These notes are from Feb. 6th’s weekly rally and meeting at the senators’ staffers in Seattle. FAQs & Archive.
This page updated 3pm each Wednesday. This week’s rally: 30:56. Last week: notes & rally: 32:30. Next week…
Tommy, Sen. Murray’s Outreach Director; and Kate, Sen. Murray’s Metropolitan Director
HELP Committee Hearing
On Thursday the HELP Committee will hold a hearing on The Opioid Crisis: Impact on Children and Families. Video.
William C. Bell, Ph.D. President And CEO, Casey Family Programs, Seattle, WA will be a witness.
Sen. Cantwell Met with Community Health Centers
Sen. Cantwell’s tweet
Sen. Cantwell Joined a Letter to Protect CHCs
“Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a bipartisan group of 66 senators in calling on Senate leadership to immediately reauthorize funding for community health centers.”
“By offering preventative care, treating chronic conditions, and working to fight the opioid epidemic, community health centers are not only greatly improving the health and well-being of those they serve, they are also saving significant taxpayer dollars.”: Cantwell.Senate.gov.
Sen. Cantwell is about to introduce a bill to address the opioid crisis.
Needed Health Care Funding
CHIP has been funded in the last CR for 6 years; but these programs lost funding at the same time as CHIP did.
Community Health Care Centers
Community Health Centers run out of funding in April. This means that small clinics in rural areas will close, leaving people there with no care. We want that funding in the Continuing Resolution Bill coming up by February 8th. We also lost funding for the diabetes program for natives; the program of health care visitors visiting moms and kids; and the health training program.
“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
Teaching Health Care Centers
Teaching Health Care Centers: BHW.HRSA.gov. Sen. Murray’s tweet about this: “Your daily reminder that Republicans could have fully-funded our community & teaching health centers last week—or when funding for these vital centers lapsed last September—but chose instead to play politics with families’ health care. Again.”: Twitter.com.
Special Diabetes Programs for Indians
About the Special Diabetes Program for Indians: IHS.gov.
“In the face of drastic budget cuts to the Special Diabetes Programs for Indians, Navajo President Russell Begaye called on Congress and federal agencies to prioritize Indian health and allocate funding for essential programs Jan. 17.”: NhoNews.com.
Health Care Visitors for Mothers and Children
“Now that Congress has acted on CHIP, we urge a similar bipartisan approach to the other pressing child health issues that remain unresolved, such as the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which serves at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children”: AAPPublications.org. More about MIECHV: MCHB.HRSA.gov.
HELP Committee Hearing on Higher Education Funding
Sen. Murray was in a hearing Tuesday morning in the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee about Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Improving College Affordability. Video: 2.06. Sen. Murray is the ranking member of the committee, meaning that she is the most senior of the minority (Democrat) party. More about the re-authorization: NASFAA.org.
Speeches on the Floor About Coastal Drilling
S. 910: The Disability Integration Act of 2017
This bill enables the disabled to stay in their own homes – rather than being in institutions, with a rigid schedule and rules. It has 15 Dem. cosponsors and one Independent. It was introduced by Sen. Schumer. It is in the HELP Committee, and Sen. Murray is its ranking member.
Neither of our senators are cosponsors. They are not cosponsors of bills because: the bill is just introduced; and / or they are not familiar with it; or they have concerns about them.
HR. 620: ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017
“The bill prohibits civil actions based on the failure to remove an architectural barrier to access into an existing public accommodation unless: (1) the aggrieved person has provided to the owners or operators a written notice specific enough to identify the barrier, and (2) the owners or operators fail to provide the person with a written description outlining improvements that will be made to improve the barrier or they fail to remove the barrier or make substantial progress after providing such a description. The aggrieved person’s notice must specify: (1) the address of the property, (2) the specific ADA sections alleged to have been violated, (3) whether a request for assistance in removing an architectural barrier was made, and (4) whether the barrier was permanent or temporary.”
This is unlikely to pass the House, but we ask our senators to block it if it makes it to the Senate.
The Olmstead Ruling
The Olmstead ruling was when 2 ladies were treated, then were “ready to move to a community-based program. However, the women remained confined in the institution,” They brought a lawsuit and won: The Olmstead case.
There may be complications between S. 910 and the Olmstead ruling. The senators need to look into it.
There is a weak argument from opponents of ADA bills that small and minority companies may be hurt by them.
DACA and Dreamers
DACA and Dreamers explained: CNN.com.
Contact the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to vote on it.
Sen. McCain & Sen. Coons’ Bill
No senate bill as of 2/7/18. It is the Uniting and Securing America Act of 2018 (USA Act of 2018).
The partner bill in the House: HR. 4796: USA Act of 2018.
It is: “to address two pressing issues (DACA and border security), providing a path to resolve these important immigration issues and allowing Congress to devote full attention to finalizing a budget deal that fully funds the military.” McCain.Senate.gov
“McCain, Coons push bipartisan immigration deal despite WH rejection”: CNN.com. It includes “greenlighting a study of border security needs.”
