Contact Federal Government Officials
1. “Senators voted Thursday to recommend that the U.S. end its assistance to Saudi Arabia for the war in Yemen and put the blame for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi squarely on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a direct challenge to both the longtime Middle East ally and President Donald Trump’s handling of the relationship.” https://www.apnews.com/eef2ba95a9ac4376afb37d3db39eddb7 Let’s thank our senators for this just move and encourage our reps in the House to find a way to do the same.
2. “A 7-year-old girl died while in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection last week, according to a Washington Post report.” http://www.wtoc.com/2018/12/14/girl-died-customs-border-protection-custody-last-week-report-says/ With nearly 15,000 children now in near-full detention camps, there will likely be more atrocities. https://www.npr.org/2018/12/13/676300525/almost-15-000-migrant-children-now-held-at-nearly-full-shelters and https://www.npr.org/2018/12/08/674327419/whistleblowers-warn-of-harmful-conditions-for-children-in-migrant-detention-cent This is not the first child detention death; https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/toddler-dies-ice-detention-centre-immigration-guatemala-mexico-us-border-mariee-juarez-a8676236.html We need to ask all our MoCs what they are doing about this. This is inhumane and cannot continue.
3. “House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady released his year-end tax legislation (HR 88), and buried on p. 142 is yet another repeal of the Johnson Amendment.“ The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code, since 1954, that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Churches fall into this category. One of Trump’s campaign promises was to eliminate the Johnson amendment. https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2018/12/12/once-again-house-republicans-are-trying-to-repeal-the-johnson-amendment/ Let’s tell our MoCs that we want the Johnson Amendment kept as an essential barrier between church and state.
4. Russian Maria Butina has pled guilty to conspiring against our government in part by using NRA contacts to create back channel communications to conservative political groups: https://www.apnews.com/afc6c5855bb4402da306b5f48fc08e7f The web between the Trump campaign and Russia is gaining more strands. Let’s let our MoC know that we expect them to fulfill their oaths and find our way to the bottom of these issues through true investigation and that we also expect them to protect the Mueller investigation.
5. In a close vote, the Senate has passed a resolution (S.J. Res 64) “to overthrow a new Treasury Department policy that no longer requires some 501(c) tax-exempt nonprofits — including politically active 501(c)(4) “dark money” groups — to disclose donor names and addresses in tax returns submitted to the IRS.” https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/12/senate-votes-to-prevent-dark-money-from-getting-even-darker/ Let’s thank our senators for passing this and urge our reps in the House to do the same.
6. Despite evidence from our own intelligence agencies on the Saudi Prince's involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump continues to stand with Saudi Arabia, claiming that they are a "great ally." https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-saudi-exclusive-idUSKBN1OB01C?utm. And in passing the Farm Bill yesterday, Republicans in the House of Representatives inserted a rule that a resolution stopping aid to the Saudi's in their war on Yemen could not come to a vote for the rest of the year. https://www.newsweek.com/five-democrats-vote-republicans-block-vote-saudi-arabia-war-yemen-1256365. Let's express our outrage to our MoCs who voted for this rule, perhaps emphasizing the irony of their willingness to perpetuate starvation abroad in the same bill that's geared to help hunger in America.
7. Trump's xenophobic policies continue, this time against immigrants who fled to the U.S. during the Vietnam War (https://bit.ly/2Pz61kR). The Trump administration has reinterpreted a U.S.-Vietnam agreement from 2008 which protected Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the U.S. prior to 1995 from deportation, and are now stating that there are no such protections, even for refugees. This means that people who have lived in the United States for nearly half of a century, and who may have been children when they arrived, are now at risk of deportation. Let's contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ask them to stop wasting their time and resources, and follow the 2008 agreement as originally agreed upon and to stop the deportation of Vietnamese immigrants: Phone: 202-282-8495 or Email: DHSExecSec@hq.dhs.gov or Twitter: @DHS.gov or Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/homelandsecurity/ We can also contact our MoC and ask them to join us in putting pressure on the White House and DHS.
8. Last week, the administration asked the National Institute of Health to stop acquiring fetal tissue obtained from women who have had legal abortions, a move that will suspend studies in process that are seeking a cure to the HIV virus.
