WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), released the following statement after the President announced initiatives to push for paid leave including directing federal agencies to allow workers to use up to six weeks after the birth or adoption of a child. 

“We applaud President Obama for his push for paid leave and support of the Healthy Families Act. The wealthiest nation must join the rest of the world in affording mothers and fathers time to spend with their children.  Whether it is for birth or to care for a sick child, there is no question about what is right for American families.

“Offering adequate paid leave is not just morally right, it’s economically smart. Many Americans face the dilemma of what to do when they themselves or a member of their family is sick. Workers without paid sick days must choose to go to work sick or stay home and risk their pay and possibly their job. Allowing paid leave prevents the spread of illness and increases workforce productivity, which benefits employers.

“Paid leave is not a progressive issue—it is a family issue. American workers should never be forced to choose between their jobs and the health of themselves or their families. There is absolutely no reason that Speaker Boehner should not support paid sick and family leave. We urge our friends across the aisle to join us and swiftly pass the Healthy Families Act.” 

CPC member Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) first introduced the Healthy Families Act in 2005, and has reintroduced the bill in every Congress since then. Currently, only three states – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island – offer paid family and medical leave, and one state, Massachusetts will start offering paid sick days in July 2015.

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WASHINGTON, DC –Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), voted against a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that blocks funds for President Obama’s immigration executive action.

“While Republicans claim to be the party of security, nothing could be more dangerous than playing political games with funding for the Department of Homeland Security – especially at a time of heightened alert,” Rep. Grijalva said. “It’s absurd and irresponsible to hold this budget hostage, and to once again threaten a partial government shutdown. These funds are intended to keep Americans safe – not serve the ideological agendas of politicians with axes to grind.  The Republicans continue to include senseless bed mandates and harmful family detention funding in their funding bills, it’s time they get a reality check on the security needs of this country.

“For nearly two years, this country waited for Congressional Republicans to join their Senate colleagues in addressing our broken immigration system,” Rep. Grijalva continued. “As if their refusal to act wasn’t bad enough, their current tactics make clear that they’d rather enflame our immigration problems than ever see them solved. But undermining the public’s security is a length to which no politician should be willing to go for the sake of a political victory. It’s an abdication of their duties as elected leaders, and a violation of the oath of office they took just days ago.”

"House Republicans refused to act on the Senate's bipartisan immigration reform bill for five hundred days; now they’re threatening the Department of Homeland Security because the president took bold action for families who couldn't wait any longer,” Rep. Ellison said. “Pushing the government into a crisis when you don’t get what you want is quickly becoming a hallmark of Speaker Boehner's leadership. 

“If Republicans want to debate comprehensive immigration reform or the Affordable Care Act, they should come to the table with their own ideas – not threaten agencies critical to preventing and responding to emergencies,” Rep. Ellison continued. “Sadly, the investments working families need to succeed are neglected while bills that attack new Americans and provide benefits for mega-banks are fast-tracked. We urge Speaker Boehner to stop the brinksmanship and bring a clean Department of Homeland Security spending bill to the floor." 

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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 after submitting an amendment today to the Rules Committee which would substitute the text of H.R. 37 delaying the Volcker Rule with language that repeals limits on discretionary spending created in the Budget Control Act of 2011.

“House Republicans are opening the 114th Congress by putting the profits of mega-banks over investments in hard-working Americans. While they are championing failed policies of trickle-down economics, we know our economy works best when we put Americans back to work. If Republicans are serious about creating jobs, they should focus on ending harmful budget cuts. That’s why the Progressive Caucus is proposing to replace H.R. 37 – a bill that would delay a requirement for the largest banks to sell possibly risky investments in their portfolios– with investments that will create jobs across the country.

“Our priority should be American families, not bank CEOs. We can rebuild our roads and bridges, upgrade our transit systems and electrical grids, and continue important science research while putting Americans back into decent paying jobs if we get rid of the budget sequester once and for all.”

The full text of the amendment can be found below.

Amendment to H.R 37

Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the following:

Section 1 Repeal of Discretionary Spending Caps.

The discretionary spending limits for each of fiscal years 2015 through 2021 as set forth in section 251 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 shall have no force or effect.

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WASHINGTON, DC –Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with 50 members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting the Department of Justice (DOJ) collect and publicly release data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.

The letter was also signed by Reps. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Corrine Brown (D-FL), André Carson (D-IN), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), José Serrano (D-NY), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Maxine Waters D-CA), Dianna DeGette (D-CO), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), John Yarmuth (D-KY), James Clyburn (D-SC), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Mike Honda (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D- CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI), Danny Davis (D-IL), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sam Farr (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL),  Janice Hahn (D-CA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA),  Cedric Richmond (D-LA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Alma Adams (D-NC), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

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

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We share a strong commitment to building a fairer, more equitable criminal justice system and write today to request the Department of Justice (DOJ) collect data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers in the United States and produce a publicly available annual summary of the data. [1] This reporting is currently required under [the] Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, however according to media reports the most recent report was issues in 2001. [2]

Recent events in Sanford, Ferguson, Staten Island, and Cleveland illustrate a significant need for criminal justice reform. Reliable information is necessary in order to implement meaningful change. Experience in our communities indicates that the use of excessive force disproportionally affects communities of color, but we lack the empirical data from the Department of Justice.

In order to ensure that [the] criminal justice system provides equal justice for all, the DOJ should establish a standardized procedure by which local law enforcement agencies collect and report relevant data. This procedure should leave it to local authorities to judge what is “excessive”, but rather should provide DOJ with sufficient information to allow DOJ to make that judgment.

We request that you respond to our request and report on the steps that the DOJ will take to ensure that instances of excessive force are tracked and reported. Recent events make it clear that this is an urgent matter.

[1] Section 210402(a) of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C 14142) requires the Attorney General to compile data on the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers. Subsection (c) requires the production of an annual summary of the data that is compiled.

[2] Ross, Keith, “How Many Police Shootings Have There Been? In The Aftermath of Michael Brown’s Death, The Absence of Police Shooting Statistics Leaves The Question Unanswered,” The International Business Times (Aug. 15, 2014).

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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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