Congressional Republicans have made it their mission to control the U.S. from the minority and obstruct the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats at every turn.
AFL-CIO Director of Government Affairs Bill Samuel discussed how Democrats are working around obstruction tactics, an ongoing coal miner strike in Alabama and what it is like getting back into work after COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted.
Coal miners strike
Samuel said the striking coal miners in Alabama need to stay strong and not let up. He likened it to a strike he was a part of in the 1980’s.
The strike he referenced was a nearly year long and revolved around Pittston Coal Company cutting healthcare benefits for 1,500 retirees, widows and disabled coal miners. The company would not let up until the then Republican Secretary of Labor stepped in and got the company to return to the negotiating table.
Samuel said the strike attracted national attention, with labor leaders from throughout the U.S. flying in and subsequently being arrested for their involvement in the strike. Following plenty of civil disobedience, the union’s demands were met and the strike ended.
President Biden’s agenda
Samuel said President Biden needs to get his infrastructure plan passed soon. While infrastructure used to be bipartisan, today’s Republicans have offered a much smaller package that will likely offer a fraction of the projects.
Republicans like to leave infrastructure up to state lawmakers to decide on. However, some areas are falling so far behind that a federal plan is needed.
On other agenda items, Republicans have shown no willingness to work with Democrats. Republican leaders such as Senator Mitch McConnell have stated they will block the Biden administration on all fronts. This led Samuel to urge Democrats to get rid of the filibuster. It is undemocratic to allow the minority party to hold the majority of Americans hostage.
Returning to work
As more Americans are vaccinated, the AFL-CIO and other Washington D.C. area offices are reopening to employees.
Samuel said it is a nice change of pace to see coworkers and others in the office. Additionally, Capitol Hill meetings have resumed. Just yesterday Samuel and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka met with lawmakers in-person to discuss legislative goals and more.