Filibuster: Senators use the filibuster to prevent motions from proceeding, bills from being debated, or block nominations. Tactics include endlessly debating an issue, introducing time-consuming procedural motions, or using any other means to obstruct or prevent action. The filibuster was riginally meant to ensure that the minority opinions are heard and understood prior to the Senate voting on an issue, (Watch: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for a classic Hollywood filibuster).
Nuclear Option: The Nuclear Option is a permanent change to the Senate rules that allows for a simple majority of 51 votes to be required for confirmation instead of 60, which is the supermajority typically needed to pass legislation.
Cloture: Requires a three-fifths majority (60) to end a filibuster and permits each member to speak for an additional hour after that before voting on final passage.
Senate Stalled on Gorsuch Nomination: On Thursday morning, the Senate Democrats filibustered Gorsuch’s nomination for the Supreme Court. Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the “nuclear option”: changing longstanding rules to lower the threshold to advance a Supreme Court nomination to a simple majority vote instead of 60 votes. Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation is expected on Friday.
Gorsuch Non-committal Position on Civil Rights is Alarming: Judge Gorsuch’s nonresponsive testimony during his hearing this week concerning civil rights was unsettling. He could not state whether he agreed with certain landmark Supreme Court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, he refused to say whether he believes that the Equal Protection Clause applies to women, or whether the framers of the First Amendment believed it permitted the use of a religious litmus test. He provided no answer at all to questions regarding the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County to gut the Voting Rights Act, and about women’s rights to obtain contraception.
#EqualPayDay: Members of Congress weighed in on how erroneous loopholes in the Equal Pay Act lead to a staggering wage gap: According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), 53 years after the Equal Pay Act (EPA) was signed, women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn. The gap is even wider for women of color; black women earn 63 cents, and Latinas earn 54 cents for every dollar. This wage gap approximately costs American women nearly $500 billion a year, based on a 2016 analysis conducted by the National Partnership of Women & Families. Despite the EPA specifically prohibiting sex-based wage discrimination, the language gives permission to employers to pay an employee a higher wage than their counterpart of the opposite sex for the same work through an assessment of “any other factor other than sex.” As a result, it becomes very difficult for women to prove the pay discrepancy is due to their gender, deterring many of taking legal action.
Letters, Bills, and Resolutions
Reintroducing a Bill to Close the Pay Gap. On Tuesday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act (S.862, HR. 1619). Congress has attempted to minimize the loopholes since 1997 by introducing the bill in each new congress. However, despite the bill having overwhelming support by Democrats, it has faced great opposition by Republicans and always died in Congress. The bill aims to amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to limit employers from paying differently due to “bona fide factors, such as education, training, or experience”, requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to collect data on compensation, hiring, termination, and promotion sorted by sex, and prevents employers from retaliating against employees for inquiring about or disclosing wage information at a company .
On repealing FCC Internet Privacy Protections: “Trump showed his double standard on privacy when he signed GOP res. to eliminate internet privacy, allowing sale of Americans' personal information.” Rep Mike Quigley (D-IL-5)
“The FCC privacy Protections are duplicative regulation and thus the repeal levels the playing field for an increasingly anti-competitive market” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX-26)
On Equal Pay Day: “Equal pay for equal work shouldn’t be a partisan issue. When The Equal Pay Act passed in 1963, it had overwhelming bipartisan support” Rep Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1).
On the Paycheck Fairness Act: “Women and men in the same job should have the same pay, and the Paycheck Fairness Act is a strong step forward in ensuring that we close the wage gap once and for all. This legislation addresses the issue in a comprehensive and sensible manner, and it is long overdue” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3).
“At a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet, we should be working together to make sure women are not being left behind. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and I’m proud to join my colleagues to keep up the fight to ensure that all the hardworking women across this country are getting paid what they’ve earned” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
On Gorsuch Nomination: "Gorsuch's record demonstrates an unfailing commitment to the constitutional order and the separation of powers. Judicial independence is one of the ideals that enlivens [Gorsuch's] body of work" Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
On Filibuster: "We will not allow their latest unprecedented act on judicial nominations to take hold. This will be the first and last partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nomination" Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“This idea that he’s being forced to do this is utter bunk. Just like he wasn’t forced to do Merrick Garland. He’s making that decision.” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
On Bannon Removal from National Security Council:
"My hope is that he would have no role in government at all, that he be completely out because I do think that is not the type of advice the president should be receiving in regards to diversity and tolerance and the values of our country."Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
In District Week: Your members of Congress will be in their home states and cities April 10-21. Now is the time to schedule appointments and pencil in town halls to make your voice heard. Download our office visit and town hall guides to learn how.
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