Clean Dream Act
What is a clean dream act? Nat’l Immigrant Law Center: PDF.
The Dream Act: S 1615 in the Senate & HR 3440 in the House.
Why Are Our Senators Not Cosponsors?
The senators are unable to cosponsor S. 1615 until another Republican cosponsors it – they are on the list to do so – but to keep it bipartisan every time a Democrat cosponsors it, a Republican has to – kind of like when you need a date for a dance. It has 3 out of 7 Republican cosponsors – Murkowski, Gardner & Flake. Please still tell the senators how the Dream Act personally affects you so that they can use your stories on the Senate floor.
Letters to Protect Dreamers
Sen. Murray & Sen. Cantwell joined a letter asking the president to protect dreamers: Cantwell.Senate.gov
“Sens. Murray, Cantwell, Democratic Women Senators to McConnell: Pass the DREAM Act Before Senate Recesses in December”: Murray.Senate.gov.
Plea to Our Senators
There was a personal plea made to our senators to insist on a clean dream act. The blog that was mentioned to protect dreamers: https://indivisiblenorthseattleimmigrationsubgroup.wordpress.com/.
Know your Rights
What Can We do?
To pass a clean dream act, it will need to be a bipartisan process. We should pressure Republicans, especially in Washington State.
The Continuing Resolution on Thursday
Will Our Senators Vote for the CR?
We don’t know if our senators will vote for the CR without insisting on a clean dream act.
The Budget Cap
The budget cap is set at the level agreed when the budget was set.
The debt ceiling is the amount that the national debt is allowed to get to.
Because of the tax scam that recently went through, the debt will be the most ever. The next step is the Republicans cutting social safety nets. They call them entitlements: but we personally pay into these funds.
If They Do, All is not Lost
If our senators vote for the CR, they have other tools that they can use. For instance, there is an upcoming budget cap. If Congress’ spending hits the budget cap (the amount allowed in the budget), they can use their votes as leverage. We don’t know what our senators will do if Sen. McConnell doesn’t keep his word to take a clean dream act to the vote before Thursday (the CR).
Because there are automatic budget cuts when the budget pays out too much and we cannot finance it due to the budget cap, the payGO rule will kick in. Our senators will fight for our social safety nets. This includes SNAP payments, which are up for renewal this year as part of the FARM Bill. No one has a way for us to pay for the wall.
Sen.Murray will continue to pressure Sen.McConnell.
Sen. Murray’s tweet
Consumer Financial Protections Bureau
“In July 2010, Congress passed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act … in response to the Late-2000s recession and financial crisis … The CFPB formally began operation on July 21, 2011”: Wikipedia.org.
We Need an Effective Head of CFPB
Our senators sent a letter asking for strength in the bureau: “the senators cited the CFPB’s “aggressive enforcement and supervision,” which has resulted in $12 billion in relief to 29 million American consumers who were cheated by financial companies.”, 12/5/17: Cantwell.Senate.gov.
Mulvaney is the White House Budget Director – and also head of the Consumer Protection Bureau, appointed directly by Trump – with no vote by Congress for his appointment. Congress has no part in his appointment so that he is independent of them. The funding of this bureau comes directly form the treasury. He has defined the CPB as “an agency that enforces financial regulations and consumer protections with “humility and prudence” and that will no longer “push the envelope” when it comes to jurisdiction and scope. Mr. Mulvaney insisted that he would not shutter the bureau, if only because doing so would be against the law.” NYTimes.com.
Our Senators Signed a Letter in January
“Senators Cantwell, Murray Join Colleagues to Stand up for Protecting Consumer Bureau’s Independence”, 1/18/18: Cantwell.Senate.gov.
Sen. Murray Pushed Against the Equifax Breach
“Equifax in September 2017 revealed that 143 million of its US users — or about half of the country’s population — had their personal information compromised in a data breach”: Vox.com.
Sen. Murray, Senators Urge Trump Administration to Investigate Equifax Stock Sales Following Massive Data Breach in Sept. 2017: Murray.Senate.gov.
Obstruction of Justice
Top Democrats Warn Trump
“Top Senate & House Democrats Warn President Trump: To Use Nunes Memo as Pretext for Firing Deputy AG Rosenstein, Special Counsel Mueller or other DOJ Leadership Would be Viewed As an Attempt to Obstruct Justice in Russia Investigation”: Murray.Senate.gov.
Sen. Murray’s Tweets
Sen. Murray’s Speech on the Floor
(Text boldening mine)
“…the White House has gone silent, refusing to implement the sanctions for reasons President Trump can’t or won’t explain. The same president who has no problem speaking and tweeting on any other topic under the sun clams up when it comes to Russia. Or tries to change the subject. Or launches a political attack. The same president who promised to put ‘America First’ has failed to live up to the most basic duty of defending our elections and enforcing congressional actions to punish Russian meddling.”
