Tuesday 15th of May 2018

Updated 3pm Wednesday. 5/15/18 notes from visiting WA’s senators’ staffers. Rally vid: 35.47. Deep dive questions
5/8 notes & rally vid: 35.47. FAQs & Archive. Online info about our senators.
By Holly Brewer and Kathy Wallace.

11.45am No rally: we will meet together and discuss our activism in front of the Federal Building.
12.20pm we will go to the rally about Maru Mora Villalpando’s deportation hearing.
  Maru will speak at 12.30 at the Immigration Court.
1.30 or so, we will communicate with Kate (Sen. Murray’s staffer) and meet with her.
  More about Maru’s hearing and rally: FB.com

Met with


Kate Baumgartner, Sen. Murray’s Seattle 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

Rail Safety Hearing

Senator Murray is attending a hearing on rail safety and positive train control on Wednesday as member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies subcommittee: Appropriations.Senate.gov.

Small Business Hearing

Senator Cantwell is on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. She attended an oversight hearing with Small Business Administration head, Linda McMahon: SBC.Senate.gov.

Gag Rule

Along with approximately 200 other senators and representatives, Senators Murray and Cantwell signed a letter opposing the Trump administration’s proposed gag rule for domestic Title X-funded clinics from even mentioning abortion. The Trump administration has already imposed what is called a “global gag rule” on family planning clinics that receive aid money from the United States. Actually, the Trump administration’s global gag rule is a reinstatement and expansion of the gag rule imposed during the George W. Bush administration. more: Vox.com. The letter.

Nominees

Several judicial nominees will be voted on this week. The senators have already indicated their no votes on some of them: NationalReview.com. They are also against Gina Haspel leading the CIA. Senators generally don’t tell us whether they will vote for people when they are awaiting the vote in committee because they want to get straight answers from the nominees when they are questioning them.

Secure Rural Schools

The “Secure Rural Schools” program is how rural counties receive federal money to compensate for federal ownership of land in those counties through the Forest Service. Rural Washington State counties such as Cowlitz and Skamania received $20 million last year. The payments make up a large portion of rural county budgets. The money is used to support schools and other community resources. The program expired in 2006 and has been renewed several times each time at reduced spending levels: Wikipedia.org. The 2018 omnibus bill included funding for the most recent re-authorization. More: FS.USDA.gov.

Clean Energy

Many pieces of divisive legislation have been introduced like drilling in Alaska (NYTimes.com), Tongass (MotherJones.com), and the Pebble Mine (Reuters.com). The administration has prioritized coal, when it’s obvious even in states like Texas that wind power is less expensive. Senator Cantwell has proposed research in clean energy, battery storage. She introduced S. 1460, the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (ENRA) with Sen. Murkowski. It is in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Her press release about it: Cantwell.Senate.gov.

40% of energy usage is in heating and cooling buildings – so building energy-efficient buildings is key. Senator Cantwell has introduced S. 2447: Smart Building Acceleration Act. It is in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Its goal is to increase building energy management. Another bill that she introduced will increase efficiency: S. 2445: Grid Modernization Act. It is in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Safety at our Port

Have senators have taken into account our position as a destination port where oil and coal are transported for export? That’s largely a local permitting issue over which the senators have no jurisdiction. It is within the senators jurisdiction to express concern about whether fossil fuels are safe to ship by rail.

NAFTA

With regard to renegotiating the North American Free-Trade Agreement, any renegotiated bill will have to have U.S. Senate approval. The senators have no control over tariffs. They can only express their opinion on them.

Net Neutrality

5.16: The Senate took the vote. It passed, rescinding the attack on net neutrality: CNN.com. It was voted for by all 49 Democrats and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Kennedy of Louisiana. John McCain is sick and not voting.

Now it goes to the House where its fate is less promising. Some Democratic representatives are not supportive of net neutrality, saying that net neutrality will hinder the roll out of 5G. Other Dems just don’t have a reason for not supporting net neutrality. Supporters of net neutrality say that not having net neutrality will stifle innovation and will allow ISPs to track your movements on the Internet. If an ISP prevents you from going to a particular web site, that might be cause for a legal challenge.

