- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2020

While the political jockeying gets more attention, candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential race are advancing serious policy proposals. The Washington Times takes a weekly look at some of them that may have flown under the radar.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday released a set of government proposals that included a pledge to fill at least 50% of her Cabinet and senior leadership team with women and “non binary” people.

She also said she would make sure that LGBTQ people are represented across the government, including in leadership roles, and would require every federal agency to incorporate diversity as part of their “core strategic plan.”

“We need people who are passionate about the mission of their agencies, deeply understand the needs and experiences of all Americans, and reflect the diversity of the American people,” she said on her campaign website.

She also laid out specific requirements for her top-level appointments, including a labor secretary who has been a labor leader, an agriculture secretary who has “a demonstrated commitment to advocating for black farmers” and antitrust officials who will “aggressively scrutinize” mergers.

Ms. Warren also laid out strict rules on lobbying for government workers.

Senior members of her administration, including Cabinet officials, would have to pledge never to accept a lobbying appointment after they leave the government.

Other members would have to pledge not to lobby their former office or agency for two years after they leave the administration — six years for corporate lobbyists — or until the administration ends, whichever is longer.

Sanders on graduate student worker unions

Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont announced legislation Wednesday aimed at protecting the collective bargaining rights of graduate student workers and researchers.

The bill would ban the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from enacting a new rule that would make it more difficult for graduate student workers to unionize.

Mr. Sanders said that too many Americans employed in higher education are working two or three jobs just to get by.

“Stronger unions and worker protections are a key part of solving this crisis in our colleges and universities,” he said. “But instead of protecting graduate workers, the National Labor Relations Board is trying to strip them of their rights.”

The NLRB’s rule would declare that students who perform education-related services at a private university are not “employees” protected by the National Labor Relations Act.

It would reverse a 2016 NLRB ruling related to graduate students at Columbia University that said student assistants working at private colleges and universities are employees under the NLRA.

Mr. Sanders and about a dozen other senators, including Ms. Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, another 2020 rival, wrote a letter to the NLRB last week asking them to stop moving forward on the rule.

Bloomberg on infrastructure

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a plan Wednesday that would plow more than $1 trillion into fixing the nation’s infrastructure.

Mr. Bloomberg’s plan calls for repairing 240,000 miles of roads and 16,000 bridges by 2025, completing three high-speed rail corridors by 2030, and building “fast rail links” to 10 of the busiest U.S. airports by 2030.

“President Trump has done nothing on infrastructure — except break promises,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

Mr. Bloomberg wants to create a first-ever “national map” that traces all road, rail, air and freight routes to try to identify gaps.

The plan also calls for $100 billion in annual Treasury credit authority to back improvements to building and transportation infrastructure in an effort to cut carbon pollution.

He’s aiming to have an electric vehicle charging station every 50 miles on highways.

The plan also would put $100 billion over 10 years into efforts to expand clean drinking water in the wake of recent water crises in Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey.

Patrick on ‘equity agenda’ for black Americans

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday rolled out what his campaign called an “equity agenda” for black Americans that included support for reparations to descendants of slaves.

Specifically, Mr. Patrick supports resolutions being pushed in Congress that would establish a commission to study reparations.

“The American Dream remains further out of reach of black Americans than other Americans, and because of that, America has not fulfilled her promise,” Mr. Patrick said as he announced the proposal on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Mr. Patrick, the only remaining black candidate among the dozen Democratic contenders, also wants to boost funding for business incubators in minority communities, strengthen hate crime laws, and direct the Justice Department to pursue violations of civil rights laws. He also would establish a national standard governing the use of force in policing and push for better data collection on police interactions.

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