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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Mission: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society – an America as good as its ideals. The Leadership Conference is a 501(c)(4) organization that engages in legislative advocacy. It was founded in 1950 and has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.

Take Action with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Campaign Priority Bills and Proposals POPVOX Sentiment Take Action
S. 1737
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(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office)

March 31, 2014 ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in endorsing S. 1737

20% 80%

591 total users

Support
H.R. 3273
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October 8, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in opposing H.R. 3273

78% 22%

49 total users

Oppose
H.R. 2278
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08/20/13

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in opposing H.R. 2278

47% 53%

261 total users

Oppose
H.R. 3102
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Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in opposing H.R. 3102

75% 25%

1115 total users

Oppose
S. 1038
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05/17/13

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in endorsing S. 1038

14% 86%

723 total users

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H.R. 2851
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07/26/13 - On behalf of The Leadership Conference on ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in endorsing H.R. 2851

27% 73%

41 total users

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H.R. 5
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July 18, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in opposing H.R. 5

77% 22%

111 total users

Oppose
H.R. 1406
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May 6, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in opposing H.R. 1406

29% 71%

285 total users

Oppose
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April 17, 2013

Dear Senator,

On behalf of The Leadership ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in endorsing The Toomey-Schumer-Manchin Amendment

6% 94%

3610 total users

Support
S. 649
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Support Amendments 711 to Ban Certain Assault Weapons and 714 ...

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2% 98%

14490 total users

Neutral
H.R. 1120
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April 11, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in opposing H.R. 1120

86% 14%

566 total users

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March 13, 2013

REJECT REP. RYAN’S DRACONIAN FY 2014 ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in opposing The Ryan Budget for FY 2014

73% 27%

185 total users

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H.R. 803
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March 5, 2013

Dear Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Miller ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in opposing H.R. 803

74% 26%

202 total users

Oppose
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3/7/13 - We urge you to create a humane ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in weighing in on Immigration Reform Principles

23% 76%

1247 total users

Neutral
H.R. 645
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January 31, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership ...

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Join The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in endorsing H.R. 645

75% 25%

105 total users

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H.R. 12
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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights – Wade Henderson ...

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57% 43%

203 total users

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Detailed Legislative Agenda

S. 1737: The Minimum Wage Fairness Act

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office)

March 31, 2014

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 237 undersigned organizations, we urge you to vote for the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The bill is a common sense reform that is a key part of the nation’s economic recovery and is needed more than ever to address the shift toward low-wage jobs for working families.

The Minimum Wage Fairness Act takes necessary steps to help working families make ends meet, sustain consumer spending, and spur economic recovery. The bill would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016, in three increments of 95 cents each. Further, the bill would adjust the minimum wage each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living. Finally, the bill would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at a meager $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years. These changes will make a significant difference in the lives of millions of low-wage workers and their families and help grow our economy.

A raise in the minimum wage is desperately needed because pay for America’s workers remains stagnant, while the cost of living continues to rise. In 2007, Congress raised the federal minimum wage by $2.10 per hour to $7.25 as a first step toward achieving its purpose as an anti-poverty measure. Had the federal minimum wage kept pace with the cost of living over the past 40 years, it would be $10.71 per hour today. Instead, the current hourly rate of $7.25 translates to an annual income of just $15,080 per year for full-time work, which is below the poverty line for a family of three.


Raising the minimum wage would generate economic activity. Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending, without adding to stale and federal budget deficits. Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would generate $22 billion m new economic activity in communities across the country. Despite fears about the adverse effect of a minimum wage increase on businesses, studies demonstrate that when the minimum wage has been increased, there has been no significant reduction in employment or slowing of job growth, even when the economy was struggling. Strengthening the minimum wage can help build a sustainable economic recovery without increasing
costs for taxpayers.


Raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss. The best economic research and real world experiences with minimum wage increases confirm dial raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which reviewed the past two decades of research on the impact of minimum wage increases on employment, “the weight of the evidence points to little or no effect of minimum wage increases on job growth.” A recent Congressional Budget Report contradicts the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates that raising the federal minimum wage will actually improve our economy and create jobs. The experience of businesses and scholarly studies show
that what companies lose when they pay more is often offset by lower turnover and increased productivity.


Raising the minimum wage has public support. Raising the minimum wage has received broad support. Overall, 73 percent of the public favors raising the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. Further, states around the country are enacting minimum wage hikes.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have raised their minimum wages higher than the current federal rate of $7.25 per hour and legislation to raise and/or index the minimum wage has been introduced in several states. Thee American economy needs a strong national wage floor to protect workers in all regions of the country.


Raising the minimum wage is a civil rights imperative. Providing America's lowest paid workers with a raise is a critical civil and human rights issue given the impact it would have on women, African Americans, Latinos, and other minority populations, including the Native American, AAPI, LGBT and
disability communities, whose poverty rates are also disproportionately high. Women and communities of color are disproportionately represented among the 30 million Americans who will benefit from a higher minimum wage. According to the Economic Policy Institute:


•Women comprise 49 percent of U.S. workers, yet make up 56 percent of workers who would be affected by a potential minimum-wage increase.


•African Americans make up only 11 percent of the workforce, but are 14 percent of those that would benefit from a higher minimum wage.


•Hispanics represent only 15 percent of the workforce, yet comprise 25 percent of those that would benefit from a higher minimum wage.

Setting the minimum wage at an appropriate level can promote economic growth while strengthening the ability of low- and middle-wage workers to have quality jobs. We urge you to vote for the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, which will help provide America's lowest paid workers with an urgently needed raise while boosting the consumer spending that fuels the economy.

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-1737-support
The Bipartisan Proposal to Reopen the Government and Prevent Default

October 16, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our support for the bipartisan deal announced today to temporarily restore government funding and provide a short-term increase in the federal debt ceiling. The agreement would reopen the federal government through January 15, raise the debt ceiling through February 7, require a joint House-Senate conference to create a longer-term FY 2014 budget agreement, provide back pay to furloughed workers, and increase income verification requirements for people who apply for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

We support this deal with significant reservations, particularly because it does nothing to alter the devastating federal spending cuts imposed by the sequester under the Budget Control Act of 2011 – which, even before the shutdown, was causing widespread damage. For example, children have lost access to Head Start and other vital educational programs while class sizes have grown; health care programs and food inspection services have been cut back; law enforcement and public safety programs are being starved of vital resources; and badly-needed upgrades to our transportation infrastructure have been put off. According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, leaving the sequester in place will result in a loss of 1.6 million jobs by the end of FY 2014.

We are also troubled with the short-term nature of this agreement, as we have ample reason to fear that we will simply be faced with another government shutdown or another threat of federal default several months from now. Our nation simply cannot afford to govern from crisis to crisis in this manner.

Unfortunately, we are left today – after several weeks of a completely unnecessary shutdown, and only hours before our government breaches its debt ceiling – with no choice but to recommend a “yes” vote on this deal. In the meantime, we strongly urge you to revisit the damaging cuts imposed by the sequester and to replace it with a careful balance of targeted spending cuts and limits on tax breaks – the approach urged by every single bipartisan commission that has examined the deficit.

Again, we urge you to vote for the bipartisan budget deal announced today.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

(This bill is closed to comments.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-x-139-support
H.R. 3273: The Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth Working Group Act

October 8, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our opposition to H.R. 3273, the Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth Working Group Act of 2013. This bill represents little more than a diversion from a House-Senate budget conference committee that should have taken place months ago. Rather than focusing on passing a clean Continuing Resolution and raising the debt ceiling, the House leadership is intent on obfuscating the issues.

Both the House and Senate have passed budget resolutions that address the sorts of issues that fall under the scope of H.R. 3273. Yet the House has not appointed conferees and the Senate has been blocked from doing so. We fail to understand how a separate body, similar to the failed "supercommittee" created by the Budget Control Act of 2011, would get any farther in resolving the current impasse. Unlike the 2011 "supercommittee," the committee established under H.R. 3273 does not even have any power beyond issuing recommendations, which could easily be ignored by either chamber. Furthermore, H.R. 3273 inexplicably precludes this "supercommittee" from discussing revenues, dooming its efforts from the start.

In short, H.R. 3273 is at its core a pointless exercise, one that creates the mere illusion that the House is serious about resolving the ongoing crisis. We urge you to reject it.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-3273-oppose
H.R. 2278: SAFE Act

08/20/13

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to oppose H.R. 2278, the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act” (SAFE Act), which represents a significant step backwards in the effort to reform the immigration system.

By granting states and localities authority to create, implement, and enforce their own immigration laws, the SAFE Act uses an enforcement-only approach to criminalize, detain, and deport immigrants living in the United States. Such a punitive approach inevitably creates an environment of racial profiling and unlawful detentions without fixing the problems of the immigration system. These concerns have been underscored in the recent settlement in New Orleans with the Orleans Parish sheriff, Marlin Gusman in the case of Cacho v. Gusman. The policy at issue provided for submitting detainers to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which allowed immigrant detainees to be held in local jails without charges past the 48-hour limit set by ICE’s own rules, with some immigrant workers languishing in jails for over 100 days.

In a landmark settlement reached with Sheriff Gusman, a new policy was put in place: Orleans Parish Prison will decline all ICE hold requests except on specific serious crimes. The Orleans Parish Sheriff will not investigate an individual’s immigration status and ICE may not conduct investigations into civil violations of immigration law in the jail. Finally, to initiate a criminal investigation in the jail, ICE must provide reasonable notice and opportunity for the individual’s attorney to be present at any interview.

The New Orleans case shows that local communities oppose further criminalization and the harsh enforcement measures exemplified by the SAFE Act. Unquestionably, the provisions of the SAFE act, if adopted, would run contrary to many local jurisdictions attempts to decrease instances of racial profiling and unlawful detention of immigrants.

