Tuesday 17th of April 2018

Updated 3pm Wednesday. 4/17/18 notes from visiting our senators’ staffers. The rally vids: 19.12 & 8.39.
4/10/18: notes & rally vid: 33.48. FAQs & Archive.

No meeting Tuesday April 24th

Sens. Murray & Cantwell. Senate Reps & Dems ~ Their votes: Sens. Murray & Cantwell ~ Senate Dems site

Met with


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

It was busy at the Federal Building! Around tax time, people had plenty to say.


The Rally

Dept of Licensing Gave ICE Personal Info

Nina Martinez of the Latino Civic Alliance spoke and demanded that Kohler step down. This Tuesday, there were protests across Washington at 205 Spring St in Seattle; and in Everett, Lacey, White Center, Moses Lake, Yakima, Spokane, Vancouver and Bellingham.

Articles about the protests: King5.com & KREM.com.

What Happened

In January, the Seattle Times reported: “Washington state regularly gives drivers’ info to immigration authorities”: SeattleTimes.com. This is directly against Gov. Inslee’s Executive Order 17-01.

The Deputy Director of the Department of Licensing resigned: SeattleTimes.com.
Pat Kohler, the Director is still running the Department.
We call for her resignation; or for her to be fired.
They will no longer hand over information unless required by law.
The Department of Licensing now has a web page that discloses information that they have shared; and they are touring the state answering people’s concerns: DOL.WA.gov.



Executive Order 17-01

Gov. Inslee’s Executive Order 17-01 said (bold text bolded by me):
“Executive and small cabinet agencies shall ensure their policies comply with Executive Order 17-01, Privacy Protection and Transparency in State Government, and that information collected from clients is limited to that necessary to perform agency duties. Policies must ensure that information regarding a person’s immigration or citizenship status or place of birth shall not be collected, except as required by federal or state law or state agency policy;”

Gov. Inslee: Phone: (360) 902-4111 / Fax: (360) 753-4110 / email.

Opioids

Sen. Murray’s Bill With Sen. Alexander

S.2680: The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018
Sens. Murray and Alexander have introduced a bill to combat the opioid crisis. It is the result of numerous meetings, conversations, and input. It addresses prevention of addiction; care for sufferers of addiction; and aftercare for families. Detailed summary of the bill: HELP.Senate.gov. Recent hearing of the bill, April 11th 2018: 2h.16. Sen. Murray’s statements about the bill: HELP.Senate.gov & Murray.Senate.gov. The bill has bipartisan support.

Upcoming Committee Hearing
The HELP Committee will have a hearing about the bill at 10 am ET April 24th: HELP.Senate.gov.

Sen. Cantwell’s Bill With Sen. Portman

S. 2456: CARA 2.0 Act of 2018
Her press release about the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education, and Safety (CARES) Act, an iteration of the legislation: Cantwell.Senate.gov. It includes statements from other public representatives such as Bob Ferguson.


Another tweet from Sen. Cantwell on March 20th: “The #opioid & heroin epidemic has afflicted every area of society and has taken the lives of over 10,000 Washingtonians in less than 20 years. This is one of the worst overdose crises in the history of the United States, and it’s time we fight back.”: Twitter.com.

Upcoming Committee Hearing
The Senate Committee on Finance has a hearing on Tackling Opioid and Substance Use Disorders in Medicare, Medicaid, and Human Services Programs on Thursday, April 19th at 10 am EST: Finance.Senate.gov. Sen. Cantwell is on the Committee.

Please Comment About Opioid Treatment
Any individual or organization wanting to present their views for inclusion in the hearing record should submit a typewritten, single-spaced statement, not exceeding 10 pages in length. Title and date of the hearing, and the full name and address of the individual or organization must appear on the first page of the statement. Statements must be received no later than two weeks following the conclusion of the hearing. Statements should be mailed (not faxed) to:
Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Editorial and Document Section
Rm. SD-219
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200

Senator Murray is the ranking senator for healthcare in the HELP Committee, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. This means that she is the second in seniority, as the senior democrat in the committee.

