WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans blocked an election-year Democratic bill on Wednesday that would boost the federal minimum wage, handing a defeat to President Barack Obama on a vote that is sure to reverberate in this year’s congressional elections.
The measure’s rejection, which was expected, came in the early months of a campaign season in which the slowly recovering economy — and its impact on families — is a marquee issue. It was also the latest setback for a stream of bills this year that Democrats have designed to cast themselves as the party of economic fairness.
The legislation by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would gradually raise the $7.25 hourly minimum to $10.10 over 30 months and then provide automatic annual increases to account for inflation. Democrats argue that if fully phased in by 2016, it would push a family of three above the federal poverty line — a level such earners have not surpassed since 1979.
"Millions of American workers will be watching how each senator votes today. To them, it’s a matter of survival," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the vote.
He pointedly added, “For Republicans, this vote will demonstrate whether they truly care about our economy.”
Republicans, solidly against the Democratic proposal, say it would be too expensive for employers and cost jobs. As ammunition, they cite a February study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that estimated the increase to $10.10 could eliminate about 500,000 jobs — but also envisioned higher income for 16.5 million low-earning people.
"Washington Democrats’ true focus these days seems to be making the far left happy, not helping the middle class," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
"This is all about politics," said No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas. "This is about trying to make this side of the aisle look bad and hard-hearted."
The vote was 54-42 in favor of allowing debate on the measure to proceed, six votes short of the 60 that Democrats needed to prevail. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was the only Republican to cross party lines and vote “yes.” Reid switched his vote to “no,” which gives him the right to call another vote on the measure. No other Democrats opposed the bill.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has been seeking a deal with other senators on a lower figure than $10.10, said Wednesday that she will continue that effort. Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who usually sides with Democrats, said he too favors finding middle ground.
But Democratic leaders have shown no inclination to do that — a view shared by unions that favor an increase and business groups that oppose one.
"We’re not going to compromise on $10.10," Reid told reporters after the vote.
In a clear sign of the political value Democrats believe the issue has, Democrats said they intend to force another vote on the increase closer to this year’s elections.
The White House issued a statement urging the bill’s passage and saying the administration wants legislation “to build real, lasting economic security for the middle class and create more opportunities for every hardworking American to get ahead.”
Supporters note that the minimum wage’s buying power has fallen. It reached its peak value in 1968, when it was $1.60 hourly but was worth $10.86 in today’s dollars.
The legislation is opposed by business groups including the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the International Franchise Association. The National Restaurant Association has hundreds of members at the Capitol this week lobbying lawmakers on several issues, including opposition to a higher minimum wage.
Also opposed were conservative organizations including Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by Charles and David Koch. The billionaire brothers are spending millions this year to unseat congressional Democrats, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his allies are casting them as unfettered villains.
Other Democratic bills that have splattered against GOP roadblocks this year would restore expired benefits for the long-term unemployed and pressure employers to pay men and women equally. Democrats plan future votes on bills easing the costs of college and child care.
Opposition from Republicans running the House makes it unlikely that chamber would debate minimum wage legislation this year.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, about two-thirds of the 3.3 million people who earned $7.25 an hour or less last year worked in service jobs, mostly food preparation and serving.
More than 6 in 10 of those making $7.25 or under were women, and about half were under age 25. Democrats hope their support for a minimum wage boost will draw voters from both groups — who usually lean Democratic — to the polls in November, when Senate control will be at stake. The GOP’s hold on the House is not in doubt.
Harkin’s bill would also gradually increase the minimum wage for tipped workers like waiters to 70 percent of the minimum for most other workers. It is currently $2.13 hourly, which can be paid as long as their hourly earnings with tips total at least $7.25.
The minimum wage was first enacted in 1938 and set at 25 cents.
Congress has passed nine laws slowly increasing it, including one each decade since the 1980s. The minimum has been $7.25 since 2009.
Yet more proof the obstructionist duncebuckets in the Republican Party and the policies they champion are bad for America’s morale.
They’d rather pander to the far-right whackos than use common sense, and that’s a crying shame.
h/t: Alan Fram at AP, via Yahoo! News
WASHINGTON — Forty-seven senators and 148 members of the House have signed a letter putting pressure on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order providing workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
"We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a ‘year of action’ and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As you have said before, ‘now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it,’" the letter says.
