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1. THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS: The House will consider nine (9) bills this week starting Monday. Let's look at The Weekly Leader so we know what's coming. The Senate starts off the week by resuming consideration of William Cooper to be General Counsel of the Department of Energy. (Source: Senate Floor Schedule)
2. IMMIGRATION: DETENTION FACILITY CONDITIONS: While this hasn’t been recently covered by the mainstream media, conditions at ICE detention centers are still horrific, with reports of denial of medications, bedsheets made of nooses, and prohibitions against throwing out old bread. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/01/inspection-finds-ice-detainee-conditions-endanger-health-safety/?utm_term=.6010c9d6e927. ICE itself noted the problems after a visit to one detention center in Adelanto, CA. run by the for-profit GEO group. According to the ACLU, there are “no regulations or enforceable standards” in detention centers for medical treatment or mental health care. Let’s tell our MoCs that access to medical treatment is a basic human right for every person currently on our soil and ask them to pass legislation to assure that everyone in detention has their health needs met.
3. ELECTION SECURITY/RUSSIAN HACKING: The former head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, had targeted measures against Russian hacking in the 2020 election as a top priority, but she was told by Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, not to bring this issue up with Trump https://www.businessinsider.com/mulvaney-kirstjen-nielsen-trump-russia-interference-2020-election-report-2019-4 because it highlighted Russia’s role in helping him win in 2016, a fact now confirmed by the Mueller Report, that calls the entire legitimacy of the election into question. Let’s tell our MoCs that they have to take strong and immediate measures to protect our voting system for 2020. Let’s also continue to spread the word throughout all our networks that the Mueller Report has confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt that the 2016 election is illegitimate and Trump would not have won without the help of the Russians.
4. FED RESERVE NOMINEE, STEPHEN MOORE: While we can be happy about nominee Herman Cain’s withdrawal, nominee Stephen Moore, has been on record for continually degrading comments about women. He has even questioned co-ed sports and come out against equal pay, claiming that if women earn more than men, men will become economically expendable and divorce rates will rise. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/23/us/politics/stephen-moore-women.html. Let’s tell our Senators that these views are abhorrent and against the Civil Rights Act, and that Moore must withdraw immediately.
5. SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING: A tragic shooting took place in a synagogue on Saturday near San Diego on the last night of Passover: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-shooting/rabbi-recalls-coming-face-to-face-with-shooter-at-california-synagogue-idUSKCN1S406S Let’s take a moment to let our MoC know that having a president stoke the fires of anti-Semitism and White Nationalism continues to be deadly and cannot continue. Let’s also express our condolences to the congregation: https://www.chabadpoway.com/tools/feedback.htm
6. EPA PROPOSED RULE CHANGE: Under pressure from the Defense department, the EPA intends to weaken the standard for cleaning up toxic groundwater pollution from per- and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAs) that contaminates the drinking water of millions of us; the new rules drop a measure that allowed the EPA to take emergency action to clean up pollution sites and emphasizes instead longer-term remedial actions—which can take years—even in instances in which the government has confirmed that drinking water has been contaminated: https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/440874-critics-accuse-epa-of-weakening-pollution-rule-for-pentagon and https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/us/epa-chemical-standards-water.html We have 45 days, UNTIL JUNE 10, to protect our water supplies from these dangerous chemicals, and many too few of us have objected to this proposed new standard. To comment: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OLEM-2019-0229
7. BARR AND CONGRESSIONAL HEARING: Attorney General William Barr continues to play chicken with the rule of law and our constitution. He does not like the planned questioning format of his upcoming Congressional hearing and might not appear: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/28/william-barr-house-hearing-mueller-report Let’s let our MoCs know that it is clear that the Trump administration has zero intent to respect norms and laws and that we expect more brisk action against the corruption of this administration and let’s also remind AG Barr that he works for us and that his actions are unacceptable: https://www.justice.gov/contact-us
8. DISASTER RELIEF: While the Senate began its recess without approving additional funds for disaster relief, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has presented another concern for those in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico: the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has stalled the dispersal of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds (https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-232). As of the release of the GAO report, none of the already-approved block grant disaster relief for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico had been accessed. The Inspector General of HUD is investigating whether the Trump administration has interfered with disaster relief funding, but in the meantime, children and adults in these territories are suffering mental health crises. (https://n.pr/2IS5KtT, https://bit.ly/2OMvQ1I). Let's contact our MoCs and ask them to not only approve funding for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but to also review the recommendations by the Government Accountability Office and pressure HUD to distribute relief funds.
