Ranking Member's Press

06.23.14

HELP Committee Senators Harkin, Alexander, Burr, and Casey Press CDC for Details About Possible Anthrax Exposure at CDC Lab

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Following a recent incident at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in which upwards of 75 staff may have been exposed to live anthrax, members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee today requested information from the agency about the lapse in safety protocols that led to the potential exposure, and asked for steps the CDC is taking to prevent future incidents. In a letter sent to CDC Director Tom Frieden, Committee Chairman Tom H… Continue Reading


06.23.14

HELP Committee Chairman Harkin Applauds White House Actions to Support Working Families

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded White House actions announced today to support working families. Among the actions taken is a Presidential Memorandum directing federal agencies to implement flexible workplace policies as much as possible, according to the White House. The Department of Labor will also provide pregnant workers with information about their rights in each state through a new intera… Continue Reading


06.20.14

Senate Agrees to Consider Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

WASHINGTON D.C.-Senate coauthors of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) today announced the Senate has reached agreement to consider the bill to improve the nation's workforce development system and said it could be voted on as early as next week. The bill, which was introduced by a bipartisan group of leaders from the House and Senate, would improve federal workforce development laws that have been overdue for reauthorization for over a decade. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), cha… Continue Reading


06.20.14

Harkin Welcomes Proposed Changes to Expand to Same-Sex Couples Rights Already Afforded to Other American Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement after the Obama Administration announced two administrative actions that will extend critical federal benefits to families headed by same-sex couples. The first announcement, from the Department of Labor (DOL), clarifies that an employee is eligible for leave to care for a same-sex spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act regardless of whether they live in a state that recognizes their marital status. The s… Continue Reading


06.20.14

Harkin, Hagan Introduce Reverse Transfer Bill to Help Boost Degree Attainment

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) announced that they have introduced the Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements to Empower (CREATE) Graduates Act, legislation that helps young people receive the degrees they have earned by encouraging states to establish or expand "reverse transfer" programs. These programs allow four-year colleges and universities to transfer credits back to… Continue Reading


06.18.14

Harkin, Eight Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Restore Overtime Protections for American Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, along with eight Senate Democrats, introduced legislation to restore overtime protections for low- and mid-wage salaried workers. The Restoring Overtime Pay for Working Americans Act would help to restore the 40-hour workweek for these workers. Today, only 12 percent of salaried workers are guaranteed overtime pay based on their salaries, compared to 65 percent in 19… Continue Reading


06.16.14

Harkin: Obama Executive Order Mirrors Senate Action to Ban Discrimination in the Workplace

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement today following an announcement that President Obama is directing his Administration to develop an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractor workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers. In November 2013, Harkin led the effort in the Senate to pass-on a bipartisan basis-the Employment Non-Discr… Continue Reading


06.11.14

Harkin Statement on Republican Obstruction of Bill to Ease Student Loan Debt

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, issued the following statement today after Republicans obstructed Senate consideration of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, a bill that would allow borrowers with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates currently offered to new borrowers and achieve much-needed savings for families across the country. "Millions of families … Continue Reading


06.10.14

On Eve of Senate Vote, Harkin Urges Support for Bill to Allow Borrowers to Refinance Student Loans

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of tomorrow's Senate vote on the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, a bill that would allow borrowers with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates currently offered to new borrowers and achieve much-needed savings for families across the country. Harkin also announced that he would introduce … Continue Reading


06.10.14

Senators Urge Department of Transportation to Finally Ban E-Cigarettes on Airplanes

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today in urging the Department of Transportation (DOT) to finally prohibit the use of e-cigarettes on airplanes. DOT first proposed a ban more than two years ago, but has delayed issuing a final regulation that would bar e-cig… Continue Reading


06.09.14

Harkin Welcomes Action from President Obama to Help Students Manage Federal Loan Debt

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement today welcoming an Executive Order from President Obama that will allow an additional five million borrowers with Federal Direct student loans to cap their monthly payments at just 10 percent of their income, according to the White House. "The average college student today is saddled with more than $29,000 in federal student loan debt. That… Continue Reading


06.06.14

Harkin Statement on Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group Recommendations

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today released the following statement in response to a report released by a federal, interagency Working Group tasked with making recommendations to improve chemical facility safety and security. The Working Group was formed as a result of an Executive Order from President Obama. "As the West, Texas disaster reminded us, keeping our nation's communities, workers, and firs… Continue Reading


06.05.14

Harkin, Hagan Work to Protect Servicemembers & Veterans in Pursuit of Higher Education

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) today introduced new legislation to protect servicemembers and veterans in response to the Justice Department's recent settlement with Sallie Mae, a student lending corporation that violated federal law and charged servicemembers excessive interest rates on their student loans. The Servicemember Higher Education Protection Act makes a number of updates and improvements to current law to better serve military families, including pro… Continue Reading


06.05.14

Harkin, Chair of HELP Committee, Applauds Senate Approval of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to Serve as Next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today applauded the confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Senate confirmed her nomination by a vote of 78 to 17. The HELP Committee held the Senate's first hearing for Burwell on May 8. "Through a dynamic career in both public service and private sector leadership, Sylvia Burwell has proven herself as an… Continue Reading


06.05.14

Praise for Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Improve America’s Workforce Development System

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Since a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators announced a deal to improve the nation's workforce development system through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a broad array of labor, business, and workforce development leaders, as well as governors and mayors from around the country, has expressed support for the proposal. Read a summary of the bill here. Excerpts from letters of support sent to the bipartisan, bicameral group are immediately below, and … Continue Reading


06.04.14

Senators Call on State Governors to Expand Medicaid Under Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.- U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today joined a group of 20 senators in calling on state governors to expand Medicaid in their states under the Affordable Care Act. In a letter to the 18 governors who have yet to undertake the expansion, the senators urged the governors to put aside their political differences and expand the Medicaid program. The letter asserts that by refusing to do so these governors … Continue Reading


06.02.14

Harkin: Senate Should Act on Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Following Supreme Court Decision in Bond

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The Senate should act to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) now that the Supreme Court has ruled in the case of Bond v. United States, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) said today. Harkin is the Senate author of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and has helped lead the fight in the Senate to ratify the CRPD. He serves as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. "The Supreme Court's ruling in Bond has rem… Continue Reading


05.22.14

Bicameral Group of Democratic Lawmakers Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Risky Banking Practices on College Campuses

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Lawmakers in both the Senate and House today introduced legislation to protect students from unfair banking practices involving campus-sponsored financial products and to preserve the integrity of federal student aid programs. These bills remove conflicts of interest and end kickbacks between financial institutions and schools, ensure that students are in control of their own financial aid and banking products, and provide much-needed transparency over campus-sponsored financia… Continue Reading


05.21.14

Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Announces Deal to Improve American Workforce Development System

After Months of Negotiations, Leaders from House, Senate Introduce "Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act" Current Federal Workforce Laws, Written in 1998, Have Been Overdue for Reauthorization for More Than Ten Years WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers announced that they have reached a deal to improve the nation's workforce development system through new legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The bill, which will now be considere… Continue Reading


05.20.14

Sens. Harkin, Franken, Roberts, Barrasso Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Rural Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Al Franken (D-MN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced a bipartisan bill to help rural communities address the challenges they face when it comes to providing quality health care. The Craig Thomas Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act (R-HoPE) would support the efforts of rural health care systems to provide innovative, sustainable health care solutions for patients in rural America. Specifically, the legislation would e… Continue Reading

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