James Bridenstine For NASA

A motion was just passed to confirm Rep. James Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration: CNN.com. When first nominated, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who is a former astronaut, strongly criticized Bridenstine’s qualifications and partisanship: CNN.com; even Republican senators voiced concerns, but voted Yes anyway on Wednesday. A final confirmation vote is expected Thursday.

Judicial Nominees

We have grave concerns about judicial nominees. People who are put in judicial positions of power can interpret and strike down bills. We want our senators to pay close attentions to judicial nominees. Under Obama, Republicans blocked judicial nominees: and Trump has the opportunity to put conservative nominees in judicial positions across the country now, and have them voted in by a Republican Senate majority. It only takes a simple majority (50 / 49 in the Senate).

Traditionally, the blue slip policy meant that state senators had to approve judicial nominees before they went to the vote. That is stopping: WaPo.com.

Ronny Jackson For the VA

Ronny Jackson is nominated as Secretary of the Veteran’s Affairs Office. Sen. Murray’s statement on his nomination: I “appreciated how strongly Dr. Jackson spoke against privatizing the VA,”: Murray.Senate.gov. He has told her that he is not planning on privatizing the VA.
The nomination hearing will be April 25th in the Veterans Affairs Committee. More: CNN.com.

Privatization Warning From Shulkin

Shulkin has been ousted as secretary of the VA. He “Warns of Privatization Push”: Bloomberg.com. Ronny L. Jackson is nominated to head the VA. More details in Shulkin’s op-ed: NYTimes.com.

Sen. Murray On Veterans

Sen. Murray will work hard to protect our veterans. She has a staff member specifically working on veteran’s affairs: and Washington State veterans work hard to be heard. She is the first female on the Veteran’s Committee in the Senate. Her father was a World War II veteran and a Purple Heart recipient. When he got Multiple Sclerosis and was unable to work, the VA helped them. Also, when she was at WAZU, she did an internship at the psychiatric ward of the VA and saw Vietnam vets being treated: Murray.Senate.gov. More about her work for veterans: Murray.Senate.gov.

She is on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies subcommittee and the Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

Relief for Veterans With Student Debt

The Department of Education (headed by Betsy DeVos) have decided to offer relief to veterans. Sen. Murray’s statement: “The men and women serving in the military sacrifice so much to keep us safe, and those injured in the line of duty should not be saddled with the burden of paying back student loans if they are unable to work,”: Murray.Senate.gov.

Facebook After the Hearings Last Week

As of the close of the market on 4/18, Facebook stock has lost 15% of its value against its high of $195.32 (that it hit just two months ago), after more data privacy scandals are causing outrage and cancellations from its user base: Finance.Yahoo.com & NBCNews.com. It remains to be seen how long-term user cancellations or lower usage will affect the value of Facebook, and whether new government regulations on data privacy will come into play.

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.

UW School of Dentistry is in Debt

“The UW School of Dentistry’s financial deficit is the result of several significant factors.”: Washington.edu. The interim dean has quit: “James Johnson is stepping down immediately, shortly after the dental school laid off 22 people to help alleviate its financial woes.”: SeattleTimes.com.

Syria

Military Strikes

On Friday April 13th, Trump hit Syria in response to a rumor that they had used chemical weapons against their own people. It was a “military option to conduct missile strikes against three suspected Syrian chemical research, development and storage sites”: CNN.com.

Sen. Murray’s Statement Before

April 7th: “The atrocities committed by the Assad regime are truly despicable, and a strong response from the United States and the international community to protect civilians is absolutely warranted. This problem will not be solved with a one-time show of force, and President Trump must now articulate his strategy to Congress and the American people.”: Murray.Senate.gov.

Sen. Murray’s Statement Afterwards

“President Assad’s use of chemical weapons and attacks on civilians are inexcusable, inhumane, and illegal. While I support the goal of holding President Assad accountable and degrading his ability to use chemical weapons, I have a number of questions and concerns about tonight’s action and the plan moving forward that I am going to want answers to in the days ahead.”: Murray.Senate.gov.