Without the CRA being signed into law, the anti-net-neutrality rules go into effect June 11.

Sen. Cantwell on Net Neutrality in Spokane

Senator Cantwell was in Spokane recently, talking with small business owners on the importance of net neutrality: which is not supported by the district’s current representative, Cathy McMorris Rogers: Spokesman.com.

5.9: Sen. Markey brought a resolution of disapproval to the Senate. It is a tactic from the Congressional Review Act: and requires 30 signatures to bring a bill to the floor if it has sat for more than 20 days without action. The Net Neutrality CRA.
“Senator Markey’s resolution of disapproval would rescind FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s item and fully restore the Open Internet Order.”: Markey.Senate.gov. It will be formally introduced once the rule has been through both houses and is signed into the Federal Register. As of 1/18/18 50 Senators have cosponsored it (all of the Democrats and Sen. Collins), and it has a sister bill to go to the House. The resolution. This is possible through the CRA.

What the CRA Does
The Congressional Review Act gives Congress authority to review regulatory actions within 60 legislative days. It only needs a simple majority to pass a bill over-riding a regulatory change. It still would need Trump to sign it, and it would need Ryan or McConnell to bring to floor. Both of our senators are cosponsors.
More: Wikipedia.org.

Pharmaceuticals from Abroad to Reduce Costs

S. 469: Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act
It is in the HELP Committee. It has 20 Dem. cosponsors and 1 independent as of 5/16. Sen. Cantwell is a cosponsor. Sen. Murray is not.

2/28/18: Sen. Cantwell was one of the original cosponsors. Her press release about it: “Nearly 1 in 3 Americans could not afford the medicine they were prescribed at some point in their lives”: Cantwell.Senate.gov.

The senators had previously voted against Senate Amendment 178 to Senate Congressional Resolution 3 because they were concerned that it bypassed the FDA’s regulations.

Within the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senator Murray is Ranking Member.

‘Ranking’ means that she is the most senior Democrat on the committee: and therefore the second senior (after the senior Republican)

The All of Us Research Program

It’s a National Institutes of Health program to get 1 million people to share medical information that can be used for research. The goal is to get a diverse group of people to share data so we don’t end up with studies that only apply to white men. This program got a lot of funding. The questions are how to incentivize people to share their data, how to ensure that confidentiality is built into the sharing of data. More: AllOfUs.NIH.gov.

Police Have Military Equipment

This administration has revived the program that gives military weapons to local police. The program was halted by the Obama administration. More: WaPo.com.

Lost Immigrant Children

Attendees asked Senator Murray – as ranking member of the HELP committee – to call for an investigation into the 1,475 children that HHS lost when they separated them from their parents at the Mexican border. More: Time.com.

SNAP (Food Stamps)

The farm bill is expected to be voted on in the House before Memorial Day. When it goes to the Senate, it will go to the Agriculture Committee. Neither of our senators is on that committee. There is likely to be a big fight over SNAP cuts. SNAP is part of the Farm Bill. SNAP helps Washington State farmers because it enables them to sell produce.

SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Health Insurance Premiums

We can’t say what Washington’s rates will be yet, but other states are showing higher premiums, which demonstrates the continued need to stabilize markets. Senator Murray had an op/ed in USA Today: USAToday.com.

Puerto Rico

There was an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing last week about Puerto Rico: Energy.Senate.gov. (This committee has oversight on Puerto Rico). We want our senators to support Puerto Rican statehood and to remember that we worry about Puerto Rico.

Within the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Cantwell is the Ranking Member. ‘Ranking’ means that she is the most senior Democrat on the committee: and therefore the second senior (after the senior Republican)

Violence Against Palestinians

We want our senators to be vocal about the violence against Palestinians.

Palestinians are protesting about the movement of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to 18 Gershon Agron, Jerusalem. They are being gunned down.


The existing consulate, where the embassy is now.