A picture of Representative Sheila Jackson Lee
Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

About Rep. Sheila
  • The Congressional Progressive Caucus

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2014-01-09

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    JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his kind leadership, because it is kind leadership, and I am very privileged to be very proudly a member of the Progressive Caucus, serving as the vice chair liaison on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus to the Progressive Caucus and a member of the Executive Committee and have watched this caucus take on hard issues. First, of course, issues that dealt with the idea of minimum wage and the underpayment, if you will, of Federal contractors paying Federal employees who are contracted to them.

    We have understood the distinction of the 99ers versus the 1 percent and waged a strong battle to make sure that the 99 percent were heard. So today, I want to join the gentleman and say that time is running out. Just this week, as I indicated earlier today and the day before, those whose benefits were cut off on the 28th are receiving those notices or are receiving empty mailboxes just in time for the end of the month and the beginning of the monthly bills. Whether it is one's mortgage or rent, whether it is the utilities that one has to pay, whether it is care of one's elderly parent or children, I can assure you that the 1.3 million, 4,000 per week, 12,000 in Harris County, 66,000 in the State of Texas, are now confronting some very difficult times.

    Now, I think it should be known that when we say the term ``progressive,'' it is also a term that celebrates the greatness of America, its diversity, its opportunity and prosperity. I have not heard one of our members of the caucus in any way challenge prosperity, victory, or success. In fact, I am going to share with my colleagues what the Houston Chronicle put on the front page: ``Sales of million- dollar homes snowball here.'' That gives a false image of America, congratulating those citizens and families who are able because of the greatness of this Nation, because of the hard work of themselves and so many who contribute to the economy, because of the hard work of those who are now chronically unemployed or unemployed who contributed to society and want to contribute to society, they are able to be prosperous. It is good news for the real estate industry and my friends who are in that industry and good news for small businesses, but that clouds the issue and it allows people to falsely represent that all is well.

    The chronically unemployed number in the United States is higher than it has ever been. It is 2.6 percent, juxtaposed against a 7 percent unemployment rate. It varies across America.

    So I want to join the gentleman with a very loud, clarion voice, hopefully a voice of clarity, that you can have prosperity. We are a capitalistic society. There is good news in Houston. But at the same time, when I held an outreach press conference on December 31, fearing the worst, that there was a full house of people looking for work, people telling their stories of how long they looked for work, and the sadness of not being able to find work, and the faith community joining in and the social network community indicating they don't know how long they are going to last with this added number of individuals. Food banks, emergency food stamps and others, they didn't know how long they were going to last.

    It is imperative that we have, within these hours, movement by the other body, which we congratulate for making the first step. But I would like to say this should be an emergency, an emergency vote for a 3-month extension and then the opportunity to go forward on a more deliberative analysis of how we can fund the rest of the time.

    [[Page H123]] So I would hope--we voted today. Democrats voted to extend the unemployment. I hope that the Progressive Caucus' voice will be heard. I thank the gentleman because I want the 1.3 million and growing number to be able to have the same dignity as those who can celebrate the purchase of a million-dollar home, which we don't in any way challenge, but we realize that there are people who simply want to be able to make that rental payment or mortgage payment. They can do it. Although they are making ends meet, they can do it if we recognize the importance of giving them that transitional bridge. Pass the unemployment insurance benefit now.

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