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Back to Work, Congress; Hillary and our Allies

September 07, 2011

CONGRESS COMES BACK TO WORK. WE HOPE.

Goodbye summer! We've been through hurricanes and flooding, an earthquake, and a congressional majority that seems more interested in playing politics than working to address America's challenges.

This week, we'll hear President Obama speak about our #1 priority; while the "Supercommittee" is tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in savings over ten years. Here are the questions we're asking:

- How will Congress respond to the President's jobs proposals; will we see a constructive debate and bipartisan action – or a return to the deliberate gridlock of the debt ceiling debate?

- The "Supercommittee" must report by November 23rd. What will be the process by which it considers options? When will we see the recommendations, and what be the impact on America's most vulnerable?

Are representatives or Senators from your state on the Supercommittee – and if they are, have you told them what you think must be our budget priorities? It's been a while since the committee was formed; here are the members:

Sen. Max Baucus (MT), Sen. John Kerry (MA), Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ), Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Sen. Rob Portman (OH), Sen. Pat Toomey (PA) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA), Rep Dave Camp (MI), Rep. Jim Clyburn (SC), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD), Rep. Fred Upton (MI).

HERVOTE REMINDS US OF WHAT'S AT STAKE

Along with many other organizations and leaders, No Limits Foundation celebrated Women's Equality Day on August 26th, marking enactment of the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Each year we reflect on the decades-long effort that involved imprisonment, death and life-long commitments of suffragists working to extend voting rights to half the population.

This year, in recognition of Women's Equality Day, women's organizations across the country launched HERvotes, an effort that highlights the importance of getting women to the polls next year and every year. There is so much to do - like passing the Paycheck Fairness Act - and so much more in danger of being undone! For example, Title X, The National Family Planning Program is being eroded on the state level in many states across the nation, in which bills to defund Planned Parenthood and other women's health clinics are being signed into law. Medicare and Medicaid have been threatened with destructive budgets from the U.S. House of Representatives. These attacks remind us to ensure our voices are heard at the ballot box.

Hillary Leads

This summer, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been working to maintain alliances, support pro-democracy forces in Libya, and in Syria, and address the terrible famine in the Horn of Africa.

"A great deal of work lies ahead to build a stable, unified, and free Libya..." Secretary Clinton said last week in Paris. "The challenges may be formidable, but so is the progress we have already seen. We have stood with the Libyan people in their moment of need and we must continue to stand with them for the foreseeable future."

We've seen the tragic images from the drought-ridden eastern Horn of Africa, where more than 12 million people are in urgent need of food, water, and medical care. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Dr. Jill Biden traveled to the region last month, highlighting the commitment of the U.S. Government - the largest donor to the region.

Questioned by CBS' Scott Pelley on whether, in these difficult economic times, the United States can afford to offer support for Africa, Secretary Clinton said: "I would say look at these pictures. And the one thing that Americans are so well known for, not only through our government but through our religious faith-based institutions, through private charities, through individual giving, is our heart... That's part of the DNA of the American character. We certainly can afford to do what is necessary now."

"Obviously, we're all having to tighten our belts in this tough budgetary climate, but I have the great honor of heading the State Department and USAID, our two civilian agencies that – we don't carry weapons; we carry food and we negotiate treaties, we try to help governments get better. It's an insurance policy both against tragedy happening, but it's also our way of responding when the inevitable – because given human nature, we're going to face these kinds of terrible calamities – that we show who we are as a people."

See the full interview here.

Food security programs like the Feed the Future Initiative have drastically reduced the impact of the drought. When speaking at the International Food Policy Research Institute, Secretary Clinton said, "The last time a drought of this magnitude struck Ethiopia, in 2002 and 2003, more than 13 million people faced starvation. Today, fewer than 5 million do. Now, that is still an unacceptably large number, but it is also an astonishing improvement in a relatively short period of time. And it is evidence that investments in food security can pay off powerfully."

Read the full speech here.

2012 IS GOING TO BE A BIG DEAL

As you know, No Limits is a non-partisan, non-political organization. We've worked to stay focused on the issues that matter, in our lives and in our country's future; and to give you information that you can use to make a difference.

In the last three years, we've talked about health care, including women's health care; about economic policies for middle-class families; making sure our food is safe and our communities strong; and that every American is valued and respected. We've followed our great Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she works around the world, to build and strengthen alliances, and to support human rights.

Now, as we consider plans for the coming year, we are thinking about what will have the biggest impact for issues that are so important to us all. One thing is already clear: whatever issues are your priority, the decisions to be made in 2012 call for every one of us to be fully engaged!

HONORING THE MEMORY OF 9/11

This Sunday, September 11, 2011, marks the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. We honor the memories of those who were lost or injured: those working in the buildings themselves or on the planes which were used as weapons; the firefighters and first responders who endangered their own lives to save others - on that day and later at Ground Zero and across the nation. And we are reminded, today and today every day, of the courage and commitment of all those who are at work today to keep us safe, here at home and around the world.

LAST WORD

"What the champions of suffrage understood was that the vote is not just a symbol of our equality, but that it can be if used, a guarantee of results... And if we are going to finish the work begun here, we must exercise our right to vote in every election we are eligible to vote in."

- Hillary Rodham Clinton, celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the First Women's Rights Convention, Seneca Falls, NY, 1998.

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