Contact Federal Government Officials
1. The House will consider ten (10) bills this week starting on Wednesday with other legislative activity scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is now putting out "The Weekly Leader" on Fridays for the following week's schedule. Let’s review this so we know what's coming. On Monday, the Senate will again resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.1, the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act. (Source: Senate Floor Schedule) Last week, cloture was invoked for this bill and it is moving forward for debate and a vote. (Source: The Tower.) Opponents of this bill are concerned that its anti-BDS language restricts free speech.
2. The U.S. Department of Energy has started making a new, “low-yield” nuclear weapon designed to counter Russia: https://www.npr.org/2019/01/28/689510716/trump-administration-begins-production-of-a-new-nuclear-weapon And on Friday, the Trump administration announced that it would suspend the highly successful 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) after long accusing Russia of violating it; this treaty bans ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 500km and 5,500km. Nuclear weapons experts at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in a statement that while Russia's alleged violation of the INF Treaty was a serious problem, the US withdrawal would be counterproductive:
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/suspend-nuclear-arms-control-treaty-russia-190201133242724.html Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, worries a smaller warhead of the kind Trump has been demanding and the DOE is making could actually make nuclear war far more likely: "A nuke is a nuke," he says. "Once it's used, the gloves are off." We have six months until the US ceases to be bound by the INF, during which time we must convince our MoCs to demand that this treaty be renegotiated; perhaps we should share with them this short history of Congressional power vis a vis treaties and executive powers: https://thebulletin.org/2018/11/can-trump-abrogate-the-inf-treaty-without-congress/ Also, eleven senators have signed S. 312, the Prevention of Arms Race Act, which would ban Trump from producing short-range nuclear missiles; let's urge our senators to cosign this bill.
3. The ACLU tweeted on Friday, ““BREAKING: Tonight the Trump administration filed documents that don’t dispute the recent report that there may have been thousands more separated kids. They’re arguing it would take too long to figure out where those kids are because they have no tracking system. This response is a shocking concession that the government can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents, and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them. We will be back in court on February 21.” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/finding-all-migrant-children-separated-their-families-may-be-impossible-n966266 Let’s tell our MoCs that this situation has gone too far and that these families need to be reunited.
4. Two American immigrant rights attorneys and two journalists were prevented from entering Mexico, when their passports were flagged with alerts from an “unknown” government. https://www.latimes.com/nation/immigration/la-me-immigration-attorneys-detained-20190202-story.html. The attorneys had been providing legal assistance to migrants in the process of filing asylum claims. Let’s make sure our MoCs are aware of this and ask them to intervene.
5. In a terrifying move, on Friday the Trump announced that he will pull the U.S. out of the nuclear arms control treaty signed with Russia in 1987. https://www.apnews.com/13bee012befd4f989ab9ae108d1ca729. With Russia now pulling out, as well, the potential for nuclear proliferation is at the highest it’s been since the Cold War. As Trump continues to show his impulsivity and disregard for information provided by national security experts, there is no time more important than now to pass the bills to make it U.S. policy not to use nuclear weapons first. The bill, Senate bill S272 and House bill HR921, titled the "No First Use Act", simply says, “It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.” Let's read more at The Hill. Related bills, S200/HR669, would require congressional approval to launch a nuclear first strike. Let's contact our MoC's in support of these bills and let them know we prefer the "No First Use Act."
6. ICE has confirmed that it is force-feeding detainees who have gone on hunger strike to protest the conditions under which they are being held. https://www.npr.org/2019/01/31/690578380/ice-confirms-force-feeding-of-detainees-on-hunger-strike. These include claims of verbal abuse and holding inmates in solitary confinement. As these claims on ICE’s behavior continue to grow, let’s ask our MoCs to intervene and also to hold hearings on ICE’s alleged violations of human rights.
7. This Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee will be conducting a hearing on HR 1, a bill that contains a number of provisions to make voting more fair and government processes more ethical. https://thehill.com/policy/finance/427702-house-to-hold-hearing-on-presidential-tax-returns. Under debate is whether the bill should include requiring presidential candidates to submit their tax returns. Let’s tell our House Rep. that we absolutely want the provision included in the bill, and that we also want the House Ways and Means Committee Chair to get Trump to release his returns, which he has the power to do, regardless of whether the bill is passed.