Sen. Cantwell’s Statement Before

April 7th: “Last night’s targeted strike on assets to stop Assad’s chemical attack on innocent people, including children, was appropriate. The international community and U.N. should move more aggressively to counter Assad on his violation of Syria’s obligations to get rid of their chemical weapons. The president must lay out a comprehensive strategy for the conflict in Syria that includes clear goals, diplomatic objectives, partnership with the international community, and dealing with the refugee crisis.”: BainbridgeReview.com.

Sen. Cantwell’s Statement Afterwards

“The use of chemical weapons is abhorrent. It is a violation of international law. The President must lay out a comprehensive strategy to end the conflict, including the humanitarian crisis, and seek an authorization from Congress to avoid any further military escalation.”: Cantwell.Senate.gov.

Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Bill To Restrict Military Force

Sen. Corker brought in a bill to restrict unlimited military force: RollCall.com.

From the September 11th Attack

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.

Pompeo and Haspel

The nominations votes were not scheduled as of Tuesday. There was a committee hearing about the nomination on April 12th: Foreign.Senate.gov: 5hr.02.
Both of our senators voted against Pompeo as CIA Director: SeattleTimes.com.

There are concerns about CIA Director Pompeo as Secretary of State; and Haspel as CIA Director: CNN.com.

Mueller Investigation

Latest Bill To Protect It

S. 2644: Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act
This new bill is merged from previous bills. It is in the Judiciary Committee, and our senators cannot cosponsor it because each time a Democrat cosponsors it, a Republican needs to to keep it bipartisan and likely to pass.

Older: Sens. Tillis & Coons’ Bill

S.1741: Special Counsel Integrity Act
They introduced bipartisan legislation to stop Trump being able to directly fire Mueller. Senators Graham & Booker had 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 more popular, and ask that Sen. McConnell to take it for a vote: TheHill.com.

Take Action!

Please encourage Rep. Grassley to take a vote on S. 1741 or S. 2644 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

Sens. Murray & Cantwells’ Statements

Sen. Murray’s 6 min. video on the Senate floor on twitter: Twitter.com.

Sen. Cantwell’s Tweet: “Stopping Russian hacking–Right. Going after Mueller–Wrong. 8:18 AM – 18 Mar 2018”: Twitter.com. Her press release: “I am glad someone of Robert Mueller’s stature will be taking the reins of an independent investigation into Russian interference into our election. I still have concerns and questions about the involvement of Attorney General Sessions in the firing of FBI Director Comey.”: Cantwell.Senate.gov.

The House Intelligence Committee Investigating Russia

As of 4/18/18: “The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at discouraging President Trump from granting pardons to anyone facing prosecution in the Russia investigation”: USAToday.com.

“House intel Republicans end investigation, find ‘no evidence’ of collusion”: USAToday.com.

Parks

Park Fees Won’t Be Hiked So Much Now

‘a spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says officials have “taken the public’s suggestions seriously and have amended the plan to reflect those” comments.’: PBS.org. Fees are now set to go up about $5 per park next year: CNN.com.

Sen. Cantwell’s statement about it: “Talk Is Cheap When It Comes To Supporting Our National Parks. Legislation must support robust growth and provide outdoor recreation opportunities to all Americans … visitors are responsible for $35 billion in economic output and they spend over $18 billion each year in national gateway communities. And the number of visitors is only growing,”: Cantwell.Senate.gov. The hearing in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee about parks costs was on Tuesday April 17th: 2h.13.

Zinke and Cutting Park Funding

America’s National Parks are becoming more and more popular: BackPacker.com, but the Trump administration is moving to cut funding to them anyway. Worse, Trump and the Dept. of Interior’s Ryan Zinke are opening up more protected lands to private corporations to exploit: Blogs.ScientificAmerican.com. The administration’s approach to park management is so bad that earlier this year, nearly all of the National Park Service advisory board resigned in protest: NPR.org.

