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1/7/19 

Contact Federal Government Officials


1.   This week in Congress:  The House will consider nineteen (19) bills this week starting with votes on Tuesday. The new Majority Leader's Schedule has not yet been updated but we can review these bills on GovTrack.us.  On Tuesday, the Senate will convene at 3pm and resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.1, the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act. 

2.   As the government shutdown pushes into its third week, its effects are increasingly being felt, not only in federal land management (https://www.npr.org/2019/01/05/682374202/an-eerie-silence-where-federal-land-agency-workers-are-furloughed ) and border towns (https://www.npr.org/2019/01/06/682607955/texas-mayor-explains-how-the-government-shutdown-affects-his-border-city) but by workers--both “essential” workers who are expected to go on working without pay, like those at the TSA who are staging a “sick-in” (https://www.vox.com/2019/1/5/18169683/tsa-agents-skip-work-government-shutdown-pay), and non-essential ones, but the many who depend on these workers—cab drivers, restaurant owners and workers, and so on.  CNN is keeping tabs on the unexpected consequences of the shutdown on individuals:  https://www.cnn.com/us/live-news/government-shutdown-personal-stories/index.html  Soon food stamps, subsidized school lunch programs, and the functioning of the IRS will be affected.  We must urge our MoCs to push for the House proposal opening all government departments, except Homeland Security, on terms unanimously embraced by the Senate last month; under this plan, DHS would continue at its current funding level until Trump’s Wall is resolved.  Mitch McConnell refuses even to bring this plan to a vote in the Senate: 202-224-2541 or FAX 202-224-2499 or 317 Russell Senate Office Bldg., Washington DC 20510-0001

3.   The House has passed a temporary spending bill (H.R. 21) that could end the government shutdown, yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to take up any bills that do not have Trump's approval (https://bloom.bg/2QraSVHhttps://nyti.ms/2BVWcbW). McConnell seems to ignore the fact that Congress has the power to override presidential vetoes with enough votes, something it will very likely have with the spending bill. Let's contact Senator McConnell and tell him that we want him to bring the spending bill to the Senate floor: 317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: (202) 224-2541 Fax: (202) 224-2499 If we have a republican senator, let's also be sure to contact them and ask that they join senators Cory Gardner and Susan Collins in putting pressure on McConnell to end the government shutdown.

4.   Upholding human rights means holding yourself accountable to them. We must accept the UN's scrutiny if we are to credibly criticize other countries.   https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/jan/04/trump-administration-un-human-rights-violations  Let's push our MoCs to tell Trump he needs to stop ignoring official complaints and reports from UN rapporteurs. 

5.    Immigration Rights Activist Eduardo Samaniego Amaya was arrested last month in Georgia and is still in detention. He’s been transferred to the Irwin County Detention Center, a facility known for human rights abuses. Eduardo, who is in poor health, has been put in isolation and denied visits from friends and family. Last week, he was denied a request to be released on bail and he is being fast-tracked for deportation. Let’s read more about Eduardo here. Then let’s call ICE Atlanta Field Director, Sean Gallagher: (404) 893-1206 and Assistant Director Kristen Sullivan: 404-893-1203 and ask for Eduardo’s immediate release. We should emphasize that Eduardo is not a flight risk and he is not a danger. He is a respected community leader, student, and person of faith. We should make sure to use his A number (206-862-839) and full name (Eduardo Samaniego Amaya). We can also write personal letters of support to Eduardo at the following address: Eduardo Samaniego Amaya A# 206-862-839; Irwin County Detention Center; 132 Cotton Drive; Ocilla, Ga 31774

6.   From one of our own:  Public comments and actions:  this week’s list - despite shutdown, some things still posted though not updated on dept. websites - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fFa8o3euLiFpysOBKDtb3_h4ilP9RDGE

7.    At Trump’s urging, Homeland Security is asking that yet more troops be sent to the Mexico border, to install “fencing” and, theoretically, provide additional medical care for migrants in the wake of the deaths of two children who were uncared for while detained; this, to be paid for by the Department of Defense, unaffected by the government shutdown.  The Pentagon is reportedly now considering which units to send:  https://www.npr.org/2019/01/03/681971323/troops-to-be-deployed-to-border-to-build-160-miles-of-fencing  We need to make it clear to our MoCs and the now-headless Defense Department that we don’t want our tax dollars spent on Trump’s Wall, even in the guise of a “fence,” and that we hold Homeland Security and the Border Patrol responsible for the health and humane treatment of migrants:  Patrick Shanahan, Acting Secretary of Defense, 1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington DC 20301-1000 or 703-571-3343

8.   Tomorrow, the Senate will take up S.1, which is a compendium bill containing a handful of foreign-policy related measures, including a failed attempt from the last congressional session to defend the Israeli government by punishing or otherwise sanctioning entities which participate in or support the boycott of Israel. We can read more at The Intercept. The ACLU tells us why they are against it:  https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-comment-inclusion-anti-boycott-bill-s1 If we are supporters of First Amendment free speech, we can contact our Senators to let them know we oppose S.1.

