Updated 3pm Wednesday. 10/16/18 notes from visiting WA’s senators’ staffers. Rally vid: 25.54.
10/2/18: notes (no meeting 10/9). FAQs & Archive. Online info about our senators.
By Holly Brewer, Loren Bast and Janet Kierstead.
We will be meeting in the Eagle room next to the cafeteria on the second floor for the forseeable future:
they are doing lighting renovation in the other rooms.
Kate Baumgartner, Sen. Murray’s Seattle Director ~ Main P: (202) 224-2621 / (866) 481-9186 ~ F: (202) 224-0238
– left, seated. We met for just half an hour because Kate had to take a call.
No representative from Sen. Cantwell’s office. Tommy and Louise are not available. Sen. Cantwell is up for re-election, and so they are pretty busy!
Our featured speaker at this week’s Resist Trump Tuesday rally was Hamdi Mohamed, Rep. Jayapal’s constituent services and outreach coordinator. Pramila Jayapal is our House Representative for the 7th Congressional District. Hamdi explained the importance of grassroots engagement if we are going to get the government we want and make our government work for the people. She told us what works and what doesn’t when trying to engage the public. With only 3 weeks until the midterms, Hamdi’s insights could not be timelier. Rally vid: 25.54
Senate in recess
The Senate is in State Work Period (senators are in their home states, in other words) until after the midterm election. They were originally scheduled to break on the 26th. Sen. McConnell decided that senators needed to go to their home states to campaign. 33 senators are up for re-election on November 6th (including Sen. Cantwell). This means that there is little news this week from the Senate.
“Of the 33 Senate seats up this cycle, 24 are held by Democrats. Ten of those Democratic seats are in states President Donald Trump won in 2016.” RollCall.com
The Department of Homeland Security has always had a policy of discouraging people coming into or remaining in the country and using public benefits. This administration is more closely defining them. They started the process 5 months ago. Spouses within married couples, elderly parents, children, community members and parents of citizens could be affected. Undocumented parents have stopped applying for medicaid for their children. Time.com
9/21/18: “DHS proposes to require all aliens seeking an extension of stay or change of status to demonstrate that they have not received, are not currently receiving, nor are likely to receive, public benefits.” Politico.com
What Are Public Benefits?
“Any of the following factors could become a ‘negative factor’ that convinces DHS you are likely to become a public charge:
Prior or current use of certain public benefits.
Being older than 61.
Being younger than 18.
Having any medical condition that could interfere with school or work.
Not having sufficient resources to cover such a medical condition.
Not having private health insurance.
Having several children or other dependents.
Having financial liabilities.
Having ‘bad credit’ or a low credit score.
Having no employment history.
Not having a high school diploma or higher education.
Not having ‘adequate education and skills’ to hold a job.
Not speaking English.
Receiving an application fee waiver from DHS.
Having a sworn financial sponsor whom DHS feels is ‘unlikely’ to follow through.” Forbes.com
“The proposed rule is designed to impede and reduce legal immigration.” Forbes.com
Immigrant and Refugee Families Being Separated
Investigations into Conditions
A Report on Conditions
A report from the Office of the Inspector General on Adelanto ICE Processing Center in Adelanto, California :
“Nooses in Detainee Cells
Improper and Overly Restrictive
Untimely and Inadequate Detainee Medical Care.” OIG.DHS.gov
There is no Education for the Children in Tornillo
“The roughly 100 shelters that have, until now, been the main location for housing detained migrant children are licensed and monitored by state child welfare authorities, who impose requirements on safety and education as well as staff hiring and training.
The tent city in Tornillo, on the other hand, is unregulated, except for guidelines created by the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, schooling is not required there, as it is in regular migrant children shelters. … many of the children could be living in the tent city for months.” NYTimes.com
Why are There so Many Children in Detention?
Because this administration has harsh requirements for sponsors to have custody of the children, there is a surge in the need for housing of the children. The care of the children is down to the Office of Refugee Resettlement – and they are overstretched.
41 Arrested Wanting to Sponsor Children
“‘We’ve arrested 41 individuals thus far,’ Matthew Albence, ICE’s acting deputy director, said at a Senate committee hearing. ‘Our data that we’ve received thus far indicates close to 80% of the individuals that are either sponsors or household members of sponsors are here in the country illegally, and a large chunk of those are criminal aliens. So we will continue to pursue those individuals.'” TheGuardian.com Those regarded to have broken the law may have been accused of that in their home country, where corruption is rife.
Sen. Murray’s Letter to Azar, Director of ORR
7/11/18: “‘The public, international community, & separated families in particular deserve a clear and humanitarian plan, competent leadership, truthful answers, & an accurate understanding of what your Department is doing to care for and reunify children separated from their families.’
Senators also call on Azar to remove Office of Refugee Resettlement Director.”
