Saperstein: Inspired by the words of Pirke Avot "Do not separate yourself from the community" (2:5) that remind us of our obligation to others, we will continue to work with President Obama and Congress to meet the needs of all Americans.
January 29, 2014 Washington DC - Last night, President Obama used his State of the Union to focus attention on those Americans struggling most - particularly with unemployment and income inequality. Minimum wage workers are living below the poverty line and women continue to earn else than men for comparable jobs. We welcome the President's commitment to addressing these issues, including through his planned executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. It is time for Congress to do the same for all workers and raise the national minimum wage. President Obama also shined his spotlight on the climate crisis, the ongoing scourge of gun violence as well as the needs of returning veterans; all issues are working on vigorously. We also appreciated his call for the House to do its part to fix our broken immigration system and his words highlighting bipartisan support for ensuring the right to vote is protected for all Americans.
At the same time, the State of the Union speech did not include mention of issues of crucial importance to millions of Americans, namely the imperative of House passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Farm Bill - which passed today with its unfortunate $8 billion in cuts to SNAP - and the long-overdue Senate consideration of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Senate has passed ENDA and it is past time for the House to follow suit and recognize, as have the majority of Fortune 500 companies, that employment discrimination against LGBT workers is unacceptable. No individual's ability to get and keep a job should be determined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. At the same time, hunger continues to be a serious threat to our national well-being. This is true in the short term as men, women and children who do daily battle with food insecurity don't consistently know where their next meal will come from, and in the long term as today's hungry kids perform less well in school, setting them and our nation up for damage to our national growth and economy for decades to come.
Inspired by the words of Pirke Avot "Do not separate yourself from the community" (2:5) that remind us of our obligation to others, we will continue to work with President Obama and Congress to meet the needs of all Americans.