Congress is finalizing its latest COVID-19 relief package. Because Republicans aren’t expected to support the measure, the Senate needs to use special rules called “reconciliation” to pass it with 51 votes.

Thanks to the Senate’s arcane rules, two enormously popular provisions are being left out: a minimum wage hike and paid sick leave.

This week in OtherWords, we offer some first-person perspectives on these issues. North Carolina homecare worker Eshawney Gaston talks about what it’s like to live on less than $15 an hour during the pandemic. And Rebekah Entralgo shares her family’s struggle to cover expenses after her mother, whose job offers almost no paid leave, caught COVID-19.

In other news, the Biden administration recently launched an airstrike in Syria that critics say was illegal. Why, Domenica Ghanem wonders, will the Biden administration bend the rules to bomb Syria, but not to push for a $15 minimum wage?

Also this week, Robert P. Alvarez and Uma Nagarajan-Swenson say Biden isn’t living up to his promises on immigration. Jill Richardson traces a line from midcentury opposition to civil rights to gripes about “cancel culture” today. Jim Hightower holds Texas officials to account over the state’s blackouts. And Khalil Bendib says it’s time to return Trump’s postmaster general to sender.

New This Week…

Essential Workers Deserve $15 an Hour | Eshawney Gaston
We care for your parents, children, and homes. We should make enough to care for our own, too.

Paid Sick and Family Leave Can’t Wait | Rebekah Entralgo
For workers like my mom, the financial strain caused by a lack of paid leave can be just as stressful as catching COVID-19.

When Do the Rules Apply? | Domenica Ghanem
The Biden administration is bending rules to drop bombs but not raise wages. That’s a mistake.

Biden Needs to Keep His Promises on Immigration | Robert P. Alvarez and Uma Nagarajan-Swenson
The new administration has made some welcome changes, but Biden isn’t living up to all his promises — especially on detention.

The Long History of ‘America Uncanceled’ | Jill Richardson
Conservatives like to advocate for “individual freedom,” but they’ve never meant it in the way you might think.

Where Does the Buck Stop in Texas? | Jim Hightower
Texas Republicans took money from the utilities they failed to regulate. Now they’re pointing the finger elsewhere for power failures.

DeJoy Ride | Khalil Bendib
Time to return Trump’s postmaster general to sender.

In Case You Missed It…

Danny Glover: ‘The Best Anti-Poverty’ Program Is a Union’ | Sarah Anderson
The actor is mobilizing support for the Alabama Amazon workers making their mark on the long history of Southern organizing.

Small Towns and Rural Communities Need Transit, Too | Kayla Soren
Millions of rural Americans don’t have a car. With the pandemic battering transit agencies, they’re being totally isolated.

Congress Must Pass the For the People Act | Ben Jealous
Republicans and Democratic voters agree: We need to make sure leaders actually represent “we the people.”

Smithfield’s Pork PR Scam | Tyler Lobdell
The factory farm giant can’t call itself “sustainable” while polluting water, spraying manure, and getting into the natural gas business.

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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of

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