Kate Baumgartner, Sen. Murray’s Seattle Metropolitan Director ~ Main P: (202) 224-2621 / (866) 481-9186 ~ F: (202) 224-0238
Tommy Bauer, Sen. Cantwell’s Seattle Outreach Director ~ Main P: (202) 224-3441 ~ F: (202) 228-0514
WA’s Upside Down Tax Code
Jackie Vaughn spoke about Washington State’s upside down tax code, where the poorest pay 18% tax and the wealthy pay 3%. It is the most upside down tax code in the country. According to the WA state Constitution, we cannot tax income or property: WashingtonPolicy.org. We can reform the tax codes however: to tax capital gains and close tax loopholes. There are hundreds of them. She urged us all to go to the tax rally at 2pm on the 14th, this Saturday at Judkins Park in Seattle.
FB event ~ IBI.org event.
The Facebook event points to the statewide campaign to reform the tax code: All in for WA.
Sophia Hoffacker (l) and Jackie Vaughn at the rally
I-1631: Clean Jobs Clean Energy
Sophia Hoffacker asked us to sign onto I-1631 and volunteer to get signatures to impose a tax on carbon emissions that will affect manufacturers – and pay for research into clean energy. More: YesOn1631.org.
Rapid Response if Mueller’s Investigation is Threatened
Kati from Seattle Indivisible highlighted the rapid response mechanism, whereby hundreds of thousands of people across the country would rally if Trump fired Mueller or Rosenstein – or otherwise threatened Mueller’s investigation. Please join a local group. More: Act.MoveOn.com.
Pompeo & Haspel
The Pompeo and Haspel nominations are sitting in committee. There are concerns about CIA Director Pompeo as Secretary of State; and Haspel as CIA Director: CNN.com.
Bolton as Security Advisor
Bolton has conflicts of interest. There is no Congressional vote for his position but our senators will watch his behavior.
Sen. Cantwell has concerns about Bolton in her interview with Zuckerberg: “the Bolton PAC was obsessed with how America was becoming limp-wristed and spineless and wanted research and messaging for national security issues.”: transcript: Cantwell.Senate.gov. In this conversation, she references this NYT article: NYTimes.com.
We want our senators to highlight how bad most cabinet nominations are. There are so many people who don’t want to work for this administration. That contributes to the problem.
Andrew Wheeler as Deputy Head of EPA
McConnell is bringing forward the nomination of Andrew Wheeler as deputy head of the EPA. If Pruitt is ousted, he could take over – and he’s worse because he has worked for the EPA, and sued them repeatedly into last year.
“Until mid-2017, Wheeler lobbied for Murray Energy, the mining giant owned by coal magnate and Trump whisperer Bob Murray. In March 2017, when Murray met with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to request a bailout for the coal industry at a secret summit, Wheeler was pictured sitting one seat away from him.”: HuffPost.com.
“While waiting for a nomination to the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist, cozied up with the senators who would decide upon his appointment in the most direct way possible: giving them money.”: TheIntercept.com.
Nine Groups Oppose Nomination of Andrew Wheeler: NRDC.org.
Sen. Murray’s committee work this week is around opioids. She released a discussion draft for comments and edits last week. The comment period is open till next week. The press release on the website: Murray.Senate.gov.
The draft: HELP.Senate.gov & summary: Murray.Senate.gov.
The Opioid bill includes trauma care for children and families. We want 102 test new models, more money for trauma care for kids, collecting data and a 406 performance pilot to create initiatives.
The Committee requests comments on the draft legislation from interested stakeholders by April 11th, 2018 at HelpFightsOpioids@help.senate.gov.
Equal Pay Day
The Omnibus Spending Bill
Low Income Housing Tax Credit
Sen. Cantwell secured significant funding in the recent omnibus bill to help to solve our housing crisis.
“Since the federal tax credit program’s creation in 1986, developers in Washington state have built more than 1,000 properties funded by the program, creating more than 78,000 units for more than 158,000 people.
Cantwell’s effort to expand the program, part of the spending bill that was signed by President Trump last month, will fund three additional products in the state, bumping up the total from 15 to 18 projects.”: SpokesmanReview.com
“From 2000 to 2013, the total number of Americans facing extreme housing unaffordability has ballooned from 7 million to 11.2 million”: Cantwell.Senate.gov.
Ended Fire Borrowing
There was more than $20 billion over 10 years in the omnibus bill for wildfire management.
