Tuesday 8th of May 2018

Updated 3pm Wednesday. 5/8/18 notes from visiting WA’s senators’ staffers. Rally vid: 35.47
5/1 notes & rally vid: 24.56. FAQs & Archive.
By Holly Brewer and Loren Bast

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

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

Leslie at our rally

Harrison singing for us!

Seattle’s Broken Tax System

Seattle – and WA State – have upside down tax rates. Summer Stinson from ParamountDuty.org spoke at our rally.

We need to stop:
the poor paying a higher percentage than those earning over $500k pa.
property taxes pricing people out of their homes
1 in 16 of all Seattle children being homeless
the thousands of tax loopholes available to the wealthy and corporations

We need:
head tax so that we can tax those who earn more
capital gains tax so that we can tax wealth that is already there

There is a hearing at City Hall 9.30am Wednesday 5/9/18 to discuss: Patch.com.

Summer Stinson

Next Week Is a Week of Action for Immigrants

Whitefish Contract

Congress is paying attention to the territory of Puerto Rico: as its rebuilding efforts are not where they should be, especially considering that 2018’s hurricane season is soon approaching. Sen. Cantwell is leading efforts to bring the right regulations and power infrastructure back to the island: Cantwell.Senate.gov.

Sen. Cantwell’s statement about this Oct. ’17: Energy.Senate.gov.

“Puerto Rico … has been a territory of the United States since 1898 … It’s classified as an “unincorporated territory,” meaning the island is controlled by the U.S. government but is separate from the mainland.”: Time.com.

Sen Murray Challenges ICE’s Treatment of Pregnant Women

In Senate hearing, Senator Murray questions Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen on department’s cruel practice of detaining pregnant women in custody, excessive use of ICE detention in lieu of cheaper alternatives: Murray.Senate.gov. Video: 6:22. The full hearing: Sen. Murray is at 54.10: Appropriations.Senate.gov.

Within the Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

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

Health Care Sabotage Next Year

Increased Premiums

The Cost Share Reduction payments which reduced how much the poor pay were taken away October 17 2017: Bloomberg.com. There are also carve outs from the funding from Health and Human Services; and the removal of the individual mandate. These all mean premium increases. More about the sabotage: HuffPo.com.

This week highlighted Trump’s continuing neglect and sabotage of the health care markets: after former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (a Trump appointee) made news by indicating that the 2017 tax bill and removal of the insurance mandate will cause premiums to rise: Finance.Yahoo.com.

Sen. Murray vs. Sabotage

Senator Murray was quick to respond: 2018/5, and previously in 2017: 2017/11.

Pressure on the States

States may have to step in to fix or enhance their own health insurance markets to compensate: CommonWealthFund.org.

Enrollment Periods

“This year, the standard enrollment period will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in April.”: Bloomberg.com. We should know which insurance companies will be offering plans by October.

Molina May Come Back to WA

Molina may offer plans in WA next year: WashingtonExaminer.com.

The Alexander-Murray Bill

HELP.Senate.gov: PDF: The Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017
This could have been included in the omnibus federal budget bill, but Sen. Murray refused because Republicans wanted to include anti-choice legislation. “Democrats … accusing Republicans of putting “poison pills” in the legislation — specifically, provisions expanding a ban on federal funding of abortion into the private insurance market”: TalkingPointsMemo.com.

The CHIP Program

Trump wants to use a budget maneuver called “rescission” to take back $7bn from the CHIP Program (from the omnibus bill appropriations). It would have to be done by the 45 legislative days left, and it would have to be approved by a simple majority in both houses. It probably would not get through the Senate or the House because it is unpopular. More: WaPo.com.

About the CHIP Program

The Children’s Health Insurance Program is an insurance program that provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy private insurance. In some states, CHIP covers pregnant women. It covers 9 million children.

Opioid Crisis

There will be an hearing soon in the HELP Committee on Sen. Murray’s opioid bill. Upcoming hearings: HELP.Senate.gov.

S. 2680: Opioid Crisis Response Act (OCRA)
Sen. Murray’s and Sen. Lamar Alexander’s bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act has been passed unanimously out of the HELP Committee and is notable for its patient/family/community-centered health focus, compared to the administration’s law enforcement approach.
Sen. Murray’s statement: HELP.Senate.gov. Video of her speech in committee: YouTube.com. Committee hearing 4/24: HELP.Senate.gov.

Funding For OCRA

There is $3.3bn allocated for it from the omnibus bill: TheHill.com. This is not enough. The Council of Economic Advisors said that in 2015 it would take $504billion to fully solve the problem. Their Nov. 2017 report: WhiteHouse.gov. There is $100bn allocated for treatment of those with HIV / AIDS, for context.

Civic Cocktail

5/2/18: Sen. Murray and Gary Locke held an informal session at Palace Ballroom in Seattle: SeattleChannel.org vid: 58:18. Sen Murray said that she won’t run for president, sadly 😉

Judicial Appointments

The ways that our senators can pick / influence the election of judicial nominees:
they interview them in committee and ask probing questions. This informs them, the press and public.
they vote for the nominees, under the Constitution’s advice and consent rule: Senate.gov.
they have the blue slip rule: this means a states’ senators can send a blue slip to show approval of a candidate. Their views can be respected under an honor system.

Senators 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 fro the nominees when they are questioning them.

