People from all over the Seattle area meet with our Senators’ staffers at the Federal Building in Seattle 12:30-1:30 every Tuesday.
It is extremely helpful to hear from those who work professionally in politics – and other Indivisibles. We also rally 11:45-12:30.
This page is updated by 3pm each Wednesday. From 1/9: notes & rally: 21:14. Other Tuesdays’ notes.
These notes from January 16th 2018 from all attendees; calls to action and links provided by me. Rally vid: 34:20.
New information in the meeting is black.
No meeting next week if the government is shutdown: the office will be shut.
If Congress cannot agree on a Continuing Resolution or budget, the government will shutdown starting at midnight on Saturday the 20th.
A CR would allow them to function for a couple of weeks or a month, depending on what they agree: and a budget would be for the year. Nancy Pelosi is asking senators to vote against it and shut down the government unless we have a dream act in place. The DREAM Act: the Senate bill: S. 1615 the House bill: HR. 3440. Our Senators voted aganst the CR on December 21st: Senate.gov.
Republicans want $1.6bn for a border wall.
There will be a request for 5, 000 new border and ICE agents. If it goes through, they would hire less qualified people and there would be human hunting: “5,000 new Border Patrol officers and 10,000 new ICE agents the administration has said it plans to hire”: CNN.com. The quality of those hired would be lacking: FoxNews.
It looks like the budget will be done by CR again.
Omnibus spending bills have been passed for 1 year or two year budgets before. It is hard for government agencies to plan hiring or build infrastructure with such short term budgets.
Democrats also want CHIP funding included. More about CHIP below.
What Would Happen if the Government Shut Down?
Non-essential services would be shut down: some Members of Congress would temporarily lay staff off, parks would close, etc. “Government Shutdown: Explained with Examples”: theBalance.com / USAtoday.
It took 9 months for the VA to catch up with appointments after a previous government shutdown. The effects of the 2013 government shutdown on veteran’s benefits: USAToday.com.
Senator Murray’s Committee Meetings
Senator Murray will be in meetings in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this week. She is the ranking member (most senior of the minority) in the committee. Wednesday the 17th, the meeting was about emergency preparedness concerning epidemics and the opioid crisis: HELP.Senate.gov.
On Thursday, they will be looking at reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, which concerns financing of higher education and FAFSA: NASFAA.org. They want to encourage transparency and efficiency: HELP.Senate.gov.
We don’t know which Republican Senators to pressure to ensure net neutrality.
On the CRA to ensure net neutrality, Sen. Murray cosponsored it Monday (January the 8th) night: Markey.Senate.gov. As of the 16th, 49 Democrat Senators have now, and 1 Republican. It took 30 to take it to the floor. When it is on the Senate floor, it takes 51 votes to pass it.
Sen. Cantwell had a net neutrality press conference on Tuesday 9th Jan. It is on her Twitter feed: 2:04. Sen. Murray’s tweet about it: Twitter.
“The Drumpf administration said … it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all United States coastal waters, giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard.”: NYTimes.com
Sen. Cantwell will be fighting offshore drilling this week. On Wednesday the 17th, she tweeted: “Whether it’s offshore drilling, wildlife protection, or managing our #nationalparks, the Interior Secretary alone does not get to decide what activities happen on publicly owned lands that make up 1/5 of the United States. #publiclands”: Twitter.
Senator Murray tweeted: “Earlier this week, local voices in FL convinced @SecretaryZinke to take their waters off the list for future offshore oil & gas drilling. So join me—tweet out YOUR photos of WA’s majestic coasts & let’s show @SecretaryZinke why our waters are worth protecting, too.”: Twitter.
Please share your photos with Senator Murray on Twitter and help us to defend our coastline from Secretary Zinke’s plans. If you are not a tweeter, please email them to me and I will Tweet them on behalf of Indivisible Bainbridge Island and give you credit.
Part of the summary: “(Sec. 2) This bill amends the DNA Identification Act of 1994 to require the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to issue standards and procedures for using Rapid DNA instruments to analyze DNA samples of criminal offenders.
Rapid DNA instruments carry out a fully automated process to create a DNA analysis from a DNA sample.
DNA samples prepared by criminal justice agencies using Rapid DNA instruments in compliance the FBI-issued standards and procedures may be included in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).”: S.139.
“Congress must reauthorize the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which contains Section 702 — a key intelligence tool that has helped the government unravel terrorist plots and cyber attacks. The law was last renewed in 2012, before Edward Snowden leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents. Lawmakers have been debating where a reauthorization should fit on the spectrum between broad surveillance powers and the protection of individuals’ privacy.”: CBSNews.com.
Senator Murray never says how she is going to vote: but she has said that 702 does not protect people’s civil liberties and privacy rights.
Jim Page, the gifted singer at our rally 🙂
ADAPT’s Priority: the Integration Act
S. 910: Disability Integration Act of 2017
This bill was written by Senator Schumer. This is ADAPT’s number one priority. It is a bipartisan issue. As of the 17th, it is cosponsored by 15 Democrats and 1 Independent Senators. We would like Senator Murray to cosponsor it.
Children’s Health Insurance Plan
S. 1827: KIDS Act of 2017
The funding serves “8.9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women”: ModernHealthCare.com
This bill has bipartisan cosponsors and was introduced by Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
CBO report if funding is extended for 10 years: CBO.gov – it would save $6.0 billion over 10 years.