Every immigrant deserves due process of law and to be treated as an individual without being targeted because of his or her national origin or religion. In the past, including in New Orleans, initiatives that target large groups of people based on unspecified national security concerns result in discriminatory and counterproductive profiling. Such an approach can undermine relationships between law enforcement and immigrant communities, thereby making it harder to fight local crimes, including domestic violence and other types of assaults.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights opposes H.R.2278 because it wrongly pursues a punitive approach that unfairly and unlawfully profiles immigrants from certain racial and religious backgrounds. Instead, we urge you to support a comprehensive and bipartisan bill that provides a path to citizenship and common sense enforcement reforms that will truly fix the problems in our immigration system.

http://www.civilrig...ose-hr2278-the.html

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-2278-oppose
H.J.Res. 59: Original 2014 CR

September 19, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national advocacy organizations, we write to express our strong opposition to H.J. Res. 59, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution for FY 2014. H.J. Res. 59 would maintain devastating federal spending cuts that jeopardize the communities we represent and the economy as a whole. Furthermore, by including language that aims to defund the Affordable Care Act, H.J. Res. 59 would ultimately trigger a shutdown of the federal government.

H.J. Res. 59 would continue federal spending at an annualized rate of $986.3 billion, keeping the sequester imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 in place. The damage caused by the sequester has been widespread, and it is continuing to get worse. For example, children have lost access to Head Start and other vital educational programs while class sizes have grown; health care programs and food inspection services have been cut back; law enforcement and public safety programs are being starved of vital resources; and badly- needed upgrades to our transportation infrastructure have been put off. If these cuts remain in place, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, the overall economic drag caused by the sequester will cost 1.6 million jobs by the end of FY 2014.

We strongly urge Congress to bring the sequester to an end. The greatest challenge facing our economy today is the continuing jobs crisis, not the deficit – in fact, the deficit has been cut significantly since 2009, and non-defense discretionary spending is now at its lowest level since the Eisenhower administration. We would strongly support an alternative, such as the Van Hollen amendment we expect to be proposed in the form of a Motion to Recommit, which replaces the sequester with a careful balance of targeted spending cuts and limits on tax breaks. Every single bipartisan commission that has examined the deficit has urged such a balanced approach.

Again, we urge you to reject H.J. Res. 59. Thank you for your consideration.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

(This bill represents legislative language that has been superseded.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hjres-59-oppose
H.R. 3102: The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our strong opposition to H.R. 3102, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013. H.R. 3102 would cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) and deny assistance to nearly three million of the most vulnerable Americans among us. If the House leadership insists on bringing this draconian measure to the floor for consideration, we intend to record your position in our voting records for the 113th Congress.

H.R. 3102 would make several drastic changes to the SNAP program under the false pretense of encouraging recipients to work. First, by eliminating a provision that since 1996 has allowed states to continue providing relief beyond the three-month cutoff, it would eliminate relief for low-income, unemployed, childless adults who live in areas of high unemployment. CBO estimates that this provision would terminate benefits to 1.7 million jobless individuals in 2014. Second, the bill includes another provision that would cut off another 2.1 million people in 2014, mostly low-income working families and low-income seniors, who have gross incomes or assets that are modestly above the federal SNAP limits, but who have disposable incomes (the income that a family has available for food and other needs) below the poverty line, as well as low-income, unemployed parents and their children (other than parents of infants) who want to work but who cannot find a job or an opening in a training program. Moreover, H.R. 3102 includes another provision known as the “Southerland provision,” which would give states a strong financial incentive to cut off SNAP relief, by letting them keep half of any federal savings, which they can use for any purpose they see fit. It makes these changes while doing nothing to provide jobs, work or workfare programs, or additional funds for work or training slots.

These cuts to the SNAP program would have a devastating impact on the communities we represent, including young children, students, older people, the jobless, the hungry, and the uninsured. While we agree that it is vital to address our nation’s long-term debt, there is something fundamentally inhumane about a plan that would impose new “savings” entirely on the backs of the people who can least afford them.

Congress must face the fact that sensible, targeted revenue increases are absolutely necessary and a responsible component of ensuring our long-term fiscal health. In the meantime, we urge you to reject H.R. 3102. It is an embarrassment that such a bill may come to the floor.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-3102-oppose
S. 1038: End Racial Profiling Act of 2013

05/17/13

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the 136 undersigned organizations, we urge you to cosponsor the End Racial Profiling Act of 2013 (ERPA). Passage of this bill is needed to put an end to racial profiling by law enforcement officials and to ensure that individuals are not prejudicially stopped, investigated, arrested, or detained based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Policies primarily designed to impact certain groups are ineffective and often result in the destruction of civil liberties for everyone.

ERPA would establish a prohibition on racial profiling, enforceable by declaratory or injunctive relief. The legislation would mandate training for federal law enforcement officials on racial profiling issues. As a condition of receiving federal funding, state, local, and Indian tribal law enforcement agencies would be required to collect data on both routine and spontaneous investigatory activities. The Department of Justice would be authorized to provide grants to state and local law enforcement agencies for the development and implementation of best policing practices, such as early warning systems, technology integration, and other management protocols that discourage profiling. Lastly, this important legislation would require the Attorney General to issue periodic reports to Congress assessing the nature of any ongoing racial profiling.

Racial profiling involves the unwarranted screening of certain groups of people, assumed by the police and other law enforcement agents to be predisposed to criminal behavior. Multiple studies have proven that racial profiling results in the misallocation of law enforcement resources and therefore a failure to identify actual crimes that are planned and committed. By relying on stereotypes rather than proven investigative procedures, the lives of innocent people are needlessly harmed by law enforcement agencies and officials.

As is evident by recent events across the nation, racial profiling is a pervasive and harmful practice that negatively impacts both individuals and communities. Current federal law enforcement guidance and state laws provide incomplete solutions to the pervasive nationwide problem of racial profiling. Racial profiling results in a loss of trust and confidence in local, state, and federal law enforcement. Although most individuals are taught from an early age that the role of law enforcement is to fairly defend and guard communities from people who want to cause harm to others, this fundamental message is often contradicted when these same defenders are seen as unnecessarily and unjustifiably harassing innocent citizens. Criminal investigations are flawed and hindered because people and communities impacted by these stereotypes are less likely to cooperate with law enforcement agencies they have grown to mistrust. We can begin to reestablish trust in law enforcement if we act now.

http://www.civilrig...the-end-racial.html

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-1038-support
H.R. 2851: End Racial Profiling Act of 2013

07/26/13 - On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to be an original cosponsor the End Racial Profiling Act of 2013 (ERPA). It is essential to pass this bill and put an end to racial profiling by law enforcement officials and to ensure that individuals are not prejudicially stopped, investigated, arrested, or detained based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Policies primarily designed to impact certain groups are ineffective and often result in the destruction of civil liberties for everyone.

ERPA would establish a prohibition on racial profiling, enforceable by declaratory or injunctive relief. The legislation would mandate training for federal law enforcement officials on racial profiling issues. As a condition of receiving federal funding, state, local, and Indian tribal law enforcement agencies would be required to collect data on both routine and spontaneous investigatory activities. The Department of Justice would be authorized to provide grants to state and local law enforcement agencies for the development and implementation of best policing practices, such as early warning systems, technology integration, and other management protocols that discourage profiling. Lastly, this important legislation would require the Attorney General to issue periodic reports to Congress assessing the nature of any ongoing racial profiling.

Racial profiling involves the unwarranted screening of certain groups of people, assumed by the police and other law enforcement agents to be predisposed to criminal behavior. Multiple studies have proven that racial profiling results in the misallocation of law enforcement resources and therefore a failure to identify actual crimes that are planned and committed. It also results in a loss of trust and confidence in local, state, and federal law enforcement.

The Trayvon Martin tragedy is a painful example of the continuation of profiling in America. The issues of race and reasonable suspicion are so closely linked in the public’s minds that they cannot be divorced from the law enforcement profiling debate. As President Obama expressed in his remarks last Friday, racial profiling legislation is “one area where … there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive.”

Your support for the End Racial Profiling Act of 2013 is critical to its passage. We urge you to be an original cosponsor of this vital legislation, which will ensure that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are prohibited from impermissibly considering race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion in carrying out law enforcement activities.

http://www.civilrig...cosponsor-erpa.html

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-2851-support
H.R. 5: The Student Success Act

July 18, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of 210 national organizations charged with the promotion and protection of the rights of all persons in the United States, we write to strongly oppose the "Student Success Act," H.R. 5, which would amend and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This bill would reverse the historic role of the federal government in protecting equal opportunity and access for all students to a quality education. Furthermore, by permitting states and school districts to redirect funds targeted for specific underserved populations, H.R. 5 betrays the primary purpose of ESEA: to provide financial to underprivileged students. Instead, we urge you to support Ranking Member Miller's substitute, a far stronger reauthorization of ESEA that supports the achievement of all students.

The Leadership Conference believes that the merit of an education bill is determined by its treatment of the most disadvantaged among us, and the "Student Success Act" proposes to marginalize underserved communities even further by completely removing the federal focus on the achievement of underserved communities. Specifically, H.R. 5 eliminates accountability for the achievement and learning gains of subgroups of disadvantaged students who have long struggled against the bigotry of low academic expectations. H.R. 5 also eliminates performance targets; permits federal funds targeted for vulnerable groups of students such as ELLs and Native American students, to be reallocated for other purposes; fails to address school climate issues adequately; and disregards disparities in access to college preparatory coursework and access to higher education.

The Student Success Act is an anachronism and would once again allow states to ignore disparities in education for children of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and ELLs. This would be devastating for students and for our nation as a whole; therefore, we strongly urge you to vote against the "Student Success Act," H.R. 5.

The Miller substitute proposes a strong reauthorization that holds states, districts, and schools accountable for student learning while providing the freedom to adopt innovative and effective reforms and interventions to supports the achievement of all students. For example, it requires states to adopt Common Core standards; requires improvement in both overall performance and closing achievement gaps between groups of students; sets meaningful performance and graduation rate targets; improves school climate by requiring low-achieving schools to reduce their suspension and expulsion rates, and by protecting LGBT students and students with disabilities from bullying and harassment; creates greater resource equity by closing the state "comparability loophole," and requires states to address resource inequities; and ensures that state and local education agencies provide struggling schools the supports and interventions they need to improve.

Accessing a high quality education is a fundamental human right and essential to a 21st Century career that pays a living wage. Chairman Kline's bill thwarts greater access to an excellent education and does nothing to remediate racial and socioeconomic inequality in our public schools. We urge you to vote NO on H.R. 5 and instead vote YES on the Miller substitute.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional Office.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-5-oppose
H.R. 1406: Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013

May 6, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of over 210 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to oppose the Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1406), introduced by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL). The inappropriately named Working Families Flexibility Act will mean more overtime hours and less money for workers without any guarantee of time off when they need it.