The effort was organized by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in the Senate and by the LGBT Equality Caucus in the House.
Obama has the ability to ban only that employment discrimination by government contractors. Congressional legislation would apply to all employers. The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), sponsored by Merkley, has passed the Senate, but it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in the House.
"All Americans deserve fairness in the workplace," said Merkley in a statement on Tuesday. "There is no reason to wait any longer to extend non-discrimination policies to federal contractors and protect millions of Americans from being fired for who they are or who they love."
Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), who has been pushing the president to act on a nondiscrimination executive order for years, said, “Many LGBT Americans are less concerned with how these protections are put in place — whether they come from a bill the President signs into law or an executive order — they simply want and need protection from workplace discrimination. This is a simple act that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of 16.5 million Americans.”
No Republicans signed on to the letter asking Obama to issue an executive order, even though 10 of them voted for ENDA in the Senate and six are co-sponsors of the House legislation. Republicans have been wary of allowing the president to use his authority without going through Congress.
The current letter shows that support for executive action on LGBT discrimination is growing. Last year, lawmakers circulated a similar letter, which had 10 fewer backers in the Senate and 38 fewer in the House.
Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Harry Reid (Nev.) were the only Democrats who didn’t sign the latest letter on the Senate side. Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also did not sign. Fifty-six House Democrats didn’t join the effort.
The letter picked up the support of Democratic leaders like House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), Assistant House Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).
In addition to Bennet, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, other top Democrats not signing the letter included Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Although Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were also not signatories, they traditionally don’t sign on to these types of letters. Pelosi has said, however, that she supports Obama using his executive authority to extend workplace protections. Reid has said he would support it if the president decided to do it.
The White House has consistently argued that it would like to see Congress pass ENDA, since an executive action wouldn’t protect all LGBT workers. Still, an executive order could help as many as 16 million workers, according to a report from UCLA’s Williams Institute.
Senate signatories (46 Democrats and one independent):
Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Ben Cardin (Md.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Al Franken (Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Mark Warner (Va.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Ron Wyden (Ore.)
House signatories (148 Democrats):
Ron Barber (Ariz.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio), Ami Bera (Calif.), Timothy Bishop (N.Y.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Robert Brady (Pa.), Bruce Braley (Iowa), Julie Brownley (Calif.), Lois Capps (Calif.), Michael Capuano (Mass.), Tony Cardenas (Calif.), Andre Carson (Ind.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Kathy Castor (Fla.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Judy Chu (Calif.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Katherine Clark (Mass.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), James Clyburn (S.C.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Gerald Connolly (Va.), John Conyers (Mich.), Joe Courtney (Conn.), Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), Susan Davis (Calif.), Diana DeGette (Colo.), John Delaney (Md.), Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Suzan DelBene (Wash.), Theodore Deutch (Fla.), Lloyd Doggett (Texas), Michael Doyle (Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), Eliot Engel (N.Y.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Elizabeth Esty (Conn.), Sam Farr (Calif.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Lois Frankel (Fla.), Joe Garcia (Fla.), Alan Grayson (Fla.), Al Green (Texas), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), Janice Hahn (Calif.), Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii), Alcee Hastings (Fla.), Denny Heck (Wash.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), James Himes (Conn.), Ruben Hinojosa (Texas), Rush Holt (N.J.), Mike Honda (Calif.), Steven Horsford (Nev.), Steny Hoyer (Md.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Steve Israel (N.Y.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas), Hank Johnson Jr. (Ga.), William Keating (Mass.), Joseph Kennedy III (Mass.), Dan Kildee (Mich.), Derek Kilmer (Wash.), Ron Kind (Wis.), Ann Kuster (N.H.), James Langevin (R.I.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), John Larson (Conn.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Sander Levin (Mich.), John Lewis (Ga.), David Loebsack (Iowa), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Nita Lowey (N.Y.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), Dan Maffei (N.Y.), Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Betty McCollum (Minn.), Jim McDermott (Wash.), James McGovern (Mass.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Grace Meng (N.Y.), Michael Michaud (Maine), George Miller (Calif.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), James Moran (Va.), Patrick Murphy (Fla.), Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Rick Nolan (Minn.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Bill Pascrell Jr. (N.J.), Donald Payne Jr. (N.J.), Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Scott Peters (Calif.), Chellie Pingree (Maine), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Jared Polis (Colo.), David Price (N.C.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Charlie Rangel (N.Y.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Linda Sanchez (Calif.), Loretta Sanchez (Calif.), John Sarbanes (Md.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), Brad Schneider (Ill.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), David Scott (Ga.), Jose Serrano (N.Y.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Albio Sires (N.J.), Louse Slaughter (N.Y.), Adam Smith (Wash.), Jackie Speier (Calif.), Eric Swalwell (Calif.), Mark Takano (Calif.), Mike Thompson (Calif.), John Tierney (Mass.), Dina Titus (Nev.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.), Niki Tsongas (Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Juan Vargas (Calif.), Marc Veasey (Texas), Filemon Vela (Texas), Nydia Velazquez (N.Y.), Timothy Walz (Minn.), Henry Waxman (Calif.), Pete Welch (Vt.), Frederica Wilson (Fla.), John Yarmuth (Ky.)
