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12/3/18 

Contact Federal Government Officials


Find elected officials: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

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1.    This week in Congress:  The House will consider fifteen (15) bills this week with votes scheduled starting Tuesday.  Let's review the Majority Leader's Schedule so we know what's coming. Of note is HRes1165 – Condemning the Assad regime and its backers for their continued support of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. Let's contact our representatives to let them know we want them to support HRes1165.  On Monday, the Senate will resume consideration of the nomination of Bernard L. McNamee, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Since the president nominated him earlier this year, McNamee has faced fierce opposition from Democrats and environmentalists. We can read more at The HIll. Let's tell our Senators that we oppose McNamee for FERC. We can check the Senate calendar daily for updates on what's is coming the next day.

2.   The Department of Education’s proposed new guidelines for enforcing campus sexual assault are open for public comment. https://www.npr.org/2018/12/01/672222364/devos-new-sexual-assault-guidelines-are-open-for-public-comment  The proposals have been met by serious concern, because they will further raise the burden of proof, making it much more difficult for sexual assault survivors to seek justice, and likely deterring the reporting of these crimes. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/16/18096736/betsy-devos-sexual-assault-harassment-title-ix. Considering that 1 in 5 women will experience campus sexual assault, and 63% of men who have self-reported rape or harassment have admitted to repeated occurrences, let’s make sure to add our voices in support of survivors, not perpetrators. We can add our comments here. For stats, check out this fact sheet from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

3.   For the first time in ten years, the number of uninsured children has increased, due to Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare and the administration’s actions and regulations to weaken the bill. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/29/18116371/uninsured-rate-children-health-insurance-medicaid-trump. Let’s tell our MoCs that we are disturbed by this increase and we want to see legislation that assures that all people, especially children, are able to have affordable health insurance. Let’s also publicize Obamacare Open Enrollment, (which closes December 15), wildly on our networks, as the administration has done as little as possible to promote it and shortened the enrollment time frame, which is another reason that the rates of the uninsured are increasing.

4.   From one of our own: Sen Schumer is considering appointment of Sen Manchin (D-WV) as ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Manchin is an advocate for fossil fuels and his environmental record is deplorable. He would likely block any legislation on climate change. Indivisibles are hearing about this and starting to mobilize.   https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/30/ocasio-cortez-manchin-energy-committee-1002853 I oppose allowing Senator Manchin (D-WV) to become the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This appointment would make a travesty of Democratic initiatives against climate change. Manchin supports Trump's EPA  and the fossil fuel industry. His lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters is a deplorable 47%. I totally oppose this appointment and I urge you to advise Senator Schumer against it. 

5.   General Motors is cutting 14,000 jobs and closing five manufacturing plants—ostensibly to increase savings. But, GM “has spent $10.6 billion since 2015 buying back its own shares,” which does nothing for its productivity—but does make its stock more valuable, which is attractive to investors and executives who are paid in stock.  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gm-bought-back-10-billion-in-stock-since-2015-double-what-job-cuts-will-save/  Since the 1980s, corporations have been increasingly directing profits to stock buy-backs that benefit shareholders, while workers’ wages remain flat. https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/warren-introduces-accountable-capitalism-act The Accountable Capitalism Act (S.3348)  addresses this problem.  Let’s tell our Senators to co-sponsor S.3348, and let’s tell our Reps to introduce parallel legislation in the House.

6.   Let's remind Trump we don't want to pay for his wall. "The House and the Senate ... have to pass seven spending bills to fund multiple government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the State Department. But Trump has renewed a push for border wall funding, throwing a major wrench into these negotiations." https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/28/18112713/trump-border-wall-funding-shutdown Let's call our Democratic Members of Congress "and demand they reject Trump’s deportation machine and the wall." We'd rather have a "short-term CR that funds the remaining parts of the government only through the early part of the next Congress." Indivisible will hook us up directly, here: https://act.indivisible.org/call/cr-reject-trumps-deportation-machine-and-wall/

7.   From one of our own:  Public comment time:  I added a link to all the items closing soon and new this week as there are dozens relating to specific pesticides, underground storage of hazardous waste - often state or subject-specific, too many for me to list but people can peruse if they want. The big one closing soon is the Inadmissibility on Public Charge that can be applied to some permanent residents who may uses services - could include school lunches and ACA. Here's the link to this week's list: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Delwh-2Noz4imfujfVGPRjZD59yvcJk4

8.  “The Trump administration is taking a major step toward allowing a first-in-a-generation seismic search for oil and gas under Atlantic waters, despite protests that the geological tests involve loud air gun blasts that will harm whales, dolphins and other animals.”  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-30/trump-said-to-advance-seismic-tests-for-oil-in-atlantic-waters-jp3bw60l  The companies need to get individual permission from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management before work can begin.  Let’s tell that department that we do not agree with this move motivated by greed: https://www.boem.gov/Contact-Us/    Let’s tell our MoCs the same. 

