Archive for the ‘DC’ Category

Bill to repeal right-to-work nationwide introduced in Senate

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017
Bill to repeal right-to-work nationwide introduced in Senate

(Source: Washington Examiner, September 21, 2017) 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate Democrats introduced legislation Wednesday to repeal all state right-to-work laws, arguing that the laws, which prevent workers from being forced to join or financially support a labor union as a condition of employment, are wrong because they make it harder to form unions. The legislation is two sentences long: “This act may be cited as the ‘Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act’. Subsection (b) of section 14 of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 164) is repealed.”

Full story: Washington Examiner

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Hill — FRA rule gives us chance to bar most one-person crew trains

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Mar 23, 2016 MoveAmerica Blog

The Hill — FRA rule gives us chance to bar most one-person crew trains

As published by John Previsich and Ed Wytkind in The Hill

The freight railroads would have the public believe that operating massive freight trains with a single crew member is perfectly safe. We know those claims are not true and fortunately so does our government which just issued proposed regulations establishing a two-person crew minimum on most trains. We applaud those rules and will push to make them as tough and rigid as possible.

If former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was alive today, he would probably tell the railroads, “you’re entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts.” Despite erroneous claims by the industry lobby that there is a lack of “conclusive statistical data” to support a two-person crew standard, we know from data gleaned from reports on accidents, crashes and fatalities as well as the real-life experiences of frontline employees, that the arguments in favor of a two-person crew standard are compelling.

The railroads rely on skewed statistical analysis to argue that a lack of accidents from the use of one-person crews means that this two-person train crew rule isn’t needed. The reality is that almost all trains in America operate with two crew members and thankfully, one-person crew operations are still the rare exception. Of course there is not a great deal of data available. More to the point, the safety statistics in today’s industry are a product of the skill and professionalism of the two-person and three-person crews that operate trains across America today.

Read more in The Hill.

Shuster-DeFazio Looks Set to Follow Shuster-Rahall Tone

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

 

By David Harrison, CQ Roll Call

Taste of Shuster-DeFazio. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee appears ready to maintain the relatively amicable atmosphere that reigned between Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and ranking member Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va., after Rahall’s departure at the end of the current Congress.

Oregon’s Peter A. DeFazio will become ranking member, as Rahall lost his bid for re-election. If Tuesday’s Federal Aviation Administration hearing is any indication, DeFazio will try to maintain the cordial relationship with Shuster. The reauthorization of the FAA could be an early test.

The reauthorization bill could be a fairly bipartisan affair. Tuesday’s hearing featured plenty of disagreement but didn’t suggest an impasse. “This is going to be very, very high on [Shuster’s] agenda,” DeFazio said. “I think the problems in aviation are soluble.”

The current authorization expires at the end of the year.  If lawmakers make progress on the FAA relatively quickly next year, it could give them momentum to tackle the trickier highway bill by May.

On the Spending Side. The question remains whether appropriators will try to push through an omnibus bill or settle for a continuing resolution. President Barack Obama’s immigration announcement continues to tie Republicans in knots, making it difficult for appropriators to wrap up work.

Outgoing Transportation-HUD Subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham, R-Iowa, has said he is working with his Senate counterparts to resolve outstanding issue between the House subcommittee bill (HR 4745) and the Senate’s (S 2438). One concern appears to be the spending levels for TIGER grants and the policy restrictions surrounding them.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., meanwhile, is getting ready to take over the subcommittee’s gavel next year. “It is of utmost importance that we prioritize transportation initiatives that will improve our local communities, while also providing housing solutions for those most in need,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement.

Airline Battle. The fight over Norwegian Airlines’ proposed low-cost carrier simmers on. Roll Call’s Tom Curry attended a meeting with Norwegian Air CEO Bjorn Kjos, who made his case for the Department of Transportation to sign off on the company’s application to operate the new Ireland-based airline, Norwegian Air International, between the United States and Europe.

The application has been pending for months and transportation officials don’t have a deadline to rule, but Kjos is getting impatient, saying the delay is a violation of an open skies agreement between the United States and the European Union.

“Transatlantic flights are the last cartel,” he said.

U.S. airlines and labor unions want the government to deny the application, arguing that NAI is skirting tax and labor rules by incorporating in Ireland. Members of the Air Line Pilots Association swarmed the Hill in their sharply-creased uniforms Wednesday urging lawmakers to attach language to the upcoming spending bill to bar the airline’s request.

