WASHINGTON — As the Senate works to finalize a major annual defense measure, there is a bipartisan push to include a requirement that all young Americans — including women — for the first time register for the military draft.
The $777.9 billion measure, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022, also would allocate millions to cleaning up toxic chemicals at bases and extend a heath study of the chemicals’ effects on people.
Some lawmakers leading the effort to allow all Americans ages 18 to 25 to be included for registration with the Selective Service System are Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), as well as Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed (D-R.I.).
“Simply put, as the Selective Service System is currently written it is unconstitutional and discriminates based on sex,” Houlahan said in a statement.
Current law refers to registration of “male persons” and both documented and undocumented immigrants are included.
The military now is all-volunteer, and there hasn’t been a draft since the Vietnam War, but the registration system is maintained.
The White House also agreed with lawmakers on the update to the selective service.
“The Administration supports section 513 and the registration requirement for all citizens, which further ensures a military selective system that is fair and just,” according to the Biden administration, referring to the section of the bill dealing with the requirement.
However, the White House also said it opposes the removal of “incentives for registration” because they are needed “to achieve an equitable system that can be implemented effectively.” When men register for selective service, they remain eligible for federal benefits like state-based student aid, loans and job training programs.
Houlahan is a veteran herself and introduced the amendment on the House side. The House Armed Services Committee backed the amendment 35-24.
Houlahan also included a 12-week maternity and paternity leave for primary and secondary caregivers in the NDAA, the shorthand for the massive defense legislation.
WASHINGTON – The Trump-era “remain in Mexico” policy resumed Monday after the Mexican government agreed to accept migrants who are turned away at the border and forced to wait in Mexico for their hearing.
The court-ordered renewal of the Migrant Protection Protocols comes even though the Department of Homeland Security said this summer it was ending what it called a flawed and unfair program. And DHS vowed Friday to continue working to end the program that it is now being forced to reinstate.
The announcement that the program would be renewed came late Thursday, after the Mexican government said it would accept migrants, but demanded safeguards including access to legal services, swift hearings and protections for migrants’ safety and security.
Those assurances did little to comfort opponents of the policy, who urged the Biden administration to terminate the “inhumane and illegal” program as soon as possible. Chelsea Sachau of the Florence Project’s Border Action Team called Friday’s announcement “heartbreaking.”
“We know that despite whatever promises the government’s made to make it, you know, better and faster, the reality is that they can’t make a program that was designed to be inhumane and prevent people from coming to the U.S. and seeking asylum, you can’t make that humane,” Sachau said.
“We’ve seen what people who have been stuck in Mexico have gone through, and so it’s a pretty sad time to realize that the administration has us back here,” she said.
But border-security hardliners said MPP should never have been stopped in the first place, and they welcomed its return.
“It had significantly reduced the number of people who were trying to use the asylum system to get into the United States,” said Ira Mehlman, media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
PHOENIX – The number of people experiencing homelessness in Arizona and across the U.S. has risen in past years, and experts worry that many more Americans will find themselves without a roof over their heads because of the economic effects of the pandemic and the recent end to the federal eviction moratorium.
Every day in Maricopa County, 14 people hit the streets to help as part of the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope Coach Mobile Outreach program. And from July through October, they helped move 123 people into housing.
Jussane Goodman, director of community engagement for the Rescue Mission, attributes the program’s success to its focus on delivering hope to those in need, by way of the distribution of essentials, particularly water and socks.
But what really makes this program different, she said, are the personal relationships that case managers form with clients.
“The case managers,” Goodman said, “they are the true rock stars of this program.”
Hope Coach workers drive to all corners of the county and engage with people to build trust.
What sets them apart? Lived experience.
WASHINGTON — When paid family leave was briefly dropped from congressional Democrats’ massive social spending and climate bill earlier this fall, the outcry was swift.
Women and caregivers suddenly were calling lawmakers and advocates, and they were sharing their own stories on social media in huge numbers, said Dawn Huckelbridge, director of Paid Leave for All, a national advocacy group, during a virtual event with reporters on Tuesday.
“I think people assumed this was a given, that why would you drop paid leave in a pandemic?” Huckelbridge said. “And when that happened, there was outrage.”
She added: “Women, caregivers, have been dealing with unimaginable circumstances these last few years. And I think it felt tone-deaf to them.”
The Democrats’ “Build Back Better” bill that passed the U.S. House did ultimately restore four weeks of paid leave for workers who need to care for a new baby or ailing loved one or recover from their own serious illness.
But that provision is at risk of deletion in the Senate, due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.).
Huckelbridge and other advocates and Democratic pollsters who spoke to reporters on Tuesday said a failure to take action on a national paid leave program could have significant political consequences for Democrats in 2022.
The U.S. is one of only a few countries in the world — and the only wealthy country — that does not have a national paid family leave program.
Yet creation of such a program is overwhelmingly popular across party lines, particularly with younger voters and among suburban women in key battleground states.
“It may not be bipartisan in the Congress, but it is bipartisan with the public, particularly in America’s suburbs,” said Celinda Lake, of Lake Research Partners, who was the leading pollster for Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
It’s also one of the most popular provisions in the Build Back Better package. Research from Global Strategy Group, a Democratic consulting firm, found the issue has support that’s on par with allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
Paid leave also was the only provision tested from that legislative package other than the Medicare provision that gained majority support from voters in both parties — a rare feat in an extremely politically divided era.
In the Global Strategy Group’s survey of battleground voters, Democrats trailed Republicans by 3 percentage points in a generic question of which party’s candidate a voter is more likely to pick.
But in a follow-up question specifically comparing a Democrat who supports paid leave to a Republican who does not, Democrats hold a 13-point edge, said Joey Teitelbaum, lead researcher on the group’s battleground polling.
Teitelbaum said the research found the issue is one that may motivate voters who would otherwise stay home, but only if those voters see Democrats following through on promises of action on paid leave.
One-third of voters in the survey said they would rather stay home on Election Day than vote for a Senate candidate who opposes access to paid leave, with higher shares of women ages 18 to 44 and Black female voters agreeing with that statement.
One key group of swing voters in the 2022 elections, Lake said, will be white, non-college-educated women ages 40 to 65 — a group that has many women in the “sandwich” years of caring for children and aging parents.
Another key group will be women of color and younger women under 40, “who lean very Democratic, but also wonder what the Democrats are doing for them,” she added.
“So, whether you’re talking about the strategy of persuasion, or you’re talking about the strategy of turnout, this is one of the few issues that is at the top of both of those agendas,” Lake said.
Moving paid leave from a campaign promise to a policy achievement will take a shift by Manchin, who has said he supports the idea of paid leave but does not back creating a new national program in the pending legislation.
Huckelbridge said Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who have been heavily involved in work on a paid leave program, have told her and others that they believe Manchin is “movable” on the issue.
But they acknowledge that the current bill — which would be passed through the reconciliation process, allowing Democrats to approve it without any Republican votes — is the only path forward on the national level.
“We have to do this in Build Back Better. There is no bipartisan path anytime soon that will deliver real results for families,” Huckelbridge said.
If that fails, advocates say the movement has grown stronger during the past year. In some states, the fight may move to the state legislature, describing a rise in state-level interest.
“We will see this be an issue in state legislatures and at the ballot box in states,” said Vicki Shabo, senior fellow for paid leave policy and strategy at the think tank New America. “And the federal issue is not going away either.”
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