“…there are a number of things this Congress must commit to. First, we must ensure Special Counsel Robert Mueller stays on the job and continues to follow the facts wherever they may lead, without threats or intimidation, and with all the resources he needs. We already know the president talked about firing Mr. Mueller last year. Well, the president should be on notice that firing Mueller is not an option. The same goes for trying to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.”
“I also want to be clear– doling out presidential pardons to try to cover up any collusion or obstruction of justice is unacceptable and will be met with furious resistance across the country. This is about our elections, our national security, and our standing around the world. And no one— no one— should stand in the way of a thorough investigation.” Transcript and video: Murray.Senate.gov.
Wheeler as Number 2 in EPA
“Senate committee voted Wednesday to advance President Trump’s nominee to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”: TheHill.com.
Sen. Cantwell on Clean Energy Being Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels
From her site: Cantwell.Senate.gov.
Securing Future Elections
We want to be able to get democratic and real results from our midterms.
They are on November 6th: 272 days from Tuesday. There isn’t much time.
Secure Elections Act
S. 2611: Secure Elections Act
It is in the Committee on Rules and Administration. It has 3 Democrat and 2 Republican cosponsors.
Our senators are not cosponsors.
“Details of Secure Elections Act:
Reaffirms individual state leadership in administering federal elections.
Ensures the federal government promptly shares election cybersecurity threats and information with state, county, and municipal election agencies.
Provides security clearances to appropriate state officials so they can access and act quickly on classified cybersecurity information.
Develops, through a panel of independent experts and an open process, a set of voluntary cybersecurity guidelines for election-related systems.
Provides grants to states for implementation of the cybersecurity guidelines and replacing outdated electronic voting machines.”: Lankford.Senate.gov.
Honest Ads Act
S. 1989: Honest Ads Act
It is in the Committee on Rules and Administration. It has 12 Democrat and 1 Republican (McCain) cosponsors.
Sen. Murray has cosponsored it; Sen. Cantwell has not. It is important to stop propaganda influencing our elections.
This deals with ads being used as propaganda; not hacked elections systems. Mueller will not look into or fix voting systems either.
There were suspicious wins in Michigan and Wisconsin: BlueDotDaily.com. This is being investigated by Mueller: and no one is allowed to know anything about his investigations.
We Want Town Halls!
Senator Cantwell’s 2017 Seattle-area Town Halls
My loose notes
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
Senator Markey’s 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 days. It only needs a simple majority (51) 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. We need one more Republican to get behind this. More: Wikipedia.org.
They still need huge amounts of funding. And Puerto Ricans are American citizens who can’t vote.
People in Washington State are involved in the economy of helping PR. People in PR are dying. Suicides are increasing: NewsWeek.com.
The Response to Hurricane Maria
How disaster response is supposed to work: PDF & the situation in Puerto Rico: PDF, from Leslie.
San Juan’s mayor: “I am begging anyone that can hear us to save us from dying”: Twitter video: 1:28.
Places to donate.
There is Now a Contracting Issue
There is a contracting issue there that needs to be resolved: “FEMA inspectors discovered a problem: The food had been packaged separately from the pouches used to heat them. FEMA’s solicitation required “self-heating meals.””: NYTimes.com
PR Has an Impending Medicaid Cliff
PR could not afford its contributions to Medicaid before Hurricane Maria. Now they are struggling.
‘The current state of Medicaid affairs, … “is the worst crisis we may have in our health system.”‘: ModernHealthCare.com.
The Jones Act
S. 1894: A bill to exempt Puerto Rico from the coastwise laws of the United States (commonly known as the “Jones Act”).
This is McCain’s bill. It has 3 Republican cosponsors.
“Those in the shipping industry say the law protects domestic shipping and jobs. Opponents on the left and right say it unfairly burdens Americans in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii and elsewhere with higher costs for shipped goods.”
When Hurricane Maria hit: “A group of lawmakers urged the Trump administration to suspend the law, known as the Jones Act, for one year to expand access to oil, food and other supplies. The administration granted a 10-day waiver but declined to renew it, arguing that it wasn’t necessary for humanitarian relief.
Now, more than a month after the hurricane hit, access to water, electricity and reliable cell phone service in Puerto Rico remains scarce, and many have yet to return to school and work. Puerto Rican officials have called for an extension of the waiver, arguing that they need whatever help they can get. But the continuing debate has also raised a broader question: Is it time to repeal the Jones Act?”: NYTimes.com (Bold text mine).
The 2020 Census
The census is taken every 10 years, and takes years to plan and enact. It is how we assess local funding and allocate Representatives’ seats, amongst other things.
161 leaders write to the secretary of commerce: “three issues weigh heavy on the minds of America’s mayors: funding, leadership and the constitutionality”: StateScoop.com.
The First Strike Act
S. 200: Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017
This bill requires Congress’ approval before the president makes the first military strike. Our senators are not cosponsors. There are 12 Democrat cosponsors and one Independent.