Election/Voting

1.   Tuesday, December 4th is the Secretary of State runoff election in Georgia:
https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article222518640.html  Let’s reach out to anyone we know in Georgia with gentle reminders to get out the vote for John Barrow. Georgia deserves fair elections!

2.  In North Carolina, the Board of Elections will not certify a Congressional race because of concerns of election fraud perpetrated by the GOP: https://www.npr.org/2018/12/01/672531061/amid-fraud-allegations-state-election-board-wont-certify-north-carolina-house-ra  If we are in North Carolina, let’s contact our state reps and the governor to express our concern: https://governor.nc.gov  and  https://www.ncleg.net  If we have family and friends in North Carolina, let’s be in touch to encourage their involvement.

3.   There are enough votes to bring the legislation forward that would protect Special Counsel Robert Muller, but Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to bring it forward.  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/mcconnell-senate-republicans-block-vote-mueller-protection-bill-n941291  Let’s join in contributing to McConnell’s 2020 opponent:  https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/389893/lets-fund-mitch-mcconnells-2020-opponent

Other Actions

1.    We’re currently in the open enrollment period for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Here’s the bad news: there’s been a 9.2% drop in sign-ups compared to last year. One likely cause: cuts to the advertising budget by the Trump administration—fewer people know that it’s time to enroll. 
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/28/obamacare-insurance-numbers-drop-995227 In most states, the enrollment period ends Dec 15. Let’s help spread the word by (1) sharing this link on social media https://www.healthcare.gov/ , and (2) contacting radio, television, and print media in our communities and asking them to report on the open enrollment period.  If we use Twitter, here is an easy way to help spread the word that it’s time to sign up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): we can visit https://twitter.com/2019ACASignup/media and retweet their graphics. Let’s get started and turn around those dismal sign-up numbers!

2.   This week, Sinclair news outlets issued a “must-run” segment that defended the U.S. tear-gassing migrant families at the border. https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/418651-sinclair-runs-must-run-segment-defending-use-of-tear-gas-at. Sinclair currently has the largest share of TV news outlets, reaching 39% of U.S. Homes. The company recently bid to merge with Tribune, which would have resulted in the station owning nearly ¾ of all TV outlets. While that deal was killed, we need to keep our eyes on Sinclair's attempts to seek additional stations, and also do whatever we can to counteract their “alternative facts.” Let’s write letters to the editor of our local papers, or submit public comments to our TV and radio stations stating why spewing tear gas at people seeking to apply for asylum, which is their right by law, is an immoral and reprehensible act that is of questionable legality.

3.   As citizens we're told to understand our government, know the issues, and vote accordingly. Yet, with new crises and important revelations constantly emerging, sometimes daily, being an informed citizen can be daunting. That's why ProPublica offers its User's Guide to Democracy, an electronic newsletter tailored to a recipient's voting district. "From understanding political ads to seeing what your representatives are actually doing (or not doing), this series of short guides will help you become a more informed, more engaged, more confident voter."  https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/users-guide-to-democracy

4.   Showing Up for Racial Justice, http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/ , has a project to help families seeking asylum at the US/Mexico border. If we’re interested in raising funds to support families being held in detention, organizing to help get people released, or sponsoring a family, let’s sign up here: 

5.   Through Hands Across the Hills, https://www.handsacrossthehills.org/about-us , two groups of Americans—one from deep blue Massachusetts and one from deep red Kentucky—have been having a dialogue since the 2016 election. While they still have many points of political disagreement, they have built deep friendships and learned to see the world through each other’s eyes. Let’s listen to this remarkable radio segment, and let’s think about how we might repair the divisions that plague America: https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/11/28/conservatives-kentucky-liberals-massachusetts-politics

6.   What is happening at CNN?  During the past week, in response to the National Climate Assessment that Trump tried to bury, CNN aired a chorus of climate deniers, including their in-house paid denier Rick Santorum, claiming that scientists are “getting rich, really rich” propagating a false myth of climate change: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/how-tv-news-fumbles-climate-change   Meanwhile, Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist and co-author of the Assessment, was bumped from Anderson Cooper’s 360 at the last minute: 
https://www.salon.com/2018/11/29/author-of-report-on-global-warming-calls-out-cnn-for-bumping-her-for-climate-denier-rick-santorum/   And on Thursday, CNN announced that it had severed ties with Temple University Professor and CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill after he gave a UN speech in support of Palestinian human rights: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/29/media/marc-lamont-hill-cnn/index.html  We, perhaps foolishly, expected better from CNN and should tell them so: CNN President Jeff Zucker at: Jeff.Zucker@turner.com or CNN (404) 827-1500 or comment at: www.cnn.com/feedback.

