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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Lawmakers rally for Social Security, federal budget

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Thursday, February 15, 2024   

Lawmakers and union leaders are calling on Congress for fiscal changes during the year. Along with conversations about the budget and fair pay, some lawmakers want more attention to Social Security.

The 2023 Social Security Trustee report showed trust-fund reserves could be depleted in 2034, meaning only 80% of benefits would get paid. It will fall to Congress and the White House to resolve it, but some are uncertain how it can occur given split opinions on Social Security.

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., spoke at a rally about how taking action on Social Security speaks volumes.

"What we need is a vote in Congress on Social Security 2100 and not only extend solvency, but enhance benefits for the more than 70 million people," Larson contended.

Social Security 2100 is a bill Larson introduced to put reforms in place such as increasing benefits 2% across the board for all beneficiaries, restoring student benefits up to age 26, and improving the cost-of-living adjustment to reflect inflation. Average monthly amounts for single people are $1,700 per month but average rent prices in Connecticut are around $1,600.

Aside from Social Security, rallying lawmakers were urging their colleagues to pass a full budget next month. Months of negotiations in 2023 led to several continuing resolutions. The current two-tier continuing resolution has part of the federal government run out of funding on March 1, and other parts on March 8.

Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., said now is an inopportune time for a shutdown.

"We can't shut down any part of it at this point," Frost argued. "Not with the House crisis we have right now. Not with our veterans being left out right now. Not with retirees needing what they need right now. "

Lawmakers need to keep certain Fiscal Responsibility Act deadlines in mind. Breaching discretionary spending limits established in the bill could trigger sequestration cuts. In this case, the Office of Management and Budget has said if a budget is not in place by April 30, widespread cuts across certain federal programs will be made.

References:  
State data AARP July 2022

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