9.    The Trump administration is set to lift sanctions against Russian companies run by oligarch Oleg Deripaska who supported Russian’s meddling in Western governments.  https://www.newsweek.com/trump-russia-putin-deripaska-paul-manafort-vtb-bank-glencore-1266018 However, members of the new Congress are taking another look at this decision in hopes of stopping the lift.  https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2019/jan/06/congress-reviews-russian-s-sanctions-re/  Let’s tell our MoCs that anyone or any business possibly involved in any government meddling should not have sanctions lifted.

10.  If we are laboring under the delusion that the government shutdown is hurting only furloughed federal workers—which it is—we might also want to consider its effect on healthcare: https://khn.org/news/how-the-government-shutdown-affects-health-programs/  We must urge our senators to agree to the Democrats proposal that all departments other than Homeland Security be reopened, as the Republican Senate agreed last month, while Trump’s demand for a Wall is negotiated. 

11.  Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was one of three who voted against a package of House rules because it contains an austerity provision that reimposes a "pay as you go," or paygo, requirement that would allow challenges to any legislation that adds to the deficit; Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) joined her, saying "Critical investments in education, infrastructure, and health care should not be held hostage to budgetary constraints that Republicans have never respected anyhow. We all believe we need to ultimately bring our budget into balance, but these investments are too important right now to pass up and will yield significant returns for the U.S. Treasury": https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/ocasio-cortez-opposes-pelosi-backed-spending-rules-dems-set-take-n953921   While we fully support financial responsibility in government, we are concerned that paygo will hamstring Democratic efforts to address climate change, health care, infrastructure, education, and debt—and let Speaker Nancy Pelosi know: 202-225-4965 or 1236 Longworth H.O.B., Washington DC 20515

12. “HUD’s oversight failures are profound, and they have left thousands of children and their families, seniors and people with disabilities living in unsafe housing for years. As landlords have slapped paint over mold, cardboard over holes, and hid problems behind walls and “Do Not Enter” signs, the agency has often looked the other way.”  https://www.propublica.org/article/hud-oversight-failures-are-symptoms-of-deeper-dysfunction As the article continues, both Republicans and Democrats have let this happen. Let’s tell our MoCs that we expect investigations into this, and legislation to fix it.

13. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced that, during the shutdown, she will donate her paycheck to charity. https://kutv.com/news/local/sen-elizabeth-warrens-says-shell-donate-paycheck-during-government-shutdown Native American communities, which depend on the federal government for basic services like health care, food, law enforcement, passable roadways, and more, are especially hard-hit by the shutdown. Let’s demand that our MoCs and Trump donate their salaries to Partnership with Native Americans, http://www.nativepartnership.org

14. “Smithsonian museums are closed. There are no federal staffers to answer tourists' questions at the Lincoln Memorial. And across the United States, national parks are cluttered with trash. Yet despite the federal government shutdown, a historic clock tower at the Trump International Hotel remained open for its handful of visitors, staffed by green-clad National Park Service rangers. "We're open!" one National Park Service ranger declared around lunchtime, pushing an elevator button for a lone visitor entering the site through a side entrance to ride to the top of the 315-foot-high, nearly 120-year-old clock tower in the nation’s capital. The Trump administration appears to have gone out of its way to keep the attraction in the federally owned building that houses the Trump hotel open and staffed with National Park Service rangers, even as other federal agencies shut all but the most essential services.”   https://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-pol-trump-hotel-government-shutdown-20190105-story.html  How convenient that this “PARK” in a trump hotel is open while our beautiful national parks are not being staffed.  Call the White House and ask them why this “PARK” is open!!! 

15. Indivisibles all over the country have started 2019 off at their district offices and rallies to welcome their new MoCs and remind them of the blue wave that voted them into power. They also welcome back incumbent MoCs to remind them that we’re ready to fight for progressive policies and hold both Republicans and Democrats accountable when they don’t fight for their constituents. https://act.indivisible.org/call/cr-reject-trumps-deportation-machine-and-wall  Let’s call senators and ask them to follow the lead of the House and OPEN GOVERNMENT. Pass the bill: Your MoCs Voice messages should be full, and their interns should be on the phone all day answering our calls! End the shutdown. 

