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5/14/20

NATIONAL ISSUES


Contact all Federal Members of Congress
(includes contact info and links to social media)

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HEROES ACT – NEXT COVID RELIEF BILL: “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that more relief spending by the government may be necessary to avoid a prolonged economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”  https://www.newsweek.com/extra-600-unemployed-workers-would-extended-under-democrats-heroes-act-proposal-1503786  The Heroes Act (not yet numbered), which may be voted on tomorrow in the House does just that.  Let’s tell our MoCs that we support this bill and the only changes to be made should help workers. 

TESTING FOR COVID:  The Trump White House’s insistent unpreparedness for the pandemic resulted in the lack of proper supplies, nationwide testing/tracing, and many more deaths than should have happened.  Even now, with the states each taking their own approach, we are way behind the rest of the world.  For example, Michigan is hoping to test 450,000 (of approx. 10 million people) in May. https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/michigan/2020/05/12/michigan-gov-whitmer-goal-is-to-test-450000-residents-for-virus-in-may/  While China was less than truthful at the beginning of this crisis, there was a small cluster of new cases in Wuhan over the weekend and now they’re planning to test eleven million people over the next ten days. https://reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN22N24F?  Let’s contact our MoCs and ask for stepped up nationwide testing and tracing to help us understand this and move on. 

DEMAND CDC REOPENING GUIDELINES BE USED AND THEIR COVERUP INVESTIGATED: Health experts and the CDC labored long and hard to come up with the best Guidelines for Reopening America while keeping as many of us as safe as possible under such circumstances, but the Trump Administration ignored it and hid it away from the American people. https://apnews.com/2f538853489ab577a8d57abc59e2c112
Fortunately, the entire document has been leaked to the Associated Press and we can read it here:  https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6889330/Guidance-for-Opening-Up-America-Again-Framework.pdf  After reading  the CDC Guidelines for Reopening America, let’s call our MoCs to demand implementation and an investigation into why and how this life saving plan was shelved.  Let’s also ask our local officials to adopt these recommendations, since we can no longer rely on the federal government to act on them.

OIL AND GAS BAILOUTS:  The Trump administration is taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to try to bolster the fossil fuel industry, calling for a bailout of oil and gas companies. https://www.ajc.com/blog/jamie-dupree/airline-bailout-begins-trump-urges-aid-for-oil-and-gas-industry/vGY2n2LUTdX4i5J5MBN1IM/  Federal assistance should be going to help out folks who've lost their jobs, not fossil fuel CEOs. Senator Jeff Merkley and Rep. Nanette Barragan have introduced the REWIND Act (H.R. 6707) to stop oil, gas and coal companies from getting access to stimulus funding and stop the Trump administration from loosening regulations on fossil fuels during this crisis. Let's join 350.org in asking our members of Congress to support this legislation.

SECOND LOOK ACT:  Coronavirus is hitting folks behind bars hard, creating new hot spots across the country. Social distancing was always going to be difficult in prisons, but it's a particular challenge in the United States due to the size of our incarcerated population/. https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/coronavirus-sweeping-through-massive-us-prison-population  Senator Cory Booker and Rep. Karen Bass have introduced the Second Look Act (S.2146/H.R. 3795) to create a sentence review procedure that will help folks who have served more than a decade in federal prison and pose no threat to public safety rejoin society. 

DEMAND THAT ICE STOP USING COVID AS AN EXCUSE TO NOT RELEASE MIGRANT CHILDREN TO SPONSORS: The Flores Settlement mandates that unaccompanied migrant children only be held for 30 days, but ICE is using COVID as an excuse to hold onto many teenagers so they can deport them on their 18th birthday. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-05-12/trump-officials-coronavirus-refuse-releasing-migrant-kids?. Let’s call our MoCs and ask them what they are going to do to make ICE stop this illegal practice.

