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Ed-Insider May 27, 2005


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May 27, 2005

Last-Minute Compromise Averts 'Nuclear' Vote

With the Senate just hours away from pulling the trigger on the "nuclear option," a moderate group of seven Republicans and seven Democrats struck a compromise Monday, May 23, to preserve the Senate's long-standing tradition of open debate and discourse in the judicial nomination process. The compromise was made possible in part by countless phone calls, letters and e-mails to Senators from voters, including NEA members, who believe that judges must be free not to adhere to the political agenda of a particular party.

The agreement, which brought to an end for the time being an attempt by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to take away the right to scrutinize judicial nominees carefully, upholds our Constitution's principle of checks and balances and the filibuster, or unlimited debate. The agreement urges President Bush to consult and cooperate with both parties before naming future court nominees.

Had the nuclear option been triggered, it would have given the majority party unlimited power to seat judges who place ideological beliefs before legal precedent. At stake most immediately is the balance of the U.S. Supreme Court, where a vacancy is expected as early as this summer. Tilting the highest court's balance increases the likelihood of private school vouchers being ruled constitutional.

Stay tuned for up-to-the-minute developments in NEA's "Legislative Update."

Social Security Privatization Plan To Go to Senate Floor by August

The drive by President Bush and Republican leaders in Congress to privatize Social Security will go to the Senate floor before the August recess, despite opposition by a growing majority of Americans. The schedule for Senate action was announced by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Finance Committee, at a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans May 25.

The announcement came hours after the latest Finance Committee hearing on Social Security reform. At the hearing, three of the five witnesses, including the director of the Congressional Budget Office, agreed that creating private stock market accounts by diverting money from the Social Security Trust Fund would worsen the social insurance program's future financial shortfall.

NEA supports Social Security reform that is fair and ensures at a minimum the same level of benefits provided by the existing system. Most NEA members, like the majority of middle class Americans, rely on Social Security to anchor their retirement security. The President's privatization proposal jeopardizes the children who receive survivor benefits and persons with disabilities who rely on Social Security.

5-Minute Activist

  • Stop Social Security privatization. Send a petition to Congress and the White House. NEA members and friends have sent more than 74,000 petitions, stating "Don't gamble with my future!"

  • Educate your friends, colleagues and families by forwarding them this message and asking them to sign a petition.

  • Urge your Senators and Representatives to cosponsor the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 147/S. 619), which would fully repeal both the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision.
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