Tuesday the 21st of August 2018

Updated 3pm Wednesday. 8/21/18 notes from visiting WA’s senators’ staffers. The rally vid: 32.52.
8/14/18: notes. FAQs & Archive. Online info about our senators.
By Holly Brewer, Loren Bast and Janet Kierstead.

Met with

Kate Baumgartner, Sen. Murray’s Seattle Director ~ Main P: (202) 224-2621 / (866) 481-9186 ~ F: (202) 224-0238
and
Louise O’Rourke, Sen. Cantwell’s King County Outreach Director (on the right).

Rally

Our rally today was indoors because of the poor air quality – caused by Canadian forest fires. The rally vid: 32.52

Poor air quality today:

Concerned about the air quality? Buy masks here: Amazon.com.

Sen Murray in the Appropriations Cttee

S. 2680: Opioid Crisis Response Act (OCRA)
Sen. Murray is working in the appropriations committee to get her opioid crisis funding through.

Sen. Murray is the top Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Committee: Appropriations.Senate.gov.

Opioid Crisis Bill

Sen. Murray’s and Sen. Lamar Alexander’s bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act was 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.

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.

Sen Murray Working on the Pandemic Preparedness Act

S. 2852: Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018
This is a re-authorization of funding.
“Senators Burr, Casey, Alexander, and Murray released a bipartisan discussion draft to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), making targeted improvements to the tools at our nation’s disposal to prepare for and respond to the threats that we face, whether naturally occurring like pandemic flu, or as a result of a deliberate attack on our country.” Burr.Senate.gov

Kavanaugh’s Nomination

Letter to Grassley

8.21.18: “Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee and the highest-ranking woman in the United States Senate, sent a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressing her concern about Judge Kavanaugh’s views on women’s health and reproductive rights, the Chairman’s refusal to release all available documents to allow Senators and the public a full understanding of Judge Kavanaugh’s views, and the Chairman’s plans to start confirmation hearings on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination before Senators and the public have been able to adequately review his record.

The letter comes as Chairman Grassley plans to begin confirmation hearings on Judge Kavanaugh on September 4th, despite just two percent of Kavanaugh’s available White House documents having been made public.” Murray.Senate.gov

We need to contact Sen. Grassley and insist that he hand over all information pertaining to Brett Kavanaugh’s work. Email / Call: (202) 224-3744 / Fax: (202) 224-6020

Sen. Cantwell on Kavanaugh

A participant noted that Sen. Cantwell should publicly say why she is against Kavanaugh: and be public about it.

Sen. Cantwell has been holding out for a meeting with Kavanaugh: the idea is that if she says she will vote no, she will not get to have a meeting or hearing with him. She does not appear to have had a meeting with him yet. Also, his first meetings will be with the Judiciary Committee, because they are the ones who first approve him. Neither of our senators are on the committee. He has not met with all of them yet.

Sen. Schumer is Suing for Info About Kavanaugh

“Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus is preparing to sue the National Archives if it is unable to meet the party’s Freedom of Information Act request for hundreds of thousands of pages of Kavanaugh documents that have not yet been disclosed publicly. If the Archives has not met Democrats’ request in 20 days, Schumer and his members say they will go to court.” politico.com

Our Senators

Our senators need to continue to push for more info because it is their constitutional duty: and they are responsible for assertively asking for it.

They could have a counter asking people to click if they don’t want Kavanaugh: in fact, writing and calling does the same thing. They tally all contacts. Please call, email or fax them.

Sen. Murray also has a Roe banner. Please share your personal story about how Roe vs. Wade has personally affected you or those you love: and how losing it would affect you. Murray.Senate.gov

Sen. Collins’ Impression

Sen. Collins was ‘highlighting the judge’s statement that the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion is “settled law.”‘ WaPo.com

Sen. Warren’s Bill to Keep Corporations Accountable

S. 3348: Accountable Capitalism Act
“Warren wants to eliminate the huge financial incentives that entice CEOs to flush cash out to shareholders rather than reinvest in businesses. She wants to curb corporations’ political activities… Warren wants to create an Office of United States Corporations inside the Department of Commerce and require any corporation with revenue over $1 billion — only a few thousand companies, but a large share of overall employment and economic activity — to obtain a federal charter of corporate citizenship. ” Vox.com

Please sign Sen. Warren’s petition to support the bill: ElizabethWarren.com

WA’s Broken Tax System

Only Kentucky has a more broken tax system than WA! Kentucky.com

Sen. Cantwell To FCC About DOS Attacks

Sen. Cantwell questioned Ajit Pai about the Denial of Service Attacks that the FCC claimed happened in the comment period over net neutrality. C-Span.org It was a lie. “FCC now says there were no cyber attacks during net neutrality comment period”. ChicagoTribune.com

She also asked about Facebook – and the FCC’s responsibility there: with Facebook turning location functionality on and off.