TRUMP’S EFFORT TO KILL THE USPS:  Continuing his blatantly partisan political appointments and determined to privatize (if not kill) the postal service, Trump has now named an unqualified political donor named Louis DeJoy as the new Postmaster General; DeJoy has never worked at the USPS, but he has met Trump’s criteria—he has donated at least $2 million to the Trump campaign and to other Republicans since 2016.     https://www.npr.org/2020/05/07/851976464/new-postmaster-general-is-top-gop-fundraiser  One of the leading employers of women and non-white workers in the US (https://about.usps.com/strategic-planning/cs09/CSPO_09_087.htm ), the USPS was headed by Megan Brennan, the first female Postmaster General, appointed in 2015. Given the Bush-era burden placed ONLY on the USPS—that the agency pre-fund all employee retiree health benefits for 75 years into the future, which accounts for 80% to 90% of the USPS’s current revenue losses—and given the effects of the pandemic, Brennan predicts that the USPS may close by the end of summer: https://fortune.com/2020/05/07/usps-postmaster-general-louis-dejoy-us-postal-service-trump-democrats/ Trump calls the USPS a “joke,” but we know it may be critical to a fair election in November.  Let’s inform Congress and the White House that the post office is far too important right now to be headed by a partisan political lackey.

TELL ALL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO WEAR MASKS: Now that there have been positive cases of COVID-19 in the White House, all staffers are required to wear masks. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/white-house-require-staffers-wear-masks-west-wing-n1204551. However, Trump, Pence, and many GOP Senators are still refusing to set an example by wearing masks, themselves. While one could argue that they have the right to decide whether or not to protect themselves, wearing a mask protects the health of others around you, and not wearing a mask is basically a statement that you don’t care whether or not others might get potentially deadly germs. Let’s tell the White House and our MoCs that we expect every single person in government to wear a mask to show their caring and concern for the people in our nation.

#JUSTICEFORAHMAUD: While Travis and Gregory McMichael have been arrested for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, there is still a long way to go in achieving justice for Ahmaud and his family. We can start by joining the NAACP of Georgia in demanding that Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson and Waycross Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill resign for their extreme bias in refusing to bring charges against the McMichaels: Mailing address: Jackie Johnson District Attorney Glynn County, 701 H Street, Box 301, Brunswick, GA 31520. Phone: (912) 554-7200. George E. Barnhill, District Attorney, 306 Albany Avenue, Waycross, GA 31501. Then, let's check out these actions items at Showing Up for Racial Justice and ensure that we are supporting the work of anti-racist organizations in Georgia and elsewhere: https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/justiceforahmaud.html

MICHAEL FLYNN CASE/DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Judge Emmet Sullivan slowed Attorney General William Barr’s assault on the rule of law by pausing the dropping of charges against Michael Flynn… who pleaded guilty:  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/12/michael-flynn-case-justice-department-dismiss  Let’s take a moment to thank Judge Sullivan for standing up for the values of our nation and the rule of law: https://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/content/dcd-court-location

FUND VOTE-BY-MAIL—The coronavirus pandemic is a threat to safe, in-person voting in the 2020 election. Stand Up America notes that we need at least $4 billion for vote-by-mail, expanded early voting, online voter registration, and other reforms to protect our vote in 2020. Let’s use SUA’s tools to call our Members of Congress and demand funding for vote-by-mail: https://www.standupamerica.com/page/why-we-need-vote-by-mail/

KROGER 'HERO" PAY: From Sleeping Giants:  Kroger is ending "Hero Pay" for its in-store employees in 6 days. "Hero pay" is just $2 an hour above their base pay, which is not a lot for a company that brought in $121 billion in revenue last year [https://bit.ly/2xXWwZU]. The pandemic isn't over, so why is Kroger ending hazard pay? Here's what else you need to know: The average Kroger employee makes just $24,912/year. The CEO and other executives are all still working from home (he makes $12 million/year). Kroger isn't requiring its customers to wear masks in locations where it is not required by law. Unbelievable. Let's send a message to Kroger that this isn't ok. Contact: Klare Williamson, Corporate Communications Manager: Klare.Williamson@Kroger.com. We can find an email template here.

STOP THE DESTRUCTION OF THE POST OFFICE—US Mail Not for Sale is a campaign of the American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers. The campaign’s goal is “to preserve affordable, universal mail service for all—without regard to where they live, age, nationality, income, or race.” Let’s go to the website to sign up, take action, and download resources: https://usmailnotforsale.org/

ELECTION/VOTING

REMINDER:   Let’s make sure to regularly check our voter registration status. States are purging voters routinely--we don't want to get caught off guard. Take 1 minute and check right now: I Will Vote  Then, let’s check how to vote by mail in our state. Many rules have changed due to the pandemic and we may be able to vote with a mailed ballot. We can find our state's latest voting rules here: How to Vote By Mail in Every State

ADOPT A SENATE RACE: Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz frequently uses Twitter to implore folks to “adopt a Senate race”:   https://twitter.com/brianschatz/status/1258583884368801792 (by donating money, volunteering, getting the word out). During COVID, key GOP Senate races have been narrowing towards good news for Democratic contenders:  https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/496898-gop-senators-worry-trump-covid-19-could-cost-them-their-majority Let’s take Senator Schatz up on his ask and engage with some key races to the extent we are able by supporting one of the Democratic primary candidates. The Ballotpedia links take us to a full page of information about that state's senate primary including a list of candidates.

