Last night the Senate voted to begin debate on its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which, unlike the version that the House passed on November 16, preserves the tax-exempt status of graduate workers’ tuition benefits, for now. Observers agree that the Senate will likely vote on the tax bill either tonight or Friday. The Grad Student Tax represents nothing less than an attack on US higher education, and graduate workers everywhere want to ensure that the final version of the tax bill preserves the tax-exempt status of our tuition benefits.
Graduate workers across the United States have mobilized to protest the Grad Student Tax, organizing walkouts, writing letters and petitions, and visiting the offices of their senators and representatives. GAGE stands with our fellow graduate workers in opposition to a proposal that would force many of us to leave our programs and transform graduate education into a privilege available only to the wealthy few.
GAGE members have been writing letters to their senators and representatives asking them to oppose the Grad Student Tax. One quick and easy way to support this effort is to sign on to our letter that urges members of Congress to preserve the tax-exempt status of our tuition benefits.
Yesterday we held a rally on Copley Lawn to protest the Grad Student Tax as part of the National Walkout/Rally to Save Graduate Education. On Tuesday, November 28, GAGE organized its first group visit to Capitol Hill. Members met with staffers for Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They also delivered letters and petitions from hundreds of constituents to the offices of 28 other senators, including Bob Cornyn (R-TN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
Still the fight continues. Tomorrow GAGE will be organizing and taking part in two events on Capitol Hill as part of our ongoing campaign against the Grad Student Tax:
People’s Filibuster at the eastern front of the Capitol at 11 AM: Starting this afternoon, Americans for Tax Fairness, together with seven other organizations, will be holding “a people’s filibuster” on Capitol Hill to make clear that we won’t stand for massive tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the rest of us. They have asked for representatives from GAGE and Fearless Student Employees, the graduate workers’ union at the University of Maryland, to show up and briefly speak about the bill’s effects on US higher education. If you want to participate, RSVP on Facebook or email GAGEorganizing@gmail.com.
Second Group Visit to Capitol Hill at 2.45 PM: GAGE has continued to gather letters, petitions, and other appeals to oppose the Grad Student Tax. Since the Senate and the House will have to reconcile their respective versions of the bill before it can go to the President for his signature, we will be visiting the offices of House members. We will be asking that, in negotiations with the Senate, they accept a final version of the bill that does not include the Grad Student Tax. RSVP on Facebook or email GAGEorganizing@gmail.com for more information.