Tea Party Class More Confrontational Than Ever

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Hawkings Here

Tea Party Class More Confrontational Than Ever

By David Hawkings Posted at 5:16 p.m. on Feb.  3

The atmospherics offered plenty of clues, but the numbers don’t lie: The House was an even more polarized and partisan place last year than it was when the tea party class of Republicans took over the place two years before. And that’s in part because those lawmakers have grown even more antagonistic to President Barack Obama’s agenda — and even more willing to toe the party line.

That is among the central takeaways from CQ Roll Call’s analysis of 2013 congressional voting patterns, the latest installment in an annual study that began six decades ago.

While Obama got his way on 57 percent of the congressional votes on which he staked a position, a fifth-year success rate exceeded only by George W. Bush among the past four re-elected presidents, that was almost entirely because of a record amount of support from his Democratic colleagues running the Senate.

In the House, Obama had his way on just 21 percent of the votes he clearly cared about, and that was because the average member of the Republican majority voted his way only 12 percent of the time, the smallest measure of presidential support any caucus has ever recorded for a Democratic president.

Twelve percent was also the exact amount of support Obama received from the 65 members who remain from the Class of 2010. (Eighty GOP members who had never before served in Congress were elected that year.) But it’s notable that the median went down a whopping 9 points since 2011, the first year those lawmakers were in Washington.

In other words, the group who voted against Obama 4 out of 5 times as brand-new freshmen disagreed with him 7 out of 8 times as first-year sophomores. The substance of the votes taken over the two years was different, so I can’t make a precise apples-to-apples comparison. But the trend would seem to contradict a conventional wisdom about the modern Congress: Even those who arrive with the most revolutionary fervor tend to buff away some of their roughest ideological edges after a couple of years.

In fact, 30 of those elected in the tea party wave saw their presidential support scores decline by more than 10 points from 2011 to 2013, suggesting that many have concluded they are safe in shifting their voting patterns further to the right now that they have secured their first re-election.

The steepest plunges belonged to a pair of the bigger upset winners of 2010: Ohio’s Bill Johnson backed Obama just 9 percent of the time last year, down 17 points from his first year in office; the drop by North Carolina’s Renee Ellmers was 16 points.

By contrast, only two members of that class backed Obama more often in 2013 than in 2011. The scores edged up only a few points for both the iconoclastic Justin Amash of Michigan and the electorally imperiled Chris Gibson of New York. (Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates his race, in territory Obama carried in 2012, as Tilts Republican.)

The significant drop-off in support for Obama among the Class of 2010 is echoed, if far less dramatically, in CQ Roll Call’s studies of party unity — how often members stick with the bulk of their caucus on roll calls in which a majority of Republicans are on one side and a majority of Democrats are on the other. (Thanks for number-crunching help are due at this point to vote studies major domo John Cranford and researchers Ryan Kelly and Jay Hunter.)

People with an eye on the Capitol every day won’t be surprised to learn that 69 percent of all the 2013 votes in Congress fell mostly along party lines, a number exceeded less than a handful of times since the start of the Eisenhower administration. But, at a time when it often appeared that Speaker John A. Boehner was struggling to hold his troops together, the average House Republican stayed in the fold on 92 percent of those votes — a record level of party unity for that caucus. The number of times the group was unanimous also was in record territory, another reflection of how GOP leaders put a priority on proposals that would unify the troops.

And sophomores were among the most likely to back their party. Their median party unity score was 96 percent, an increase from their 94.5 percent average during the group’s first year in office.

Five of them supported Obama often enough and strayed from the party line often enough to make those Top 10 lists: Amash, Gibson, New Yorkers Richard Hanna and Michael G. Grimm, and the retiring-after-just-two-terms Jon Runyan of New Jersey.

Still, the takeaway about the Class of 2010 is tough to dispute: They have become a bit more partisan and markedly more confrontational since the first year they had voting cards. Given that the numbers are pushing close to the statistical extremes, these are trends that will be tough to continue, but are sure to bedevil Boehner and Obama in the meantime.

All Things Omnibus: Fiscal 2014.

Friday, January 17th, 2014
CQ Roll Call

Dear Colleague, On January 15, the House passed the omnibus spending package that will help fund the government through September 30. You can find the latest news coverage on the bill in CQ Roll Call’s white paper, All Things Omnibus: Fiscal 2014.
The white paper includes:

  • Current CQ News coverage with a breakdown of how the new measures will affect each of the 12 appropriation-bill titles
  • Overview table of the bill, broken down by federal agency spending vs. last year, the President’s budget and House and Senate recommendations

View All Things Omnibus: Fiscal 2014 now   

Kind Regards,                                                               Forward to friend Forward to colleague CQ Roll Call

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Fast Track is the wrong track for Teamsters

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
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Teamsters across the country have been responding in record numbers to last week’s introduction of Fast Track legislation in Congress.  Thank you to all who have already emailed and called your Representatives and Senators asking that they do one simple thing: Say NO to Fast Track!  The fight has just begun though, so we can’t let up.

