Bashana haba’ah, In the New Year to Come (Part 2)
As we close the book on 2013 and turn to welcome a new year, the 2013-2014 Eisendrath Legislative Assistants are wrapping up their first four months at the Religious Action Center, filled with challenges, successes, new adventures, numerous trips to Starbucks and a lot of fun! Looking towards the next weeks and months, a new year, the LA’s compiled a little “wish-list” for what they hope our nation can achieve. If you missed it, you can read part 1 here.
The Minimum Wage Fairness Act would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and give 30 million Americans a raise. Working full time on the current minimum wage is not enough to keep even a family of two above the poverty line, but this legislation would give an opportunity to a minimum wage worker to support a family of three above the poverty line—not ideal, but better than the status quo.
Unfortunately, federal unemployment insurance will also expire at the end of this week unless Congress extends the benefit. Hopefully, Congress will retroactively renew it for another year when they come back in January. Without renewal, 5 million Americans will fall into poverty and it could undo all the economic benefits from reducing sequestration cuts.
I sincerely hope that Congress will pass common-sense measures to curb gun violence in our country. An estimated 40% of gun purchases take place without a Brady Background check; we must ask our lawmakers to bring back and pass the Toomey-Manchin compromise that will close this dangerous loophole in federal law.
In 2014, the United States Senate must support people with disabilities worldwide, demonstrate moral leadership, and ratify the UN Treaty on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I hope that the 650 million people living with a disability, some 10% of the world’s population, can begin to have their needs met, both in terms of tangible changes we can make by making places accessible and closing the employment gap between people with and without disabilities, and in terms of intangible changes we can make by making our communities more open, accepting, and inclusive.
Finally, I wish that the negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians are fruitful and that we see an end to violence and vitriol in the Middle East and a beginning of peace and prosperity. I wish Secretary Kerry, Martin Indyk, Tzipi Livni, Saeb Erekat, and all the leaders of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority vision, fortitude and resolve as they continue their talks in 2014.