8. The Trump administration, along with Israel, has followed through on its promise to leave UNESCO, the UN body whose mission is to build peace through cultural understanding and knowledge exchange. http://www.artfixdaily.com/news_feed/2019/01/23/7278-the-us-withdraws-from-unesco-the-un-agency-that-aims-to-build-pea and https://www.apnews.com/abfcb84a48f14f41ab1ce6b7045e6794 Also, we left with an unpaid bill of $600 million, so let's make sure our MoCs know just how shameful and shortsighted this decision is.
9. “The American people overwhelmingly support expanding, not cutting, Social Security because they understand its importance. A poll taken during the 2016 Presidential primaries revealed that supporters of the different candidates disagreed on nearly every issue – except for Social Security.” The Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 860) will make some needed improvement to the Social Security system. Over 200 representatives have signed on as c0-sponsors. Let’s see if ours has: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/860/cosponsors If they have, let’s thank them, if not, let’s ask why not.
10. The Green New Deal Week of Action starts today! Friends of the Earth wants every Congress member to hear from concerned citizens this week and we can help them out. We can start by clicking on this link to find a Green New Deal week of action event in our city! If there is no event near us, here’s what to do next: Click here to look up our Member of Congress’s nearest office by entering our zip code, then, print out these two letters and bring them with us to our Representative’s office: A) A campaign letter signed by more than 600 organizations with our policy demands; and B) Our cover letter outlining the 5 principles we ask all Members of Congress to publicly support.
1. There is an important Special Election on Tuesday, February 5th for Minnesota State Senate District 11. They only had the primary this past week so there is almost no time to campaign. As you know getting the word out for special elections is difficult and especially so under current weather conditions which severely hamper volunteer activity in Minnesota - so virtual phoning is the main way to reach voters many of whom are unaware that there is an election. STU LOUREY, the DFL candidate (in Minnesota the state party affiliated with the National Democratic Primary is the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party commonly referred to as DFL) could use a lot of OUTSIDE HELP. The DFL has asked for help with their virtual phone bank. Let’s find get more information and see how we can help regardless where we live: https://docs.google.com/document/d/12c9eftwkxz-uHFiM9H50HvOX12_-YOZn57afQG2cq3g/edit?usp=sharing
2. Well we might be all election-ed out after November but guess what: there are a bunch of special elections in February. Heads up MO, GA, TX, VA, WI, LA, CT, IL, and NY, there may be an opportunity to vote!! Check out the details that Political Charge has compiled for us, here: https://politicalcharge.org/2019/01/28/special-elections-in-february-2019/. Let's share with our networks, too! Local elections matter.
3. Never miss an election! Everytown for Gun Safety has a tool that will send us election reminders—even reminders of our small town elections—help us register to vote, and get absentee ballots. Let’s sign up here: https://everytown.turbovote.org/
1. Stacy Abrams, the Democratic nominee in Georgia’s 2018 governor election has written a thought-provoking piece on identity politics. Let’s read it and remember to watch, her on Tuesday evening, give the Democratic response to the State of the Union address, which we may not be watching. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2019-02-01/stacey-abrams-response-to-francis-fukuyama-identity-politics-article
2. Democratic Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam has been on a strange journey over the weekend regarding a racist yearbook photo that surfaced from his time in medical school in the mid-80’s. He first apologized and then walked back whether he was actually in the photo and continued to dig a deeper hole rather than set the shovel down: https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/428201-northam-denies-prior-knowledge-of-racist-photo-rejects-calls-to-resign There have been many high profile calls for his resignation but as of press time, he had not. Let’s ask friends in Virginia to be in touch with him to call for his resignation: https://www.virginia.gov/agencies/office-of-the-governor/ and we can send messages via Twitter as well to @GovernorVA
3. From one of our own: Here is a good list to use with our postcarding groups this week: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q1PpccGWveAKzirm6U_734DvKVG4zQC8dJwyfrLA-Gk/edit
Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize
1. If we are interested in running for office, we can check out the National Democratic Training Committee’s Online Campaign Academy by joining their Orientation Webinar this Wednesday, February 6 at 5pm Eastern Time. The training is free and NDTC promises to “do everything we can to teach you how to win.” We can find out more about the organization here: https://www.traindemocrats.org/home/, then we can click here to register: https://traindemocrats.typeform.com/to/L9FYdH
1. A simple technology could secure the border for a fraction of the cost of a wall — but no one's talking about it - https://www.businessinsider.com/fiber-optic-sensing-technology-vs-border-wall-2019-2
2. Children's climate rallies gain momentum in Europe - https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46999381
3. Trump Administration Gets An Earful On New Campus Sexual Assault Rules - https://www.npr.org/2019/01/30/689879689/education-department-gathers-feedback-on-new-campus-sexual-assault-rules