Senator Cantwell is the ranking senator for in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This means that she is the second in seniority, as the senior democrat in the committee.

The EPA

Pruitt’s Corruption

“The $43,000 phone booth was only one of several controversial spending decisions by Pruitt, who spent more than $100,000 on first-class travel, rented a bedroom at a rate far below market value from the wife of an energy lobbyist, and gave big raises to two aides that the White House refused to approve.”: LATimes.com.

Sen. Murray’s tweet about Pruitt: “I’m proud to join both my Senate and House colleagues in calling for Scott Pruitt to resign as Administrator of the @EPA. -PM”: Twitter.com. The -PM suffix denotes that she personally wrote the tweet.

Andrew Wheeler

Wheeler was confirmed as the Deputy at the EPA last week. More: CNN.com. Many say he is more corrupt than Pruitt. Wow. Our senators voted against his nomination: GovTrack.us.

Protecting Welfare and Earned Benefits

Some Republicans label these as ‘entitlements’.

Social Security

Rep. Ryan has said that there will be cuts to Social Security in 2018: WaPo.com. To protest the chance of this happening, please email our senators our personal stories about how Social Security is important to maintain our standard of living – and how much we have payed into it.

SNAP (Food Stamps)

These may be threatened when the Farm Bill comes up for a vote. SNAP is part of the Farm Bill. SNAP helps Washington State farmers because it enables them to sell produce: but the Harvest in a Box program helps manufacturers of canned goods, not local producers of fresh food: WTOP.com.

SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The Farm Bill

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. The bill will go from the House to the Senate.

SNAP

An early draft of the Farm 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.

The Tax Scam

45 Says the New Way to File Taxes Will Be Easy

“Trump: Tax Preparers Won’t Be Happy With Next Year’s Simplified Tax Forms”: CNSNews.com.

Trump’s Tax Returns

We want to see his tax returns. He has requested an extension and we still haven’t seen his tax returns: NYTimes.com.

We also want to see a repeal of the tax scam. It will take time and heavy legislation.

Sen. Murray on the Tax Scam

Poor Polls

The tax bill is unpopular: it lessens taxes on corporations and the wealthy – and payments to baby boomers – when they are booming and aging: NYMag.com.

HR 1 / S 1: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. JCT estimate interim CBO score.

Rep. Ryan Plans to Make Middle Class Tax Cuts Permanent

“We fully intend to make these things permanent and that’s something we’ll be acting on later this year,” (2018): RollCall.com.

Raising the Deficit

Republicans “announced a plan that would add $500 billion in new spending over two years and suspend the debt ceiling until 2019.”: WaPo.com.

The Reconciliation Process

“Through this tool, Republicans could cut spending from many entitlement programs and reform the nation’s tax system. But there’s also a thicket of rules surrounding the use of reconciliation”: Politico.com.

The Byrd Rule
Within the reconciliation process, the Byrd Rule bans “extraneous matter” (riders) from bills: House.gov

The Byrd Rule bans “extraneous matter” (riders) from bills: House.gov.
The reference to the fetus in the tax bill referred to being able to pay into college savings with a tax advantage for a child at that time of life. Sen. Murray insisted that it was taken out of the bill because it is against the Byrd rule:

The DREAM Act

We have no new news about the DACA program or prospects for Dreamers. We want our senators to push for protection for dreamers and DACA recipients.

To find out if you or yours can renew or apply for DACA for the first time, please see: NWIRP.org or USCIS.gov.

The DREAM Act

Dreamers got their name from the DREAM Act, which provides protection for our DACA residents, S 1615 & HR 3440. These are the clean dream bills that Sen. McConnell agreed to bring to the floor. Why push for these particular bills? TheHill.com.

The Court Decision Protecting Dreamers

The Supreme Court denied the White House’s attempt to end the DACA program: CourtHouseNews.com. Dreamers can still renew their DACA certifications.