Separated Children May Be Adopted
“An Associated Press investigation drawing on hundreds of court documents, immigration records and interviews in the U.S. and Central America identified holes in the system that allow state court judges to grant custody of migrant children to American families — without notifying their parents.” WaPo.com
The Administration Wants to Restart Separating Families
The Trump administration is looking to restart the family separations that were globally criticized earlier in the year. ACLU.org Meanwhile, the numbers of families that were separated (and are still apart) in the original policy were significantly under-reported. TheIntercept.com The ACLU has a number of lawsuits fighting the separations, including Ms. L Vs. ICE. ACLU.org
The Complaint Against Kavanaugh’s Perjury
Sen. McConnell Made a Deal to get 15 Judges Through
“Republican and Democratic Senate leaders reached a broad deal Thursday to confirm a package of 15 judges that will allow the senators to depart Washington until after Election Day.” CNN.com. People are now saying that Sen. Schumer should stand down as leader because he did a deal with the devil.
With voting on judges for the lower courts, it takes a simple majority: and there is no opportunity to filibuster.
a blue slip
In the past when voting on states’ judges, it was custom to only vote on judges when both the states’ senators had passed in their blue slips – to support the nomination. It is up to Sen. McConnell whether he still does that.
Sen. Heitkamp (D-ND)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp voted against Kavanaugh for Justice of the Supreme Court. She is up for re-election on November 6th. This may cause her to lose the race. Trump won North Dakota by 36 points. MSNBC.com
Why She Changed Her Mind
“She watched Ford’s testimony. And then she watched Kavanaugh’s. And then she watched Kavanaugh’s again, but this time, with the sound off … ‘I saw somebody who was very angry, who was very nervous,’ Heitkamp said … With regard to his demeanor, Heitkamp said the final straw was the way Kavanaugh went after her Democratic colleague from Minnesota, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, when he asked her if she had ever blacked out drunk after she had asked him the same question.” CNN.com
International Criminal Court
“Bolton(‘s) … ire apparently provoked by the Court’s preparation to launch a probe into war crimes in Afghanistan … which could include examining the alleged torture of detainees by U.S. military and intelligence personnel … he warned, Washington was ready to take steps including banning judges of the ‘illegitimate court’ from the country and sanctioning their funds in the U.S. financial system.” Time.com
We don’t know if Congress can rein in unilateral sanctions like this.
New Plan to Restrict Protests in DC
“The plan, introduced by the National Park Service in August, would restrict protesters from gathering along the north sidewalk of the White House. Demonstrations are often held in that area, directly in front of the North Lawn near Lafayette Park. People have been lining up in that area for over 50 consecutive nights of protests, which have featured celebrity speakers like Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin and Stormy Daniels’s lawyer Michael Avenatti.
The proposal would also stop protests at some of the most iconic locations in the nation’s Capital, including the National Mall where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. Demonstrators would also be blocked from protesting on certain portions of Pennsylvania Avenue, most notably outside the Trump International Hotel.” NewsWeek.com
This is an attempt to lessen the visual impact of the upcoming Womxn’s March in January. The Seattle Womxn’s March on Facebook.
Comment Periods Work
There was a public comment period. It closed on Monday. They received over 71, 000 comments. Regulations.gov When the National Parks Service got 109,000 comments, they withdrew their outrageous plan to hike park fees up: NYTimes.com
There will likely be a lawsuit about this. It is against first amendment rights.
What Can our Senators Do?
They could start a Congressional Review Act. A Congressional Review Act is a procedural way for Congress to stop the actions of a department. Wikipedia.org
North Dakota Voter Suppression
A law has just been implemented in North Dakota. “The law requires that North Dakota residents provide identification that includes a residential street address in order to vote. But the state is home to thousands of Native Americans and others who do not have standard addresses.” Fortune.com The Supreme Court (including Kavanaugh now, of course) has declined to intervene.
Under the Constitution, states are responsible for their elections. ConstitutionCenter.org
Sen. McConnell Wants to Slash Earned Benefits
This administration commonly frames earned benefits as “entitlements”. Sen. McConnell claims that we cannot afford to pay them out at the current rates. Their recent tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy haven’t impacted our coffers. Bloomberg.com
“McConnell’s remarks came a day after the Treasury Department said the U.S. budget deficit grew to $779 billion in Donald Trump’s first full fiscal year as president, the result of the GOP’s tax cuts, bipartisan spending increases and rising interest payments on the national debt. That’s a 77 percent increase from the $439 billion deficit in fiscal 2015, when McConnell became majority leader.”
The Effect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Alone
“In 2018 alone, tax cuts and spending hikes will add $242 billion to the federal budget deficit. As a result, the annual deficit will top $1 trillion in just two years and rise to $1.5 trillion by 2028.” Forbes.com
What is the Federal Budget?
“In fiscal year 2016, the federal government spent $3.9 trillion, amounting to 21 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Of that $3.9 trillion, over $3.3 trillion was financed by federal revenues. The remaining amount ($585 billion) was financed by borrowing.” CBPP.org
$916, 000, 000, 000 ($916 billion) – Social Security: averaging $1,360 to 41 million retirees.
$1, 000, 000, 000, 000 ($1 trillion) – Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and marketplace subsidies (nearly 3/5 was Medicare).
($605 billion – defense)
Zinke’s Proposal to Drill on West Coast
At the beginning of the year, Trump appointee and current Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke created an uproar when he announced that oil drilling would once again be permitted along the East and West coasts of the US. WaPo.com Realizing the great direct and indirect environmental problems that this drilling would cause, Oregon and Washington states strongly objected, and the plans were put on hold. WaPo.com