Giving Thanks for Health Care
Last week President Obama signed into law the most far-reaching improvements to America's health care system in two generations. Later in the week, Congress passed a second bill that strengthened the original measure and improved the college-loan program at the same time. It awaits a presidential signature this week. All of us who've played a role in this bitter struggle-writing a letter, calling Congress, talking to neighbors-can feel pride at this historic accomplishment.
There's still work to be done, though. Broader reform must still be enacted in order to reach the ideal so long sought by ADA and other progressives. But right now we must thank those members of Congress who voted the right way on the current bill, especially in the face of political threats from the Tea Baggers and other conservatives.
Determining whether your members deserve a thank-you call is pretty easy: if they're Republicans, they don't (they all voted no). If they're Democrats, they probably do (unless they made this unfortunate roll of shame). Congress can be reached at 202-224-3121; or better yet, since members are back in their districts the next two weeks for spring recess, call their district office. You can also find them at a local event and thank them in person.
At Work During Recess
On Saturday, President Obama overcame more Republican obstructionism by making recess appointments of 15 administration nominees who had been blocked by Senate Republicans. He filled key commerce, trade and financial slots (obviously important in the midst of a Great Recession), as well as filling quorums on two key agencies that look out for worker rights: the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The key appointment was of respected labor lawyer Craig Becker to the NLRB, where he'll bring more balance to a board that's been notoriously anti-labor in recent years.
MARCHING FORWARD: On Thursday, the Pentagon announced it would reform its controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military by no longer accepting anonymous complaints, tightening standards on testimony and requiring the participation of high-ranking officers in investigations… NUCLEAR SPRING: The U.S. and Russia on Friday announced a significant breakthrough on nuclear arms reduction, with a formal treaty scheduled to be signed in April…LENDING A HAND: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has helpfully established a website to facilitate conservative "Tea Bagger" challenges to incumbent Republican Members of Congress.
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