Election/Voting

Other Actions

1.    Link correction:  If we are Progressives thinking about running for local, state or federal office, we can check this free two-day training workshop offered by The Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Training will “cover the A to Z’s of running for office, including pivoting to core message from curveball questions, having presence in the room, expanding your donor list, hiring experienced staff, winning local endorsements, earning great press, motivating volunteers, polling, and more.” We will also get a chance to take headshots, design logos, build a website and network with other Progressives from our state. We can find out more about where and when workshops will be held and then, if we decide to, apply here:  https://www.nationalcandidatetraining.com/

2.   Jennifer Fisher of Postcards for America suggests we write a congratulatory postcard to our new government officials at both state and national levels - introducing ourselves and letting them know we are watching. A Postcarder in Michigan who did so got a call of thanks from the new Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and not from a staffer, but the Governor herself.  We can use this site find contact informative for our elected officials:  https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.

3.   “Sick days among Transportation Security Administration employees have increased since a partial government shutdown beginning Dec. 22 left TSA personnel working without pay, the agency announced Friday. An increase in call-outs — workers who say they are too sick to work their shifts —started over the holidays and has grown, but the phenomenon is causing a "minimal impact" on the security screening process at airports, the agency says in a tweet.”  
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/01/04/government-shutdown-more-tsa-agents-calling-out-sick/2487457002/  Maybe more should be calling in sick.  Airlines need to pressure the government to open and pay employees. Let’s call our favorite airline and ask them to support the TSA workers and pressure the Government to open and pay all employees.   

4.   NPR has compiled "A Guide To Who's Who In House Leadership For The 116th Congress." Let's become familiar with the new leadership of the 116th Congress.

5.   “Thousands of people have signed a petition in New York City to rename the block in front of Trump Tower after former President Obama.”  https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/423822-petition-calls-to-rename-street-in-front-of-trump-tower-after  Let’s sign:  https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/rename-fifth-avenue-in

6.   Beyond donations: let’s look at this list for ways we can volunteer to help immigrant children: https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-volunteer-to-help-migrant-children-if-what-theyre-going-through-breaks-your-heart-15568312

7.   When Sarah Sanders gave misinformation regarding immigration and terrorists on Fox News Sunday yesterday, host Chris Wallace corrected her and provided the proper background information refuting her claims.  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sanders-repeats-claim-on-terrorists-at-the-border-refuted-by-administrations-own-data/  Let’s thank Chris Wallace for pushing the truth:  Chris Wallace, Fox News, 1211 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10036 or by tweeting him @FoxNewsSunday 

State Actions

1.    CA:  If we are 16 or 17 years old, or know people who are, we can pre-register to vote here:  https://registertovote.ca.gov/. We can then share this with our friends on social media. Over 200,00 students have signed up so far! We can find out more about the drive to register High School students here, including a little-known state law requiring schools to have a staffer distribute voter registration materials to students.  https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article218994780.html  We can also check out The Civics Center, which has gotten hundreds of California schools to comply with this law, and promotes civic engagement for High School students.  Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article218994780.html#storylinkpypromotes High School students’ civic engagement in several ways.

2.   MI: In January 2018, Michigan State University set up the MSU Healing Assistance Fund, which reimbursed mental health services and counseling for sexual assault survivors of Larry Nassar. In July, MSU froze payments, and in December, Interim President John Engler announced that the fund was officially closed, ostensibly because a separate settlement with some of the survivors had been reached, and with a desire to use the remaining money from the Fund to pay for the expenses of the lawsuit (https://bit.ly/2QpLKyU). However, not all survivors were part of the settlement, and thus will receive zero financial reimbursement for costs incurred as a result of Nassar's actions. MSU Honor is asking the community to take action to tell MSU that we want the Healing Assistance Fund be reinstated. Let's visit their website and add our names to the list of Michiganders who want to see this fund reinstated, then let's contact Interim President John Engler to tell him that he is leaving some survivors with nothing- MSU needs to honor its commitment and reinstate the MSU Healing Assistance Fund: Office of the President Michigan State University 426 Auditorium Road Hannah Administration Building, Room 450 East Lansing, MI 48824-1046 E-mail: presmail@msu.edu Phone: (517) 355-6560 Fax: (517) 355-4670

Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize

1.    The Indigenous Peoples March will be held on Friday, January 18, in Washington, D.C.  We can find more information here:  https://indigenouspeoplesmovement.com/

2.   Another Women’s March is coming up.  Whether we align ourselves with 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 Saturday, January 19, 2019.  Let’s check with our favorite organization or local group and find out how we can help.

Reading/Watching

1.    Emergencies Without End: A Primer on Federal States of Emergency - https://www.lawfareblog.com/emergencies-without-end-primer-federal-states-emergency

2.   A New Moral Imagination on Immigration by Pramila Jayapal - https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/12/03/a-new-moral-imagination-on-immigration/

3.   Time to Walk Away From the Women’s March - http://www.hadassahmagazine.org/2019/01/03/time-walk-away-womens-march/




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