Tuesday September 18 2018

Updated 3pm Wednesday. 9/18/18 notes from visiting WA’s senators’ staffers. Rally vid: 29.42.
9/11/18: notes. FAQs & Archive. Online info about our senators.
By Holly Brewer, Janet Kierstead and Kathy Wallace.

There will be no meeting next week because neither Tommy nor Kate will be here.


Met with

Kate Baumgartner, Sen. Murray’s Seattle Director ~ Main P: (202) 224-2621 / (866) 481-9186 ~ F: (202) 224-0238
and
Tommy Bauer, Sen. Cantwell’s Seattle Outreach Director ~ Main P: (202) 224-3441 ~ F: (202) 228-0514
Louise (another Sen. Cantwell’s staffer) is on a leave of absence for more than a month.


Rally

The rally this week was about the Kavanaugh nomination and the separation of immigrant families that is continuing.

Rally vid: 29.42.

Please comment on regulations.gov to tell the administration what you think about families being separated: Regulations.gov

Senate Has Short Recess

The Senate takes recess for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Senate.gov

There are no floor votes for the remainder of the week, but some committee work is getting done.

The Kavanaugh Nomination

Sen. Murray thanked Dr. Woods for her bravery in speaking up about Kavanaugh’s previous behavior.

Sen.Murray’s Perspective

This is very personal to her because Sen. Murray made her decision to run for the Senate in 1992 after watching the Anita Hill hearings and seeing the way Anita Hill was treated by the all-white, all male Judiciary Committee.

“Murray and other Democrats are drawing a direct parallel between the claims against Kavanaugh and those raised in 1991 when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. At the time an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee aggressively questioned Hill in televised hearings, cast doubt on her accusations and ultimately voted to move Thomas’ nomination to the full Senate which confirmed him to the court.

That incident inspired a record number of women to run for federal office that cycle, including Murray, who was elected the following year. Murray told reporters America — and women in particular — will be closely watching how Ford’s case is handled.” WXPR.org

Misogyny

The questioning of Dr. Woods should be done by experts on sexual assault, experts who know how to correctly determine her credibility. Why is it that drunken men are absolved from culpability for a rape but drunken women are blamed?

Sen. Hatch

Sen. Hatch should be required to recuse himself as he has already demonstrated he has made up his mind before hearing any testimony from Dr. Woods, but there is likely no formal mechanism to prevent Orrin Hatch from attending.

Sen. Murray Has Called for a Delay in the Vote

She has called for a delay in the vote on the Kavanaugh appointment to the Supreme Court because Dr. Woods’ allegations need a thorough investigation. Sen. Cantwell also wants a delay in the vote.

The Lawsuit

Six Democratic senators (all on the Judiciary Committee) signed on to a lawsuit against the National Archives yesterday. The delay in getting documents from the National Archives is not normal. Read about the lawsuit here: NYPost.com

Senators Need to Frame the Narrative

Senators need to frame their opposition to Kavanaugh properly. Just because there is no criminal conviction doesn’t mean he is fit to serve on the Supreme Court.

The Wall St Journal Editorial

The Wall Street Journal editorial was especially awful, saying that eyewitness testimony becomes less credible over time. WSJ.com

Why is the White House Pushing the Nomination?

It may be that the White House has information on Kavanaugh that they would use as leverage over him in making decisions, and so they want him in office to manipulate him. (This was acknowledged as a conspiracy theory.)

Sen. McConnell

Mitch McConnell is upset by the way the Democrats have fought the Kavanaugh nomination. Also, they have used a sophisticated strategy in questioning Kavanaugh.

Opioid Crisis Response Act

S. 2680: Opioid Crisis Response Act (OCRA)
The bipartisan OCRA bill is combining aspects of different bills and coming out of the Finance Committee. The Senate voted it out of committee Monday night. It will now go to the House.

It is Bipartisan

“‘The fact that so many senators across so many committees were able to put aside political differences to reach an agreement on this legislation, especially given our current political environment, speaks to the seriousness and pervasiveness of opioid and substance use disorders,’ Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said.” Finance.Senate.gov

Sen. Cantwell’s Bill With Sen. Portman

S. 2456: CARES 2.0 Act of 2018
“We need to do something now to make sure that opioid manufacturers follow the laws that are already on the books,” Cantwell.Senate.gov. Her press release about the legislation: Cantwell.Senate.gov.

Sen. Murray’s bill will include this legislation as an amendment. Cantwell.Senate.gov It went through with 99 votes for, 1 against. It is to crack down on shipments of fentanyl. WaPo.com

‘A congressional report released this year found that online sellers of fentanyl prefer to ship it through the Postal Service rather than private shippers because they perceive less risk that packages will be seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported preliminary estimates that more than 72,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States last year, an increase of 9.5 percent from the year before. One reason for the increase was illicit and deadly fentanyl, which has increasingly been cut into heroin and cocaine.

At a Cabinet meeting last week, Trump accused China of ‘sending that garbage and killing our people,’ adding: ‘It’s almost a form of warfare.’ WaPo.com

More Legislation

More legislation was also voted out of committee and heads to the House:
• S.2315, Over-the-Counter Drug Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act
• S.2597, Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2018 HELP.Senate.gov
– they include funding for an NIH study of non-addictive pain killers.

Sen. Murray attended a committee meeting today on prescription drug prices.

