Contact Federal Government Officials
1. This week in Congress: Our legislators are on recess and in their home districts. Let’s attend a townhall if we can: https://townhallproject.com/
2. Every five years, the Farm Bill is renewed, offering usually bipartisan funding for agricultural, environmental and nutritional programs. This year, the bill is so partisan, it passed out of the House Agriculture Committee on a party line vote and is now headed to the House floor. Some examples of the harm this bill would do: 1) encouraging profligate pesticide use by preempting state pesticide laws, weakening federal protections for wildlife and endangered species from pesticides, exempting pesticides from the Clean Water Act, expediting EPA approval of pesticides without agreed-to protections, and delaying EPA pesticide protections; 2) adding work requirements to recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), targeting food access for struggling families; 3) weakening low-income children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables in schools, allowing schools to instead buy junk food with no restrictions on added sugar, salt or fats; 4) eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program, leaving farmers with fewer resources and options to implement conservation on their farms; 5) allowing mining and oil and gas drilling on agricultural conservation lands; and 6) weakening protection of endangered species from logging. The National Resource Defense Council gives more specifics on the bill at https://www.nrdc.org/experts/mae-wu/hyper-partisan-house-farm-bill-should-be-plowed-under. Let’s tell our representative that we oppose the 2018 Farm Bill, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act (H.R. 2). A vote is expected in early May.
3. He spoke hoping the lawmakers would remember the needs of the less wealthy. He invited a Muslim to deliver the opening prayer in October. And now Father Pat Conroy, the House chaplain for the last seven years, will be leaving following Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) request for his resignation. (https://www.npr.org/2018/04/27/606428892/ryans-dismissal-of-house-chaplain-sparks-outrage-and-suspicion) Let’s write and thank Fr. Conroy, who will be leaving later in May, for his steadfastness in remembering the poorer amongst us and for his religious inclusivity. The Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, Chaplain, U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Capitol, Room HB25, Washington, DC 20515-6655
4. From Alt National Park Service: Have you heard of H.R. 3144? A small group led by Republicans in Congress spearheaded a bill that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. If the bill becomes law, it could lead to the eventual extinction of wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers—iconic species in the Pacific Northwest that the federal government is required by law to protect. House Resolution 3144 seeks to overturn multiple federal court decisions that protect endangered salmon and steelhead. It undermines bedrock environmental laws and forbids any action that might reduce power generation at Columbia and Snake River dams without an act of Congress—from spilling more water over dams in the spring to help endangered fish migrate, to studying the possibility of removing the four aging lower Snake River dams. Further, it mandates that salmon populations be managed based on a 2014 federal plan that was rejected in two court decisions as being illegal, for not doing enough to save the fish from extinction. Wednesday's vote advances the bill to the U.S. Senate. Please call your senators and tell them to vote “NO”!
5. While some political action committees (PACs) do good, there are an increasing number of scam PACs that shake down the public for political campaign contributions, and then spend little to nothing on political activity, instead using the money to enrich their founders. The dysfunctional Federal Elections Commission is doing little to protect the public from Scam PACs. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/04/scam-pacs-misleading-donors/ Let’s tell our MoCs that Congress needs to step in and stop these scams.
6. “In letters to the chairpersons of two key committees, more than 40 House Democrats wrote Tuesday that they would strongly oppose the Education Savings Accounts For Military Families proposal [currently H.R. 5199] or any school voucher or privatization effort from being included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act.” (https://www.stripes.com/news/democrats-fight-effort-to-divert-public-school-funds-for-military-families-to-private-vouchers-1.523791) Let’s tell our representatives that we do not want this as a stand-alone bill or hidden within the National Defense Authorization Act.
7. Should parents running for office be able to use campaign funds for childcare, so they can conduct their work as a candidate? A candidate in New York has petitioned the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for just that. Hillary Clinton is calling on the FEC to make it allowable. (http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/385285-clinton-calls-for-fec-to-let-campaigns-use-funds-for-childcare) We need more working parents in legislatures and this would help that happen. Let’s add our voices: https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies/federal-election-commission
8. The Environmental Justice Right to Know Act (yet unnumbered) is aimed at protecting workers in hair salons, nail salons, and agricultural settings from the pesticides and toxic chemicals that they may be exposed to in their jobs. (Description and link to text of bill: https://www.harris.senate.gov/news/press-releases/harris-cortez-masto-introduce-legislation-to-shine-light-on-hazardous-occupational-exposures ) Let’s tell our senators that we care about the health and safety of poor and marginalized workers and we want them to pass this legislation.