Sen. Cantwell Asked Perdue About Wildfires

Sen. Cantwell asked Perdue about his plan to handle wildfires. C-Span.org

Spokane Satire

A Spokane Facebook group is encouraging everyone to turn their box fans on on Friday and blow the smoke back to Canada! KomoNews.com

Ended Fire Borrowing

There was more than $20 billion over 10 years in the omnibus bill for wildfire management.

Funds Used to be Borrowed from Prevention Efforts
Previously, the state has borrowed from fire prevention funding (funding for spring burns, etc.) to put fires out. Cantwell.Senate.gov.
Now they have funding for both: SpokesmanReview.com.

Funds Used to be Borrowed from Environmental Programs
“‘fire borrowing’ robbed funding from watershed restoration projects, invasive species programs”: HCN.org.

Some of the smoke is all the way from Siberia. TheNewsTribune.com

Sen. Cantwell Works on Coding for K-12

“U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Republican Bill Cassidy (LA) introduced an amendment to the Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education budget calling for more funding to support the development and implementation of K-12 computer coding education programs.” Cantwell.Senate.gov

Separated and Detained Children

Administration Says They Can’t Reunite Them

“The government maintains that it could not or should not have reunited all of those children, including hundreds of parents who were apparently deported and others who the government says declined to be reunified or have criminal histories.” CNN.com

Who is in Charge? Where Do They Go?

When families are separated it is managed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Their program for handing unaccompanied minors: ACF.HHS.gov. FAQs about the treatment of unaccompanied minors: ACF.HHS.gov. They try to find the best place for the children. First, they try to place them with their immediate family in the US. If not, with an extended family or family friend. They sometimes have to pass the children to other organizations for care. More about the problems and solutions: NYTimes.com. Do we really want more federal oversight that could potentially cause more deportations?

Where Immigrant Children Can Be Held

The Trump administration might hold children caught crossing border on military bases: CNN.com. Another option is the foster care system, which is already overstretched: “About 520,000 … end up in foster care each year — double the number 25 years ago.”: ABCNews.Go.com.

“detained migrant children cannot be held in government detention facilities for more than 20 days.” CBSNews.com Detention is defined as being in a detention center or prison. Children in foster care or group home are not bound to the same rules.

Teens Seeking Asylum

Teens crossing the border seeking asylum are subject to different rules than families. Many families send them over unaccompanied to give them a better life.

Sen. Murray has a Bureau Prisons Liaison staffer.

Our Senators Visited the SeaTac Detention Center


June 30th, Sen. Cantwell: “I visited the SeaTac Federal Detention Center to meet with the women there who are seeking asylum. Several recounted being separated from their children, unable to say goodbye or explain what was happening. People seeking asylum should not be treated as criminals. I’m standing with everyone across the country today who’s fighting back against this administration’s cruel and senseless zero tolerance policy.” Faceboook.com

Scott Lloyd’s Abuse of Power

Scott Lloyd is the Federal Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
3/1/18: “The Trump administration’s policy of halting abortions among undocumented minors was established by email through an ad hoc process without formal legal vetting,”: Politico.com. The ACLU has challenged and publicized this. Sen. Murray’s statement on this: Murray.Senate.gov.

3/14/18: Sen. Murray joins multiple Democrats in calling for his resignation / firing: HELP.Senate.gov.

The ACLU

The American Civic Liberties Union have challenged families being separated. June 6th, a federal judge allowed the suit to move forward: HuffPo.com. It will take months.

Protecting Pregnant Detainees

Letter to the IG of DHS

Numerous senators sent a letter to demand that there is an investigation into how pregnant detainees are treated: Harris.Senate.gov

Sen. Murray’s Bill

S. 3225: Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act
In July, Sen. Murray introduced this bill. It has no Republican cosponsors.

Immigrants Using Benefits

The Department of Homeland Security has drafted rules regarding immigrants and those with temporary work visas who get benefits. Getting the benefits could affect their ability to continue receiving a work permit – or achieving citizenship. This would include people who obeyed the law and got the ACA. “U.S. officials could look at whether the applicant has enrolled a child in government pre-school programs or received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.” Reuters.com

This is dissuading people from applying for benefits their families need.

