Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Labor Hero

The following is from Congressman Rush Holt's newsletter

When Mary T. Norton was elected to Congress in 1925 from New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, she was only the fifth woman elected to the House, and the first female Democrat.  She was the first of only two women to represent the 12th District. (Florence Dwyer was the second.) Altogether only five women have represented New Jersey in Congress. In her congressional career, “Battling Mary” served as chair of four committees, most notably the House Committee on Labor from 1937 to 1946, where she helped enact the groundbreaking Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 – which established the 40-hour work week, outlawed child labor, and established the first federal minimum wage – and fought for equal pay for women. That struggle for fair wages and equal pay for equal work continues.

White House Report on Antibiotics

Recently the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released its report on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance, a problem of growing concern to the medical and scientific community. Since the onset of widespread use of antibiotics in the 1940’s many infections that were often fatal are simply cured. In recent years, though, doctors and researchers have seen a trend: bacteria develop resistances to these lifesaving antibiotics, and people die as a result. 

Recently, the number of bacteria that are resistant to some - or in a few cases all - of the commercially available antibiotics has risen. There is a troubling trend of overuse by both the medical and agricultural community, which has further exacerbated the issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 50 percent of prescribed antibiotics in the U.S. are at best not optimally prescribed, or at worst not needed at all. In addition, the overuse of antibiotics in the agricultural community has led to an additional spike in antibiotic resistant bacteria, which harm human health.

Bacteria continually evolve so we must invest in research for new antibiotics. However, to exacerbate the risk to humans by selecting for resistant strains through overuse of antibiotics is irresponsible. The PCAST report brings attention to the deadly seriousness of the problem, and the report contains numerous recommendations about such things as detection of resistant bacteria and more research, although I think the report could have been stronger in condemning the overuse.

My Mailbag

I like to share with you occasionally some of the letters, emails, and phone calls I receive about various issues. It may be instructive to know the huge range of concerns of your neighbors in the 12th District. Here are several communications:

Roslyn from Monroe wrote about the recent Supreme Court ruling on Hobby Lobby, and expressed her concern that the ruling opened the door for private companies to use religion to discriminate against female workers and dependents. I let Roslyn know that I am a cosponsor of legislation that would override the Supreme Court’s decision and reinstate the right to contraceptive coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act – for all women, regardless of where they work.

Gertrude from Hopewell e-mailed to support the EPA’s proposal to protect clean water by closing polluter loopholes that have left drinking water for more than 1 in 3 Americans at risk. I wrote back to let Gertrude know of my support for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Clean Water Rule, which will identify and protect interconnected wetlands and streams vital for downstream communities.

John in Hightstown wrote that the granting of US citizenship to children born in the US to foreign nationals is more generous than the practice in some other countries and should be stopped. I pointed to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and said there seems to be no ambiguity that children born here are citizens. Furthermore, to deny them the valuable opportunity to take part fully in the opportunities and obligations of our country would deprive those who have done nothing wrong themselves, and would even punish ourselves by creating a more restrictive society.

Rush Holt
Member of Congress

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