The Leadership Conference believes employees deserve fair wages, safe working conditions, and more flexible schedules to meet both workplace and family needs. H.R. 1406 threatens the rights of workers because it places significant power in the hands of employers to ignore overtime compensation requirements and fails to provide proper redress for those actions.

For 75 years, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has required that hourly, non-exempt employees be paid time-and-a-half for every hour of work in excess of 40 hours per week in order to spread job opportunities to more workers and create disincentives for overwork. H.R. 1406 would undermine the very purposes of the FLSA, by allowing employers to pay nothing for overtime work at the time the work is performed—in exchange for a promise of future paid leave. It places unfettered discretion in the hands of employers, while limiting the ability of employees to earn the wages they need to support their families.

In addition, H.R. 1406 would add significant new provisions to the FLSA, while providing workers few remedies in cases of employer misconduct, and would provide no resources for the education and enforcement efforts the new provisions will require. While the bill supposedly makes it unlawful for an employer to coerce or intimidate an employee into accepting compensatory time (“comp time”), it does nothing to prevent an employer from discriminating—in hiring or in the award of overtime—against those employees who want paid overtime compensation. Rather, H.R. 1406 would increase employers’ ability to ignore the FLSA’s wage and overtime provisions because there are no administrative remedies for employees who have been coerced into accepting comp time or whose rights to freely choose comp time versus overtime payments have been violated.

H.R. 1406 would be a step in the wrong direction. Instead of building on the success of policies such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, paid sick days standards, and a fair minimum wage, which provide workers and their families with the time off and the financial stability they need, the “flexibility” bill offers forced choices and false promises. We urge you to support working families by opposing H.R. 1406 when it comes to the floor.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-1406-oppose
The Toomey-Schumer-Manchin Amendment

April 17, 2013

Dear Senator,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to vote yes on the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to S. 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, which expands background checks for all commercial gun sales. The passage of comprehensive gun safety legislation is essential to improving public safety for all Americans.

The Leadership Conference believes that S. 649 will be of great benefit to the communities we represent, particularly for people of color, youth, and women who are victims of domestic violence, as they experience some of the highest rates of gun violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2010, 85 percent of homicides and 45 percent of suicides were by a firearm.i Widespread gun violence has had a devastating effect on African-American families and communities. For example, in urban areas, African Americans are far more likely to die from gun violence than whites. Indeed, “young black men die of gun homicide at a rate eight times that of young white men.”ii Among all teens aged 15–19, a firearm was the leading cause of death, whether as a result of homicide or suicide. Further, victims of intimate partner violence are at greater risk of death by firearm. The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.iii

In view of the devastating impact of gun violence, The Leadership Conference supports the Manchin-Toomey amendment to enhance public safety by expanding background checks to commercial gun sales. We believe this is a critical first step to respond to the Newtown massacre and the epidemic of gun violence facing our nation.

Expanding and strengthening background checks is the most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of those who commit crimes. Since its inception, the National Background Check System has resolved more than 90 percent of checks instantaneously and blocked more than two million gun purchases by prohibited buyers.iv However, under current law, two loopholes give prohibited buyers access to guns – sales between “private” parties and missing records. An estimated 40 percent of gun transfers take place between “private parties” and are not subject to v background checks. In 2012, an estimated 6.6 million guns were transferred without vi checks or records.

These loopholes have a significant impact on public safety. In states that require background checks for private handgun sales, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners,vii 49 percent fewer firearm suicides occur,viii and 48 percent fewer gun trafficking occurs.ix As the evidence suggests, requiring background checks for all commercial gun sales reduces crime and saves lives.

The Leadership Conference believes passage of legislation that includes expanded background checks, is critical to stemming the tide of gun violence in our nation. For these reasons we urge you to vote yes on the Manchin-Toomey amendment to S.649, Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013. Thank you for your consideration.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-x-120-support
S. 649: Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

Support Amendments 711 to Ban Certain Assault Weapons and 714 to Ban High Capacity Magazines to S. 649

April 17, 2013

Dear Senator,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we write to urge you to support amendments 711 and 714 to S. 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, which would prohibit the sale and possession of certain military style assault weapons and high capacity magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition to the bill. The passage of comprehensive gun safety legislation is essential to improving public safety for all Americans.

The Leadership Conference believes these amendments to S. 649 will be of great benefit to the communities we represent, particularly for people of color, youth, and women who are victims of domestic violence, as they experience some of the highest rates of gun violence. Widespread gun violence has had a devastating effect on African-American families and communities. Indeed, “young black men die of gun homicide at a rate eight times that of young white men.”i

In view of the devastating impact of gun violence, The Leadership Conference supports congressional action to enhance public safety by preventing access to dangerous assault weapons and high capacity magazines. A Justice Department study of assault gun murders found that assault weapons were disproportionately involved in murders with multiple victims, multiple wounds per victim, and police officers as victims.ii The mass shootings committed since 2009 with assault weapons or high capacity magazines have resulted in 135 percent more people being shot and 57 percent more deaths than mass shootings committed with other firearms.iii Subsequent to the 1994 assault weapons ban, the use of assault weapons in crime declined by more than two-thirds by about nine years after the ban took effect.iv Yet, these significant improvements were short-lived. Following the expiration of the assault weapons ban, 37 percent of police departments reported seeing a noticeable increase in criminals’ use of assault weapons.v

We believe measures such as these amendments are important steps to respond to the Newtown massacre and the epidemic of gun violence facing our nation. Assault weapons bans have proven to be effective at reducing crime and getting military style and other dangerous weapons off of our streets. This legislation would ban the sale, transfer, manufacturing and importation of assault weapons and high capacity clips. Passing these amendments would help to stem the tide of mass shooting violence.

The Leadership Conference believes passage of legislation that includes a ban on dangerous assault weapons and high capacity magazines is critical to addressing the issue of gun violence in our nation. For these reasons we urge you to vote yes on amendments 711 and 714 to S.649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013. Thank you for your consideration.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-649-neutral
H.R. 1120: Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act

April 11, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of over 210 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to oppose the “Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act” (H.R. 1120). H.R. 1120 would halt the critical work of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), strip workers of their essential rights, and open the door to workplace discrimination for all workers, especially vulnerable populations.

H.R. 1120 would create uncertainty in our labor-management system by effectively ending important functions of the NLRB. The NLRB is an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize. It also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices by private sector employers and unions. This bill would direct the NLRB to “cease all activity that requires a quorum,” thereby denying parties the opportunity to receive a legally binding decision in cases where they believe their legal rights have been violated. Thus, employers could ignore the law with impunity, knowing that the NLRB would lack the ability to issue a timely decision against them.

The Leadership Conference believes that workers’ rights—including the right to organize unions and engage in collective bargaining—are fundamental civil and human rights. This bill would force the NLRB into a state of perpetual instability, leaving employers free to reject orders and engage in unfair activity, including: warrantless firings, retaliation for complaints, and infringement of workers’ rights to organize, petition their employers, and hold elections. Rather than preventing uncertainty, which the legislation purports to address, H.R. 1120 would instead create an environment in which workers could be denied even basic job security and assurance that they can communicate with their employer on an even footing without fear of retaliation.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-1120-oppose
H.Con.Res. 25: The Ryan Budget for FY 2014

March 13, 2013

REJECT REP. RYAN’S DRACONIAN FY 2014 BUDGET RESOLUTION

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our strong opposition to the Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We urge you to reject this proposal and instead pass a resolution that strikes a sensible balance between revenue increases and spending cuts, rather than one that attempts to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans or hamstring our country’s economic recovery.

The Ryan budget makes cuts that are extreme and irresponsible, slashing or eliminating many services that are needed by communities represented by our member organizations, including vulnerable people such as low-income families, young children, students, older people, individuals with disabilities, the unemployed, and the uninsured. While short on details, it is clear that the majority of cuts in the Ryan budget are to programs that serve lower-income Americans. With millions of families currently hurt by unemployment and reduced income, the Ryan budget would make things worse by gutting Medicare and Medicaid and calling for massive cuts in education, emergency food assistance, and other necessities. These cuts go beyond those currently in effect under the sequester provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011, in part because the Ryan budget would effectively cancel the defense half of the sequester cuts, reneging on the deficit reduction deal agreed to in 2011 and forcing the outright elimination of many important government functions.

At the same time that it proposes huge spending cuts that will harm low-income and middle-class Americans, the Ryan budget would give massive tax cuts to those that need them the least – without providing any meaningful explanation of how to make them deficit-neutral. Rather than reduce deficits or restore fiscal responsibility, the Ryan budget seems aimed primarily at fulfilling some radical vision to starve much of the federal government out of existence.

We are particularly troubled by the following aspects of the Ryan budget proposal:

Health Care: As with the FY2013 budget resolution, the Ryan budget would repeal the coverage expansions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and cut (through “block grants”) Medicaid and other health programs by another $756 billion. These two steps would cut more than $2.5 trillion and drastically increase the number of uninsured Americans. The Urban Institute estimated that last year’s similar Medicaid proposal would cause 14 to 21 million people to lose Medicaid coverage by 2022.

Combined with the 27 million Americans who the CBO estimates would gain coverage under the ACA by 2023, but who would lose it under the Ryan budget, 40 to 50 million Americans would lose coverage under this budget resolution.

Medicare: Like the proposal in the FY2013 Ryan budget resolution, this newest budget breaks America’s promise to seniors and jeopardizes their health. Beginning in 2024, it would replace Medicare’s guaranteed coverage with a flat premium-support payment, or voucher, which beneficiaries could use to purchase either private health insurance or a version of traditional Medicare. Over time, this would significantly raise out-of-pocket health costs for many Medicare beneficiaries. In the meantime, it would cut Medicare spending by a total of $356 billion.

SNAP: While details are scarce, the Ryan budget would cut SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the next ten years by converting the program into block grants at lower levels – while bizarrely claiming that this safety net would be “strengthened” as a result. Causing millions of low-income families to be thrown off the rolls or have their benefits drastically cut, leading to increased hunger and poverty during difficult economic times, will not strengthen anyone or anything.

Education: Among the mostly-vague cuts to education spending, the Ryan budget would freeze the maximum Pell Grant for ten years, preventing the program from keeping up with inflation. As a result, Pell Grants would lose substantial purchasing power, potentially denying college access to millions of students. These cuts would reverse our nation’s progress on improving student achievement, devastate our nation’s education system, and harm America’s economic future.

