Tuesday the 24th of July 2018

Updated 3pm Wednesday. 7/24/18 notes from visiting WA’s senators’ staffers. Rally vid: 35:05.
7/17/18: 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
Tommy Bauer, Sen. Cantwell’s Seattle Outreach Director ~ Main P: (202) 224-3441 ~ F: (202) 228-0514

From the Rally


The lyrics from Jim Page’s songs at the rally. IBI.org

Attacks on Health Care

Sen. Murray Speaking on the Floor


She speaks about the attacks on health care and cites personal stories – and about far right choices like Kavanaugh for the courts.

Please share your story about how the Roe vs. Wade decision has affected you. Act.PattyMurray.com

The GOP’s Attacks on Health Care

It is the anniversary of Republicans being defeated when they tried to take the Affordable Care Act away. LATimes.com

The GOP has repeatedly attacked our ability to get health care, and premiums will be higher next year as a result. TheWeek.com

Senator Murray is the ranking senator for healthcare in the HELP Committee, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. This means that she is the second in seniority, as the senior Democrat in the committee.

Sen. Murray on Kavanaugh’s Record on Roe vs. Wade

Her Personal Story


A very personal story from Sen. Murray about her beliefs on Roe vs. Wade, and other families’ personal stories.

Tweets

“I saw my friend hurt, frightened, alone, and unable to get the [abortion] care she needed because someone else’s beliefs mattered more under our laws than her health and her future. That impacted me a lot, and has stayed with me to this day.” Twitter.com

“I can’t adequately express how frustrating it is to have to assert this in the 21st century, but we are stronger today because women in the United States are treated more equally than we were in the 1970s.” Twitter.com

Related: Please submit an official comment to the Department of Health and Human Services to stop the gag rule. WeArePlannedParenthoodAction.org

Booker Against Kavanaugh

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has stepped up in the battle against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. MSNBC.com Booker is fighting to reject Kavanaugh’s nomination and he suggested that Trump could not make new nominations for justices while under investigation. It’s been speculated that Trump favors Kavanaugh primarily because he believes that a sitting president should be exempt from criminal prosecution. Vox.com

The VA

Wilkie as Secy. of VA

“(Robert Wilkie), a Pentagon under secretary, was confirmed Monday by the Senate as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, giving the sprawling agency its first permanent leader in months.” CNN.com Both of our senators voted for him. GovTrack.us He was voted in by an 86/9 margin. Sen. Murray will keep him accountable not to privatize or monetize the VA. She spoke to him about that previously at the confirmation hearings. Her July 10 statement is on Murray.Senate.gov.

Military Suicides

Sens. Murray and Kaine sent a letter to the Department of Defense, asking them to release any data on military dependent suicide. WTKR.com

Too Much War

We have been at war for 16 years. ForeignPolicyJournal.com

Sen. Murray will work hard to protect our veterans. She has a staff member specifically working on veteran’s affairs, and Washington State veterans work hard to be heard. She is the first female on the Veteran’s Committee in the Senate. Her father was a World War II veteran and a Purple Heart recipient. When he got Multiple Sclerosis and was unable to work, the VA helped them. Also, when she was at WAZU, she did an internship at the psychiatric ward of the VA hospital and saw Vietnam vets being treated. Murray.Senate.gov. More about her work for veterans: Murray.Senate.gov.

She is on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies subcommittee and the Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

Perkins Technical Education Bill

About the Bill

S. 3217: Perkins Fund for Equity and Excellence
“The House passed its own version of the bill more than a year ago, but negotiations in the Senate had been in a stalemate for months. Business groups and the White House had recently made updating the work-force training bill a priority, though — presidential adviser Ivanka Trump visited Capitol Hill last month to press senators on the legislation.” InsideHigherEd.com

The reauthorization passed by the Senate today “makes important updates to current law, including limiting the role of the Department of Education so states don’t have to ask, ‘Mother, may I?’ when they want to make changes to do what is best for their students and increases expectations that states will hold themselves accountable for student achievement,” InsideHigherEd.com

Sen. Murray’s statement

“As so many families struggle to find good-paying jobs and so many companies struggle to find skilled workers, I’m proud to work with my colleagues across the aisle to reauthorize and pass this important law that will help our students, workers, businesses, and communities compete in the 21st century economy …” Murray.Senate.gov

Stop Summer Hunger

Sen. Murray is bringing the “Stop Summer Hunger” bill to the floor this week.

She has tried to get it passed for a few years. Her press release: Murray.Senate.gov. Two of her previous attempts: S. 2366 in 113th Congress & S. 1539 in 114th Congress.