7.   In case we thought we were having no impact, according to Friday’s Washington Post, new “Guidance Regarding Political Activity” was issued by the Office of Special Counsel, NOT Robert Mueller’s office but the independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act barring federal employees from using their work resources and social media accounts for political purposes;  this Orwellian “guidance” prohibits federal workers from using terms like “resistance” or “#resist” or expressing their views on impeachment:  https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/419074-government-warns-employees-not-to-discuss-trump-impeachment-or-the  Let’s join the ethics nonprofit American Oversight and express our “significant concerns” and call for the withdraw of this “guidance”:   OSC Headquarters (202) 804-7000 or 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218, Washington, D.C. 20036-4505.

8.   This week, delegations from countries all over the world are meeting in Poland for COP24, the United Nations’ international climate change conference.  The US government may have sidelined itself, but we can make our voices heard loud and clear by tweeting #TakeYourSeat, courtesy of the Peoples Climate Movement.

9.   “The deadliest fire in California history has set into motion the largest charitable collaboration ever among the nation's breweries, as more than 1,200 have signed on to brew a beer to raise funds for those affected by the Camp Fire in Northern California.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2018/11/28/camp-fire-relief-beer-brewed-sierra-nevada-and-1-000-others/2124195002/  Let’s make a point of supporting those breweries who are helping:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14CSqVrsN6M2p7gx5MeAnhXlMaCUJ-kMh54-Amq7KCvI/htmlview#gid=0

State Actions

1.    MI: This year's lame duck session has been rife with legislation that would not only gut the proposals that Michiganders overwhelming passed during the midterms, but would strip away executive power, and gut protections for the environment (https://bit.ly/2Q7KJ3e and https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/11/29/bill-would-allow-legislators-intercede-any-court-case-involving-state/2150818002/). These bills are not being presented in good faith, and have not followed normal order, rather they are being rushed out of committee and voted on before any real debate or hearings can be held. In order to fight back, We the People- MI have organized a week of actions in Lansing. For those of us who are able to attend, let's sign up and show our Congress that we do not accept their lame duck tactics.

2.   WI:  In the span between the November election and the January swearing-in of the new Democratic governor in Wisconsin, the Republican House is trying to make some very dodgy moves to limit the power of incoming Governor, Tony Evers: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/11/30/lawmakers-consider-changes-early-voting-transportation-funding-2020-presidential-primary/2162684002/   If we are in Wisconsin, let’s reach our reps to cry foul: 
http://legis.wisconsin.gov   If we know people in Wisconsin, let’s reach out to ask them to get involved before it is too late.  We can also sign a petition asking that the will of the people be respected here:  https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/stop-the-power-grab-to-limit-the-role-of-governor-elect-evers

Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize

1.    From ADAPT: ADAPT is calling for a Day of Action on December 4th in support of the Empower Care Act (Money Follows the Person) [H.R. 5306/S. 2227]. Use the attached flyer on the Empower Care Act to email, text, tweet, visit local offices, protest, rally, press conference, etc. & repeat. .so we can keep freeing our people from institutions with Money Follows the Person (MFP), the massively effective federal program that ADAPT helped invent. At a minimum include your name and contact information with the flyer when you send it or drop it off. 

2.   EmpowerandHelp and The Swell Collective have gotten planning underway for a wellness and community engagement retreat for community organizers in April of 2019, venue and location TBD.  The retreat will give those of us in need an opportunity for a weekend away to focus on resilience building activities, personal intention and goal setting, and “in real life” collaborative social networking with others in the movement. We can sign up here to stay in the loop or get involved:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScYVFWZy-t1N0OcKknDdwegFnUpt-RQWzE7jrNpL74Nuj0Wew/viewform

Reading/Watching

1.    The Democrats’ 1st Move in the Next Congress - https://politicalcharge.org/2018/12/01/the-democrats-1st-move-in-the-next-congress/

2.   Dan Rather: We Are Losing A More Basic Foundation For Outrage - https://www.newsandguts.com/dan-rather-losing-basic-foundation-outrage/

3.   Trump aides caught in web of deception over Russia contacts - https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/trump-aides-caught-in-web-of-deception-over-russia-contacts





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