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Senate Republicans Refuse to Honor Cesar Chavez’s Birthday Again

CESAR CHAVEZ
Cesar Chavez, head of the United Farm Workers of America, is shown in his office in Keene, Calif. ASSOCIATED PRESS

On what would have been Cesar Chavez’s 90th birthday, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a resolution to honor his life and legacy, the 10th year in a row they've done so.

Despite attempts by Democrats, no Republican senators agreed to co-sponsor the resolution, making it the 10th time such a proposal could not get GOP support in the Senate.

"At a moment of immense uncertainty and anxiety for the Latino community, we could not find one single Senate Republican willing to join us in recognizing the life and legacy of this great American in a bipartisan manner,” Menendez of New Jersey said in a press release.

“César Chávez’s countless efforts to ensure equality, justice, and dignity for all people in the United States are testament of his leadership and success,” Menendez said. “We eagerly await the day when politics will no longer preclude the passage of this common sense resolution.”

Chavez, born in Yuma, Arizona on March 31, 1927, founded the United Farm Workers union in 1962 along with Dolores Huerta to campaign for safe and fair working conditions, reasonable wages, decent housing, and the outlawing of child labor.

“Chávez knew that there is inherent power in the fight for justice and that though the road may be long, in the end together ‘Si Se puede – Yes we can!” Schumer of New York said, quoting Chávez’s famous rallying cry.

“This César Chávez Day we must draw strength from his work and follow his example as we recommit ourselves to fighting for dignity and respect for all, and to protect and ensure the rights of workers, women, LGBTQ people, African Americans, Latinos, immigrants and Americans overall,” said Senator Schumer.

Democrats have made other attempts to honor Chavez on his birthday, including in 2014 when a movie was released about the civil rights icon. Menendez sought unanimous consent for the resolution that year but the attempt was thwarted by then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the U.S. Attorney General. The former Alabama senator had tried to include language about Chavez's opposition to the hiring of undocumented immigrants by growers to replace farmworkers - many who were U.S. citizens – who were on strike in protest of low wages and poor working conditions.

During his eight years, former President Barack Obama issued several proclamations honoring Chavez. President Donald Trump did not issue one this year, said Sofia Boza, a White House spokeswoman.

On the House side, House Democrat Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi marked the day with commentary on President Donald Trump.

"On this day, and as we confront the Trump Administration’s agenda of discrimination, let us remember the words of Cesar Chavez: ‘We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community,'" Pelosi of California said in a statement.

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