Separated Immigrant Families

We need 30 Democrats to use the CRA to overrule this administration’s new rules on immigrant children detention that overrule the Flores decree, which stops children being detained for more than 20 days. So far, the court has said no. Over 13,000 children are now detained. The Trump plan is to keep them detained forever. Trump has issued an executive order making indefinite detention the U.S. policy, claiming that the order maintains the “spirit” of the Flores decree but without the “spirit.” NYTimes.com

Please comment on Regulations.gov to tell the administration what you think about families being separated.

What Can the Senators Do?

It would only need a simple majority in the Senate to vote on a bill to overrule 45’s executive order. The senators can’t do anything about the executive order per se until the comment period ends. The official U.S. policy is indefinite detention.

Companies Acting Complicitly in This

We need to hold accountable companies that are complicit in working with ICE: Amazon, Microsoft, Greyhound.

Appropriations

The bill
The Senate passed several funding bills needed by the appropriations deadline, including a $50 million increase in Head Start funding. “The bill provides a total of $10.1 billion for Head Start which is a $250 million increase, including an additional $35 million towards extending in-class hours for children and $215 million towards workforce investment.” NHSA.org

Minibus Bills

Congress is passing a sequence of minibus bills to fund the US this year to avoid the headache of an omnibus (which happened last year). Brookings.edu

Farm Bill

The Farm bill is still being worked on. Republicans are trying to add harmful policy riders as well as cutting support for organic certification and re-certification. An example of this: “House version of the farm bill will institute federal preemption of local pesticide policies, a move that will overturn a decades-old Supreme Court decision and prevent communities from adopting protective laws that meet the needs of their residents or unique local environment.” PRNewsWire.com

Bolton Threatening Judges on the ICC

Is there anything the Senate can do about National Security Advisor John Bolton threatening individual judges on the International Criminal Court with sanctions if Bolton doesn’t like things the ICC investigates? The United States is not signed on to the ICC, which wants to investigate United States and Israeli actions. TheHill.com

Wireless Emergency Alert System

The Wireless Emergency Alert system was launched in 2012. October 3rd is the first time the president will use it. There are laws stopping abuse of it. NewsWeek.com

“This will be the first time FEMA has tested the system on the presidential level in hopes to work out the kinks, the agency said in a press release this week.
The presidential alert is one of three kinds of alerts in the FEMA’s WEA system, which also notifies the public about extreme weather or missing children, also known as AMBER alerts.”

We want to know what is being done to protect this program from hackers.

Endangered Species Act

The comment period on changes to the Endangered Species Act ends on 9/24. Use these links to get to the three sections of proposed rule changes:
https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0006-0001
https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0007-0001
https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0009-0001

We need our senators to be ready to use the CRA on changes to the Endangered Species Act.

45 is Releasing Documents for the Mueller Investigation

45 is putting people in danger by releasing documents from the Mueller investigation. CNN.com We need our senators to protect us from damage that could be done to the investigation.

Bombings in Yemen

Some of the bombs detonated at schools and hospitals in Yemen have been traced to U.S. manufacturers. Can Congress investigate these bombings? We want Congress to stop the sale of weapons used in Yemen. CNN.com The staffers will look into the Congressional ability to halt weapons sales. It might be the purview of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate. The traced bombs were bought by the Saudis, who are leading a coalition in the fighting in Yemen.

Aid to Palestine

Defunding of aid to Palestinians, closing Palestinian office in Washington D.C. and yanking visas of Palestinian diplomats is awful. We want Congress to investigate. HAARETZ.com

Poor People’s Campaign

At the Poor People’s Campaign convention, people got training on how to make elected officials listen to ideas from the community. The senators should expect a request for some of their time to hear from representatives of the Poor People’s Campaign.

Student Loans

DeVos’ Attack on Students in Debt

This administration in general – and Betsy DeVos in particular – are known for their lack of enforcement of rules against predatory lending. Sen. Murray’s office has a case worker that works on individual cases with the Dept. of Education. There is a common problem with teachers working in non-performing schools in order to reduce their loan debt being surprised by how much they have to pay back. MotherJones.com It is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) plan.

Sen. Murray’s press release on the subject: HELP.Senate.gov

Compelling Resignation in the CFPB’s Student Loan Office

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is going in the wrong direction.
“The CFPB’s student loan watchdog, Seth Frotman, stepped down, writing in a fiery resignation letter to Mulvaney that under the acting director’s leadership, ‘the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting. Instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America.'”NPR.org

LWCF

The Land and Water Conservation Fund expires on 9/30. It is held up in the House. We need Republican support, such as Jaime Herrera Beutler. It has always been a bipartisan program.

LWCF Helped to Save Thousands of Acres of Forest

S. 569: Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act

“Washington’s congressional delegates, land management agency officials and local political leaders celebrated the Columbia Land Trust’s decade of work to conserve 20,000 acres of forestland near Mount St. Helens…Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., also used the event to discuss her work to get the Land and Water Conservation Fund — which expires at the end of this month — reauthorized.

(She said), ‘If there is a project in the nation that speaks to how important the Land and Water Conservation Fund is, it is this project here in Skamania County that highlights the recreation and preservation of so much of a unique part of our state so that all can enjoy our public lands.’” Columbian.com

LWCF in WA

Which projects / areas have benefited from the grants? Map: Wilderness.org List: Projects.INVW.org.

(This program has given our area Green Lake State Park, Gas Works Park, Discovery Park, and many more.)

Act!

Sen. Murkowski heads the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Please contact her and ask her to bring the LWCF bill to a vote: Senator Murkowski Email P: (202) 224-6665 F: (202)-224-5301.  

Petitions: TPL.org & Outdoors.org & CredoAction.com.

Contact the Department of the Interior
Call: (202) 208-3100 or email feedback@ios.doi.gov – or use this form.