9. Perhaps no other group in Congress better represents the values of democracy, equality, justice than the Congressional Black Caucus. https://cbc.house.gov/issues/ Yet, “of the six top leadership positions [in the House of Representatives], only one is held by an African-American, Assistance Minority Leader Jim Clayburn. Congressional Black Caucus members make up nearly a quarter of House Democrats.”
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/25/congressional-black-caucus-looks-to-seize-more-power-545945 Let’s tell our Democratic reps that we want more CBC members in positions of power in Congress.
10. During a House committee hearing, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt conceded that he did know about and had given authority to his chief of staff to give raises to EPA employees; something Pruitt had previously denied (https://www.vox.com/2018/4/26/17285884/scott-pruitt-epa-congress-house-condo-phonebooth-travel, http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/385004-pruitt-epa-staff-was-given-authority-to-approve-raises-for-staffers). Let's continue contacting Pruitt and telling him it's time to resign: Phone: (202) 564-4700 Mailing Address: Environmental Protection Agency Office of the Administrator 1101A 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20460 or
https://www.epa.gov/home/forms/contact-epa, or on Twitter: @EPAScottPruitt
11. An excellent suggestion from Jennifer Hofmann’s Americans of Conscience Checklist: “Thank four Republican members of the Senate Judicial Committee for voting for the bill (S. 1735) that protects special investigations of the president. It must be difficult to do something your party finds threatening, so I especially appreciate your leadership. Thank you for your service to our democracy.” A) Sen. Chuck Grassley, 721 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50309, B) Sen. Lindsey Graham, 508 Hampton Street, Suite 202, Columbia, SC 29201, C) Sen. Jeff Flake, 2200 East Camelback Road, Suite 120, Phoenix, AZ 85016, and D) Sen. Thom Tillis, 310 New Bern Avenue, Suite 122, Raleigh, NC 27601
12. From forced labor (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/opinion/migrants-detention-forced-labor.html), to family separation
(https://www.npr.org/2018/02/27/589079243/activists-outraged-that-u-s-border-agents-separate-immigrant-families), to rape and sexual abuse (https://theintercept.com/2018/04/11/immigration-detention-sexual-abuse-ice-dhs/), to courthouse arrests (https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/03/15/ice-arrests-courthouses-are-disrupting-justice-two-lawsuits-claim/N7IhXiHlEuw3Qdz1XDlt4I/story.html) , the US treatment of immigrants and immigrant detainees is beyond deplorable and threatens the civil liberties of us all—including US citizens http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-citizens-ice-20180427-htmlstory.html. Let’s tell our MoCs that we expect them to face and fix these problems.
13. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has suggested that the wave of Republican retirements from Congress may be due to fears of assassination:
http://thehill.com/homenews/house/385219-republican-rep-worries-assassination-risk-prompting-lawmaker-resignations Let’s remind Rep. Brooks that there is a lot that Congress could be doing to strengthen laws to reduce gun violence:
14. Vice President Mike Pence will be speaking this week at the NRA convention in Dallas, a decision that has drawn criticism from many gun control advocates including actress, Alyssa Milano, who has started a petition on MoveOn calling this a “slap in the face to Americans hurting from gun violence." Adding irony to insult, no firearms will be allowed at Pence’s presentation. https://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2018/04/27/alyssa-milano-moveon-petition-mike-pence-cancel-nra-convention/559378002/. Let’s tell VP Pence that it’s divisive, hurtful, inappropriate and insulting for him to speak to the NRA, and he should instead use his leadership to finding common-sense approaches to curbing gun violence. We can use the White House comment line; write to him at Office of the Vice President, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20500; leave a comment on his Facebook page; or tweet @VP
15. In another attack on First Amendment Rights, ICE has detained Manuel Duran, a journalist who has been covering protests on immigration policies. As an undocumented immigrant, he is now being held in Louisiana and threatened with deportation. http://www.newsweek.com/ice-arrests-manuel-duran-journalist-covered-protest-immigration-agencys-875279. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Free Press have been initiated a campaign to demand his immediate release. You can find out more and sign a letter here, or even better, contact the ICE regional community relations office CommunityRelations.NewOrleans@ice.dhs.gov, or (504) 310-8822.