Funds Used to be Borrowed from Prevention Efforts
Previously, the state has borrowed from fire prevention funding (funding for spring burns, etc.) to put fires out. Cantwell.Senate.gov.
Now they have funding for both: SpokesmanReview.com.
Funds Used to be Borrowed from Environmental Programs
“‘fire borrowing’ robbed funding from watershed restoration projects, invasive species programs”: HCN.org.
Funding For Global Health Research
There is global health research funding in the omnibus bill. More details: KFF.org.
Rescissions of Funding in the Omnibus Bill?
Trump and McCarthy are looking to rip funding from parts of the omnibus bill.
“the Trump administration could send up a package of cuts that could pass the Senate on a simple majority vote under procedures set out in the 1974 statute governing the federal budget process”: WaPo.com. The process is possible because of the federal deficit that would be accrued otherwise. They have 45 continuous Legislative days to do it: Senate.gov. It would take 50 yea votes. And there’s no McCain to vote.
Other Legislation That Needs to Be Voted On
S. 5351: NDA Act
S. 1129: Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017
They have to pass the NDA and Coastguard Re-authorization; and the Farm bill this legislative session before they do rescissions. There are limited days left this session. Senate’s proposed calendar: Senate.gov.
The Farm Bill 2018 and SNAP
SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
One of the anticipated legislative priorities in the House for the Spring session is the Farm Bill, which goes up for renewal every 5 years. For more information about the Farm Bill and its history, see FRAC.org. The SNAP Program is within the Farm Bill.
An early draft of the bill has some changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is more commonly known as “food stamps”. For historical reasons, federal food stamps programs are overseen by the Agricultural department instead of the Health department. About 46 million low-income Americans receive an allowance to buy meat, fruit, vegetables, and other nutritious food via SNAP. Despite their popularity, Republicans have been trying to kill funding and requirements for food stamps for years, and they may get many of their wishes via the SNAP changes in the draft.
Harvest in a Box
One of the changes is Trump’s proposal to eliminate food stamps and replace them with a “Harvest in a Box”. Officials and health experts have criticized the proposal as not viable, and have accused the administration of deliberately suggesting the changes to stir outrage amongst Democrats and the left: NYTimes.com.
Other Programs in the Farm Bill
In addition to SNAP changes, the existing Farm Bill will have programs that will expire if they are not brought up in a floor debate. More information about these programs and their impact is being gathered. It’s not known if the Democrats will filibuster if draconian changes to the existing Farm Bill are attempted.
Using Antibiotics to Grow Foods
One related public health issue that is growing, but which the changes to the Farm Bill may not address, is the routine use of antibiotics in raising animals and vegetables and the resulting resistant pests and organisms that result.
The Tax Scam
HR. 1: An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018
The recent tax scam drives up the deficit around $1.5 trillion over ten years. The CBO report: CBO.gov. That money could have paid off all of our student loans and fixed the housing crisis. It is foolish and achieves nothing.
Rep. Ryan said that the next goal is ‘entitlement’ reform. (He labels the payments that people have made into the system and expect to get paid out when they are sick and / or elderly ‘entitlements’.) Programs like stripping benefits or requiring people to work to get benefits were put on the table: TheHill.com. He wanted to slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Cross Laminated Timber
Cross Laminated Timber or CLT is a growing technology. With no large timbers to work with, it is necessary to use this new technology to bind wood to make large buildings: with a much smaller carbon footprint than steel-made buildings: SeattleBusinessMag.com.
WA is Building Schools With CLT
“SB 5450 is the latest move by the Legislature to increase the use of mass timber products. In 2016, state lawmakers allocated $5.5 million for the construction of new classrooms around the state using CLT. The 20 classrooms for kindergarten through third grade are being built in the Sequim, Seattle, Mount Vernon, Wapato and Toppenish public school districts.”: WoodWorkingNetwork.com.
Tuesday: Zuckerberg in Front of Committees
Sen. Cantwell questioning Zuckerberg about privacy, Russia and European regulations (5.51):
The transcript: Krem.com.
She asks about his knowledge of Palantir, “a firm that Facebook board member Peter Thiel co-founded and is now the chairman of. Palantir, in broad strokes, works on large-scale data analysis. It’s been used by police departments, the National Security Agency, the U.S. military … Most recently, the company has been caught connected to Cambridge Analytica”: Slate.com. In depth: NYTimes.com.
Mining in Bristol Bay
The EPA is considering removing protections from Bristol Bay, an important fishing area for Seattle salmon.
Fishermen in Ballard depend on Bristol Bay for their salmon. About the EPA’s plans for Bristol Bay: https://www.epa.gov/bristolbay.