Other Vital Services and Programs: While the Ryan budget seeks to avoid specifics, it would lead to massive and disproportionate cuts to countless services and programs that are vital to the communities that we represent. Among the safety net programs that would be severely jeopardized are the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), school lunches and other child nutrition programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Tax Cuts for Millionaires and Billionaires: Perhaps the most unconscionable aspect of the Ryan budget is that while it would deprive many Americans of the most basic necessities like health care and food assistance, it would drastically lower tax rates in a way that favors the wealthiest Americans. It would cut the top tax bracket from the current 39.6 percent down to 25 percent, among other cuts. Rather than specifying a single reform to make these cuts revenue-neutral, the explanatory materials produced by the Budget Committee say only that they will be accompanied by tax reform. In other words, under this budget, lower- and middle-income Americans will immediately feel the pain of drastic budget cuts, while wealthy Americans will immediately enjoy drastically lower tax rates – accompanied by a vague promise that they will be paid for at some future time.

For these reasons, we strongly urge you to oppose the Ryan FY2014 budget proposal. Thank you for your consideration.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

(This bill passed October 16, 2013.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hconres-25-oppose
The Ryan Budget for FY 2014

March 13, 2013

REJECT REP. RYAN’S DRACONIAN FY 2014 BUDGET RESOLUTION

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our strong opposition to the Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We urge you to reject this proposal and instead pass a resolution that strikes a sensible balance between revenue increases and spending cuts, rather than one that attempts to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans or hamstring our country’s economic recovery.

The Ryan budget makes cuts that are extreme and irresponsible, slashing or eliminating many services that are needed by communities represented by our member organizations, including vulnerable people such as low-income families, young children, students, older people, individuals with disabilities, the unemployed, and the uninsured. While short on details, it is clear that the majority of cuts in the Ryan budget are to programs that serve lower-income Americans. With millions of families currently hurt by unemployment and reduced income, the Ryan budget would make things worse by gutting Medicare and Medicaid and calling for massive cuts in education, emergency food assistance, and other necessities. These cuts go beyond those currently in effect under the sequester provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011, in part because the Ryan budget would effectively cancel the defense half of the sequester cuts, reneging on the deficit reduction deal agreed to in 2011 and forcing the outright elimination of many important government functions.

At the same time that it proposes huge spending cuts that will harm low-income and middle-class Americans, the Ryan budget would give massive tax cuts to those that need them the least – without providing any meaningful explanation of how to make them deficit-neutral. Rather than reduce deficits or restore fiscal responsibility, the Ryan budget seems aimed primarily at fulfilling some radical vision to starve much of the federal government out of existence.

We are particularly troubled by the following aspects of the Ryan budget proposal:

Health Care: As with the FY2013 budget resolution, the Ryan budget would repeal the coverage expansions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and cut (through “block grants”) Medicaid and other health programs by another $756 billion. These two steps would cut more than $2.5 trillion and drastically increase the number of uninsured Americans. The Urban Institute estimated that last year’s similar Medicaid proposal would cause 14 to 21 million people to lose Medicaid coverage by 2022.

Combined with the 27 million Americans who the CBO estimates would gain coverage under the ACA by 2023, but who would lose it under the Ryan budget, 40 to 50 million Americans would lose coverage under this budget resolution.

Medicare: Like the proposal in the FY2013 Ryan budget resolution, this newest budget breaks America’s promise to seniors and jeopardizes their health. Beginning in 2024, it would replace Medicare’s guaranteed coverage with a flat premium-support payment, or voucher, which beneficiaries could use to purchase either private health insurance or a version of traditional Medicare. Over time, this would significantly raise out-of-pocket health costs for many Medicare beneficiaries. In the meantime, it would cut Medicare spending by a total of $356 billion.

SNAP: While details are scarce, the Ryan budget would cut SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the next ten years by converting the program into block grants at lower levels – while bizarrely claiming that this safety net would be “strengthened” as a result. Causing millions of low-income families to be thrown off the rolls or have their benefits drastically cut, leading to increased hunger and poverty during difficult economic times, will not strengthen anyone or anything.

Education: Among the mostly-vague cuts to education spending, the Ryan budget would freeze the maximum Pell Grant for ten years, preventing the program from keeping up with inflation. As a result, Pell Grants would lose substantial purchasing power, potentially denying college access to millions of students. These cuts would reverse our nation’s progress on improving student achievement, devastate our nation’s education system, and harm America’s economic future.

Other Vital Services and Programs: While the Ryan budget seeks to avoid specifics, it would lead to massive and disproportionate cuts to countless services and programs that are vital to the communities that we represent. Among the safety net programs that would be severely jeopardized are the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), school lunches and other child nutrition programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Tax Cuts for Millionaires and Billionaires: Perhaps the most unconscionable aspect of the Ryan budget is that while it would deprive many Americans of the most basic necessities like health care and food assistance, it would drastically lower tax rates in a way that favors the wealthiest Americans. It would cut the top tax bracket from the current 39.6 percent down to 25 percent, among other cuts. Rather than specifying a single reform to make these cuts revenue-neutral, the explanatory materials produced by the Budget Committee say only that they will be accompanied by tax reform. In other words, under this budget, lower- and middle-income Americans will immediately feel the pain of drastic budget cuts, while wealthy Americans will immediately enjoy drastically lower tax rates – accompanied by a vague promise that they will be paid for at some future time.

For these reasons, we strongly urge you to oppose the Ryan FY2014 budget proposal. Thank you for your consideration.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional office.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-x-110-oppose
H.R. 803: SKILLS Act

March 5, 2013

Dear Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Miller:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of over 210 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to oppose The SKILLS Act, H.R. 803. We urge you to reject the bill because it does not meet the standard of our shared priority to upgrade and modernize job training and education programs in order to meet the dire needs of both prospective workers and employers. We hope that the committee will work across party lines to draft a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization bill consistent with everyone’s shared goals.

The Leadership Conference believes it is imperative that all Americans have an opportunity to acquire the education and training needed to earn a living wage and to contribute to our nation’s economy. We need to grow our economy, prepare more skilled workers, and provide a pathway to the American dream for all persons in the United States. At the same time, we must work with public and private-sector employers to ensure our system is producing skilled workers to fill current and projected needs.

H.R. 803 will result in significant reductions in high-quality education, job training, and supportive services to the most disadvantaged populations, including disconnected youth, persons living in high-poverty communities, minorities, women, seniors, persons with disabilities, those recently incarcerated, single parents, veterans and those who lack English proficiency or a high school diploma or equivalent credential. We are especially concerned that the bill would block-grant targeted programs that help those most in need and who would benefit the greatest from education and workforce services. In addition, we oppose the bill’s proposal to alter the composition of local workforce boards to give employers a 2/3 supermajority.

The time to reauthorize WIA is now. WIA needs to become an efficient, responsive and effective federal program that aids our economic recovery by providing pathways out of poverty for the unemployed as well as underemployed, and by meeting the skills and knowledge demands of the 21st century workforce. Instead of rushing through a bill without bipartisan support, the committee should craft legislation that meets the needs of both those lacking the skills necessary to enter a competitive workforce, and employers.

We are united in our belief that we need and can achieve a balanced, bipartisan approach to updating our federal education and workforce development programs, including WIA. We urge you to vote “no” on the SKILLS Act.

http://democrats.ed...ILLSConcern-TLC.pdf

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-803-oppose
Immigration Reform Principles

3/7/13 - We urge you to create a humane and just immigration process that provides a clear roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens and dignifies the individual and our nation by ensuring access to affordable health care and needed nutrition assistance. We believe that reform of our immigration system is a moral and economic imperative. This is true for the millions of aspiring citizens caught in the morass of a broken system; for those of us whose family, friends, neighbors, schools, congregations and communities include these individuals; and for achieving a stronger, more prosperous nation.

It is well established that immigrants help fuel the U.S. economy with their hard work and entrepreneurship. They contribute to the national treasury and are needed to shore up Social Security and Medicare. Our population is aging and our labor force increasingly depends upon immigrants and their children.

A new immigration system with a roadmap to citizenship will bring aspiring citizens out of the shadows so that they and their families may fully and equally participate in the life of our nation. Doing so not only will help immigrants but will profoundly benefit the community at large. It will enable economic growth and ground our national policy in the values we cherish. This is our opportunity to live up to our nation’s promise of the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

To acknowledge the inherent value and dignity of all human beings and to invest in our future, we must commit to ensuring their health and wellbeing. We ask our leaders to pass a national immigration law grounded in our most cherished principles. Such a policy will provide equal responsibility, and an equal opportunity to meet that responsibility, to all individuals living in the U.S.

Immigration reform that reflects America’s values and priorities will provide equality and dignity and will:

 Help lift families out of poverty and promote economic security for all low-income families. This investment in human capital will make for a stronger, more secure nation.

 Reaffirm our nation’s long-standing tradition of providing a core safety net for citizens and immigrants residing in the U.S. which will reinforce efforts to achieve national progress in health and nutrition.

 Ensure access to key programs and public services that meet basic human needs, including health services and insurance, education, nutrition assistance, and working family tax credits.

 Invest in robust efforts to integrate immigrants into their communities.

 Ensure that all individuals have access to and pay their fair share for quality, affordable health care and receive medical care when they need it.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by the National Immigration Law Center.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-x-106-neutral
H.R. 645: The Equal Employment for All Act

January 31, 2013

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the undersigned

we urge you to cosponsor “The Equal Employment for All Act” sponsored by Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN). In addition to the weak economy, job-seekers today confront another less discussed challenge—employers that require credit checks as a condition of employment. Not only does this practice discriminate against the long-term unemployed, it has a disparate impact on people of color and constitutes an unwarranted invasion into job seekers’ personal lives. This bill would reduce employment discrimination and protect job seekers’ privacy by prohibiting employers from using credit checks as part of their hiring and promotion decisions for most positions.

Use of employment credit checks is common. A 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 47 percent of firms use employment credit checks for some positions.1 A 2012 survey by Dēmos finds that 1 in 4 unemployed people from low- and middle- income households with credit card debt has been asked to submit to a credit check as part of a job application.2 The actual prevalence of employment credit checks may be significantly higher. In the flurry of paperwork that surrounds the job application process, applicants may quickly forget the specifics of the many documents they sign.

