Political briefs – June 28


BROWN ANNOUNCES BILL TO RESTORE THE FULL PROTECTIONS OF THE ORIGINAL VOTING RIGHTS ACT – On the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 5-4 ruling on Shelby County vs. Holder that gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced his cosponsorship of legislation to restore and expand protections struck down by the Supreme Court.

“There is no greater symbol of our democracy than the right to vote,” Brown said. “As a former Secretary of State, I believe that we should breaking down barriers to the ballot box, not creating them. This legislation would restore voter protections that have been bipartisan for years and help stop voting discrimination before it happens.”

Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act has protected the right of every American registered to vote. Congress has repeatedly voted on a bipartisan basis to renew provisions of the Voting Rights Act which requires the Department of Justice to approve any changes to voting procedures by states and municipalities with a history of discriminatory voting laws and policies. For more than 45 years, this preclearance requirement has protected the rights of millions of eligible voters, and has been upheld by the Supreme Court on four separate occasions. But in 2013, the Supreme Court ended existing preclearance requirements and ruled that Congress must update the list of jurisdictions subject to this requirement. As a result of this ruling, voters across the country are once again vulnerable to discriminatory election laws.

The Voting Rights Reconstruction Act of 2015 would create a new coverage formula to determine which states are in violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and would require covered states and localities to obtain federal preclearance before implementing voting changes. The bill would also grant the U.S. Attorney General the authority to certify and request federal election observers nationwide.

BROWN AND PORTMAN’S BILL TO STRENGTHEN TRADE ENFORCEMENT FOR OHIO STEEL COMPANIES HEADED TO THE PRESIDENT’S DESK – The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that includes the Leveling the Playing Field Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) that will give U.S. companies – like the steel industry – new tools to fight against unfair trade practices. Now the bill is headed to President Obama’s desk to become law.

“American workers can compete with anyone in the world – but they need a level playing field,” said Brown. “Under this law, companies in the U.S. will be better equipped to settle the score against trade cheats who don’t play fair. This will create a fairer marketplace and help avoid layoffs like those we’ve seen in our steel industry.”

“I’m pleased these provisions to help Ohio steelworkers will now become law,” said Portman. “We must crack down on countries that break the rules, so our workers can get a fair shake in the global market. These measures ensure that Ohio workers can remain globally competitive by holding foreign countries accountable when they skirt the rules by illegally underselling or subsidizing imports.”

“On behalf of ArcelorMittal, I would like to thank Senator Brown and Senator Portman for their efforts to improve the effectiveness of U.S. trade remedy laws,” said Jim Baske, Chief Executive Officer, ArcelorMittal North America Flat Rolled. “Our facilities and our workers are positioned to compete with anyone in the world, as long as there is a level playing field supported by fair U.S. trade laws. It’s reassuring to have our Senators standing up for us on this important issue.”

FOLLOWING THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE GI BILL, BROWN ANNOUNCES BILL TO PROTECT SERVICEMEMBERS AND VETERANS FROM EXPLOITATION BY FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES – Following the June 23 anniversary of the GI Bill, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced his cosponsorship of the Military and Veterans Education Protection Act, legislation to help stop for-profit education companies from targeting servicemembers and veterans. Thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, military servicemembers and veterans receive educational benefits they can use to attend college—but because of a loophole in federal law, for-profit education companies have been incentivized to take advantage of men and women in uniform by aggressively targeting them with deceptive and misleading marketing and recruitment pitches.

“Veterans seeking a quality college education and career readiness should not have to navigate aggressive recruitment tactics by institutions who often fail to provide genuine opportunities for advancement,” Brown said. “We must protect our nation’s heroes by closing the loopholes that allow for-profit education companies to exploit those who have served our country.”

Under the 90/10 rule, for-profit education companies can receive no more than 90 percent of their operating revenue from federal student loans and grants. However, U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs educational benefits are exempt from this rule, which has led to predatory marketing and recruitment efforts targeted at servicemembers and veterans.

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