Fast Track undermines the authority that we have entrusted to Congress to make sure that trade agreements with other nations are fair and in the best interests of working families – not corporations.  If Fast Track is passed, job-killing trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that have been negotiated largely in secret could become law by a simple “yes” or “no” vote, without the possibility of any amendments. Congress will not be able to change a single word of the agreement, no matter how bad the provisions may be!

Please help us tell Congress that Fast Track is the wrong track by signing the Teamster petition today.  And please share the petition with your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.


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bill to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was introduced in Congress

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Today, a bill to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was introduced in Congress. The deal, which is being negotiated with over 600 corporations behind closed doors, is a threat to clean air, clean water, safe food and our democracy.

We have to stop fast track for the TPP. Email your Congress members now.

If passed, corporations could sue the U.S. government to overturn democratically created laws and regulations if they threaten the corporation’s profits. Things like sourcing local food for schools, banning fracking in your community and labeling genetically engineered foods are at the top of the corporate hit list.

President Obama is trying to fast track this deal to give himself sole authority to negotiate it, leaving Congress and the American public with absolutely no input.

Thankfully we still have time to stop this. Fast Track votes have been defeated in Congress in the past and we can do it again. In recent weeks, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have showed opposition to Fast Track for the TPP. But corporations around the world will stop at nothing to pass this bill. Every single member of Congress needs to hear from their constituents on this.

Take action now. It’s the most important thing you can do.
https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=623&s_src=so

Thank you,

Sarah Alexander
Deputy Organizing Director
Food & Water Watch

3 Reasons Congress’ Year Might Start Unexpectedly Strong

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Hawkings Here

3 Reasons Congress’ Year Might Start Unexpectedly Strong

By David Hawkings Posted at 8 p.m. on Jan.  5

Congress is reopening for business this week, to begin what President Barack Obama says “needs to be a year of action.”

When the president offered that call to arms for 2014, just as the Capitol lights were being dimmed for the holidays, the eye-rolling sentiment from so many lawmakers, aides, lobbyists and journalists amounted to: “Yeah, right. Good luck with that.”

The collective assessment is there’s no way that 2013, the least legislatively productive first year of an administration in six decades, is going to be followed by a more productive spurt from a divided Congress in an election year.

However, the next 10 weeks may hold some genuine prospects for rebutting the conventional wisdom, if only temporarily.

A trio of hallmark accomplishments in the second session of the 113th Congress have strong potential to get done before St. Patrick’s Day. Assuming the Republicans keep to their current course — confining their focus to avoid new, self-inflicted political wounds — lawmakers will be able to extend their current truce in the budget wars not only on the spending front but on borrowing as well. A food and farm bill that gives both sides a claim to victory is well within reach.

And, without traveling too far into optimistic fantasy-land, it’s possible to envision that bipartisan success on that trifecta by March would spawn interest in reaching for some additional deals in the spring. An immigration overhaul may still be the longest of viable long shots, but there’s some hopeful early talk about carefully calibrating compromise on a variety of second-tier issues left hanging at the end of 2013 — from sentencing disparities to water projects, patent lawsuits to online sales taxes, energy efficiency standards to physician reimbursement rates.

All those remain a ways off, but here’s a sketch of why each of the wintertime Big Three are likely to get done.

Appropriations. It sure sounds daunting, producing a single measure in five weeks that apportions all $1 trillion in discretionary spending for the rest of this fiscal year. But, in the current context, the omnibus spending package that’s supposed to be unveiled this week is more the legislative equivalent of a two-foot putt on the 18th hole, with the winner’s purse on the line.  Yes, it’s possible to crack under the pressure and mess it up, but true professionals are supposed to approach the ball with confidence and make sinking the shot look easy.

Bipartisan majorities embraced last month’s budget accord in no small measure because it promised to end talk about government shutdowns until after the midterm elections. But this spending bill needs to get signed to make that promise a reality. Even a little flirting with the Jan. 15 deadline will prompt a revival of the cable TV countdown clock graphics, which in turn would threaten to drive congressional approval ratings back into the single digits from which they’ve just emerged. (And that was thanks entirely to the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder phenomenon of the two-week holiday break.)