Credit checks create a catch-22 for job seekers. A core value of American society is the opportunity to work hard and get ahead. Yet today in the United States, willing job seekers are facing a new barrier to employment—credit checks. The use of employment credit checks is creating a catch-22 for job seekers. It means that workers who have fallen behind on their bills because they are unemployed are finding it harder to get the job that would make it possible for them to pay off their bills.

No evidence connects credit problems to greater propensity to commit financial crimes on the job. The most common reason employers cite for requiring employment credit checks is a concern that employees who are behind on their bills will be more likely to embezzle funds or engage in other criminal activity.3 Yet, there is virtually no evidence to support this fear. In 2010, Eric Rosenberg, Director of State Government Relations for TransUnion, one of the largest credit reporting companies, told Oregon legislators, “At this point we don’t have any research to show any statistical correlation between what’s in somebody’s credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud.”4 Richard Tonowski, the Chief Psychologist for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed with Mr. Rosenberg. In 2010, he testified that there is “very little evidence that credit history is indicative of who can do the job better” and it is “hard to establish a predictive relationship between credit and crime.”5

A more recent study from 2011 also failed to find a link between low credit scores and propensity to commit financial crime at work.6

Weak credit among prospective employees reflects the weak economy—not a lack of personal responsibility. Employment credit screening imposes an automatic second-class status on the 13 million Americans who lost their job during the recession through no fault of their own—or who have fallen victim to the unregulated predatory lending leading up to the financial crisis.7 Prior to the recession, on average, just 15 percent of the 170 million consumers with active credit accounts, or 25.5 million people, had poor credit, defined as FICO scores below 600 out of a possible 850. As of April 2010, one-quarter of U.S. consumers, nearly 43.4 million people, had poor credit. 8

Employment credit checks are an invasion of privacy. The organization that represents corporate HR professionals, the Society for Human Resource Management, notes that when employers have a concern about a potential employee’s credit history, they generally ask the individual to explain why he or she is behind on their bills.9 Given that past due medical bills make up the majority of accounts reported by collection agencies,10 for a significant number of prospective employees, this will mean that they will have to discuss their personal medical histories as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment.

This is contrary to Americans’ strong belief in a right to privacy of their medical histories. That right is embodied in our expectation of confidentiality in the doctor-patient relationship and numerous bipartisan pieces of legislation, including the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the 2003 amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act that require medical debt to be masked on credit reports. This is an issue that impacts all Americans, but particularly impacts people with disabilities, who have good reason to fear that disclosure of their medical conditions will lead to discriminatory treatment.

Domestic abuse and divorce also frequently lead to credit problems. In cases of domestic abuse, it is not uncommon for the abuser to purposely ruin a spouse’s credit as a way of controlling the spouse. In divorces, individuals frequently find their credit record tarnished by the poor decisions of their former spouse. Many states bar employers from discrimination in employment on the basis of marital status, and the federal government is prohibited from discriminating in its employment decisions on the basis of marital status. Despite common sense and legal recognition that questions about marital status ought to be out of bounds in the hiring process, many prospective employees asked to explain their credit problems now must choose between discussing a recent divorce and/or very personal details regarding the abusive dynamics in a relationship, or risk losing a job opportunity. Furthermore, subjecting potential employees to credit checks will make it more difficult for financially abused spouses to achieve the financial security necessary to end an abusive relationship, thus potentially trapping them in that abusive relationship.

Credit checks are discriminatory. A 2007 report by the Federal Reserve Board found that African Americans and Hispanics had considerably lower credit scores than non-Hispanic whites.11 Additional research, including studies by the Federal Trade Commission and the Brookings Institution, has also documented a racial gap in credit scores.12 Various factors contribute to these racial disparities, including many outside of the control of individual consumers. In the last decade, predatory lending schemes targeting communities of color compounded historic disparities in wealth and assets. During the housing boom, borrowers of color were frequently steered into subprime (or high-interest) loans even though they actually qualified for a prime loan.13 As a result, since the crash, African-American, Latino and Asian- American households have lost more than 50 percent of their family wealth—exactly the assets that workers draw on during emergencies to avoid debt. This compares to a 16 percent loss among white households. Thus, today, families of color have less than a dime in wealth for every dollar held by white families.14 Similarly, Americans with disabilities are less likely than Americans without disabilities to have the assets to weather economic setbacks15—making it more likely for people with disabilities that a setback will lead to real hardship and bad credit. Employment credit checks are thus compounding historic injustices and recent weak regulatory oversight, ensuring that similarly-qualified job seekers cannot compete on an even playing field.

Legal challenges have also raised the discriminatory impact of employment credit screening. The Department of Labor won an administrative hearing officer decision against Bank of America stemming in part from the bank’s use of credit checks to hire entry-level employees, which had a discriminatory impact on African Americans.16 Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers may not use an assessment tool that disproportionately disqualifies minorities from employment without providing a legitimate business reason for doing so. For reasons discussed above, the bank could not provide any such justification.

Employers ought to use alternatives to protect against on-the-job crimes by employees.

There are superior methods for determining whether employees are likely to perform well and for preventing theft on the job that do not have the downsides of subjecting large numbers of prospective employees to invasive and discriminatory credit checks, including, effective interviewing techniques, tests to assess job relevant competencies, and personality tests. Also, employers can create more effective systems for detecting and preventing financial crimes by employees once they are on the job.

We urge you to cosponsor the Equal Employment for All Act, which will help prevent discrimination against the long-term unemployed and people of color in hiring and promotion decisions, and limit the invasion of job seekers’ privacy.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Demos.)

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-645-support
S. 47: VAWA Reauthorization (House proposed substitute)

February 25, 2013 - VOTE NO on House Substitute for S.47

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to oppose the House substitute for S.47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), because it fails to protect all victims of domestic violence. The Leadership Conference strongly believes that protecting all who suffer domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking is a fundamental civil and human right, and therefore we intend to score this vote in our Congressional Voting Record for the 113th Congress.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was adopted in the Senate with strong bipartisan support (78-22), addresses gaps in current service programs that left lesbian, gay, and transgender people, Native American women, and other underserved and vulnerable groups without vital services or protections. The need to address these gaps has been recognized by law enforcement officers, victim service providers, and health care professionals. While government reports document that the annual incidence of domestic violence has decreased by 63 percent, it is still unacceptable that in the United States 24 people become victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States every minute.

Yet the House substitute for S.47 eliminates important provisions in the bipartisan Senate bill, thereby denying services to many victims of domestic violence. Despite the well-documented unacceptably high rates of domestic violence on tribal lands, the House substitute does not include adequate provisions to make it easier for Native American women to obtain orders of protection from abusers. In addition, the House substitute drops the anti-discrimination provisions that would ensure access to services for LGBT survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. Finally, the House bill eliminates specific protections for victims of violence on college campuses, where we know high incidences of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking occur.

The Leadership Conference believes that every battered person deserves protection, regardless of the victim’s race, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Therefore, we urge you to vote against the House substitute for S.47 and to ask House leaders to bring the bipartisan Senate-passed VAWA Reauthorization to the floor.

(Letter provided to POPVOX by Congressional Office.)

(This bill represents legislative language that has been superseded.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-47-oppose
H.R. 12: The Voter Empowerment Act

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights – Wade Henderson, President and CEO:

“The Voter Empowerment Act is a comprehensive plan to strengthen elections, combat voter exclusion, and expand voter participation. We applaud the bill’s sponsors and urge the House to give it serious consideration as soon as possible.”

Source: http://www.democrat...%20of%20Support.pdf

Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-12-support
Permanent Tax Relief for Families & Small Businesses Act (Plan B)

December 20, 2012

OPPOSE BOEHNER “PLAN B” AND MULVANEY (HR 6684)

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 210 national civil and human rights organizations, we urge you to oppose the amendment to H.J. Res. 66 known as “Plan B,” which is being proposed by Speaker Boehner in the midst of his year-end budget negotiations with President Obama. It represents a highly unbalanced approach that puts most of the burden on the people and communities that can least afford it.

We also urge you to oppose Rep. Mulvaney’s bill, H.R. 6684, which takes an even more extreme approach by mandating that all of the 2011 budget agreement sequester cuts be borne by non-defense discretionary programs only. It would mean severely cutting spending on education, food assistance, airline safety, infrastructure, health care, and much more.

The Plan B amendment would extend the Bush-era tax rates, including the ordinary income tax rates and the lower dividend and capital gains rates, on the first $1 million of income. It would also repeal limits on tax expenditures, namely the Personal Exemption Phase-out (PEP) and the Itemized Deduction Phase-out (also known as the Pease deduction phase-out), even for households with incomes over $1 million.

Through these changes, the Plan B amendment would only raise about $300 billion from high-income households. Not only does this fall drastically short of the revenues offered by Speaker Boehner, it even falls short of the roughly $400 billion in revenues that would be raised from repealing all of the Bush-era tax rate for incomes above $1 million. Moreover, 70 percent of the $400 billion lost by increasing the expiration threshold from $250,000 to $1 million would be kept by households that are making more than $1 million.

At the same time, the Plan B amendment would result in higher taxes on middle-class American families. It would eliminate a tax incentive for college education, effectively raising the taxes of 11 million families by an average of $1,100. It would reduce the refundability of the Child Tax Credit for 12 million working families, effectively raising their taxes by an average of $800. And it would eliminate the increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for larger families and increase the EITC marriage penalty, effectively raising taxes on 6 million families by an average of $500. Moreover, the Plan B amendment does nothing to address a number of the other “fiscal cliff” issues that are looming, such as the sequester or emergency unemployment insurance.

As such, the Plan B amendment is not even a remotely serious effort at reaching a bipartisan compromise. Instead, it is an effort to protect as much of the income of the wealthiest Americans as possible while leaving other draconian cuts intact.

The amendment is even more troubling because it is being proposed at the same time that negotiators are discussing a reduction in cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients. The so-called “chained CPI” would cause benefits to decline over current rates by 3 percent after 10 years, about 6 percent after 20 years, and close to 9 percent after 30 years. At the same time that the Plan B amendment goes to great lengths to protect the income of the wealthiest Americans, the chained CPI would make it even harder for the oldest, poorest, and most vulnerable Americans to make ends meet.