Source: The Huffington Post
Following a months-long campaign by progressives inside and outside of Washington, President Obama will sign an executive order designed to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to at least $10.10 an hour, The New York Times reported Tuesday morning.
Obama will announce and explain the order during his State of the Union address Tuesday, likely weaving it into larger themes about raising the national minimum wage and reducing income inequality. Progressive activists, striking federal workers, and some members of Congress had been urging Obama for months to take this action.
More than 500,000 employees of federal contractors make less than $12 per hour, according to astudy by Demos, and when the National Employment Law Project surveyed 500 federal contract workers, it found that more than 70 percent made less than $10 per hour. In short, taxpayer dollars are being used to pay a minimum wage that’s clearly too low, and that is accelerating the already problematic wage gap nationwide.
Obama’s executive order aims to change that—it would direct federal agencies to give contracting preference to contractors that pay at least $10.10 per hour. Naturally, this won’t affect workers currently on a government contract, since those papers have already been signed. But going forward, several hundred thousand new contract workers or those operating under revised agreements will get a raise.
Liberals who had been pushing for this change applauded the move, and expressed hope it would move the ball forward on increasing the minimum wage more broadly. “I think most Americans would agree that taxpayer dollars should not support companies that pay poverty wages,” said Senator Tom Harkin, who is the co-author of a bill to raise the minimum wage nationally to $10.10, in a statement. “This Executive Order is a strong step in the right direction, and I am grateful for President Obama’s leadership. But as I know the President would agree, it’s only a first step.”
Senator Bernie Sanders sounded similar notes. “The president has made it clear that employees working for government contractors should not be paid starvation wages. This executive order also gives us momentum for raising the minimum wage for every worker in this country to at least $10.10 an hour,” he said.
Aside from the obvious beneficial effect to future government contract workers, there is a political dimension to Obama’s move. He asked Congress to raise the federal minimum wage in last year’s State of the Union, and there was no progress.
By doing it himself without Congress for the workers he has power over, Obama is sending a message to members: if you don’t act, I will use my executive power to do as much as I can without you. This is reportedly going to be a broad theme of Obama’s speech, and one he hopes will spur Congress to act.
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled the trigger Thursday, deploying a parliamentary procedure dubbed the “nuclear option” to change Senate rules to pass most executive and judicial nominees by a simple majority vote.
The Senate voted 52 to 48 for the move, with just three Democrats declining to go along with the rarely used maneuver.
From now until the Senate passes a new rule, executive branch nominees and judges nominated for all courts except the Supreme Court will be able to pass off the floor and take their seats on the bench with the approval of a simple majority of senators. They will no longer have to jump the traditional hurdle of 60 votes, which has increasingly proven a barrier to confirmation during the Obama administration.
Reid opened debate in the morning by saying that it has become “so, so very obvious” that the Senate is broken and in need of rules reform. He rolled through a series of statistics intended to demonstrate that the level of obstruction under President Barack Obama outpaced any historical precedent.
Half the nominees filibustered in the history of the United States were blocked by Republicans during the Obama administration; of 23 district court nominees filibustered in U.S. history, 20 were Obama’s nominees; and even judges that have broad bipartisan support have had to wait nearly 100 days longer, on average, than President George W. Bush’s nominees.