More about the proposal: SaveBristolBay.org.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invites you to participate in the Pebble Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. The comment period ends June 29: PebbleProjectEIS.com or SaveBristolBay.org.
There will be meetings about this in Alaska. Tell friends there: SaveBristolBay.org.
Sen. Cantwell had 5 last year
Senator Cantwell’s 2017 Seattle-area Town Halls
Health care town hall, July 5th 2017
Net neutrality town hall, July 7th 2017
General town hall, July 8th 2017
Healthcare on FB live
Net neutrality on FB live
Net neutrality on Twitter. 50:19
Perspectives on This
If they hold more, they will be throughout WA: not necessarily in Seattle.
Also, they need to go to meet people in each county in WA over the course of each year: not just Seattle.
We can look at their social media feeds to hear about their actions; and go to their community events to talk to them.
75% of the year they are in DC.
We get lots of info in these Tuesday meetings. That should be enough.
In each town hall, there is only time for 10 or 13 questions in each 90 minute town hall: therefore it is not always a good idea, and is not efficient.
Senator Murray has not had any town halls.
A voiced opinion: ‘I call a lot and I want to see them because we elected them not staffers. Pramila Jayapal appears in person and I feel like I trust her. If they meet with donors they should meet with us.’ On the other hand: ‘Rep. Jayapal has 500,000 constituents: not millions, like our senators.’
Communicating With Staffers
The preferred method of communication is email. All local staffers get busier in work periods, when the senators are in WA.
Faxes (like those that come from resistbot) take lots of paper for 2 sentences: but of course we are welcome to communicate with them however we like.
Authorization of Military Force
S.J.Res. 23: Authorization for Use of Military Force, from 2001
Both of our senators voted for it. It passed 98-0: Senate.gov. It enables ongoing wars in the middle east, and for the president to send troops without declaring war. It was a reaction to the September 11 attacks. There is no will in the Senate to stop it.
An Amendment to Stop It
S. Amdt. 871: S.Amdt.871 to S.Amdt.1003
Sen. Rand Paul proposed an amendment to stop it. More about the amendment: Static.Politico.com. Sens. Murray and Cantwell voted against tabling it (ignoring it, in other words), but it was voted to be tabled 61-36. The roll call.
S.J.Res. 54: A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.
Sens. Sanders and Lee brought a joint resolution to the Senate to stop spending US money on the war in Yemen. It was voted to table it (it failed, in other words) 55-44. Both of our senators voted against tabling it: Senate.gov. It could be re-authorized in early May if Sen. McConnell chooses to bring it to the floor. We wonder if lawyers are working on stopping the war without Congress’ approval.
Sen. Murray voted against the war in Iraq. Sen. Cantwell vote for it: GovTrack.us. It passed 77-23.
Stopping Mueller’s Investigation Being Attacked
Scholars are debating whether Trump would be able to fire Mueller.
Our senators say that they can’t cosponsor legislation in the Judiciary committee. These bills are in it.
Senators Tillis & Coons have introduced bipartisan legislation to stop Trump being able to directly fire Trump: S.1741. Senators Graham & Booker have too. Their legislation “would require the judges panel to review any attorney general’s decision to fire a special counsel before that firing could take effect”: More about both here.
The four senators are merging their legislation to make it bipartisan and ask Sen. McConnell to take it for a vote: TheHill.com.
Please ask Rep. Grassley to take a vote on S. 1741 or the new merged bill to get it out of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary onto the floor. No zip authentication required to email.
email Rep. Grassley Phone: 202-224-3744 Fax: 202-224-6020
To thank them:
email Tillis: Phone: (202) 224-6342 Fax: (202) 228-2563
email Coons: Phone: (202) 224-5042
email Graham: Phone: (202) 224-5972 Fax: (202) 224-3808
email Booker: Phone: (202) 224-3224 Fax: (202) 224-8378
Gun Safety Legislation
A Rule Stopped Research Into Gun Violence
In 1995, the Dickey Amendment stopped any more research by the CDC into gun violence, or how to stop it: NYTimes.com.
Research Can Start: But No Federal Funds For It
In the omnibus spending bill, “in agency instructions that accompany the bill, there is a sentence noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.” – but it does not provide funding for the research: NPR.org.
Both of our senators want legislation to prevent gun violence.
Kaiser is Putting $2m Into Research
“Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest integrated health system, is investing $2 million in research to prevent gun injuries and death”: Share.KaiserPermanente.org.