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/12/trump-administration-has-quietly-barred-nih-scientists-acquiring-fetal-tissue. Let's tell the White House and our MoCs that the concerns of the religious right should not be dictating policy that impedes public health and ask them to work toward lifting this ban and assuring that finding a cure for HIV, a concern for members on both sides of the aisle, remains a top priority.
9. From one of our own: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently released new proposed Title IX regulations that will protect sexual assaulters and rapists – and make it harder to protect and defend survivors. These new rules will make it easy for campus rape and assault to be swept under the rug. That’s why we’re joining forces (Enough is Enough Voter Project, Women’s March Sister Network, and National Women’s Law Center) launching a new campaign to protect survivors: Save Title IX! The public comment deadline is January 28. Enough is Enough has given us more information and links to how we can help: https://enoughisenoughvoter.org/#save-title-ix
10. From ADAPT: Please call and/or email U.S. Congress members and ask them to pass HR 7217 with the Money Follows the Person three (3) month extension as soon as possible! This Bill will keep Money Follows the Person going in the states where it is funded through January 2019 and allow the program to be fully reauthorized in the next Congress. After the Houses passes it, we will need to contact Senators and encourage them to pass it too. Money Follows the Person has delivered the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Olmstead mandate to 83,000 people. We want all people to have choice, freedom and community opportunities. The program should be made permanent, but unless HR 7217 passes, it won’t exist anywhere at all any more. We can find a call script to use as we contact our representatives here.
11. HR1, the very first bill that our newly-elected, Democratic-majority House of Representatives will introduce next month, aims to expand voting rights and fight campaign corruption. The bill will face savage opposition from those who thrive in the current ecosystem of lobbyists and dark money, so HR1 and its proud sponsors really need to hear our support. Calls and letters are always welcome, but some of us can make a bigger splash with an actual visit to our reps' district offices, and People for the American Way will even help set it up and recruit supporters to show up, too! http://act.pfaw.org/event/declaration-american-democracy-district-visits/create/
12. Political appointee and former adviser to Charles and David Koch, Daniel Jorjani, will oversee Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests sent to the Interior Department, a position typically held by career staff. Let's read more at The Hill. Let's be aware of this new gatekeeper of the FOIA.
13. The Shark Fin Sales Act of 2017 (H.R. 1456) now has 261 bi-partisan co-sponsors. https://awionline.org/content/shark-fin-sales-elimination-act-2017 Let's push the House to bring this bill to the floor for a vote before this session ends. Let's contact our own representatives, especially if they have not yet signed on as co-sponsors, and House Speaker Paul Ryan to let them know we care about this issue.
14. Before their session ends next week, Congress is trying to sneak through a rider on the upcoming budget bill that would make it a crime for groups to boycott certain countries--like, for instance, Israel--although there is nothing illegal about boycotts; in fact, the Supreme Court has ruled that they are constitutionally protected speech. Reportedly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA.) are leaning toward slipping the text into the spending bill, which needs to pass for the government to stay open.: https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/rights-protesters/congress-trying-use-spending-bill-criminalize-boycotts-israel-and We must let Schumer and Pelosi know that we regard this provision as a clear violation of our First Amendment rights: Schumer (202) 224-6542 or FAX 202-228-3027 or 322 Hart Senate Off. Bldg., Washington DC 20510; Pelosi 202-225-4965 or 233 Cannon HOB, Washington DC 20515.
15. Trump’s nominee for CEO of the US Agency for Global Media, which runs Voice of America (VOA) as well as other government broadcasting networks (like Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting Networks), is Michael Pack, a Steve Bannon collaborator who has condemned liberal “political correctness” and runs a conservative filmmaking business. VOA alone is heard by 275 million people in over 47 different languages; recent legislation concentrates authority with the agency’s chief executive and would replace its current bipartisan board with an advisory council:
https://www.npr.org/2018/12/04/673002168/voice-of-america-vows-independence-as-trump-calls-for-worldwide-network or https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/12/us/politics/voice-of-america-trump.html The Senate has yet to ratify Pack’s nomination, but we must make sure our senators oppose the appointment of a flagrantly right-wing ideologue to oversee the agency that represents the US to the world.