The Heritage Foundations’ Influence

The Heritage foundation is helping Trump pick judicial candidates: Heritage.org.

Trump’s Plans for the 9th Circuit

We are in the 9th circuit. “Trump poised for major makeover of liberal 9th Circuit court”: FoxNews.com.

What is the Ninth Circuit?

It is a region where the judgements of their courts are the last place to appeal – before the Supreme Court gets the final decision in a case. Their portal: CA9.USCourts.gov.

The Blue Slip Rule Is Being Thrown Away

In MS: “Democrat Al Franken set the stage for a confrontation when he said he would not support Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras”.

In Ore: “Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley withheld their blue slips largely on procedural grounds … There hasn’t been much vetting of Trump’s pick, Ryan Bounds, but the fact that his sister is Oregon Republican Greg Walden’s chief of staff has set off alarm bells”: : TheDailyBeast.com.

A Blue Slip

Many senators do not return blue slips anyway: Politico.com.

The Blue Slip Process

“The blue slip process involves asking home-state Senators to approve or disapprove appointees from their states. Blue slips have had various degrees of efficacy in blocking judiciary nominations throughout their 100-year history.”: Heritage.org.

Gina Haspel as CIA Director

Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell will likely vote against her nomination: although they are not saying so publicly.

There are concerns about Haspel as CIA Director: CNN.com.

The Iran Deal

S. 615 & HR. 9919: Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015
Trump has announced that his administration is pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama administration. It takes Congress to authorize entry into a treaty, and a president to withdraw. It passed 440 – 25 in the House & 98 – 1 in the Senate in 2015.

Sen. Murray Comments

Sen. Murray issued her disagreements on her site: Murray.Senate.gov; and referenced the four principles she was adhering to as to why we should stay: Medium.com.

Sen. Cantwell Comments

Prior to the announcement, Sen. Cantwell signed a letter with all of the ranking Democratic members of all committees, urging Trump to remain in the deal: but to no avail: TheHill.com.

From the letter: “According to the IAEA, the U.S. intelligence community, and our closest partners and allies, Iran continues to uphold these commitments. As long as Iran continues to abide by these restrictions, we strongly urge you uphold U.S. obligations as well. Failing to do so would not only profoundly undercut our relationship with key partners and allies, but would severely damage global nonproliferation efforts.”

WA Reps Comment

Washington State’s representatives were quick to condemn the withdrawal: SeattleMet.com.

John Kerry Comments

As Secretary of State in 2015, he worked on the agreement.
“Today’s announcement weakens our security, breaks America’s word, isolates us from our European allies, puts Israel at greater risk, empowers Iran’s hardliners, and reduces our global leverage to address Tehran’s misbehavior, while damaging the ability of future Administrations to make international agreements,”: Boston.com.

The Menuing Law

The Menuing Law requires food chains with 20 or more stores to provide nutritional information with their menus. It is from Obama’s administration, and it took effect Mon. 5/7/18: CNN.com.

More details: FederalRegister.gov & FDA.gov.

The Dreamers

Giving up on the DACA program meant that Democrats got a lot of funding passed in March’s omnibus spending bill: Vox.com. Now we have no long term leverage for them as the court challenge goes through the courts. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals page: USCIS.com.

Who Are DACA Recipients?

“DACA grants a work permit and protection from deportation to about 750,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.” The Hill. They have to apply for and qualify for the program.

2/18: DACA Program Ruled Restored

2/13/18 “A federal judge in New York ruled … that the government must restart the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals deportation amnesty”: WashingtonTimes.com.

1/18: The CR Passed

1/22/18 – The vote for a Continuing Resolution to fund the government for 3 weeks passed 81-18 (Sen. McCain is sick).
It does not include or mandate passing the DREAM Act, protection for our DACA residents, S 1615 & HR 3440: although these are the clean dream bills that Sen. McConnell agreed to bring to the floor. Why push for these particular bills? TheHill.com. The Democrats lost teh leverage to push for the DACA program.


1475 Missing Migrant Children

Federal agency says it lost track of 1,475 migrant children: NationalPost.com. They say that they don’t have the budget to track them. They hand the central American children (who don’t necessarily speak English or Spanish) over to adults with no vetting.

Sessions Breaking Families Apart
“zero-tolerance” policy toward people who enter the United States illegally may cause families to be separated while parents are prosecuted, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions”: CBSNews.com.

TPS Recipients – Hondurans

What will our senators do about our Honduran residents with TPS status being asked to leave? We don’t know.

TPS Recipients – Syrians

Syrians with TPS were recently re-registered: USCIS.gov.

TPS status lasts in 18 month blocks, and then people need to reapply.
The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. more.

Net Neutrality

The CRA petition went in Wednesday. It makes a Senate vote happen with 30 signatures. The vote on Net Neutrality is expected by June 12: CNet.com.
In the Senate, they are still 1 vote short (they need 51). Watch Sen. Cantwell’s interviews: Kiro 7 and GeekWire.com. There is a concern that there aren’t enough votes in the House to pass it.

We Should Force more votes using CRAs!

Relaxing Child Labor Laws

“The Department of Labor will propose relaxing current rules—known as Hazardous Occupations Orders — that bar 16- and 17-year-old apprentices and student learners from receiving extended, supervised training in certain dangerous jobs,”: NYPost.com. It would be an expansion of the apprenticeship programs. Sen. Murray will watch for that legislation.