9. SCIENCE AT THE USDA: In an anti-science move many of us probably missed, Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue announced plans to relocate the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture outside the nation's capital last August--despite the fact that 56 former USDA and federal statistical agency officials, including former deputy and undersecretaries, and 1,100 scientists and economists have told him or congressional leaders that such a move would threaten the USDA’s scientific integrity: https://www.farmprogress.com/usda/scientists-economists-call-ers-nifa-stay-washington-dc Nevertheless, Purdue is determined to undermine these agencies, who play a critical policy role: https://www.savannahnow.com/news/20190425/trump-administration-to-move-usda-research-divisions-despite-concerns. Let’s raise a fuss and let the USDA know that we want good science to govern the policy that protects our food supply: 202-720-2791 or USDA, 1400 Independence Ave, SW, Washington DC 20250.
10. CONGRESSIONAL OBSTRUCTION: Trump has declared that he will fight “all the subpoenas” issued by the House, and apparently he means it: Treasury missed a Tuesday deadline to produce Trump's tax returns, the WH personnel security director was told not to answer a Congressional subpoena, the WH plans to sue over the subpoena issued to WH counsel Don McGhan, and Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has already refused to answer Congress’s questions about the 2020 census. Since subpoenas and contempt citations issued by Congress last only for the duration of that Congress, that is, until January 21, 2021, it’s pretty clear Trump hopes to play for time by going to court and/or claiming executive privilege: https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/440409-trump-says-hell-fight-all-the-subpoenas or https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/24/us/politics/donald-trump-subpoenas.html. For details on how Trump might fight specific subpoenas, we can consult https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/24/how-trump-congress-subpoena-fight-is-likely-play-out/ Let’s tell our MoCs and the White House that obstructing Congress in its duties is not an executive privilege.
11. ANOTHER ETHICS INVESTIGATION IN INTERIOR DEPARTMENT “Following allegations of a “disturbing pattern of misconduct” at Donald Trump’s interior department, based in part on Guardian reporting, the agency’s watchdog has opened an investigation into six top officials there. It comes in response to a 20 February ethics complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan watchdog group, that alleged a culture of “skirting ethical rules” among key staff appointed in the wake of Trump’s November 2016 election victory. “Former [interior] secretary Ryan Zinke and [current interior] secretary David Bernhardt, now under investigation himself for ethics violations, have failed to demonstrate adequate ethical behavior at the top of Interior. Last week, the inspector general opened a wide-ranging investigation into allegations that Bernhardt has violated federal ethics rules by involving himself in a series of official decisions that potentially benefited his former lobbying clients, such as a powerful agricutural group in California. That investigation is ongoing.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/23/skirting-ethical-rules-trumps-key-staff-under-investigation-at-interior-agency Let’s remind Bernhardt he works for the US citizens not his friends or former clients. Contact him here https://www.doi.gov/contact-us
12. PUBLIC COMMENTS NEEDED: Comments and actions week ending May 5, 2019 includes exposing miners to diesel exhaust, RoundUp comment period, definition of college credit hour, ACA, Election integrity & voting systems, Energy efficiency standards, CFPB payday loans. Let’s check here and comment where we can: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yyVvbP6FFIJX3AtPS1KSuVk31a-0WDmL/view
1. NEW POSTCARDING CAMPAIGNS: Postcards To Voters' a) Campaign 156: Melanie Hughes for Allen TX City Council. b) Campaign 157: Dona Kim Murphey and Joseph Say for Pearland ISD in TX. Let's request 5 addresses today for one of the open campaigns.
