08.03.21

Senate HELP Committee Advances Bipartisan Bills to Improve Suicide Prevention, Protect Pregnant Workers, and Support People with Disabilities

HELP Committee advances four bipartisan bills including the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, the STANDUP Act of 2021, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2021, and the Assistive Technology Act

 

HELP Committee votes 11-11 on nominations of David Weil to DOL and Catherine Lhamon to ED, both now await a full Senate vote on a motion to discharge their nominations

 

HELP Committee advances the nomination of Javier Ramirez to be the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, at a mark-up, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, advanced four bipartisan bills to help prevent suicide, ensure pregnant workers have reasonable accommodations, and help people with disabilities and older Americans access the assistive technology they need. Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the Committee for their bipartisan work and highlighted how each bill would support families across the country.

 

The committee advanced the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act by a vote of 19-2. The bill, which is led by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), would help end pregnancy discrimination and promote healthy pregnancies by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers that would help them keep working, stay healthy, and support their families.

 

“Too many pregnant workers still face pregnancy discrimination and are denied basic accommodations—like being able to sit or hold a water bottle—to ensure they can stay healthy and keep working to support themselves and their families. No one should be forced to decide between a healthy pregnancy and staying on the job—so we must pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act without delay,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I’m grateful for the hard work of Senators Casey and Cassidy, who have pushed for years to get this bill done. I’m glad to see bipartisan support for this critical legislation and I’ll keep fighting until it gets signed into law.”

 

The committee also advanced the Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2021 and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2021 by voice vote. The STANDUP Act, which was led by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), encourages states to implement suicide awareness and prevention training in schools. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act, which was led by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), will help improve and strengthen the suicide prevention hotline to provide quality support for callers.  

 

“This pandemic has put a spotlight on another public health crisis as well—the suicide epidemic. We have a long way to go to fully meet the mental health needs of people across the country—but the legislation we are passing today represents important progress. These bills will raise awareness about prevention efforts, expand access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and ultimately save lives,” Senator Murray said. “I’m going to push to get these bills across the finish line, and then I’m going to keep pushing for more action to address our nation’s mental health crisis.”

 

The committee advanced the 21st Century Assistive Technology (AT) Act by voice vote. The AT Act, which was led by Senators Casey, Hassan, Susan Collins (R-ME), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), will help increase access to assistive technology devices—including wheel chair ramps, hearing aids, screen readers, and other critical supports—for people with disabilities.

 

“People with disabilities deserve the support and technology they need to live fully in their communities—and that means ensuring wheelchair ramps, screen readers, hearing aids, and other assistive technologies are available for those who need them,” said Senator Murray. “Senators Casey, Hassan, Collins and Cramer have worked hard on this legislation, and I’m glad to see it receive bipartisan support. We must keep fighting to build a more inclusive, accessible country—and assistive technology is a critical piece of that effort.”

 

Additionally, the HELP Committee also voted on three nominations for the Departments of Education (ED) and Labor (DOL) and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Senator Murray reiterated her strong support for the nominees, emphasizing that each will play a critical role in rebuilding a workforce and education system that works for everyone.

 

“Each of these nominees are highly qualified for the roles they’ve been nominated for,” said Senator Murray. “They will ensure that workers and students across the country are protected, and that our workforce and education systems treat everyone with the fairness they deserve.”

 

The HELP Committee voted 11-11 on advancing the nomination of Catherine Lhamon to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at ED. Because of the 11-11 vote, the Committee will transmit a notice of a tie vote to the Secretary of the Senate. The nomination will now await a motion to discharge the nomination in a vote by the full Senate.

 

The HELP Committee voted 11-11 on advancing the nomination of David Weil to be the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at DOL. Because of the 11-11 vote, the Committee will transmit a notice of a tie vote to the Secretary of the Senate. The nomination will now await a motion to discharge the nomination in a vote by the full Senate.

 

The HELP Committee advanced the nomination of Javier Ramirez to be the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service by voice vote.

 

###