Gas Prices

Gas Prices are up 50-60 cents from this time last year. Twitter.com Diesel fuel is up 66 cents. Twitter.com Senator Cantwell has slammed the giveaways to Big Oil, and has promoted alternatives to normal gasoline, such as domestic biofuels and electric cars and trucks. TheCommonIlls.Blogspot.com In normal political years, Big Oil receives handouts from its Republican allies, but last year’s tax bill created an even larger windfall. HoustonChronicle.com Those windfalls, however, are NOT translating to relief at the pump.

Protecting Elections

DETER Act

S. 2313: Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act of 2018
Sen. Cantwell has cosponsored legislation to stop foreign powers from attacking us through cyber warfare. It has 6 Republican and 5 Democratic cosponsors; and is in the Senate Banking Committee. We want to know whether the DETER Act will require paper ballots. Sen. Murray is not a cosponsor.

Microsoft Say Three Campaigns Have Been Hacked

“Russian intelligence operatives attempted to hack into the online accounts of staffers on three congressional campaigns in the upcoming midterm elections, a Microsoft executive said Thursday, marking the first public acknowledgment of a Russian attack on a 2018 race … The hacking unit is directed by the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency” CNN.com

Leahy Asks for $250m

Democrats “filed an amendment to bolster election security against Russian attacks and other hostile foreign powers ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The amendment would provide $250 million for State Election Security Grants.” Appropriations.Senate.gov

The House Voted Against Funding Election Systems

‘In a vote along party lines, Republicans rejected Democrats’ motion for more funding, unmoved by Democrats’ vigorous pleas and chants of “USA! USA!” on the House floor.’ WaPo.com

Minibus Bill

It is hoped that measures and funding to protect voting systems can be in the minibus bill coming up. NYMag.com

Within the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Cantwell is the Ranking Member. ‘Ranking’ means that she is the most senior Democrat on the committee and therefore the second senior (after the senior Republican).

Zinke’s Office Did a Document Dump

Assets.Documentcloud.org

“botched document dump reveals what we’ve suspected all along: Secretary Zinke ignored clear warnings from his own staff that shrinking national monuments would put sacred archaeological and cultural sites at risk.” Esquire.com

“officials ignored the benefits of national monuments, including those related to tourism and archaeological work, while conducting its review of 27 monuments last year …” PSMag.com

Our Senators’ Reactions to Zinke

Senator Murray: 8/24/17 & 2/1/18 & 2/7/18

Senator Cantwell: 9/26/17 & 2/18/18 & 3/13/18 & 3/13/18
Sen. Cantwell had Zinke before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to discuss expensive doors; private jets; 2.2 million acres taken away from the public to be developed; and elephant imports. Energy.Senate.gov.

Refugees

This is Like Turning Away Jews in WWII

In World War II the US turned away thousands of refugees – and many of them were killed. We are doing the same now. SmithsonianMag.com We want our senators to speak up loudly about the injustice. Rep. Jayapal was arrested for civil disobedience recently. These are not normal times. SeattleTimes.com Our senators did go to a detention facility a week or so ago: it is not enough. Murray.Senate.gov

Changed Terms of Asylum

“Asylum claims have expanded too broadly to include victims of ‘private violence,’ like domestic violence or gangs, Mr. Sessions wrote … The number of illegal immigrants caught at the border last year was the lowest since 1971, Border Patrol statistics showed.” NYTimes.com

Separated Families

The administration missed the deadline for reuniting children under the age of 5 with their families, and the next deadline is for those aged 5-17. TheHill.com What will the Democrats do once they miss that deadline? This appears to be a constitutional crisis – where the administration is not heeding the judicial branch. We want the Democrats to unite and protest loudly about the administration going against the judiciary – and breaking international law.

Hate Crimes

Burien’s Mayor Was Assaulted

“Matta told deputies that the man in his 60s approached him from behind while the mayor was inside the beer garden at the annual Olde Burien Block Party, according to sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott.
The man allegedly put his arm around Matta’s neck and pulled him down, scratching Matta’s arm on a fence post and drawing blood in the process.
… The man threatened Matta’s life and whispered, “ ‘We’re not going to let you Latino illegals take over our city.’ Matta said.” SeattleTimes.com

Tuesday Press Conference

The Latino Civic Alliance hosted a news conference: Facebook.com. Sen. Cantwell had a staffer there.

Sen. Cantwell’s Call for Hate Task Force

4/3/17: “In a letter issued today, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, along with 13 other Senators, called upon President Donald Trump to form a presidential task force to address rising hate-related violence across the country.” TheStranger.com

4/13/17: “New Justice Department Group to Track Hate Crimes Amid Growing Attacks” NBCNews.com – will it be a token action?