It is in the rule making phase. The next step is for the rules to be finalized and then there will be a public comment period. Sen. Cantwell is monitoring it.

The Burma Act

S. 2060: Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2018

“Throughout its second term, the Obama administration downplayed mounting evidence that Burma’s Rohingya community was being deliberately eradicated by the country’s military. … Since 1999, Burma has been designated a severe and systematic religious persecutor”

The right are owning the discussion on Facebook: liberals need to own it. Our senators have cosponsored teh Honest Ads act, which deals with issues like this.

Honest Ads Act

S. 1989: Honest Ads Act
It is in the Committee on Rules and Administration. It has 29 Democrat and 1 Republican (McCain) cosponsors.
Both of our senators have cosponsored it. 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.

Pre-exisiting Conditions

Sen. Cantwell is fighting to ensure that health insurance has to cover pre-existing conditions. KXLY.com


Sen. Cantwell’s tweet

The Administration’s Attack

Texas and other states attacking the requirement that health insurance providers cover pre-exisiting conditions through lawsuits is one brick in the wall: if they win in the midterms, they will attack it through legislation again.
“Trump Administration’s decision … (to) … urge the court to invalidate the ACA’s core protections for people with pre-existing health conditions,” CBPP.org

Sen. Cantwell Defends Elections

S. 2313: Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act of 2018

Sen. Cantwell has cosponsored this legislation to stop foreign powers from attacking us through cyber warfare. It has 7 Republican and 6 Democratic cosponsors; and is in the Senate Banking Committee.

“As First Reports of Meddling in Midterm Elections Come Forward, Cantwell Cosponsors Bipartisan DETER Act to Protect the Integrity of U.S. Elections” Cantwell.Senate.gov

Pharmaceuticals from Abroad to Reduce Costs

S. 469: Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act
It is in the HELP Committee. It has 20 Dem. cosponsors and 1 independent as of 5/16. Sen. Cantwell is a cosponsor. Sen. Murray is not.

2/28/18: Sen. Cantwell was one of the original cosponsors. Her press release about it: “Nearly 1 in 3 Americans could not afford the medicine they were prescribed at some point in their lives”: Cantwell.Senate.gov.

About the legality of importing medications: FDA.gov.

Costs Are Out of Control!

$20, 000 for cancer treatments every three weeks and $700 a month for eye drops that cost $100 in Canada are unacceptable. Just two examples.

Previous Votes on Importing Pharmaceuticals

The senators had previously voted against Senate Amendment 178 to Senate Congressional Resolution 3 because they were concerned that it bypassed the FDA’s regulations. An article about the pharmaceutical industry’s potential role in this vote: OpenSecrets.org.

Sen. Murray Has Had Hearings in the HELP Cttee

The hearings: Dec. 12 2017 & May 24 2018 & June 12 2018

The 340B Program

The 340B Program enables providers of care to those covered by Medicare and Medicaid to pay less for pharmaceuticals. 340BHealth.org We need more programs like this: or to be able to get medications from abroad.

Within the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senator Murray is Ranking Member.

‘Ranking’ means that she is the most senior Democrat on the committee: and therefore the second senior (after the senior Republican). As ranking member, it is her job many times to take pieces from many bills and make a more robust bill.

Great Quotes From Sen. Murray

(spacing and emphasis mine) “Murray: ‘As a candidate, President Trump talked a big game on lowering drug prices, but after 500 days
the only health care price he has dropped is his former Secretary.’

Murray: ‘…
your Blueprint has 135 questions—that’s not a plan Mr. Secretary, that’s a questionnaire.

Murray unimpressed by late update of Obama Administration’s Medicare pricing dashboard that lacks previous information: ‘… you can’t simply turn in someone else’s work, months late, incomplete, and expect to get extra credit for it.’

During questioning, Secretary Azar failed to provide any timeline for when the blueprint will bring down list prices”

Key exerpts and full transcript: HELP.Senate.gov. Video: YouTube.com: 6.52.

Health Care Items Shortages

There are bad health care items shortages nationwide (even simple items like saline): in large part because many of them were made in places where manufacturing was hit badly by Hurricane Maria. NYTimes.com In June, multiple senators, including Sen. Murray have written a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, asking him to set up a task force. Cassidy.Senate.gov In July, he set one up.