16. Trump’s Department of Agriculture has tried quietly to propose a new rule, misleadingly called the “Modernization of swine slaughter inspection rule”; it privatizes pork inspection, turns food safety over to untrained plant managers, and by allowing the unlimited increase in slaughter line speeds, puts public health, animal welfare, and worker safety at risk in an industry which already has worker injury rates 3 times the national average and illness rates 17 times higher:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/17/trump-administration-usda-swine-slaughter-rule-pigs-pork Public uproar has led to two extensions to the comment period, the latest deadline is May 2. To comment online, go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FSIS-2016-0017 ; by mail: Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots Plaza III, Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163A, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700 All comments must include the agency name and docket number: FSIS-2016-0017.
17. Serious concerns still plague preparation for the 2020 census: Providence RI was supposed to be one of four starkly different places where new digital equipment and counting methodologies were to be tested, but Congress’s refusal to provide funds has left Providence the single test site. Moreover, Ron Jarmin, director of the Census Bureau, estimates that the inclusion of a citizenship question, at Trump’s insistence, will mean about 1 percent more people will fail to respond to the survey—that number sounds small, but it is greater than the population of many small states and, as Jarmin admits, the impact would be concentrated in minority communities: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/28/us/2020-census-test-rhode-island.html We must push our MoC to intervene before this rigged census results in even greater inequalities in the US.
Election 2018 – General
1. Postcards To Voters launched two (2) postcarding campaigns this weekend for candidates in deep red districts. 1) AL - Campaign 80: Juanita Healy for AL House District 4. 2) CA - Campaign 81: Dean Johansson for Yolo County District Attorney. If we are already volunteers, let's write 5 cards today. If we are new to the effort, we can sign up as a Postcards to Voters' volunteer here.
2. There are so very many reasons people don’t vote, even if they are registered. This recent survey has some revelations. (https://www.countable.us/articles/3884-poll-offers-answers-people-don-t-vote) Let’s do our best to find ways to help get more people registered AND voting in 2018.
3. Getting young voters engaged is key to making the “Blue Wave” happen. So, “Let America Vote [has] announced the launch of Cap, Gown, Vote! (CGV) — a national initiative in partnership with mayors across the country to increase voter registration among high school students.” So far, they’ve partnered with nine mayors nationwide. How can we become student ambassadors and help get the vote out at school? How do we get our mayors involved? Find out more here about this fantastic collaborative effort to register more new voters! https://capgownvote.org/about
Election 2018 – By State
1. FL: Special elections May 1: A) FL House of Representatives District 39. Let’s be voters for Democrat Ricky Shirah, https://www.rickyshirah.org/, and B) FL House of Representatives District 114. Let’s be voters for Democrat Javier Fernandez, https://javierforflorida.com/
3. States with primaries or runoff elections in May:
MAY 8: Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina.
MAY 15: Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
MAY 22: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas
Check out your state primary date here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/us/elections/calendar-primary-results.html Be ready to vote and make it a family affair. Take your young children and make it a teachable moment for our future voters.
1. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are conducting raids on Greyhound buses, without warrants. (http://wapo.st/2Gi7GLr http://cbsn.ws/2ucnE4I). ACLU affiliates in ten states have penned a letter to Greyhound Lines, Inc., asking the company to change its policies and prohibit warrantless searches, as is their right under the Fourth Amendment. Let's join the ACLU in their push. We can sign a petition to Greyhound at this link. We can also reach out directly to ask Greyhound president and CEO Dave Leach and Senior Legal Officer Tricia Martinez to change their policies: 1) Dave Leach President and Chief Executive Officer Greyhound Lines, Inc. 350 N. St. Paul Street Dallas, TX 75201; 2) Tricia Martinez Senior Legal Officer Greyhound Lines, Inc. 350 N. St. Paul Street, Dallas, TX 75201 e-mail: Tricia.firstname.lastname@example.org; 3) on Twitter @GreyhoundBus.
2. "Safety Pin Box is a monthly subscription box for white people striving to be allies in the fight for Black Liberation. Subscriptions are a way to financially support Black woman and femme freedom fighters while completing measurable tasks in the fight against white supremacy." Let's check this out and sign up for a sample task here:
3. Americans were once so determined to eliminate poll taxes we amended the Constitution to get rid of them. But politicians who want to suppress the African-American vote have brought them back in the form of voter ID laws. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-texas-voter-id-law-20170823-story.html). While we work to get those laws off the books, we can’t let folks be denied their rights because they can’t afford to use them. Let’s donate to Spread The Vote to support their work to get everyone the ID they need.
