Statement From Secretary Sebelius

Dec 19, 2011 by

Statement from Secretary Sebelius on becoming the new Chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

Yesterday, I was pleased to take on the role of Chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. I look forward to building on the hard work of this year’s Chair, Secretary Solis, whose accomplishments include: developing a plan to increase access to mainstream benefits and launching Opening Doors-the nation’s first-ever comprehensive strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.

The implementation of Opening Doors over the last year has given our federal agencies an opportunity to work together on an issue we all care about. Each member of the Council brings a unique approach to this problem and through this collaboration we’re laying the groundwork for future successes with better data collection, better reporting, and better use of mainstream resources. By engaging states and local communities in the plan’s goals and strategies, we’re making sure everyone is in agreement as we move forward.

While I’m proud to say we are making progress, homelessness remains a serious issue and there is more work to do. As I take on the role of Chair for the year ahead, I am looking forward to building on our current foundation as we work to end homelessness altogether. In these tough economic times, continued cross-agency collaboration is more important than ever to help those who are homeless.


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Pursuit of Happiness Hour: Holiday Edition

Dec 16, 2011 by

IMG_3846The government will not shut down — hurray! And the Most Wonderful Time of the Year is here — hurray! Both are cause to celebrate (or something). Congress may like to hoist a $1 trillion-plus catchall budget bill, but here at MOMocrats for special occasions we like to hoist a very classy martini or glass of wine or tankard of ale or…you get the picture.

Today's Pursuit of Happiness Hour suggests a very tasty martini:

Danish Christmas Cookie Martini

one shot Vanilla vodka

half shot DiSaronno

shot (or so) of Ginger Ale to taste

It's best to mix this with chilled ingredients versus shaking with ice, but in the event you haven't got them chilled, shake briefly and gently with ice and serve only slightly chilled versus cold.

Pour into chilled martini glass.

If you want to get really fancy, rim the martini glass with powdered sugar.

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Kirsten, Debbie & Gabby: “In Friendship We Trust”

Oct 20, 2011 by

Photo from, 2009) Screen shot 2011-10-20 at 4.51.48 PMI originally read this at the great site, Off the Sidelines. I appreciate an organization that encourages and supports women to becomes active in public policy and more, but more than that, I appreciate seeing examples of when Washington (that dehumanized amorpohous entity) works: because people work with other people to accomplish important acts that improve how our country functions.

It seems as if we forget all too often that Washington, citizenry, constituencies, companies, everything…is made of people. Because I’ve always been people-focused and because I’m reading this mind-blowing book called Humanize (which is so good I actually put a review up on Amazon), it’s really on my mind, and that’s probably why this post so spectacularly resonated with me that I was moved to shift from reader to poster.

When I see action coming from Congress that is true grassroots beneficial legislation, time and again it seems to come from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. What makes some politicians so accessible, their actions so transparent, and their efforts so targeted to what citizens want…and how, in a House (and Senate) divided, are these politicians such as Gillibrand able to consistently succeed in their efforts?

Connections with people. Connections to the people.

Those bonds of connection–of being people-centric (as Humanize explains it)–are crucial to actually accomplish and be productive, successful. That’s because it enables the person to hear the people, talk to other people, and enlist people to help get what needs to be done, done.

Gillibrand has spent her tenure (and she’s one example) building connections with people in and out of Washington. In Washington, in particular, she has connected with Gabby Giffords and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. This article, which I was graciously given permission to repost, showcases exactly how these bonds and connections have not just supported Giffords, Gillibrand, and Wasserman Schultz, but have encouraged and empowered them to succeed—despite tragedy.

Most importantly, it shows that women can work well together (despite a lot of media and culture rumors to the contrary), can encourage each other’s success, and can, by connecting, accomplish what this country needs now most.

Here’s the article:

The new issue of Good Housekeeping has an inspiring article about the bond Kirsten has had with Gabby Giffords and Debbie Wasserman Schultz ever since they all served in the House together and became fast friends and a tight mutual support system.

Early in their careers, they met, bonded, and became one another’s champions, helping one another through crises ranging from minor to major to unimaginable. All young by Washington standards (Gabby is 41, Kirsten is 44, and Debbie is 45), the three represent a significant part of the roughly 20% of the Congressional voice that is female—of 535 Senators and Representatives, only 93 are women and the average age is 53.

As the article makes clear, their bond is unique in Washington, D.C. not just because of the dearth of women serving in the Congress, but also because of the unique way women work together.

The reasons behind the trio’s friendship are the reasons why women are so valuable in Congress, and the clout that they embody is changing the way business is done on Capitol Hill. They have committed not only to meaningful alliances with Republican Congresswomen, but also to a concerted effort to get more women involved in politics and elected at every level of government. […] The women who enter the battlefield that is Capitol Hill have to be warriors, and courage—mixed with a decidedly female bent toward consensus—is at the heart of not only this friendship, but also a new generation of women leaders, Republican and Democratic, that is emerging across the country.

