People from all over the Seattle area meet with the senators’ staffers at the Federal Building in Seattle 12:30-1:30 every Tuesday.
These notes from October 17th 2017 from all attendees; calls to action and links provided by me. This page is updated by 3pm Wednesday.
On Tuesday the 17th, “A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban one day before it was set to take effect.” CNN.
Senator Cantwell is working on protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: the Republicans want to drill there for fossil fuels to offset the cost of the huge tax cuts that they want. We should contact friends or fellow Indivisibles in other states and ask them to pressure their MoCs. It would not only pollute the Arctic and further global warming; the dirty fuels would have to travel thousands of miles and cause pollution that way too; and there are already rich fossil fuel sources in the mainland.
Sen. Cantwell speaking on the floor. She is the Ranking (most senior of the Democrats) Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Republicans can pass the budget through reconciliation, with 50 Republican votes and Pence making the casting vote.
How disaster response is supposed to work: PDF & the situation in Puerto Rico: PDF, from Leslie Brown.
Senator Cantwell is the ranking member on the Finance Commitee, therefore important in paying for solutions in PR. Her statement:
“I’ve called on the administration to create a position at the White House to make sure every agency, not just FEMA, but every agency is working to help us coordinate what will be a very long response to Puerto Rico,” More: cantwell.senate.gov
At the time of the meeting, news came in that Senators Alexander and Murray had reached an agreement to fix the CSR payments. NYTimes. Sen. Murray is also working on getting Children’s Health Insurance Payments and payments for Community Health Clinics.
Our AG, Bob Ferguson is amongst the many AGs across the country who are suing Trump for saying that he is stopping CSR payments: colombian.com.
Another lawsuit about to happen: Trump’s junk health care insurance plan: NewYorker.com.
Children’s Health Insurance Program is a Federal program for people who “earned too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private health insurance premiums”. Congress “missed its Oct. 1 deadline to fund CHIP, which covers 8.3 million children nationwide with low-cost health insurance.” PBS.org. We (Washington State) recently received $10m as a short term fix for this. It takes $64m a year.
Community Health Centers
“In 2015, federal grants provided close to 20% of health center revenues. This funding enables health centers to finance care for uninsured patients, subsidize insured patients unable to afford their deductibles and copays, and finance services not covered by insurance.” KFF.org.
Sen. Cantwell is on the Finance Committee, and she is also working on that.
Senators Murray and Alexander (Republican) have found that MoCs want to use Section 1332 of the ACA to make health care more affordable without raising the Federal deficit.
“Beginning in 2017, states can request 5-year waivers of certain ACA provisions through Section 1332.
States may seeks waivers of requirements related to the essential health benefits (EHBs) …
They may alter the premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions…
States may also … eliminate the individual and/or employer mandates.”
“The ACA includes guardrails limiting how 1332 waivers can be used by states. The current statutory language requires that state waiver applications must demonstrate that the innovation plan will:
Provide coverage that is at least as comprehensive in covered benefits;
Provide coverage that is at least as affordable (taking into account premiums and excessive cost sharing);
Provide coverage to at least a comparable number of state residents; and
Not increase the federal deficit.” KFF.org
Expanded Medicare for All
HR. 676 / S. 1804
Both senators agree with affordable health care for all as a concept. There is a mechanism for states to adopt some tenets of it:
Senator Cantwell created the Basic Health care Plan, which is an option for states in section 1331 of the ACA – it “gives states the option of … a health benefits coverage program for low-income residents”, rather than them buying through the exchanges. It was adopted in New York and Minnesota. In New York, people can pay $20 a month for coverage. medicaid.gov. More: cantwell.senate.gov.
Senator Cantwell’s health care town hall in July: FB video ~ SeattlePI.com
Immigrants’ Social Media Handles
In terms of surveillance of permanent and temporary residents who are not citizens, the DHS will “expand the categories of records to include the following: … social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results;” federalregister.gov. It goes into effect on Wednesday, October 18th 2017. ACLU is putting together lawsuits for it. ACLU.org.
The DREAM Act
The senators are unable to cosponsor the DREAM Act, 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.
Washington State Residents Will Need a Passport or an ID Other Than a Driver’s License to Fly Starting Jan. 22 2018
First-Use of Nuclear Weapons Act
Oddly, our senators are not cosponsors. Every senator cosponsoring it is a Democrat – apart from Bernie. S. 200.
The Federal Budget
Tell Our Senators How Slashes Would Hurt Us
The Republicans are talking about slashing Medicare, Medicaid and the EPA – and many other things that personally affect us, our families and communities. Please tell them how if would affect you: so that they can share these stories on the floor. Find out which services that could be cut affect you: handsoff.
Write a Letter to the Editor in a Republican District
“Trickle-Down” / “Supply-side Economics” in the Budget
There is concern that NPR is siding with and promoting right wing messaging. Laffer interview on Tuesday: UALRPublicRadio.org.
Relations With Iran
“On July 14, 2015, the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union (EU), and Iran reached a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.” It enables the other nations access to knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program – in return for no sanctions: state.gov. “Trump refused to certify that waiving economic sanctions on Iran … is in America’s interest” TheHill.com.
There was a concern about the funding that is needed in Yemen right now.
“Around 20 million people are at risk of starvation … The impact of climate change has caused drought and other disasters, forcing people to migrate … What we are seeing today is the worst hunger crisis since the WWII era.” TheHill.com. Please contact our senators and ask them to push for more relief for these countries: and for belief in fossil fuels causing climate change.
Net Neutrality & Media Mergers
There is a great concern about challenges to our first amendment rights through attacks on net neutrality. What is net neutrality? savetheinternet.com More: SADfor.us.
There have been big concerns about the Sinclair-Tribune merger. If merged, it would become the “largest TV station group in the USA” chicagotribune.com. It has many hurdles to get through.
There was a heartfelt plea for our senators to call out the unusual nature of this heinous administration – they are calling the president out on his lame, poorly-thought out and destructive tweets, spat-out statements and actions; and those of his sycophants: we also need them to frame their public messaging to point directly to this not being normal. This administration advocates fascism – undermining our Constitution; attacking our minorities; impoverishing our poorest residents; threatening other countries; and enriching those who want blind power – and it may destroy our democracy and country.