(This bill was proposed in a previous session of Congress.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-x-52-oppose
H.R. 6684: Spending Reduction Act of 2012

December 20, 2012

OPPOSE BOEHNER “PLAN B” AND MULVANEY (HR 6684)

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 210 national civil and human rights organizations, we urge you to oppose the amendment to H.J. Res. 66 known as “Plan B,” which is being proposed by Speaker Boehner in the midst of his year-end budget negotiations with President Obama. It represents a highly unbalanced approach that puts most of the burden on the people and communities that can least afford it.

We also urge you to oppose Rep. Mulvaney’s bill, H.R. 6684, which takes an even more extreme approach by mandating that all of the 2011 budget agreement sequester cuts be borne by non-defense discretionary programs only. It would mean severely cutting spending on education, food assistance, airline safety, infrastructure, health care, and much more.

The Plan B amendment would extend the Bush-era tax rates, including the ordinary income tax rates and the lower dividend and capital gains rates, on the first $1 million of income. It would also repeal limits on tax expenditures, namely the Personal Exemption Phase-out (PEP) and the Itemized Deduction Phase-out (also known as the Pease deduction phase-out), even for households with incomes over $1 million.

Through these changes, the Plan B amendment would only raise about $300 billion from high-income households. Not only does this fall drastically short of the revenues offered by Speaker Boehner, it even falls short of the roughly $400 billion in revenues that would be raised from repealing all of the Bush-era tax rate for incomes above $1 million. Moreover, 70 percent of the $400 billion lost by increasing the expiration threshold from $250,000 to $1 million would be kept by households that are making more than $1 million.

At the same time, the Plan B amendment would result in higher taxes on middle-class American families. It would eliminate a tax incentive for college education, effectively raising the taxes of 11 million families by an average of $1,100. It would reduce the refundability of the Child Tax Credit for 12 million working families, effectively raising their taxes by an average of $800. And it would eliminate the increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for larger families and increase the EITC marriage penalty, effectively raising taxes on 6 million families by an average of $500. Moreover, the Plan B amendment does nothing to address a number of the other “fiscal cliff” issues that are looming, such as the sequester or emergency unemployment insurance.

As such, the Plan B amendment is not even a remotely serious effort at reaching a bipartisan compromise. Instead, it is an effort to protect as much of the income of the wealthiest Americans as possible while leaving other draconian cuts intact.

The amendment is even more troubling because it is being proposed at the same time that negotiators are discussing a reduction in cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients. The so-called “chained CPI” would cause benefits to decline over current rates by 3 percent after 10 years, about 6 percent after 20 years, and close to 9 percent after 30 years. At the same time that the Plan B amendment goes to great lengths to protect the income of the wealthiest Americans, the chained CPI would make it even harder for the oldest, poorest, and most vulnerable Americans to make ends meet.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-6684-oppose
S. 3412 (112th): The Middle Class Tax Cut Act

07/24/12

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we urge you to support cloture on S. 3412, the Middle Class Tax Cut Act. S. 3412 strikes a fair and responsible balance between keeping taxes low for the overwhelming majority of Americans, on one hand, and ensuring fiscal soundness and preserving the basic functions of government, on the other. We will include your vote on cloture in our voting records for the 112th Congress.

As a coalition of more than 210 national civil and human rights organizations concerned with our economy, jobs, protecting critical services for lower- and middle-class Americans, and meeting our fiscal challenges, we believe that the portion of tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush that benefit the richest two percent of Americans must be allowed to expire at the end of this year. It is time to begin to restore some basic fairness to our tax system.

Ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans, households with incomes over $250,000, is simply asking them to pay their fair share. Contrary to straw-man arguments that some have made, we do not denigrate financial success or support “class warfare.” While we are troubled by the fact that the gap between the richest households and everyone else in the U.S. has widened to historically high levels, we are even more troubled by the fact that the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans have exploded the deficit and failed to result in economic growth.

We simply cannot afford to continue fiscally irresponsible tax breaks for the richest two percent and simultaneously address critical national priorities like improving the quality of and access to our education system, strengthening Medicare, creating jobs, improving our infrastructure, and helping millions of families that are still struggling to make ends meet. We as a nation will be forced to borrow more money, adding to deficits, increasing the interest we must pay on our debt, and making it harder to effectively address our significant long-term fiscal challenges.

At the same time, we also urge you to reject any effort to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts, or even to extend them up to the $1 million income level. With the threshold set at $250,000, 98 percent of Americans would receive their full tax cuts next year, and all Americans would continue to benefit from a lower tax rate on their first $250,000 in income.

http://www.civilrig...412-the-middle.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-3412-support
H.R. 6365: National Security and Job Protection Act

September 12, 2012

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we urge you to oppose H.R. 6365, the “National Security and Job Protection Act.” While we agree that it is vital to address long-term debt, and while we also agree that our national defense cannot be sacrificed in the process, H.R. 6365 is not a balanced approach and does not move Congress any closer to a bipartisan alternative.

H.R. 6365 proposes to undo the budget sequester provision that Congress agreed to last year, as a part of the Budget Control Act. H.R. 6365 requires the President to submit a plan to Congress that would avert the looming cuts to defense spending. Yet since it is well-known that the House Republican leadership will not agree to raise revenues, any plan acceptable to the House would likely be identical to H.R. 5652, the “Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act,” which the House passed last May, and like that bill, would have to make unconscionable cuts to social services and safety net programs while leaving room to cut taxes on wealthy Americans.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 established the sequester as an unpalatable alternative that would force Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction. In pursuit of such an agreement, President Obama and many in Congress have repeatedly called for modest revenue increases to balance out cuts in federal spending.

Unfortunately, the House has rejected these calls out of hand – not on the merits, but because they would violate a “pledge” that many members made to Americans for Tax Reform before the 2010 election. It is disturbing that many House members are perfectly content to repudiate a law they voted for a year ago, with some even denying they voted for it in the first place, while refusing to back away from a vow they made to a special interest group.

Congress must face the fact that sensible, targeted revenue increases are a necessary and fiscally responsible component of ameliorating the upcoming defense cuts in the short term, and ensuring our long-term economic health in the long run. In the meantime, we urge you to reject H.R. 6365.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-6365-oppose
S. 3453: Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012

July 26, 2012

Washington, D.C. – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after today’s bicameral introduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012, which would raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation:

“Passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act would raise the standard of living for millions of Americans, contribute to long-term shared prosperity, and expand our economy for the benefit of all. Economists estimate that this proposal would increase wages for 30 million Americans, generate more than $25 billion in GDP, and create the equivalent of more than 100,000 new full-time jobs.

A stunning 35 million Americans – 26 percent of our workforce – earn less than $10.55 an hour. People of color make up 41 percent of minimum wage workers and almost 60 percent are women. This bill is needed more than ever to address the shift toward low-wage work accelerated by the recession.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would raise the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 to $9.80 by 2014, adjust it each year to keep up with the rising cost of living, and raise the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. Raising the minimum wage is popular and fair. CEOs and many salaried workers receive regular cost of living increases. So should people who most need every dollar they earn.

We applaud Senator Harkin and Congressman Miller for introducing this legislation, a critical step that will help working families make ends meet, sustain consumer spending, and spur economic recovery.”

http://www.civilrig...imum-wage-bill.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-3453-support
H.R. 6211: Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012

July 26, 2012

Washington, D.C. – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after today’s bicameral introduction of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012, which would raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation:

“Passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act would raise the standard of living for millions of Americans, contribute to long-term shared prosperity, and expand our economy for the benefit of all. Economists estimate that this proposal would increase wages for 30 million Americans, generate more than $25 billion in GDP, and create the equivalent of more than 100,000 new full-time jobs.

A stunning 35 million Americans – 26 percent of our workforce – earn less than $10.55 an hour. People of color make up 41 percent of minimum wage workers and almost 60 percent are women. This bill is needed more than ever to address the shift toward low-wage work accelerated by the recession.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would raise the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 to $9.80 by 2014, adjust it each year to keep up with the rising cost of living, and raise the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. Raising the minimum wage is popular and fair. CEOs and many salaried workers receive regular cost of living increases. So should people who most need every dollar they earn.

We applaud Senator Harkin and Congressman Miller for introducing this legislation, a critical step that will help working families make ends meet, sustain consumer spending, and spur economic recovery.”

http://www.civilrig...imum-wage-bill.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-6211-support
H.R. 8 (112th): The Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act

July 31, 2012

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we urge you to oppose H.R. 8, the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012. H.R. 8 would extend the Bush-era tax cuts through 2013, even for the wealthiest taxpayers, and even though such cuts will neither protect jobs nor prevent another recession. We strongly support striking a fair and responsible approach like H.R. 15, which maintains the current tax rates for 98% of Americans. Given the importance of this issue to the federal budget and the communities we represent, we will include your vote on H.R. 8 in our voting records for the 112th Congress.

As a coalition of more than 210 national civil and human rights organizations concerned with protecting our economy, jobs, and critical services for lower- and moderate-income Americans, and also with meeting our fiscal challenges, we believe that the portion of tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush that benefit the richest two percent of Americans must be allowed to expire at the end of this year. It is time to restore some basic fairness and sound fiscal policy to our tax system.

Ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans, households with incomes over $250,000, is simply asking them to pay their fair share. Contrary to straw-man arguments that some have made, we do not denigrate financial success or support “class warfare.” While we are troubled by the fact that the gap between the richest households and everyone else in the U.S. has widened to historically high levels, we are even more troubled by the fact that the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans have exploded the deficit and failed to result in economic growth.

We simply cannot afford to continue fiscally irresponsible tax breaks for the richest two percent while simultaneously addressing critical national priorities like education, health care, job training, infrastructure, scientific research, public safety and law enforcement, housing and social services, and helping millions of families that are still struggling to make ends meet. Extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans – regardless of whether they are affordable – will simply force our government to borrow more money, increase the size of our deficit, raise the interest we must pay on our debt, and make it harder to effectively address our significant long-term fiscal challenges.

We urge you to reject any effort to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts, as H.R. 8 would do. By setting the threshold at $250,000, as H.R. 15 and the Senate-passed S. 3412 propose, 98 percent of Americans would receive their full tax cuts next year, and all Americans would continue to benefit from a lower tax rate on their first $250,000 in income.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-8-oppose
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

07/10/12

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to support U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The treaty embodies the American ideals that form the basis of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has served as model legislation for ending discriminatory practices throughout the world and a key inspiration for the CRPD.