Comment on the Attack on the Endangered Species Act

Please comment here: Engage.US.GreenPeace.org.

Tariffs – and Payments to Fix Them

This administration wanted tariffs to fulfill their pie in the sky logic; now they are looking to pay farmers $12bn to make up for their lost earnings because of tariffs other countries are imposing in retribution. NewsWeek.com

Trump’s tariffs are having an effect nationally and globally. Locally, they’re causing turmoil; in Moses Lake in central Washington, his solar tariffs have caused REC Silicon to lay off 40% of their workforce earlier this month. TheLens.com As a result of these tariffs, Sen. Murray and Rep. Newhouse sent a letter to President Trump to end his trade war with China. Murray.Senate.gov It’s not just the solar sector that’s affected; state farmers are debating whether to harvest certain crops due to the trade war. SeattleTimes.com In fact, over forty percent of jobs in the state depend on foreign trade. PublicNewsService.org

Democrats need to frame this crisis – and own it.

The administration is planning to pay out the money so that the farmers aren’t hurt – and they get their votes in the midterms.

Farmers will lose shelf space in other countries – it will be hard to win it back.

Farmers are losing a sense of pride in their work – they don’t want handouts. It feels like a slap in the face.

And the handouts come from our tax dollars.

Tariffs could hit soybean farmers worst of all if China puts another levy on soybeans. CNBC.com

Upcoming Judiciary Nominees

We need our senators to protect us from proposed judicial nominees. The key question to ask is if the nominee thinks that the administration should be allowed to flout court rulings: and if the president is above the law.

Bounds Was Rejected

“Mr. Bounds’s nomination was pulled after Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican senator, made clear he would not vote for him because of the writings, despite a hastily arranged face-to-face meeting with the nominee. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, quickly sided with his close friend Mr. Scott, and other Republicans also signaled that they would vote against Mr. Bounds.” NYTimes.com More about his racist writings: AFJ.org. He was running for the ninth circuit – our jurisdiction. He was the first nominee not to get a blue slip. A blue slip is an approval from both senators to indicate that they support the nominee.

When Progressives Gain Power

Released Tax Returns

Since Nixon, presidents – and presidential nominees – have released their tax returns. TaxHistory.org

Restrict President’s Power

We need to restrict a president’s power, and demand nominees’ tax returns. We need a constitutional amendment to increase the power of the other branches.

Get Rid of the Nuclear Option

The GOP changed the rules so that a simple majority of 51 senators can confirm a Supreme Court nominee.

How?
How did they do this? There are two answers to this question: one is technical and the other political.

The technical answer is that the US Constitution allows for the senate to make up its own rules, and a majority leader, who by definition has 51 senators in their caucus, is the one who can decide whether to tackle changing a particular rule. Once a majority leader decides to make a change, they can accomplish it with a series of simple majority votes of 51 senators. This process includes eliminating the use of a filibuster on the issue in question. This is key, as 60 votes are required to break a filibuster.

The political answer for what made it possible for the GOP Majority Leader, McConnell to change the rules for SCOTUS now is that Sen. Harry Reid (D) set a precedent for it when he was majority leader. In 2013, facing GOP intransigence, he managed to have the rule changed from 60 to the nuclear option of 51 votes for judicial nominees to the lower courts. He did not change the process for the Supreme Court, but his action paved the way politically for the GOP to expand on this precedent to include SCOTUS. For more on the filibuster and the recent rule change regarding SCOTUS, see cbsnews.com, Politifact and The Washington Post.
Sources: CBSNews.com, WaPo.com & Politifact.com.

Net Neutrality

We are short from being able to take the vote to protect net neutrality in the House. It cannot be voted on unless Rep. Ryan allows it to go to the vote (which he won’t) – or the discharge petition gets enough votes. It requires 218 votes; and has 172. ARSTechnica.com It has already passed the Senate. We need to pressure Republicans about this.

Puerto Rico

We want our senators to pay attention to Puerto Rico’s plight. They are still in dire straits.
“Puerto Rico is still in ruins after last year’s Hurricane Maria, with thousands still without power.” News.com.au

Federal Budget

This comes up in September. The Affordable Care Act, safety nets and money for the wall that 45 wants will potentially be in it. The government may shut down.

The FARM Bill

The Senate version of the bill retains SNAP, food stamps.

According to CNBC.com, “The lion’s share of the farm bill’s funding is devoted to programs such as food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…Total benefits paid out last year by SNAP exceeded $63 billion and went to more than 42 million participants…The GOP-backed House farm bill that failed last month sought tougher work requirements for SNAP participants.” Those work requirements are not in this version.”