Stories by Lauren Smith:
July 24, 2013
The student loan interest rate legislation approved Wednesday by the Senate appears to face a clear path in the House, where Republicans wasted no time pointing out that the proposal closely mirrors their original plan.
July 10, 2013
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been pending in Congress for two decades. Here is a look at the key turning points in the legislative history. 1994: ENDA was first introduced in the 103rd Congress in 1994 with 30 co-sponsors in the Senate and 137 co-sponsors in the House. The bill, though introduced in various forms since then and mainly supported by Democrats, has almost always had at least one Republican co-sponsor. Even in 1994, the proposal had the backing of Sen. Jim Jeffords, a Republican from Vermont who in 2001 became an independent who caucused with Democrats, as well as seven House Republicans. 1996: The Senate held a floor vote on ENDA but it failed by one vote, 50-49. The main sponsor, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., gave an impassioned speech in the chamber, saying: “Today we have the chance to take a meaningful forward step on the road to make America America. We have a really important opportunity to turn our back on bigotry, to turn our back on intolerance, to turn our back on discrimination. We can take an important step in the progress of making America America.” 1998: President Bill Clinton, who had urged Congress in his State of the Union addresses to pass ENDA, signed an executive order that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation for federal employees. 2007: ENDA was introduced for the first time with language that protected gender identity. Though that specific provision was stripped from the bill when it came up for a vote in the House, it marked the first and only time that the proposal passed out of a chamber of Congress. The House supported the bill 235-184, but it eventually died in the Senate, mainly because President George W. Bush threatened a veto. 2013: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee cleared ENDA on Wednesday, readying it for a vote by the full chamber. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he plans to bring the legislation to the floor swiftly, and the bipartisan support the bill garnered in committee hints at the likelihood that it will pass the Senate.
July 10, 2013
In June, several lawmakers received a visit from Kristin Beck, a Florida native who, after serving for more than 20 years as a male U.S. Navy SEAL, recently revealed her identity as a transgender woman.
June 27, 2013
Senate Democrats battled among themselves over student loans Thursday, holding dueling news conferences about the right way to prevent interest rates from doubling in four days.
June 26, 2013
With immigration center stage and a bipartisan agreement to stave off the student loan interest rate hike nowhere in sight, principal negotiators on both sides conceded Tuesday that rates will likely double on July 1 and will need to be fixed retroactively.
June 5, 2013
Bipartisan negotiations to overhaul federal job-training programs are picking up again, with Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., hoping to usher a bill through the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee before the August recess.
June 5, 2013
Charlotte Works, the workforce board for the Charlotte area of North Carolina, knew it needed to try something different when Siemens Energy approached the panel in 2010 looking to hire skilled workers for 1,000 newly created machinist, welding and mechanical assembly jobs.
June 2, 2013
With federal student loan interest rates set to double on July 1, Congress returns from recess facing a familiar partisan brawl with no quick resolution in sight.
May 15, 2013
A banner typed across the front page of the Job Corps website in bold red letters reads, “Attention! Job Corps is enrolling students again!”
May 15, 2013
For Anand Vimalassery, watching Job Corps’ finances spiral out of control has been more than frustrating. After all, he spent the better part of a year trying to warn the Labor Department that the program — which offers students ages 16-24 free education or training to learn a career, earn a high school diploma or equivalency degree, and find and keep a good job — was headed for a serious funding shortfall.
May 8, 2013
The Republican campaign against Labor Secretary nominee Thomas E. Perez picked up serious momentum Wednesday, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Marco Rubio both raised strong objections.
May 7, 2013
With a Senate committee vote set for Wednesday on the nomination of Thomas E. Perez for Labor secretary, House Republicans convened a joint hearing Tuesday to examine a whistle-blower case that GOP lawmakers have been using as ammunition against him.
April 10, 2013
When Wanda Cobbs’ two children fell ill for an extended period this winter due to complications from their Type I diabetes, the decision to stay home to care for them came more easily than it had in the past. Thanks to a Connecticut law that took effect last year, Cobbs, a school bus driver for the West Hartford public schools system, had access to paid sick leave for the first time.
April 10, 2013
The National Partnership for Women and Families in 2004 began its push for paid sick leave when it launched its “Campaign for Paid Sick Days,” and played an integral role two years later in helping San Francisco secure the first-ever ordinance mandating paid sick days in the United States.
March 18, 2013
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., announced Monday that he will block President Barack Obama’s nominee for Labor secretary, Thomas E. Perez, until he receives more information about Perez’s enforcement of a federal voting law as the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
March 10, 2013
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, fired a preemptive warning shot to the White House over the weekend in response to media reports that President Barack Obama intends to nominate Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department, as the next Labor secretary.
Feb. 25, 2013
House Republican leaders may need every vote they can get this week when they bring to the floor a five-year reauthorization of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
Feb. 6, 2013
After an election focused heavily on jobs, the House is poised to move quickly on a long-stalled overhaul of federal job-training programs. But hope for finally breaking through the gridlock appears to hinge on bipartisan negotiations quietly under way in the Senate.
Feb. 6, 2013
With the Senate poised to pass a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Wednesday vowed that the bill is a priority in his chamber, as well.
Feb. 4, 2013
The issue of President Barack Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board is now before the Supreme Court, as a nursing home company Monday asked the court to block a board order. This provides the first opportunity for the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of the recess appointments, which a lower court invalidated in a separate case Jan. 25.
Jan. 25, 2013
Senate Republicans won an important victory over President Barack Obama on Friday, when a federal appeals court ruled that his appointments to the National Labor Relations Board a year ago were unconstitutional. GOP lawmakers quickly responded by calling for the appointees to resign and for the board to shut down.
Jan. 9, 2013
Texas Republican Steve Stockman is searching for co-sponsors for a bill he introduced Jan. 3 that would repeal the federal law that prohibits firearms in school zones.
Oct. 18, 2012
A senior Senate Republican is looking to redefine what constitutes welfare as he makes a case for ratcheting back government spending on programs for the poor.
Oct. 3, 2012
Rep. Tom Petri, the second-most senior Republican on the Education and the Workforce Committee, is floating the first serious proposal to overhaul the federal student loan repayment system as Congress prepares to take up reauthorization of the Higher Education Act next year.
Oct. 2, 2012
Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave an emphatic defense Tuesday of the Obama administration’s use of executive authority and competitive grants on education policy to bypass a gridlocked Congress.