"It’s time to change before this institution becomes obsolete," Reid said, before citing scripture — "One must not break his word" — in accusing Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) of breaking his promise to work in a more bipartisan fashion.
McConnell responded to Reid by changing the subject to the Affordable Care Act and accusing Democrats of trying to distract Americans from the law’s troubled rollout. Getting around to fidelity, McConnell noted that Reid had said in July that “we’re not touching judges,” yet he was now choosing to do so. Reid casually brushed off his suit coat and sat down.
McConnell compared the alleged duplicity to another Democratic piece of rhetoric. “If you like the rules of the Senate, you can keep them,” he quipped, as the GOP side laughed heartily, which encouraged a pleased McConnell to turn directly to his colleagues and repeat the joke.
He then turned to the Democratic side and said he understood why inexperienced young members who’d never been in the minority might want to change the rules. “The rest of you guys in the conference should know better,” he said.
Obstruction, McConnell said, began with the Democrats when they decided to filibuster Circuit Court nominees under Bush. “They made it up. They started it,” he said, arguing that Republicans were only following their lead. His argument, though, raises the question of why eliminating the filibuster on such judges, if it was never used before 2000, should be seen as an historic development in the first place.
"Stop trying to jam us," McConnell said, warning that it would come back to haunt them. "You may regret it a lot sooner than you think."
Normally rules changes in the Senate need 67 votes, but the majority can challenge an existing rule, and if the presiding senator rules against the challenge, the majority can then ask for a vote on the chair’s ruling. If a simple majority votes to overrule the chair, it sets a new precedent.
Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) broke with their party and joined Republicans in opposing the move. Pryor is in an uphill reelection contest, which may explain his vote, but Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who are also top GOP targets in 2014, backed the rules change.
Levin, a Senate traditionalist, has long been the most outspoken opponent of rules reform, and led a successful effort to stymie the movement earlier this year. Manchin, meanwhile, has great reverence for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), a fierce champion of Senate tradition, likely explaining his vote. (Byrd did make several attempts to change the rules himself when he served as majority leader.)
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who has long been skeptical of changing the rules, cast a critical vote very late in the process supporting the move. That left Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a recent convert to reform, to cast the 51st vote, with Reid casting the 52nd.
The move marks a significant win for the newer crop of Democrats — like Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, the lead proponent of going nuclear — who have grown increasingly frustrated as McConnell expertly employed parliamentary procedures to stall Democratic nominees and initiatives. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) have also been longtime champions of filibuster reform, with Harkin’s effort dating back more than two decades.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who chaired the Judiciary Committee back when it was Democrats trying to stall Bush’s nominees, echoed McConnell, suggesting newer Democrats such as Merkley, who have never been in the minority, were not taking the long view.
On Wednesday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) will introduce legislation to expand preschool and high-quality childcare across the country. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and at least seven other Senate and House members will also support the bill.
According to a draft, the bill would expand early childhood education from birth to age five over a decade. It would give states funding to expand preschool to all four-year-olds in low-income families who earn below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, or about $47,000 for a family of four, based on the number of children that would be served. States would also have to qualify by meeting quality standards and by already providing state-funded Kindergarten. The states would start out having to match 10 percent of the federal money and then increase that match to an equal share by the 10th year, although the match would be reduced for those that serve half or more of their eligible four-year-olds. If a state achieves universal access to preschool for four-year-olds, it could then start working on serving three-year-olds so long as that access remains for the older children.
The bill doesn’t just address preschool, but also high-quality childcare for infants and young children. States could set aside 15 percent of the money for high-quality education and care for infants and toddlers. It would authorize a new partnership between Early Head Start and those who offer childcare to improve the quality of the care while changing the block grant that supports childcare so that it can raise the quality and ease eligibility. The Department of Health and Human Services would also convert Head Start programs that currently serve low-income four-year-olds into programs to serve three-year-olds and younger.
The draft would propose $1.3 billion in funding next year for the program, which would increase to $8.7 billion next year.
The bill comes after President Obama proposed a universal preschool program in his State of the Union address this year. He later released a budget that included $75 billion in new funding over the next decade to enact a “preschool for all” plan that would start by partnering with states to provide all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds with access and then incentivize them to expand to reach all other children.
