Last updated on March 11, 2021
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) erupted Tuesday on the House floor, imploring his Republican colleagues to stop their obsession with stoking culture wars and shift focus to helping Democrats pass legislation to aid Americans struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.“Stop talking about Dr. Seuss and start working with us on behalf of the American workers!” he shouted, referring to conservative outrage after the Dr. Seuss Foundation pulled six of its books that it deemed outdated and racially insensitive.Republicans, Fox News and right-wing pundits have dedicated considerable time to beefing about it, blaming Democrats, “cancel culture” and the left for the foundation’s decision to remove its own products. Last week, in an apparent protest, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made a five-minute video of himself reading “Green Eggs and Ham,” which was not one of the books removed.The House moved Tuesday to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, legislation that would strengthen the rights of workers’ unions. It’s expected to pass in the Democratic-led House but faces a likely defeat in the Senate.
You can watch it here:
The Democrat’s fiery speech, which went viral on Twitter with one video drawing more than 2 million views by early Wednesday, slammed conservatives who last week blamed “cancel culture” for a publisher’s decision to stop producing a handful of Seuss books with racist imagery but refused to consider the Pro Act on Tuesday.“In the late ’70s, a CEO made 35 times the worker. Today it’s three [hundred] to 400 times the worker,” Ryan said. “And our friends on the other side [are] running around with their hair on fire.”Republicans, though, quickly borrowed from Ryan’s presidential debate tactics to respond to the raucous speech. “Mr. Speaker, I’m using my inside voice,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said immediately after Ryan’s address.The viral moment highlighted how culture war disputes — from “cancel culture” to polarizing responses about the Capitol riot — fueled several tense exchanges on the U.S. House floor on Tuesday as lawmakers debated the Pro Act.
The US House of Representatives has officially passed a sweeping, bipartisan labor bill, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Cheered by unions and disliked by businesses, the bill likely cannot pass the Senate without filibuster reform.
The bill passed the House Tuesday night on a vote of 225-206. The bill gained the support of five House Republicans, and was co-sponsored by three Republicans: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey.
If enacted into law, the PRO Act would be one of the most dramatic changes to US labor law in decades. One of the bill’s most significant provisions is a policy that would override state right-to-work laws that weaken unions by letting unionized workers not pay dues. It would also create tougher penalties for employers who interfere in employees’ efforts to unionize.
Should these penalties work as designed, they would remove a major barrier to unionization, Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, told Vox in a recent interview.
“It’s the workers facing an uneven playing field when they try to assert their right to form a union,” Appelbaum said. “The employer has all sorts of opportunities to intimidate workers and to interfere with their desire to have a fair choice.”
Finally, the bill would give independent contractors and gig workers the right to collectively bargain alongside employees. There has been some pushback to this provision from businesses — and independent contractors themselves, who are afraid it could restrict their ability to continue to freelance. But House Democrats argue the bill would not restrict an independent contractors’ flexibility.
The House passed Democrats’ wide-ranging overhaul of labor laws Tuesday, inching President Joe Biden closer to fulfilling a campaign promise and coinciding with Amazon workers’ ongoing push to unionize an Alabama warehouse.
But the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which advanced mostly along party lines, is unlikely to win the 60 votes needed for passage in the narrowly controlled Senate. And already, some union leaders — who hold outsize sway in the Biden administration — are amping up pressure on Democrats to eliminate the filibuster so they can see one of their top priorities enacted.“We’re not going to let a few people stop it from happening,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said. “Its time has come. Its time is long past due to be enacted. And we’ll do it.”
“Everything is on the table so far as we’re concerned.”
Ryan hasn’t announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate yet but he’s working on building momentum. Received this e-mail from Ryan’s campaign yesterday:
Did you see Tim's speech?
American workers are suffering due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet all the Republican party wants to talk about is Dr. Suess and Mr. Potato Head. Tim passionately advocated for the needs of the American workers over the partisan games Republicans are choosing to play.
If we want to see impactful legislation passed instead of partisan gridlock, we MUST flip this Senate seat in 2022.
Ohio has a chance to elect a leader who will fight for ALL Americans. Can Tim count on you to chip in and help flip this open Senate seat blue? As Tim considers a Senate bid, let's show him our support by making a contribution today.
All eyes are on Ohio. This seat is crucial in maintaining our Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate and passing legislation that will actually help American workers. Tim Ryan is the leader the working people of Ohio need – someone who will quite literally lose his voice fighting for something he believes in.
– Team Ryan
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