The article also explores another key part of the relationship among the women: the mentor role that Debbie Wasserman Schultz — who had been elected to Congress in 2004 — served for both Gabby and Kirsten as they considered their runs for Congress in 2006. For example, in 2005, as Kirsten weighed the decision to run, she, as Good Housekeeping puts it: “was able to ask [Debbie] the kinds of questions she couldn’t ask a Congressman:”

“How did you juggle a newborn, an election, your husband, and your child—with the two homes a Congress member needs to keep?” […] During these talks, Kirsten recalls, “Debbie was very inspiring. She said, to both Gabby and me, ‘Not only does your voice matter, but, as women, you can weigh in in ways that can help move an issue. Because we’re women—because we’re mothers—we have a different perspective, a different lens. We’re able to bring people together, to consensus-build.’ ”

And then when Kirsten and Gabby were elected and arrived in DC in January 2007, that bond only grew tighter.

There were events for the freshman Congressional class, but the two women had their own orientation with Debbie. “The three of us became immediately close,” Kirsten says. “We’re all fighters. We’re all policy wonks. We’re all consensus builders.” They would talk about substantive issues—and make private jokes about Congress still being a Good Ol’ Boys Club “all the time, all the time,” Kirsten says…They had so much in common, but the deep trust and loyalty that blossomed among them, in a town where the term “friend” is thrown around lightly, felt like nothing short of a gift. As Debbie puts it, “Our friendship is a refuge.”

The entire article is well worth reading. It explores not only the relationship among these three extraordinary women but also their individual journeys both throughout their careers in Congress and as they’ve dealt with the attack on Gabby and her miraculous recovery. Through the prism of Kirsten’s, Debbie’s and Gabby’s friendship, the article really delves into what makes women unique in public service and why we need more women to get off the sidelines. But it also highlights one of the most important aspects to what will make women successful once they do embark on that journey off the sidelines: the support, mentorship and guidance that only other women can provide.

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The Right Priorities For Our Working Families by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Mar 30, 2011 by

Sen Gillibrand listens to women in NY

The 2010 election was a mandate for one thing: creating jobs and strengthening our economy for the long term. I heard that message loud and clear from New York families in every corner of our state, and I am working with my colleagues in Congress on solutions that will help create good-paying jobs and get the economy moving again for everyone.

But, instead of focusing on rebuilding the economy, House Republicans have unleashed an extreme ideological attack on America’s women and working families with HR 1, the first bill they introduced this Congress.

The House-passed bill slashed critical funding for prenatal care, including $750 million from nutrition programs for pregnant women and infant children.

It denies more than 5 million American women access to breast and cervical cancer screenings that could potentially save their lives.

Their budget cuts affect early childhood education deeply—cutting over $1 billion from Head Start, and nearly $40 million from child care, depriving nearly 370,000 children from the early learning needed to put them on a path to a bright future.

And despite the overwhelming demand from the American people for Democrats and Republicans to work together to invest in job creation policies, House Republicans slashed nearly $1.5 billion from the job training programs we need to prepare America’s workforce for the jobs of today and the high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

But, more than these dollar figures and the irresponsible budgeting and priorities from Republicans, this debate is about the working families who rely on these resources to make ends meet each day. From the single mother who will no longer be able to provide nutritious meals for her young children to the young woman in who will no longer have access to the early cancer screenings that could save her life to our children who will never walk through the doors of a university years from now because the doors to early education are being closed to them today. We cannot slash and burn our way to a healthy society and a thriving economy.

These are the wrong priorities for New York and the wrong policies for America.

Instead of marginalizing women, Congress must get to work on policies that can foster job creation and fuel economic growth. I have a range of proposals that can help get us there.

I have authored legislation that empowers more women and minority-owned businesses with the resources to help guide these budding entrepreneurs to be leaders of our economy, opening up access to the credit they desperately need to get their businesses off the ground.

I have also authored legislation to support the increase of young girls and minorities in the fields of math and science to generate the leaders we need in emerging high-tech industries that will be the future of our economy.

I’m fighting to make child care more affordable for working parents so they can continue working and advancing their careers, closing wage gaps that for too long have held women back from the fair economic opportunities they need.

And, as our troops return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and our women veterans become one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless veteran population, I’m partnering with businesses and working to provide them with tax credits in exchange for hiring recent veterans so our heroes have better access to good-paying jobs after serving our country.

These are the priorities that I am urging my Republican colleagues to join me on. And we can all do our part—because this debate isn’t just happening in the halls of Congress. It’s happening in each and every one of our communities, at kitchen tables and living rooms, in our schools and in our churches. It’s up to all of us to get off the sidelines and join the effort to protect our families and the resources that keep our communities safe, healthy and thriving.

We will not stand for this attack on America’s women and working families.

It’s time to focus on real solutions that will create jobs and build our economy for real strength and stability—not just for the fortunate few but for every American.

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In Case You Missed It: The State of the Union

Jan 26, 2011 by

In case, you missed it last night, this is the enhanced State of the Union by President Obama.

How is it enhanced? It contains facts, figures, details, information, data, sources, resources, etc. and last night, was open for live discussion.

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