              MAINE: Incumbent Susan Collins (R): Primary July 14Maine Ballotpedia

ARIZONA: Incumbent Martha McSally (R): Primary Aug. 4Arizona Ballotpedia. Note: Mark Kelly is the only remaining Democrat in this race. https://markkelly.com/

NORTH CAROLINA: Incumbent Thom Tillis (R): Democrat Cal Cunningham won this primary on March 3. (NC Ballotpedia) We can contribute to him at:  https://www.calfornc.com/

IOWA: Incumbent Joni Ernst (R): Primary June 2Iowa Ballotpedia. From The Hill: Ernst lead evaporates in Iowa Senate race

SOUTH CAROLINA: Incumbent Lindsey Graham (R): Primary June 9SC Ballotpedia. Note: Jaime Harrison is the only remaining Democrat on the ballot. https://jaimeharrison.com/. A top SC donor who previously backed Graham, now backs Harrison. (Source: Post and Courier

MONTANA: Incumbent Steve Daines(R): Primary June 2Montana Ballotpedia.

COLORADO: Incumbent Cory Gardner (R): Primary June 30. Colorado Ballotpedia

NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY—The organization National Voter Registration Day ordinarily works with organizations. But now, they have a program for us to help as individuals. This year’s National Voter Registration Day is September 22. Let’s sign up so we can be informed of events, tools, and resources and help register voters even if we aren’t members of an organization:  https://nationalvoterregistrationday.org/individuals/

INCREASE COLLEGE STUDENT VOTING: Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice has a campaign called Ask Your College to Ask Every Student. It provides us with the resources and tools we need to ask colleges to commit to engaging students in voter participation. We don’t have to be UUs to participate! Let’s sign up and get the Action Kit:  http://uusj.net/wp1/ask-your-college/

JOIN BETO FOR TEXAS VIRTUAL VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVES, 5/18 and 5/21: Powered by People is holding 2 Virtual Phone Banks with Beto O’Rourke to get new to Texans folks registered to vote in November. We can join them to call Democrats that just moved to Texas in the past 12 months and make sure that they get registered and ready to vote!  Flipping TEXAS will be key to winning the white house in November, so let’s get busy. We can click here to sign up for a Virtual Voter Registration Drive/Phone Bank today! Phonebank #1:  5/18, 6:30 pm CT, Personal computer needed:  https://act.betoorourke.com/event/voter-registration/34367/signup/ Phonebank #2:  5/21, 6:30 pm CT, Personal computer needed:  https://act.betoorourke.com/event/voter-registration/34366/signup

STATE/LOCAL

ALL: CAUTION YOUR GOVERNOR ABOUT RE-OPENING: Yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that “reopening the country too soon could turn the clock back and lead to suffering and death that could be avoided.” Yet the majority of states that are starting to lift social distancing restrictions haven’t even met the most basic White House benchmarks.  https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/12/anthony-fauci-senate-testimony-coronavirus-251233. Let’s tell our governor not to consider any baby steps towards re-opening our state until these minimum benchmarks are met. 

ALL: REQUIRE CORONAVIRUS VACCINATION FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL ATTENDANCE: The anti-vaxxers are already spreading disinformation about a vaccine for the coronavirus, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/13/technology/coronavirus-vaccine-disinformation.html and https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01423-4  If and when a vaccine becomes available, it should be required for public school attendance, just like the vaccine for polio and other diseases. It can take a very long time for legislation to wend its way through state legislatures; it makes sense to ask our state legislators to start introducing bills about a coronavirus vaccine now. Let’s do so! 