1. CONTEST EVERY RACE: “520,000 elected offices—and Democrats aren’t competing in up to 75% of them,” declares Contest Every Race, a program of Resistance Labs https://contesteveryrace.com/ . Resistance Labs is looking for folks who can make a 3-6 hour commitment to join their Research Team. Our work will help recruit and elect Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. To find out more and to volunteer, let’s visit: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScoYsWrHB7AC7BHo_8OTY1L9M_-rsj44h1WPaiV9pET_SvBkw/viewform
2. IOWA STATE REP LEAVES THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, CITING TRUMP: State Rep Andy McKean, a life-long Republican who serves IA House District 58 (Jackson County and parts of Jones County and Dubuque County), has announced that he is leaving the Republican Party to join the Democrats, shrinking the GOP’s majority to 53-47. https://siouxcityjournal.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/anamosa-rep-andy-mckean-leaves-iowa-gop-for-democrats/article_7216508c-5d01-5888-9732-0f0e6cd22a19.html His key reason for leaving, he said in a statement, is his inability to support Trump as the standard bearer of the GOP. Let’s read his full statement here, https://www.bleedingheartland.com/2019/04/23/iowa-house-member-andy-mckean-leaves-republican-caucus/, and let’s send Rep Andy McKean a message of thanks: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 509 S Oak St, Anamosa, IA 52205.
3. PUERTO RICO: The people of Puerto Rico have a request for our presidential candidates. "We, the undersigned organizations, representing millions from the Puerto Rican Diaspora and allies, strongly urge you to publicly support a comprehensive platform addressing the fiscal and economic crises facing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico." Let's share this detailed open letter with presidential candidates and ask them to respond: https://www.power4puertorico.com/lettertocandidates
4. UNIQUE MOTHERS' DAY GIFT OPTIONS: The International Rescue Committee helps people whose lives have been upended by conflict and disaster. The organization offers a variety of Mothers' Day gifts including a baby kits filled with clothing, baby soap, diapers and other necessities, that encourage moms come to their medical centers to give birth, meaning more moms will have a healthy and safe delivery and the supplies they need to care for their precious newborns. Let's check out the gift options at Rescue.org and dedicate a gift to someone special.
5. 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY: Indivisible is promoting a positive 3-step pledge that we can sign on to: A) Make the primary constructive, B) Rally behind the winner -- no matter who it is, and C) Do the work to beat Trump. Seems reasonable to us! We can take the pledge, and donate to Indivisible if we can, here: https://pledge.indivisible.org/
6. CAMPAIGN HELP: Not sure what issues your potential constituents find important? Let's crowdsource the issues that the candidates should address in their campaigns: https://thedemlabs.org/2019/04/02/let-voters-tell-you-directly-what-they-care-about-with-real-time-crowdsourcing/
7. SCHOOL LIBRARY BOOKS: Former Minnesota Senator Al Franken (D), who once sat on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, is asking for our help in providing library books for the new Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School in northern Minnesota. Let’s see how we can help: https://alfranken.com/read/books-for-bug-o-nay-ge-shig-school-in-leech-lake-mn
8. AMY SISKIND'S WEEKLY LIST: 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, "This week Trump’s White House refused all requests by House Democrats to interview current or former members of the regime, or to turn over records, including those requested by subpoena." Let's review Week 128.
9. INCREASE VOTER TURNOUT THROUGH FACEBOOK: If we are interested in ways to Increase voter turnout, we can check out this University of Texas article on the ways to use Facebook to motivate voters. So elegant observations are: In one study, turnout among individuals who received praise messages was 16 percent higher than those who received no reminder. Turnout among those who received shaming messages was 24 percent higher. In these individual studies, tagging one’s Facebook friends proved significantly more effective than traditional mobilization campaigns, which typically increase voter turnout by 3 to 8 percent. “Simply tagging friends in a reminder to vote is insufficient,” Haenschen said. “It is the heightened visibility of individuals’ voting behavior made possible on Facebook that appears to be driving turnout.” We can read this article on increasing turnout and, if we wish, apply the recommended strategy: The best way to actually increase participation is to identify reluctant voters in your social circle and tag them in a Facebook post praising them for voting in the past and reminding them you'll know if they skipped the election this time around." https://moody.utexas.edu/news/facebook-more-effective-mobilizing-voters-traditional-get-out-vote-efforts-study-finds
