Professions: Before They Were Elected to Congress

The Hill new members guide

Wondering what professions newly elected members of the 114th Congress had prior to being elected?

Answers to this question, will shed light on the experience that they likely bring to an incredibly difficult job. Farmers, dentists, attorneys, consultants and more will walk the halls of the Capitol Building very soon.

What about those newly elected in your state? This handy guide published by the Hill recently, sheds some light on this question.

Senate Leadership in the 114th U.S. Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address in front of the U.S. Congress in Washington

In a GOP majority, whose likely running the Senate?

From Mitch McConnell to Thad Cochran the Senate will be under new leadership starting in January. Here are a few Senators whose names have been mentioned in a recent Politico article likely to assume Chairmanships…

Appropriations: Thad Cochran

Fresh from his narrow win in Mississippi over tea party challenger Chris McDaniel, Cochran will be under pressure to load up the appropriations bills with as many challenges to the Obama administration as possible. But he’ll also have to make sure that none of them gets so overloaded with ideological battles that they can’t get 60 votes. For now, he’s sticking to generalities: The power to write the appropriations bills “gives us an opportunity to examine everything,” he told POLITICO.

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: Lamar Alexander

He’d go after the Obama administration over its frequent use of waivers from the No Child Left Behind law and what he considers a maze of federal rules that has effectively created a “national school board.” His agenda includes a rewrite of No Child Left Behind, private school vouchers and cutting back regulations in higher education. He might push a bill he’s introduced with Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet that would significantly shorten the application for federal financial aid.

Commerce, Science and Transportation: John Thune

Thune would likely hold early hearings on a rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. It probably wouldn’t get done next year, but he could start the process by emphasizing deregulation and making it easier for House Republicans to do the same. And it probably would be the end of the road for Obama administration initiatives like an online “Privacy Bill of Rights.” Thune has said he wants to “preserve the light-touch regime, first implemented by the Clinton administration, that has been so successful in making us the digital envy of the world.”

Take a look at the attached document for a list of the likely upcoming Chairmanships.

Are there issues you would like to see move from Committee to the Senate floor? What are they?

Freshman Class of the 114th United States Congress

Capitol Hill

Did the Congressional leadership in your state change as a result of the midterm elections?

For many Americans, the answer is yes. The 114th United States Congress will begin on January 3, 2015. As of November 5, 2014 there were 11 new senators (10R, 1D) and 50 new representatives (34R, 16D).

For a complete list, along with incumbent information, and prior experience of each elected official, click here.

The Permanence Project

Beta Testing Permanence Project

Interested in beta testing a new online public policy engagement tool?

This week, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) announced the enrollment launch of a new virtual community, named the Permanence Project. The project is designed to engage the public around policy issues impacting black communities. As part of the enrollment launch, the CBCF is recruiting one-thousand Beta testers with the goal of launching the Beta in the first quarter of 2015.

The Permanence Project is being built on a cloud-based, web platform offering up-to-date analyses and resources on public policy issues that are discussed and debated on Capitol Hill and in legislative bodies across the nation. When fully launched, the Permanence Project will feature access to reports, research materials and digital resources to enable the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues.

The site will also include regular commentary and editorials, event announcements, news, alerts and opportunities for discussion among users. Users will be able to create unique profiles and register for email notifications to receive updates and alerts. The Young Invincibles and other content providers, who have an interest in advancing and impacting black communities, will provide public policy resources for the Permanence Project.

The Permanence Project invites users to:

1. Join a vibrant, nationwide community concerned about public policy and civic engagement, and
2. Exchange ideas and information to address critical, long-term challenges affecting black communities.

Sign up here.

Will you be signing up? Let us know your thoughts on how a tool like this can help!

The Continuing Resolutions (CR) …Continue

Capitol Hill

Are you surprised that Congress utilized another CR to fund the federal government?

If so, you really shouldn’t be. The national government’s budget calendar runs from October 1st through September 30th. Every year, Congress must pass and the President must sign 13 separate appropriations bills by October 1st to fund all of the national government’s departments, agencies and programs for the following year. In 2013, Congress failed to agree on any regular appropriations bills prior to the start of fiscal year 2014.