CBO report if funding is extended for 5 years: CBO.gov – it would save $7.5 billion over 10 years.
Wyden & Hatch Are Working on a 6 Year Fix
They agree that it makes fiscal sense: BusinessInsider.com
“If CHIP lapses, many more children will almost certainly be enrolled in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, where their plans will be subsidized by the federal government And over the long term, it may actually be less expensive for Washington to cover those kids via CHIP than to pay for their private insurance.”: Slate.com (emphasis mine).
The funding for CHIP is being used as a political football: Republicans are saying that they will fund it if Democrats pass other legislation.
In Washington State, funding is covered until the end of March using funds from stopgap legislation: Money.CNN.com. The funds run out in March.
It is past the 100 day anniversary of losing CHIP funding. Please share stories about how the loss of CHIP funding would affect you. “If Congress fails to reauthorize CHIP at the current level, Washington will face a near $200 million dollar loss in federal funding.” from 50StatesofBlue.com.
Health Care Centers Also Lost Their Funding
Our Health Care Centers also lost their funding.
“the nation’s health centers are funded with $1.5 billion from discretionary funds … However, this fund expired September 30, 2017 leaving America’s 1,400+ health center organizations to face a 70% cutback in program funding, if Congress doesn’t act.”: NACHC.org
“Senate Democrats are pushing for … funding for community health centers to be included in a short-term funding bill … Republicans, meanwhile, are pressuring Democrats by pointing to the six years of funding in the package for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a Democratic priority.”: TheHill.
The State of the Union Address
“President Donald Drumpf will deliver his first State of the Union address on Jan. 30, Speaker Paul Ryan announced on Thursday. The address will be Drumpf’s first speech to the full Congress since his joint address this past February, a month after his inauguration.”: Politico.com. Technically, his previous address to Congress was not a State of the Union address because he had not been president for a year: CNN.com.
Will Drumpf announce his infrastructure plan? He had previously said he would announce it in early January: Bloomberg.com … and where are the fake news awards?
Some Will Boycott Over the Racist Comment
I will not repeat and normalize the president’s racist comment here again. It was disgusting.
Sen. Durbin asserts that Drumpf used aggressively racist language about certain countries: CNN.com.
“Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said they will not attend the president’s address after Drumpf made the derogatory comment”: ABCNews.Go.com.
Pramila Jayapal’s tweet: “Good discussion with @BrandiKruse about why I’m not attending the State of the Union. I will not go because Donald Drumpf has gone beyond the pale, over and over again reaching new lows in his leadership of this country, and we cannot normalize his racism.” Twitter.
Should our Senators Boycott it?
Our country is strong and proud – and Drumpf is not part of that.
Last year at the first address to Congress, Senator Murray brought a strong trans black woman who stood next to Obama when he signed the ACA.
Senator Cantwell brought a representative from Moms Rising.
It was suggested that:
our Senators should wear black.
They should turn their backs to protest.
They should not show up in disgust: we should not normalize this president and dignify his rhetoric – supporting it by showing up.
There is talk of tying the address into the #metoo movement.
The Senate’s email system was hacked last summer. “The Russian hacking group that stole Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 presidential campaign has also tried to break into the U.S. Senate email system,”: NewsWeek.
Are there fixes in place? There is a task force to implement security for our Senate emails: the Office of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper: Senate.gov.
“Last April, … a prominent voice on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, urged the Senate to adopt “basic cybersecurity practices,” including two-factor authentication to protect its email accounts and other sensitive internal digital systems. The fact that this isn’t standard practice on Capitol Hill is alarming … Trend Micro’s report underlines the active, ongoing nature of threats to U.S. political systems — one that’s only going to escalate as we move into 2018’s U.S. midterm elections.”: TechCrunch.com
Bills That Are Waiting
The Violence Against Women Act has been sitting since 2012. “The Act’s 2012 renewal was opposed by conservative Republicans, who objected to extending the Act’s protections to same-sex couples and to provisions allowing battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas”: Wikipedia.org.
The Alexander-Murray Health Care Bill. more.
College Affordability Bill. There are many.
The Farm Bill is to provide food aid and to supplement farmers. It pays for SNAP and other similar programs. Republicans have ensured that it has been cut before, although Republicans don’t want to cut supplements to farmers. In WA, we have raspberries and apples amongst other crops.
Paul Ryan wants to attach TANFF and SNAP.
Pulling out of NAFTA would also affect our farmers. “given how many live in red states, it would doom the GOP in the 2018 elections”: WSJ.com
Defense Spending in the Federal Budget
We need to redirect our money in more productive ways.
It would be great if our defense staff could do something useful, like feeding the homeless. That would mean that we could redirect funds.
Our budget would be better spent on the environment.
We don’t need earmarks, directed appropriations.
We want to see less in the defense budget.
Sen. Murray was the budget committee chair in 2015: Murray.Senate.gov. They used to balance spending on defense and humanity spending so that if you cut one you cut the other.
There will be riders cutting the budget for the EPA and FEMA in the Federal budget. We don’t support that. We need to monitor funding protection from landslides and other things that we need to take care of.
Europe is now reporting our natural disasters for us because we don’t have the money.
There have been curt responses and delayed responses from Senator Murray’s offices in DC and Seattle. They have staff turnover: and new staff this week.