10. POSTCARDING ISSUES: Looking for a list of issues and addresses to use with our postcarding group. Here is one from one of our own: https://docs.google.com/document/d/128IEcff_sCgFWTx3EOPXugMh3KUz9AtTB5ApxK4XGwI/edit
1. LA, MS, VA, WI: JOIN NEW SISTER DISTRICT TEAMS—Founded after the 2016 presidential election, the Sister District Project (SDP) works to get Democrats elected in state legislatures across the country, https://sisterdistrict.com/ As SDP points out, “elections in 2019 and 202 are the last chance for Democrats to gain power in state legislatures prior to redistricting in 2021, which will determine electoral maps for the next decade.” https://sisterdistrict.com/why-states-matter/2019-2020-political-strategy/ . New SDP teams are forming in LA, MS, VA, and WI. If we’re in these states, let’s get involved by contacting email@example.com
2. CA PROTECT OUR LANDMARK CLIMATE CHANGE BILL: SB 100, our landmark climate bill signed into law last year is now in danger from SB 386 which passed Senate Energy this week. The bill would effectively gut and undermine SB 100 by allowing electricity generated from EXISTING LARGE HYDRO DAMS to count towards the 60% renewable energy standard established under SB 100. Since the irrigation districts are already fully sourced, this means they can take credit for their hydro, and then sell off their existing RPS compliant resources. It effectively guts SB 350 and SB 100. If they can count existing large hydro, there are no new renewable resources needed. This bill does not need to go through appropriations and folks are afraid they may just take it up to the Senate floor very quickly to try to move it before people notice. We can call our Senator at (213) 745-6656 , and tell them to vote NO ON SB 386, using this script if we would like.: "Hello, my name is <NAME> from <TOWN>. I'm calling to express serious concern about SB 386, a bill that would effectively gut the renewable energy goals set forth in SB 100 by allowing large hydro dams to count toward the standard. Climate change is an emergency and I expect California to lead the way in environmental reform, not undermine our own progress. Can I count on my Senator to vote NO on SB 386 on the Senate floor?"
3. FL: BILL TO IMPOSE FEES ON EX-FELONS BEFORE THEY CAN VOTE: Despite 64% of Floridians voting to restore ex-felon voting rights in November, the Florida House just passed a bill requiring these people to pay all restitution and court fees before they can vote. https://www.axios.com/florida-house-passes-bill-requiring-former-felons-pay-voting-d8050b00-68bd-454b-ae0a-50baf6a77eba.html. This is a slap in the face to all Florida voters, and the modern-day equivalent of an unconstitutional poll tax. The bill now heads to the Senate. Let’s tell our State Senators to honor the will of the electorate and vote against this bill.
4. FL: IMMIGRATION: The House has passed the anti-immigration HB 527, with a vote expected on the Senate's version of the bill (SB 168) very soon (https://cbsn.ws/2ZwhKqU). The bills would prohibit sanctuary cities and require law enforcement agencies to work with ICE and identify people who may not have legal citizenship (https://bit.ly/2FDMYmw). It would also require correctional facilities to detain any person who ICE requests to be held (https://bit.ly/2I7bfVd). 1 of 5 Florida residents is an immigrant and almost a million live with an undocumented family member; immigrants compose one quarter of the Florida labor force. Let's contact our state senators and tell them that we strongly oppose these bills, and expect them to vote against them. We can also check to see how our state reps voted on the bill, and hold them accountable or thank them for their vote.
5. TN: VOTER SUPPRESSION: Tennessee has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, but the state legislature is trying to enact bills that would restrict voter registration even more. “The state House approved House Bill 1079/Senate Bill 971 on partisan lines on April 15 and the Senate approved it 25-6 on Thursday, with Republican Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville joining the five Democrats in the Senate. Senators still have to work out some differences with the House, but it will go to Gov. Bill Lee sooner than later.” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/24/opinion/tennessees-voter-registration-drives.html Let’s tell Gov. Lee to veto this bill so that more people can continue to vote.
Marches/events/webinars/Tweetstorms to attend/organize
1. Kansas Supreme Court Rules State Constitution Protects Right to Abortion - https://www.npr.org/2019/04/26/717449336/kansas-supreme-court-rules-state-constitution-protects-right-to-abortion
2. Why Aren’t Women Polling Better? The Misogynistic Millstone Around America’s Neck - https://www.newsandguts.com/misogyny-is-alive-and-unwell-in-the-presidential-race/
3. Former Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen was worried about Russia meddling in the 2020 election, but was reportedly warned not to bring the issue up to Trump - https://www.businessinsider.com/mulvaney-kirstjen-nielsen-trump-russia-interference-2020-election-report-2019-4