Aparna Kumar,

Issued December 23, 2022

SEIU’s Henry: 2023 federal budget deal takes major steps forward for working families

Congress must still pass protections for dreamers and other immigrant workers

WASHINGTON, DC - Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement after Congress passed a $1.7 trillion government spending bill:

“While we are disappointed that Republicans in Congress again blocked any meaningful bipartisan measures on immigration reform during this session, SEIU members are pleased that this government spending bill includes crucial funding for workplace protections and reflects the values of families of all income levels who continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a worker organizing wave sweeps the country, the National Labor Relations Board will have more resources to ensure employers are held accountable when they violate workers’ rights to stand together and speak out for safer working conditions, respect on the job and a seat at the table. By increasing NLRB funding for the first time in nine years, the agency can more swiftly investigate and enforce labor laws.

Working parents and child care providers applaud the desperately needed investments in the Child Care and Development Block Grant. This funding boost will enable more families to access affordable, high-quality early childhood education while helping to build a more sustainable childcare workforce with better wages and professional development for teachers.

We are celebrating the fact that this spending bill includes the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act so that pregnant and postpartum workers can get basic accommodations to keep them safe. This is a significant win for all working families. Working people should not have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and keeping their jobs. We are also pleased at the passage of the PUMP Act to ensure more workers can express breast milk while on the job, and we will continue to support the inclusion of all workers in that bill.

This spending bill also recognizes that working people and families are still feeling the health and economic impacts of extreme weather events in Puerto Rico by extending the current federal matching rate for Medicaid for the next five years. This funding allows Puerto Ricans to remain on the island and rebuild their communities.

Given the attacks on our democracy, the funding included for modernizing the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 could not be more critical. It will safeguard future elections by upholding the will of the people and securing the peaceful transfer of power.

This spending bill is a major step forward, and we are relieved that several harmful amendments such as the ones extending Title 42 restrictions on asylum were defeated by the Senate. But Congress needs to do much more to deliver for working people. It is a sad fact that Republicans blocked relief for dreamers, farmworkers and other essential workers, and even failed to include a path forward for Afghan refugees who are stranded here after having supported our troops.

As working people fight for unions for all, we expect congressional leaders to stand with us by taking immediate action in the new year on our most pressing legislative priorities. We call upon them to create a solution for people who came to this country as children and have lived here all their lives and to finally deliver on voting rights so that we can have an economy and a government that truly works for all of us.”