1. Let's encourage Florida voters to sign up for Vote-By-Mail (VBM) with Postcards to Voters' Campaign 142: Florida Vote-By-Mail, St. Lucie County. Although there was some controversy with Florida's VBM in the midterms, 12.6 million ballots were received by mail and, of those, around 12,000 were initially held aside for some complication. Half of those ended up being counted after the voters were contacted and showed up to fix whatever the matter was. Data shows that VBM voters participated at a rate of 71%. Let's request 5 addresses to Florida voters today and we gear up for 2019 elections.
1. Here's our regular reminder that Govtrack.us, a non-profit organization, "tracks the United States Congress and helps Americans participate in their national legislature. We publish the status of federal legislation, information about your representative and senators in Congress including voting records, and original research on bills and votes." Their site has a number of nifty features that are occasionally updated and added, like this subpage, which "shows the outcome of all recorded votes on the Senate floor and House floor." We can see the vote breakdown and how our MoCs voted by clicking on particular pieces of legislation. A handy interactive tool: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes
2. NPR is sponsoring a student podcast contest giving students an opportunity to say what is on their minds. Podcasts are to be submitted between January 1 and March 31, with winners being announced in April. Novices welcome! We can find more information here: https://www.npr.org/2018/11/15/650500116/npr-student-podcast-challenge-home
3. From one of our own: Four Sovereign Native Nations have pledged to honor the Paris Climate Accords, despite Trump's refusal to commit the U.S. to the agreement. http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2017/06/sovereign-native-nations-ignored-white.html Let's thank them: A) Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Building #1 N. Standing Rock, PO Box D, Fort Yates, ND 58538, (701) 854-8500, B) Quinault Indian Nation Tribal Community, PO Box 129, Tahola, WA 98587, (360) 276-8211, C) Swinomish Tribal Community, 11404 Moorage Way, LaConner, WA 98257, (360) 466-7200, and D) Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, 320 Willoughby Ave., Juneau, AK 99801, (907) 586-1432
4. “As we prepare to reflect on the year and enjoy a holiday season of togetherness with our loved ones, we know this time of year too many in our community struggle to keep the electricity on and their homes warm. These are our Black elders and countless Black families with young children at risk of staying in the dark or freezing cold because of unaffordable energy bills.” Let’s join in the Color Of Change’s Home For The Holidays initiative to give the gift of light and warmth to Black families across Baltimore, Detroit, Flint, and Newark: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/homefortheholidays
1. FL: A proposed state constitutional amendment to ban assault weapons is coming into shape for the 2020 ballot. The amendment, sponsored by Ban Assault Weapons Now (BAWN), would bar possession of “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once.” For those who already own the potentially barred weapons, they would be required to register the weapon. Let's read more at Florida Politics. We can donate to the cause at BAWN. Let's help get this amendment on the ballot.
2. MI: “Scientists and public health advocates are voicing concern over a bill currently making its way through Michigan’s lame-duck Legislature. They say that SB 1244, sponsored by state Senator Jim Stamas (R-Midland), could prevent the state from using the most up-to-date science when determining what levels of toxic contamination should trigger a cleanup.” http://www.michiganradio.org/post/toxicologist-warns-lame-duck-legislative-effort-change-toxic-cleanup-criteria-michigan Let’s call Governor Snyder to veto this bill so that Michigan can set its own PFAS standards: (517) 373-3400
Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize
1. From the Newton Foundation: Today, Friday, December 14, marks the 6-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Today, there will be nationwide vigils and events to #EndGunViolence. Let’s find a vigil or event at this link: https://www.newtownfoundation.org/nationwide-vigils/ We can also use the link to register to host a vigil or an event in our town or city and click on the following links to download the 2018 National Vigil Toolkit and customizable posters to facilitate your planning and to coordinate our collective gun violence prevention message.
2. Whether we align ourselves with the Women’s March or March On, or Women’s March Alliance, or WoMen for All, or with no group at all, we have an opportunity to make history and march once again on January 19, 2019. Check with your favorite organization or local folks to help or to find out what is happening.
1. Is the Women’s March Melting Down? - https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/276694/is-the-womens-march-melting-down
2. If Trump closes the border, regional economy could suffer 'catastrophic losses' - https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/sd-fi-border-closure-impacts-20181127-story.html
3. A devastating report details a ‘monumental’ assault on science at the Department of the Interior - https://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-interior-science-20181210-story.html