News from the Hill – August 2009

Congress at home for August Recess

Members of Congress are in their home districts for the August recess through September 7.

Sonia Sotomayor wins Senate Confirmation to the Supreme Court and is Sworn in

On August 6, Sonia Sotomayor won Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court, making her the 111th Supreme Court Justice and the third woman Justice. She is the first Latina to serve on the Court. Sotomayor was confirmed in a 68-31 vote with all Democrats voting for her along with 9 Republicans. Senator Edward Kennedy was not present for the vote, but supported Sotomayor. On August 8, Sotomayor was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice. NASW supported Sotomayor’s nomination and confirmation. See the reception for Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor at the White House.

Hate Crimes Legislation Passes Senate

The Senate passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S. 909) Amendment on July 16 by a 63-28 vote. The measure, attached to the current Department of Defense authorization bill, would strengthen the federal response to hate crimes. The House passed a companion bill in April. The two bills still need to be reconciled in a conference committee. Thanks to the 1,766 people who wrote to their Senators about this bill. You can see the alert on our Web site.

Health Care Reform Dominates work in Congress

Over the past month the House and Senate Committees have reported out health care reform legislation. The Energy and Commerce Committee, Ways and Means Committee and Education and Labor Committee reported out America’s Affordable Health Choice Act of 2009, H.R. 3200. On the Senate side, the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee reported out the Affordable Health Choices Act. The Senate Finance Committee is still working on their bill. Senator Grassley has indicated that he wants to take out the end of life planning provision in the bill. For the latest information on Health Care Reform, visit our Web page.

Human Needs Hero Event

On July 29, NASW supported the Coalition on Human Needs Human Needs Hero event that honored social worker, Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs. A number of individuals spoke about Debbie’s commitment to human needs including social worker Dr. Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist for Vice President Joe Biden.

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