You might recall that an attempt was made to pass the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014 prior to October 1, 2013, but the House and Senate could not agree on its provisions, leading to the United States to a prolonged federal government shutdown and furlough of more than 800,000 federal workers. That shutdown involved House Republicans’ attempt to tie the CR to a defunding or delay of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The federal government resumed operations on October 17, 2013, after the passage of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014, a CR, that provided funding until January 15, 2014. On January 15, 2014, Congress passed another CR, H.J.Res. 106, to provide funding until January 18, 2014. Congress finally passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, an omnibus appropriations bill, on January 17, 2014 to provide funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2014.

A Continuing Resolution (CR) must be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. Generally, a CR funds agencies or programs for a month or two at the same funding level as the previous year. The main purpose of a CR is to keep the government running long enough for the Congress and President to work out an agreement on all 13 appropriations bills.

Time will tell whether the Continuing Resolution has now become the default method of funding, replacing agreement on 13 appropriations bills.

What do you think of Congress’ increasing reliance on the Continuing Resolution? As always, we would love to hear from you!

Women in Leadership Series: Norma Torres

Norma Torres

Could a woman whose parents sent her from Guatemala “on vacation”, become a U.S. Congresswoman?

It is quite possible with Norma Torres. Earlier this year, the current California State Senator announced her intention to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod.

As detailed in a recent Huffington Post article

“More than four decades ago in Guatemala, Torres’ parents told her she was going to the United States on a vacation. They declined to tell her she would not be coming back. Torres received a temporary visa and lived with her uncle in Whittier, California. She overstayed that visa, but her family helped her obtain legal residency while she was in her teens. She became an American citizen in the months leading up to the 1992 presidential election.”

Now 49, Torres is the favorite in a race between two Democratic candidates to represent a Los Angeles-area district in the House.

“In many ways, I see the decision these children have made … like the decision my parents made for me,” Torres is quoted as saying. “They wanted an opportunity for me to grow up and be a successful person.”

I think all can agree she has made good on her parents sacrifice. In addition to her support of humanitarian protects for the children who cross our borders seeking asylum, Torres also has a history of providing aid to the people of her community. In fact, she has served as a 9-1-1 emergency dispatcher, a City Councilmember, Mayor of the city of Pomona, California, Member of the State Assembly District 61 and District 52, and now as a California State Senator. Her campaign has been built around her record of representing the Pomona Valley and Inland Empire.

Promoted on her campaign website as accomplishments are:

– Working to secure billions in federal funding to helping families avoid foreclosure
– Fighting for better jobs for the Inland Empire
– Forcing state agencies to do a better job in enrolling our families for low cost health care

Congressional promises include:

– Fighting for better jobs, to protect families from the fallout from the housing crisis
– Improving local transportation infrastructure
– Protecting Medicare and Social Security, and
– Helping the Ontario Airport regain its footing as a hub of regional economic activity

What do you think of Norma Torres? A quick Google search will reveal more about her record.

If she were representing your state, would you vote for her? Why or why not?

Election Day Long Lines: Resource Allocation

Long Lines at the Polls

Is there a correlation between election day lines and resource allocations?

Yes – and minority voters are suffering as a result (or quite possibly by design). Research recently published by NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice focused on an issue that received much media attention on election day 2012 – incredibly long lines at the polls.

In the study, unmistakable patterns emerged:

– Voters in precincts with more minorities experienced longer waits. This mirrors findings from two prior studies, suggesting a genuine problem that needs to be addressed. For example, in South Carolina, the 10 precincts with the longest waits had, on average, more than twice the percentage of black registered voters (64 percent) than the statewide average (27 percent).

- Voters in precincts with higher percentages of minority voters tended to have fewer machines. This is the first multi-state study to assess voting machine allocation by race, and the findings are consistent with two county-level studies. In Maryland, by way of illustration, the 10 precincts with the lowest number of machines per voter had, on average, more than double the percentage of Latino voting age citizens (19 percent) as the statewide average (7 percent).

- Precincts with the longest lines had fewer machines, poll workers, or both. In Florida, for example, the 10 precincts with the longest lines had nearly half as many poll workers per voter as the statewide average.

- There is widespread non-compliance with existing state requirements setting resource allocation. Both Maryland and South Carolina set certain requirements for what polling places are supposed to provide voters, but only 25 percent of the precincts studied in South Carolina and 11 percent of the precincts in Maryland complied with these requirements.

