H.R. 1; Women's Issues Are Top Concerns

— Heidi Sfiligoj, News Staff


The Coalition for Women’s AppointmentsThe Coalition for Women’s Appointments met at NASW’s offices on Jan. 29 to discuss possible nominees, among other things.

As the Obama administration took office and began moving forward on legislation to respond to the national economic crisis, NASW continued its advocacy work on behalf of social workers and their clients.

NASW sent out an action alert to members on the advocacy listserv who had Republican House members, urging them to write their representatives and ask them to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1), especially certain provisions included in the bill that are important to social workers. After the House passed the act on Jan. 28, NASW sent out another alert e-mail to members, requesting that they ask their Senator to back H.R. 1. NASW supports a number of provisions in H.R. 1, including a variety of funding expansions, a provision to create a $2,500 per student tax credit for the first four years of higher education, and assistance for workers hurt by the economy, such as $43 billion for increased unemployment benefits and job training. NASW also backs the provisions related to adoption of health IT and healthcare modernization, protection of vital Medicaid services, healthcare workforce supports, and veterans care, such as incentives to hire unemployed veterans and disconnected youth through work opportunity tax credits.

NASW continued its involvement in the Coalition for Women's Appointments, working to help more women be appointed to cabinet and executive positions in the new administration. Over the past few months, NASW has been meeting with others in the coalition to discuss potential nominees, criteria for the nominee to receive the coalition's support, and communicating NASW's support to the new administration. The full coalition met at NASW's offices on Jan. 29.

"NASW is pleased to be working with prominent women's advocacy groups on the Coalition for Women's Appointments to ensure that women have adequate representation at high levels of government. This sends an important message to women across the country and communicates the unique needs of women at the decision-making table," said NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark.

NASW, along with the YWCA, Older Women's League and the National Organization for Women, agreed to coordinate their work on appointments for Health and Human Services, creating a subcommittee, expanding the groups who participate, and hosting in-person and conference call meetings for the subcommittee.

In November and December, NASW signed on to letters calling for filling positions related to women's issues. NASW joined 50 national groups in signing a letter sent to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, advocating gender balance in executive appointments and the creation of a new Office on Women. "We urge you to create a Cabinet-level Office on Women that will deal not only with the status of women, but with the many inequities women face in our society, our nation, and our world. Such an office is even more necessary today, because of the increased disparities and backward movement of the past eight years," the letter states. NASW sent out an action alert to members, urging them to send a letter to the president asking him to create a Cabinet-level Office on Women.

Reforming health care is another one of NASW's priorities. NASW held a Health Care House Party on Jan. 15 to discuss options that should be incorporated into a health care reform effort and brainstorm ways to improve care, infrastructure and coverage.

"This health care discussion was important in bringing together the ideas of our social work staff on health care reform to inform the Obama administration," said Dina Kastner, senior field organizer at NASW.