The CRPD seeks to ensure that countries across the globe provide people with disabilities the same rights as everyone else, in order to live full, satisfying and productive lives. To this end, the CRPD will create greater access for Americans serving, working, traveling, and studying abroad. The Leadership Conference believes that ratification is critical to promoting the ADA’s and CRPD’s shared principles of equality, non-discrimination, inclusion in society, accessibility, and respect for inherent dignity of persons with disabilities in the United States. Furthermore, ratification of the treaty will reflect U.S. commitment to disability rights and core American values such as the dignity of the individual, access to justice, and the right to education.

The Leadership Conference is committed to ensuring that our country maintains its leadership role in promoting the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities. We believe that ratification of the CRPD will allow the U.S. to continue its legacy of global leadership on disability rights. We therefore urge the Senate to continue the bipartisan tradition of supporting human rights, including the rights of persons with disabilities, by uniting in support of ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

http://www.civilrig...ication-of-the.html

(This bill was proposed in a previous session of Congress.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-x-38-support
H.R. 7 (112th): The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to oppose the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, H.R. 7. Through policy and funding proposals, H.R. 7 would severely limit access to affordable and accessible public transportation and safe roadways. Communities of color, low-income Americans and people with disabilities will be disproportionately impacted since they are the most transit dependent communities and negotiate their daily lives on mass transportation to reach employment, health care, and educational centers.[i] In addition, safe roadways are crucial to all communities; but children, older adults, and people of color make up disproportionate percentages of pedestrian fatalities due to unsafe road conditions.[ii]

H.R. 7 eliminates all dedicated funding for mass transit, casting aside a 30-year bipartisan history of providing this funding for federal transit programs. Gutting this reliable source of funds for mass transit could further cripple transit systems around the country and hurt millions of people who depend on public transportation to reach their workplace and vital services. Low-income communities rely disproportionately on public transportation: 33% of low-income African Americans; 25% of low-income Latinos; and 12.1% of low-income Whites do not have automobile access.[iii] With public transportation ridership at record highs, many transit agencies are facing fiscal crises, resulting in service cuts and higher fares.[iv] The cuts in H.R. 7 to dedicated transit funding may trigger additional service cuts and fare increases, creating further hardship for those who rely on these systems.

In addition to adversely impacting transportation access to jobs for low income communities, the proposed cuts to mass transit funding could negatively affect job creation in the transportation sector. Historically, public transportation investments generate 31 percent more jobs than new construction of roads and bridges, and for every $1 billion invested in public transportation, more than 41,000 jobs are created.[v] Maintaining a reliable source of funding for mass transit investments could enable transit agencies to create jobs in the public transit and manufacturing industry.

H.R. 7 not only removes dedicated funding that helps low income communities, it also eliminates discretionary transit programs, including the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER). TIGER has funded dozens of transit-oriented projects throughout the country with a merit-based approach. TIGER grants have helped communities to move forward with critical, job-creating infrastructure projects including road and bridge improvements; transit upgrades; and freight, port and rail expansions. Three rounds of TIGER grants have previously been approved by Congress, including $500 million in FY 2012. Many of the TIGER grants included provisions to ensure that the projects they finance will benefit low-income workers and other disadvantaged communities.

H.R. 7 also cuts the small amount of dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs, such as Safe Routes to School, which has created safe routes for children to bike and walk to and from schools, including students with disabilities, in rural, and urban communities. The Safe Routes to School program has helped ensure safe access to school among low-income and minority students who are more likely to walk to school than whites or higher-income students.[vi]

Finally, H.R. 7 fails to include a workforce development or job access proposal that expands opportunities to apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, which are especially important for individuals in disadvantaged communities, who have been underrepresented in the construction transportation workforce.[vii] A Construction Careers Demonstration Project would give low-income people, minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities better access to construction employment in the transportation sector, encourage hiring of these workers, and build more opportunities for quality apprenticeship training. By establishing a framework to lift up job standards in the construction industry and develop new recruitment and training standards that help new workers get into jobs, construction career programs will benefit workers, communities, and the construction industry as a whole.

The Leadership Conference believes that any transportation bill must be bipartisan and provide robust investments in infrastructure and job creation, as well as access to public transit for low income communities. H.R. 7 fails to meets this standard, and therefore we urge you to oppose it on the House floor.

http://www.civilrig...7-the-american.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-7-oppose
S. 2017 (112th): The Democracy Restoration Act

Dear Member of Congress:

We, the undersigned organizations, a coalition of civil rights, social and criminal justice, and other legal and advocacy organizations, are writing to urge your support and co-sponsorship of the Democracy Restoration Act of 2011, a bill that seeks to restore voting rights in federal elections to people who are out of prison and living in the community. The current patchwork of laws that disfranchise people with criminal records has created an inconsistent and unfair federal electoral process, perpetuating entrenched racial discrimination. As organizations dedicated to promoting democracy and justice as well as equal rights for all Americans, we strongly support passage of this legislation.

Currently, 5.3 million American citizens are denied the right to vote because they have a criminal conviction in their past. Four million of these people are out of prison, living in the community, paying taxes and raising families; yet they remain disfranchised for years, often decades, and sometimes for life. The United States is one of the few western democratic nations that excludes such large numbers of people from the democratic process. Congressional action is needed to restore voting rights in federal elections to the millions of Americans who have been released from incarceration, but continue to be denied their ability to fully participate in civic life. Fortunately, Senator Ben Cardin and Representative John Conyers are lead sponsors of the Democracy Restoration Act of 2011, which is intended to address these injustices.

Criminal disfranchisement laws are rooted in the Jim Crow era. They were enacted alongside poll taxes and literacy tests and were intended to keep African Americans from voting. By 1900, 38 states denied voting rights to people with criminal convictions, most of which disfranchised people until they received a pardon. The intended effects of these laws continue to this day.

Nationwide, 13% of African-American men have lost the right to vote. If current incarceration rates continue, three in ten of the next generation of African American men will lose the right to vote at some point in their lifetimes. This racial disparity also impacts the families of those who are disfranchised and the communities in which they reside by diminishing their collective political voice.

In this country, voting is a national symbol of political equality and full citizenship. When a citizen is denied this right and responsibility, his or her standing as a full and equal member of our society is called into question. The responsibilities of citizenship – working, paying taxes and contributing to one’s community – are duties conferred upon those reentering society. To further punish individuals who are back in the community by denying them a right of citizenship counters the expectation that citizens have rehabilitated themselves after a conviction. The United States should not be a country where the effects of past mistakes have countless consequences – and no opportunity for redress.

Passage of the Democracy Restoration Act of 2011 will ensure that all Americans living in their communities will have the opportunity to participate in our electoral process. A strong, vibrant democracy requires the broadest possible base of voter participation, and allowing all persons who have completed their prison time to vote is the best way to ensure the greatest level of participation.

We urge you to support the passage of the Democracy Restoration Act of 2011.

http://projectvote....%2012%2016%2011.pdf

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-2017-support
H.R. 2885 (112th): The Legal Workforce Act (or the E-Verify Act)

Dear House Judiciary Committee Member:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our strong opposition to H.R. 2885, the “Legal Workforce Act.” H.R. 2885 offers a false promise of stopping unauthorized immigration through an expanded Electronic Employment Verification System (“EEVS”), or E-Verify program. In reality, the bill will instead harm millions of law-abiding American workers. We urge you to reject it.

H.R. 2885 will threaten the jobs of millions of U.S. citizens and other work-authorized individuals, particularly those not born in the U.S. The current E-Verify system only works about half of the time.[1] That is, about half of those run through the system are misidentified as legal when they are not. Many others are flagged as unauthorized when they are, in fact, authorized to work. Among foreign-born communities, these error rates are 30 to 50 times higher than for native-born U.S. citizens. [1]

Once an error has occurred, resolving it is timely and expensive. Workers often must take unpaid time off to follow up with the appropriate government agency. Corrections at the Social Security Administration (SSA) usually take more than ninety days, require multiple trips to the office, and involve wait times of four hours or more per trip, according to the American Council on International Personnel. This is time and money that many workers cannot afford to lose.

H.R. 2885 encourages profiling of lawful workers, as under-trained employees may simply assume a worker is undocumented and erroneously fire or not hire them at all. Even well-intentioned employers will feel the need to “play it safe” by making prejudgments about workers based on appearance, accent, name – conduct prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Further, according to the U.S. General Accountability Office, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is limited in its ability to target and prevent such misuse of E-Verify and has little or no authority to impose penalties. Contrary to the assertions recently made by the Chairman, E-Verify will most definitely harm racial and ethnic minorities.

H.R. 2885 overburdens the SSA, threatening its core mission of serving disabled and retired Americans. While USCIS financially administers E-Verify, SSA manages 90 percent of E-Verify queries, and SSA field offices must resolve any misclassifications of U.S. citizens. Using SSA databases and employees to confirm the employment status of every American worker under a national E-Verify program would cost an estimated $9 billion over the next 10 years, according to a 2008 Congressional Budget Office report. In the first year alone, the plan would cost more than $1 billion, or 10 percent of the agency’s administrative budget. This financial and administrative burden – particularly without an increase in the agency’s funding – would divert resources from the already struggling agency.

Finally, H.R. 2885 is not an effective tool to combat unauthorized immigration. Eight million unauthorized workers will not leave the U.S. because of H.R. 2885. Rather, they and their employers will likely instead ‘move off the books’ into the cash economy. This massive shift will cause drastic losses to federal, state, and local tax revenues, as well as to the Social Security trust fund, and will open the floodgates for employers to mistreat workers with greater impunity.

Rather than piling this bill on top of an already broken immigration system, we have long argued that Congress should instead adopt broad-reaching, comprehensive immigration reform.

We thus urge you to oppose H.R. 2885. Thank you for your consideration.

http://www.civilrig...oppose-hr-2885.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-2885-oppose
H.R. 3346: Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2011

“High and lingering unemployment in all communities, especially those represented by The Leadership Conference –24 percent among young adults, 16 percent for African Americans, and 11 percent for Hispanics – is straining families to the breaking point and decimating entire communities. That’s why it’s a moral imperative for Congress to take meaningful action to help the economy to recover and ensure that our nation’s working families survive this crisis. We urge members of Congress to extend unemployment insurance by passing this bill.”

-Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice President for Policy, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

http://democrats.wa...e.aspx?NewsID=11944

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-3346-support
H.J.Res. 1 (112th): The Balanced Budget Amendment

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our opposition to H.J.Res.1, H.J.Res.2, or any other proposed balanced budget amendment (BBA) to our Constitution. While the notion of a BBA may have a certain political appeal, its impact in reality would be disastrous for the economy as a whole and for the communities we represent.

The BBA in its various forms would require a balanced budget every year, regardless of the state of the economy. While it punts on the specifics, it would require extreme spending cuts precisely when the economy is at its weakest and government revenues are at their lowest, preventing the government from resorting to countercyclical policies right when they are needed most. As a result, the BBA would tip a struggling economy into a recession and would keep it there for a protracted period of time.

Moreover, the various proposals on the table would require a supermajority to increase revenues – even in order to close outrageous loopholes or to end corporate welfare in the form of tax expenditures. Such a requirement would virtually guarantee that in the event of any shortfall, the budget would be balanced on the backs of people who can least afford it.

H.J.Res.1 is even more extreme than other versions of the BBA. It would require a supermajority of two-thirds in each chamber to increase revenues, and would drastically reduce government expenditures overall to 18 percent of GDP, a level not seen in decades. Taken together, these provisions would force massive if not devastating cuts in many of our most important governmental functions and programs, cuts that have clearly not yet been fully thought out by proponents.

For these reasons, we urge you to oppose H.J.Res.1, H.J.Res.2, or any other balanced budget amendment – either as a free standing proposal or as a prerequisite to raising the debt ceiling. Thank you for your consideration.

http://www.civilrig...dget-amendment.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hjres-1-oppose
H.J.Res. 2 (112th): Balanced Budget Amendment

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our opposition to H.J.Res.1, H.J.Res.2, or any other proposed balanced budget amendment (BBA) to our Constitution. While the notion of a BBA may have a certain political appeal, its impact in reality would be disastrous for the economy as a whole and for the communities we represent.

The BBA in its various forms would require a balanced budget every year, regardless of the state of the economy. While it punts on the specifics, it would require extreme spending cuts precisely when the economy is at its weakest and government revenues are at their lowest, preventing the government from resorting to countercyclical policies right when they are needed most. As a result, the BBA would tip a struggling economy into a recession and would keep it there for a protracted period of time.

Moreover, the various proposals on the table would require a supermajority to increase revenues – even in order to close outrageous loopholes or to end corporate welfare in the form of tax expenditures. Such a requirement would virtually guarantee that in the event of any shortfall, the budget would be balanced on the backs of people who can least afford it.

H.J.Res.1 is even more extreme than other versions of the BBA. It would require a supermajority of two-thirds in each chamber to increase revenues, and would drastically reduce government expenditures overall to 18 percent of GDP, a level not seen in decades. Taken together, these provisions would force massive if not devastating cuts in many of our most important governmental functions and programs, cuts that have clearly not yet been fully thought out by proponents.

For these reasons, we urge you to oppose H.J.Res.1, H.J.Res.2, or any other balanced budget amendment – either as a free standing proposal or as a prerequisite to raising the debt ceiling. Thank you for your consideration.

http://www.civilrig...dget-amendment.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hjres-2-oppose
S. 1787 (112th): The Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act
(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-1787-support
H.R. 3313 (112th): The Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act
(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-3313-support
S. 1670 (112th): The End Racial Profiling Act

“The Leadership Conference thanks Senator Cardin for taking this essential step toward ending racial profiling in America.

Racial profiling robs people of their dignity, undermines the integrity of our criminal justice system, and instills fear and distrust among members of targeted communities.

Despite strong evidence that racial profiling is ineffective and unproductive, its use has actually expanded after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the context of counterterrorism; fighting drug trafficking and other “street-level” crimes; and in efforts to enforce immigration laws.

This is true for Muslims, Sikhs, and South Asians targeted by law enforcement for terrorist activities – true for Latinos in places like Alabama who are subject to S.B. 1070 copycat laws – and still true for African Americans subject to street-level profiling while walking or driving their cars.

We know from experience that this is the wrong approach. Racial profiling makes us all less safe, by distracting law enforcement from the pursuit of individuals who pose serious threats to security.

We urge Congress to pass ERPA and take this critical step toward ending racial profiling in America.”

http://www.civilrig...profiling-bill.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-1670-support
The President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights welcomed President's Obama deficit reduction proposal as a "balanced plan" that protects lower- and middle-income Americans and puts the focus on job creation.

"The plan acknowledges that we can’t – and shouldn’t – slash our way out of deficits that have been years in the making, and that such cuts would be counterproductive to boosting economic growth and protecting critical government programs that provide economic security to middle- and low-income families," said Wade Henderson, president & CEO of The Leadership Conference, and Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference.

Given these priorities, Henderson and Zirkin urged Congress to resist making harmful cuts to the Medicaid insurance program that provides health care for low-income families and children.

"... we have serious concerns about the burden the proposed Medicaid cuts to states would place on vulnerable individuals and families, and would ask that Congress and the administration can work together to find additional revenue or less harmful cuts in other areas."

http://www.civilrig...9/1243-deficit.html

(This bill was proposed in a previous session of Congress.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-x-3-support
H.R. 1842 (112th): The Dream Act

The DREAM Act would allow undocumented youth who were brought to the United States before they were 15 to obtain "conditional nonimmigrant status," provided that they complete high school or get their GED, then either serve in the military, or enroll in college, for two years. Additionally, conditional nonimmigrants must be “of good moral character,” not have committed certain crimes, and pay back taxes. After 10 years of conditional status, they are eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status.

The reintroduction of the DREAM Act comes just six months after it gained a majority in the Senate, but was defeated by a filibuster. At a Campus Progress event, Durbin assured his supporters that he would not give up fighting for the bill.

The Leadership Conference and other civil rights organizations strongly support the passage of the DREAM Act, not only as a rational path to citizenship, but also as necessary to the continued success of the United States.

“Our country needs and will benefit immensely from these young people and their talents and their drive to succeed,” said Clarissa Martínez De Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns at the National Council of La Raza. “From a moral, economic, and policy perspective, America cannot afford to lose another generation of young people who stand to contribute to its economic and social prosperity.”

http://www.civilrig...m-reintroduced.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-1842-support
S. 952 (112th): The DREAM Act

The DREAM Act would allow undocumented youth who were brought to the United States before they were 15 to obtain "conditional nonimmigrant status," provided that they complete high school or get their GED, then either serve in the military, or enroll in college, for two years. Additionally, conditional nonimmigrants must be “of good moral character,” not have committed certain crimes, and pay back taxes. After 10 years of conditional status, they are eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status.

The reintroduction of the DREAM Act comes just six months after it gained a majority in the Senate, but was defeated by a filibuster. At a Campus Progress event, Durbin assured his supporters that he would not give up fighting for the bill.

The Leadership Conference and other civil rights organizations strongly support the passage of the DREAM Act, not only as a rational path to citizenship, but also as necessary to the continued success of the United States.

“Our country needs and will benefit immensely from these young people and their talents and their drive to succeed,” said Clarissa Martínez De Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns at the National Council of La Raza. “From a moral, economic, and policy perspective, America cannot afford to lose another generation of young people who stand to contribute to its economic and social prosperity.”

http://www.civilrig...m-reintroduced.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-952-support
S. 797: Paycheck Fairness Act

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which will be reintroduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), would provide the first-ever update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA).The EPA made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially the same work. The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the EPA that have diluted its effectiveness in combating unfair and unequal pay. While the EPA has helped to narrow the wage gap between men and women in our workforce, significant disparities remain and need to be addressed. Due to the importance of this bill for millions of women and working families, we urge Senators to support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

http://www.civilrig...check-fairness.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-s-797-support
H.R. 1397 (112th): Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Our organizations are dedicated to the principle that every worker should be judged solely on his or her merits. Hardworking Americans should not be kept from supporting their families and making a positive contribution to the economic life of our nation because of characteristics that have no bearing whatsoever on their ability to do a job. Yet it remains legal in 29 states to fire or refuse to hire someone simply because of his or her sexual orientation, and in 38 states it is legal to do so solely based on an individual’s gender identity. ENDA prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in most workplaces. The time has long since come to end this injustice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans and pass ENDA.

America’s corporate leaders support ENDA's fair-minded approach. Eighty-seven percent of Fortune 500 companies have included sexual orientation protections in their workplace policies and more than forty percent of them also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Corporate America is leading the way in workplace fairness.

http://www.civilrig...ters/2011/enda.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-1397-support
H.R. 471: Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act

SOAR would reauthorize and expand the federally-funded private school voucher program in the District of Columbia, including provisions that exempt taxpayer-supported schools taxpayer-supported schools from federal civil rights laws. We strongly oppose any bill that strips students from these critical civil rights protections. The D.C. voucher program was created by the D.C. School Choice Incentive Act, which provided funding for a five-year pilot program offering private school vouchers to students in the District of Columbia. That legislation changed well-established law by permitting federal dollars to finance education programs without requiring any corresponding obligation that programs comply with federal anti-discrimination laws (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the Age Discrimination Act).

http://www.civilrig.../school-choice.html

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-471-oppose
H.R. 217: Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act

The Leadership Conference believes strongly that health care for all persons in the United States is a fundamental human right. As such, we believe that organizations that provide quality health care services in a cost-effective manner, particularly in low-income communities, deserve broad public support.

This bill is a direct attack on women’s health care and the organizations that provide it. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), a highly regarded organization that has spent 95 years providing valuable health care services to millions of American women and men, particularly in low-income communities, is a member in good standing of The Leadership Conference. Loss of the critical health services it provides would have a severely adverse impact on the life and health of people of color and their families, as well as low-income families regardless of color.

PPFA is the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider, with affiliates that operate more than 820 health centers nationwide, providing medical services and sexuality education for millions of women, men, and teenagers each year. These centers provide routine medical exams, cancer screenings, immunizations, contraceptive services, and testing and treatment for HIV and STDs.

(This bill failed to be passed during the two-year Congress in which it was introduced.)
Direct link to this position: https://www.popvox.com/orgs/civilrights#civilrights-hr-217-oppose