In early 2013, President Barack Obama convened a bipartisan commission to address the problem of long lines and determine best practices for local election officials. According to the commission’s findings, 10 million people waited longer than half an hour to vote in 2012. The commission concluded that no voter should wait more than 30 minutes, and issued recommendations for election officials to improve the casting of ballots. Almost two years after the 2012 election, however, policymakers have done little to prevent long lines from recurring. This study offers fresh data to guide reform efforts.

Take a look at the full study here and let us know your thoughts.

Do you anticipate similar wait times for voters in 2014? As always, we want to hear from you!

Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Trayvon Martin & Countless Others: Where Do We Go From Here?

Hands Up Dont Shoot

First of all, our thoughts and prayers go out to the mother, father and family of Michael Brown. There are no words of comfort that can ease the loss of your beloved child. Though we did not know Michael, we are grateful for his life, and certainly his death is not in vain. Our hearts are broken as a nation and the world watches on.

There is no turning back the clock on the outpouring of anger and emotion that has swept across our streets and homes, particularly in Michael’s Ferguson community. There is also no turning back the clock on the demand for a change in the tactics of some law enforcement around the country. Countless young men and women have lost their lives arguably because they were instantly judged and sentenced to death merely by the color of their skin.

In 2014, this trial by skin color must change, and we are the ones here to change it. Many people through the years have asked what happened to the revolutionaries? Who among the people today will stand for a cause? Will the children ever know what generations past went through to give them the freedoms afforded today? I believe we are witnessing the answer. Crowds of youth refuse to go unheard. Children barely old enough to walk are marching along with their parents in Ferguson. The unchecked killing, harassment, disrespect and brutality of our young people across the nation IS the civil rights issue of our time.

So where do we go from here? While much media attention has been paid to what happens in Ferguson after dark, during the day, thousands exercise their first amendment right to peacefully assemble. Countless others across the nation march in solidarity, write letters in solidarity, sign petitions in solidarity, and get organized in solidarity.

Where do we go from here? We are living the answer. May our nation become better as a result.

May all life become valued as a result.

What are your thoughts on the Ferguson protests, and protests that are happening around the nation?

– Contributing Editor – H. Muhammad

Seeking Nominations: UN GEM-TECH Award

UN Gem-Tech Awards

Is someone or an organization in your community worthy of the GEM-TECH Award?

Women’s digital empowerment and their full participation in the information society is a key objective of UN Women and ITU. ITU (International Telecommunication Union) is the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Through the GEM-Tech Award, both UN bodies seek to create a platform for advancing women’s meaningful engagement with ICTs and their role as decision-makers and producers within this sector.

“In considering “gender equality mainstreaming” we are looking not only at ICT, government and development actors that are mainstreaming gender equality perspectives within their work, but also ICT and gender advocates that are seeking to “mainstream” gender equality into a larger context.

UN Women has prioritized women’s digital empowerment within all aspects of its work and the ITU Council at its 2013 session, adopted the ITU Gender Equality and Mainstreaming Policy (GEM). Realizing these goals presents many opportunities as well as challenges. While the potential is great and there are many examples of progress, there are also gaps and a need for increased attention, visibility, understanding, investment and action.”

Please note that this award is applicable for both women and men. For more information, please visit.

Who are you nominating? Let us know and we may feature your nominee on the People’s Place.

US-Africa Leaders Summit: Investing in the Next Generation

US Africa Summit

Have an interest in emerging markets?

You are not alone. In fact, countries across the African continent are in the process of reaping the benefits of emerging market investors. Governments around the globe have also raced to strengthen partnerships. Toward this end, over the next few days, President Obama will welcome leaders from across the African continent to the Nation’s Capital for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind.

The US-Africa Leaders Summit marks the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government. It builds on the President’s trip to Africa in the summer of 2013 and seeks to strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing regions. Specifically, the August 4-6 Summit will advance the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa and highlight America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people. At the same time, it will highlight the depth and breadth of the United States’ commitment to the African continent, advance our shared priorities and enable discussion of concrete ideas to deepen the partnership.

To view the program of events, and even watch some live via real-time streaming, visit here.

Do you agree that a summit of this kind is necessary at this time? What do you think? As always, we want to hear from you.

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