Although the Republicans have more to lose — because they have been blamed most for the last shutdown — neither party can afford to start the year looking like it might fail a test it has essentially told the public it’s already passed. So expectations are high that the bill will be cleared with only minimal fuss, mainly because the appropriations committees are warding off almost all the social, environmental and health policy riders that could threaten the whole process

Debt limit.  If “failure is not an option” is the political watchword on the spending bill, the motto applies doubly to granting the Treasury permission to borrow more.

The last fiscal showdown ended only when the potential for a market-rattling default was just hours away. Republicans may have waited until the final hour before blinking in October, but they’re highly unlikely to make a return to brinkmanship this time. That’s because they know doing so would change the principal national political story — Obamacare’s rocky rollout — back into the tale of GOP extremism

Republicans will talk a while longer about demanding concessions from Obama in return for a higher debt ceiling, but the diverse list of hostages they’ll mention will signal they don’t have the stomach for a real confrontation. And Obama has left absolutely no room in his rhetoric for making the borrowing limit part of any deal. “It is not something that is a negotiating tool,” he said at his year-end news conference. “It’s not leverage. It’s the responsibility of Congress. It’s part of doing their job.”

Permission to issue new debt lapses on Feb. 7, but Treasury says it can stretch cash flow into early March, when the outstanding debt will stand at about $17.3 trillion. Rather than raise the dollar limit on borrowing, which was the legislative practice for decades, Congress will probably move instead to allow Treasury leeway to borrow what it needs until a specific date. Sometime during the lame-duck session, scheduled to start Nov. 12, is a decent bet.

Farm bill.  Negotiators are signaling a breakthrough is imminent on an impasse that began 15 months ago. For farmers, the most important feature will be a new subsidy system to replace direct payments, which are widely derided outside rural America because they are delivered regardless of crop prices.

Politically, the No. 1 issue remains how much to pare nutrition assistance for the poor. House Republicans appear united behind the view that, with the economy on the mend, a 6 percent cut to food stamps is not unreasonable. A bipartisan majority in the Senate, viewing the safety net fundamentally differently, went for a cut of about half of 1 percent. Negotiators have settled on 1.5 percent, or $8 billion over a decade, combined with some of the stiffened work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients that GOP conservatives want.

The assumption here is that — as an extension of his newly short-fused approach to the tea partyers in his ranks — Speaker John A. Boehner will permit the House to debate such a package, knowing it would clear with far less than a majority of the majority.

The Ohio Republican’s rationale would be that, for the election-year good of the party, he needs to bring a belated end to at least one marquee piece of the class warfare debate. Plus, Boehner knows Republicans are going to dig in their heels elsewhere, starting with the future for the minimum wage and long-term jobless benefits.

One sure bet: Even if the farm bill doesn’t get done, Congress will make quick work of a yearlong stopgap. Lawmakers may still be gridlocked, but they’re not crazy — and the absence of a temporary farm bill, to make a complex story short, would threaten a doubling of retail dairy prices.

If there’s one way not to start a campaign year, it’s being blamed for a $7 gallon of milk.

NTSB To Hold Final On-Scene Media Briefing in North Dakota

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
Logo NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD MEDIA ADVISORY
An independent federal agency

NTSB To Hold Final On-Scene Media Briefing in North Dakota

Jan. 1, 2014

The National Transportation Safety Board will hold its final media briefing today on its investigation into Monday’s accident involving two BNSF freight trains in Casselton, North Dakota.
Event: Media Briefing
Date/Time: Wednesday, January 1 at 4 p.m. (CST)
Location: Holiday Inn (Executive Meeting Room), 3803 13th Ave S., Fargo, ND 58103
Participant: NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt
On Scene Media Contact: Eric Weiss eric.weiss@ntsb.gov (202) 557-1350
Follow us on twitter (@ntsb) for additional announcements related to the investigation.

Contact Information

Office of Public Affairs 490 L’Enfant Plaza, SW Washington, DC 20594
Eric M. Weiss (202) 314-6100 eric.weiss@ntsb.gov


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FAMILY Act Would Create Paid Family Medical Leave

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

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Posted: January 1, 2014 by laborradio

By Doug Cunningham

Twenty years after the first family medical leave act, an effort is being made to create a paid family leave act. The Family Medical Insurance Leave Act or FAMILY Act, would set up an independent trust fund within the Social Security Administration to provide 66 percent of workers’ pay during family medical leaves. It would be funded by employer and employee contributions of 0.2 percent of wages each. AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka says it would strengthen America’s workers and the economy by providing income stability for families during medical emergencies. The Labor Department says only 12 percent of U.S. workers now have access to paid family medical leave. Most workers can’t take advantage of it the existing medical leave act because it’s unpaid.. The labor movement is urging Congress to approve the FAMILY Act.