cohen (D-TN), Conyers (D-MI), Edwards (D-MD), Ellison (D-MN), Farr (D-CA), Hahn (D-CA), Honda (D-CA), Gallego (D-AZ), Grijalva (D-AZ), Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Lee (D-CA), Lewis (D-GA), Lowenthal (D-CA), McDermott (D-WA), Meeks (D-NY), Nadler (D-NY), Norton (D-DC), Pallone (D-NJ), Pocan (D-WI), Rangel (D-NY), Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Schakowsky (D-IL), Takano (D-CA), Van Hollen (D-MD), Velazquez (D-NY), Watson-Coleman (D-NJ).

The Pay Workers a Living Wage Act is supported by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Restaurant Opportunities Center, and Communications Workers of America.

WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with 18 House Democrats sent a letter to President Barack Obama and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson urging the DHS to issue an updated report on domestic right-wing extremism and reopen the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division.

The letter was also signed by Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Mike Honda (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Mark Takano (D-CA), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ). 

The text of the letter is below and a signed letter can be found here.

Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Mr. President and Secretary Johnson:

We write to urge the Department of Homeland Security to issue an updated assessment on the threat posed by domestic right-wing extremist groups and to reopen the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Dylann Roof’s attempt to “start a race war” by murdering nine people at the historic Black Church Emanuel AME in Charleston is a painful reminder that violent white supremacist groups represent a continued threat to Americans.

According to a study from the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, right-wing extremist groups launched an average of 337 attacks per year, killing 254 people from 2001 to 2011. State and local law enforcement agencies often cite anti-government extremism as a top concern. In a study conducted by Police Executive Research Forum, 74% of the 382 law enforcement agencies polled cited anti-government extremism as a top three terrorist threat. The Southern Poverty Law Center has long documented the dramatic rise in right-wing hate groups, noting the number of white supremacist hate groups has increased by 30 percent since 2000. Reports indicate that in February, DHS released a report to law enforcement agencies noting the threat that sovereign citizen extremists (SCEs) pose to communities and law enforcement in particular.

Despite these statistics and warnings, the United States allocates significant resources towards combatting Islamic violent extremism while failing to devote adequate resources to right-wing extremism. The problem goes beyond a skewed allocation of resources. When efforts are made to address right-wing extremism, they are often met with significant political backlash.

For example, in 2009 when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Department wide report on right-wing extremism there was so much political pushback that DHS repudiated the study and disbanded the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division, the unit responsible for the report. This lack of political will comes at a heavy price of repeated attacks on churches, temples and community centers for African American Christians, Sikh Americans and Jewish Americans.

Our government needs to do more to address the threat of right-wing extremism. Countering violent extremism requires a comprehensive strategy that begins with a commitment to address hate crime in all its forms.

We believe reopening the Extremism and Radicalization Branch at DHS and updating the 2009 report is necessary to address this growing domestic terrorist threat.


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