4. “The Obama Foundation is looking to hire a diverse cohort of passionate, mission-oriented, and qualified interns to serve in our Chicago and D.C. offices. This internship is open to current undergraduate and graduate students who are eligible to work in the United States.” If we are, or know someone who fits this bill, here’s the application info for the Fall semester internship program: https://www.obama.org/internship/
5. Hate crimes are on the rise since Trump was elected and more and more of them are done explicitly in his name. Let's read up on what we can do if we witness hate or harassment, and consider making a donation to an organization that fights hate and hate crimes: ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Human Rights Campaign: Hate Crimes, Safety Pin Box.
6. If we, or our postcarding group, are looking for a weekly list of issues and writing opportunities, check out this week’s WhatIfKnits: http://www.whatifknits.com/
7. Because recreational use of marijuana is legal in Washington, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and Mayor Jenny Durkan have moved to vacate past convictions and outstanding possession charges (http://fortune.com/2018/04/28/seattle-vacates-marijuana-possession-convictions/). Holmes notes it one small step "to right the injustices of a drug war that has primarily targeted people of color," (https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/seattle/seattle-asks-judge-to-clear-hundreds-of-past-pot-convictions/281-546913584). Let's send both Attorney Holmes and Mayor Durkan a "Thank you!". Mailing address: City Attorney Pete Holmes 701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2050, Seattle, WA 98104-7097 Phone: 206-684-8200 Mayor Jenny Durkan: P.O. Box 94749 Seattle, WA 98124-4749 Phone: 206-684-4000
8. Fox News host Sean Hannity fancies himself as a protector against the “elites” but now we know he has been gobbling up low-income properties and evicting residents at much higher rates: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/27/sean-hannity-eviction-orders-georgia-apartment-complex Let’s let Hannity know what we think of his actions: Fox News, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036
Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize
1. MOST: In the absence of federal action, seven governors (CT, DE, MA, NJ, NY, RI, Puerto Rico) have now joined the States for Gun Safety Coalition to study gun violence as a public health issue. https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/04/25/7-governors-launch-unprecedented-effort-to-study-gun-violence-384339 The work will be done with the help of researchers from the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium. http://rockinst.org/gun-violence/researchers/ . Let’s contact our governors, https://www.usa.gov/state-governor , and tell them to join the coalition.
2. CO: The Voter Registration Individuals Criminal Justice Act “would pre-register parolees so they would automatically be able to vote upon completion of their sentences,” https://www.courthousenews.com/colorado-bill-aims-to-register-10000-parolees-to-vote/ It was just voted out of the Colorado House Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs last week. Let’s tell our state representatives to expand voting rights by passing this bill: find rep https://openstates.org/
3. NH: Last Thursday, the New Hampshire House voted to abolish the death penalty, but Governor Sununu has stated that he will veto it (http://www.wmur.com/article/nh-house-votes-to-repeal-death-penalty-law-but-sununu-promises-veto/20074706). SB 593-FN has already been passed by the Senate. Let's be sure to contact the governor and tell him we want him to sign the bill: Office of the Governor State House 107 North Main Street, Concord, NH 03301 Phone: (603) 271-2121 Fax: (603) 271-7680 We can also contact our state senator and representative and tell them that if Governor Sununu does veto the bill, they have our full support to override it: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
4. OK: "The Oklahoma House of Representatives has approved a measure that would allow adoption and foster care agencies to reject same-sex couples on religious grounds," (http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/385228-oklahoma-house-approves-controversial-lgbtq-adoption-bill). SB 1140 had already passed the Senate, and it now heads to the governor's desk for her signature. Let's be sure to contact Governor Mary Fallin ASAP and tell her we don't want her to sign this discriminatory bill: Oklahoma State Capitol 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 212, Oklahoma City, OK 73105 Phone: (405) 521-2342 Fax: (405) 521-3353
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbpmel4_55M" To better understand the history and current state of American diplomacy, Pulitzer-winning author Ronan Farrow interviewed every living Secretary of State for his book 'War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence.'" Let's listen to Stephen Colbert's interview with Ronan Farrow:
2. Amid the Opioid Epidemic, White Means Victim, Black Means Addict:
3. Experts in authoritarianism advise us to keep a list of things subtly changing around us, so we’ll remember. Amy Siskind is keeping that list for us. Amy writes, "In some ways this week felt normal as leaders of France and Germany visited the White House, and the leaders of North and South Korea met for a historic summit and spoke of the denuclearizing the peninsula. " Let's review Amy Siskind's list week 76.
4. To help us see how our hard work really does help, here is our weekly dose of Small Victories: https://mailchi.mp/peaceisloud/small-victories-what-can-happen-when-you-fight