Universal preschool has gotten support from Democrats and Republicans alike on the state level. Seven states, both red and blue, are working on universal preschool programs, including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, New York, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Legislation has also been introduced in Indiana and South Carolina, and Michigan’s Republican governor requested an additional $65 million in his budget to expand early learning. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Americans support providing all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds with access to high-quality preschool, including 60 percent of Republicans.
Yet the United States falls far behind its peers in early childhood education. On the whole, states are spending the lowest amount per student in Pre-K in a decade. The country ranks at number 21 globally in the percentage of GDP it spends on preschool. Just 69 percent of American four-year-olds and 51 percent of three-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood programs, ranking the country at numbers 26 and 24 among its peers, respectively. Childcare costs are on the rise, with full-time center care for two children coming to more than rent in all states and putting an infant in childcare more than what the average family spends on food, yet subsidies to help cover the care are declining.
But the benefits of access to high-quality learning at a young age have been well documented. Chicago’s universal preschool program has been found to generate $11 in economic benefits for each dollar spent, and studies of other programs have found $7 in long-term savings for each dollar put in. Investing in preschool has been proven to increase social and economic mobility, increase human capital and GDP, and reduce societal and economic costs in a child’s life later on.
Proclaiming he’s “ready to go,” U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, is telling supporters today that he’s forming a campaign committee to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated in 2014 by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.
Braley is sending the news in an email today, saying it’s a “big responsibility” to try to fill Harkin’s shoes.
“But if you are willing to help me, I’m ready to go,” he said in the email, which was obtained by the Quad-City Times.
The announcement comes about two weeks after Harkin shocked Iowans by announcing he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2014. Since then, Braley, who has long been rumored to be interested in the Senate, has been exploring a potential bid.
In the email, Braley said he would kick off a series of conversations with a Facebook chat in the next few weeks. Link said the conversations would extend for several months.
While Braley is considered by many to be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, it’s possible others could run in a primary. If that happens, Link made it clear Braley will be ready for any challenge.
“We’re going to be in the best position when the filing deadline hits,” he said.
Braley has been a proficient fundraiser since kicking off his first bid for the 1st Congressional District seat in 2005. He’s won four races in eastern Iowa since then, with only one, in 2010, a close call.
Now, he faces the challenge of introducing himself to other parts of the state, including a heavily Republican western Iowa.
Link said Braley has been encouraged in particular by two events in the days since Harkin made his announcement: His meeting with Statehouse Democrats in Des Moines and a big labor union event over the weekend in Dubuque, where he appeared with Harkin.
Harkin did not endorse Braley — and he has said that he wouldn’t get involved in a primary — but he generously praised the Waterloo Democrat.
Braley also has met with the political arm of the Senate Democrats.
On the Republican side, Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King have both sent signals they could run.
Tom Harkin retires at the end of 2014. We’ll miss him.
AP NewsBreak: Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin says he will not seek 6th Senate term: apne.ws/W6GeSM— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) January 26, 2013
He was a really great Senator.
This just in: 5-term Iowa Senator Tom Harkin (D) will retire at the end of the 113th Congress. He also ran for President in 1992; while he won his home state’s caucus that year, he lost the nomination to President Bill Clinton (D). He also was a 6-term Congressman from 1972-1984.CUMMING, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin says he will not seek re-election in 2014.
The 73-year-old Harkin tells The Associated Press in an interview, “It’s just time to step aside,” because by the time he would finish a sixth term, he would be 81.
Harkin said it would also allow a new generation of Democrats to seek higher office.
The announcement comes as a surprise, considering he had $2.7 million in his campaign war chest and was planning a fundraiser next month.
Who will run for both the Dems and the GOP now that Harkin will retire?
I believe this race is (depending on the candidates in both parties) rated Tilt D in an open seat situation.
President Obama’s announced support for marriage equality has lit some fires in Congress; bad ones in the House, but encouraging ones in the Senate.
Sen. Tom Harkin, Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, And Pensions, has announced that he will hold hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation which would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all but the smallest companies. Greg Sargent reportsthat a bipartisan group of senators, Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Susan Collins (R-ME), requested hearings in committees with jurisdiction.
It’s legal to to fire someone solely because they’re lesbian, gay, or bisexual in 29 states. In 35 states, employers can fire someone solely on the basis of gender identity or expression. Protecting a person’s livelihood is easily as basic as recognizing who they love. It’s time for ENDA.