CA: USE THIS MAP TO FIND FREE FOOD FOR CALIFORNIANS: There is an alarmingly high level of food insecurity throughout the state right now. Job losses, reduced work hours and school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have made it hard for Californians to both pay bills and feed their families. To help people find free food resources, LA Controller Ron Galperin has released a “Food for Californians” map of 1,800+ food banks, food pantries and emergency food centers that serve every California county so that anyone seeking assistance during the pandemic can quickly and easily find nutritious sustenance. In addition to free food resources statewide, the map shows the locations of nearly 500 grocery stores in L.A. County with special shopping hours for seniors, individuals with disabilities and the immunocompromised. We can check out the “ Food for Californians” map here and forward it to family members, friends and anyone we know who may find it useful:  https://lacontroller.org/data-stories-and-maps/foodforcalifornians/

GA: HATE CRIME LEGISLATION: Georgia remains one of only four states in the U.S. that does not have any hate crime laws (https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/laws-and-policies). While the House passed legislation to change this last year, the bill has stagnated in the Senate (https://bit.ly/2WqHMw8). Let's contact our state senators and ask them to pass H.B. 426 and S. 166 immediately.

MA: RANKED-CHOICE VOTING: Donald Trump is in office despite having lost the popular vote, with many having voted for a third party in 2016. Advocates for ranked-choice voting argue that it can stop the spoiler effect of third parties, allowing more voices in the electorate without leading to candidates winning in spite of the majority of the electorate opposing them. Advocates are looking to spread ranked-choice voting around the country - including bringing it to Massachusetts with a ballot initiative that would establish it as law. https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/01/07/massachusetts-weighs-instant-runoff-vs-plurality-electoral-system Unfortunately, with COVID-19 reformers are having difficulty getting the signatures they need to put ranked-choice voting on the ballot. Massachusetts voters can help by signing the petition for ranked-choice voting electronically at this link.

RALLIES/GATHERINGS/TRAININGS/GROUP ACTIONS/TWEETSTORMS

DIGITAL RALLY AGAINST GUNS AT MICHIGAN PROTESTS:  Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer has come in for a lot of flack for her rigid Stay-Home/Stay-Safe program and her caution for opening the state.  There have been some gun-brandishing protests at the state Capitol with another planned for today.  Today we can join SWIM (StateWide Indivisible Michigan) in a digital rally to hold gunners at the Lansing, MI protests accountable for their actions. It’s illegal and it’s called Brandishing a Firearm.  The toolkit they prepared includes sample Facebook and twitter posts, letters to the editor, news article links and more. Everything messengers need to participate in a digital storm today, May 14th from 9a – 2p ET.  Here’s the link to the toolkit: 

LEARN HOW TO SPOT CONSPIRACY THEORIES:  Today, May 14 at 12 noon MDT, we can join Vanessa Otero of AdFontes Media and the creator of the Media Bias Chart, to learn more about recognizing conspiracy theories.  We need to register here for the Zoom event:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIqduisrDwjHNMUE9EnFaQ4FYOvgLcCACoK 

ACLU SMART JUSTICE CAMPAIGN WEBINAR:  The ACLU Smart Justice campaign has decided to host a digital day of action titled “Uniting for Pretrial Reform” in May. It will be online, and it will be throughout the day on May 27th. Some of the sessions include a Q&A with ACLU staff, a tele-townhall with multiple legislators (on the topic of pretrial reform), a storytelling panel in the afternoon, and throughout the day there will be multiples ways to engage our elected officials.  Here’s a registration link to sign up! https://zoom.us/webinar/register/1415859446055/WN_Wb92iZkTRGmkTJlHepNcIg  We want to make sure that people feel their voices can be heard even during this new normal phase we currently we find ourselves in and that we advocate for the most vulnerable of us.  

MASS POOR PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY & MORAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON: “The Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington is going digital! On June 20th, we will hold the largest digital and social media gathering of poor and low-wealth people, moral and religious leaders, advocates, and people of conscience in this nation’s history. A global pandemic is exposing even more the already existing crisis of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. On June 20, the 140 million poor and low-wealth people across this nation will be heard!”  We can sign up here:  https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-for-june-20-2020-mass-poor-peoples-assembly-moral-march-on-washington

READING/WATCHING/LISTENING

Do the State Shutdowns Violate the U.S. Constitution? - https://thebulwark.com/do-the-state-shutdowns-violate-the-u-s-constitution/


Fox News is telling its employees to work from home for at least another month while its TV hosts push for businesses to reopen - https://www.businessinsider.com/fox-news-closed-while-on-air-talent-push-reopen-2020-5

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We can stay up to date on Congress by checking out their schedules. a) The House publishes a weekly schedule at The Weekly Leader (published and dated Friday) as well as daily schedules at The Daily Leader. b) The Senate updates their schedule daily at the Senate Floor Schedule







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