Updated 3pm Wednesday. 9/4/18 notes from visiting WA’s senators’ staffers. Rally vid: 36.49.
8/28/18: notes. FAQs & Archive. Online info about our senators.
By Holly Brewer, Loren Bast and Janet Kierstead.
Lilly Addams with Physicians for Social Responsibility spoke first. We need to pass a state resolution to wind down our spending on nuclear weapons. Our government is due to spend $1.7 trillion on nuclear weapons over the next thirty years. That’s $4.6bn every hour. Please visit their web site: WSPR.org; and their coalition’s web site: WANWCoalition.org.
Rally vid: 36.49
Larry Behrendt spoke about actions that we can take against the Kavanaugh nomination: call our senators; and call your friends and ask them to call theirs! Every day!
Elissa Goss with NARAL Pro Choice WA
In future, we would like a replacement from Sen. Murray’s office if Kate cannot make it. There wasn’t an intern available this week.
Each week the staffers should note what our questions are to ensure that we get feedback each week, even if they have no qualified response.
There were 80 voicemails and jammed lines this morning (Tuesday) in Cantwell’s office because of the protests about the Kavanaugh nomination.
The first part of the confimation process is for the Judiciary Committee to have hearings. After that, it may be time that he can meet with our senators. For more on the Tuesday hearing: Judiciary.Senate.gov. Key takeaways: NYTimes.com
We want our senators to hold up Sen. McConnell’s treachery up for everyone to see. “Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016 not to consider a Supreme Court nominee in an election year,” Time.com. Some of us want them to boycott the vote because it is a farce: They need to highlight that and not legitimize it. We want our senators to be as outpoken as Sen. Feinstein. She said, “The president who nominated you has said he will nominate someone who is anti-choice and pro-gun. We cannot find the documents that absolve that conclusion…. This is why we feel so strongly.” QZ.com
Are there delay tactics that they can use so that they have time to read the 42,000 documents that have just been released?
Meeting with Kavanaugh
Sen. Cantwell has questions for Kavanaugh and wants a meeting with him. Sen. Collins (R-ME) had a meeting with him on Aug. 20th. WaPo.com She is not on the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of Sen. Cantwell’s staffers told a constituent that Republicans are not allowing Democrats to meet with Kavanaugh.
The First Hearing (Tuesday)
Democrat senators complained that they have only had 15 hours to read 42,000 documents for the hearing. CNN.com
Police arrested 70 people. YouTube.com
Sen. Cantwell’s Statements
Participants noted that Sen. Cantwell should say why she is against Kavanaugh and be public about it. On July 9 of this year, she said, “I have grave concerns about this nomination and Judge Kavanaugh’s previous decisions on net neutrality and health care.” Cantwell.Senate.gov That same day, she tweeted, “I’m anxious to hear what President Trump’s #SupremeCourt nominee has to say. Is the president able to pardon himself? Do you believe in the emoluments clause? What do you think of the Mueller investigation? These are monumental questions. #WhatsAtStake” Twitter.com
7/27/18 She said she “will fight Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court because it could mean the end of protections for people with preexisting condition protections.” BizJournals.com
8/1/18 she stated about the gag rule, “The proposed rule restricting women’s access to reproductive health care comes as President Trump attempts to appoint an extreme Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who anti-abortion groups vetted and approved as a fifth vote to turn the Supreme Court against women’s constitutional rights by striking down Roe v. Wade.” Cantwell.Senate.gov
The people of Maine do not want to lose health care when they have a pre-existing conditions; they do not want to lose the right to access abortion; and they do not want minorities to lose protection and dignity.
Sen. Murray pointed out, “Chairman Grassley began confirmation hearings on Judge Kavanaugh on Tuesday 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. Murray also has a Roe banner. Please share your personal story about how Roe vs. Wade has personally affected you or those you love: Include how losing it would affect you. Murray.Senate.gov
Sen. Cantwell has been holding out for a meeting with Kavanagh. 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.
Sens. Cantwell and Murray were in the group of 27 senators and 76 members of the House of Representatives filing a amicus brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief includes the statement, “The FCC’s reclassification decision in its 2017 Order is based entirely in the misuse of language…. It is divorced from the practical realities that supported the FCC’s 2015 classification decision. And it leads immediately to absurd results. It is an abuse of discretion which this Court should overturn.” Cantwell.Senate.gov
Schumer Gave Away Federal Judge Seats
Many Democrats were upset with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for going along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to fast-track the confirmation of seven federal judges nominated by Republicans. However, the Editor and Publisher of the Editorial Board, John Stoehr, writes that Schumer made the best call with a bad hand. To summarize, McConnell had the votes to confirm those judges anyway, and Democratic resistance during their hearings would have delayed the much-needed August recess for Democrat’s incumbent senators to campaign in their home states for re-election. Not a single Democratic senator, including Kamala Harris, objected to Schumer’s deal. Stoehr.Substack.com
Letter About Junk Health Care Plans
Sen. Murray joined a letter with other senators to ask the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to begin reporting the harmful consequences of “junk” insurance plans as insurers submit applications to sell the plans to consumers this fall. KTVZ.com
The Minibus Bill
HR. 6147: Interior, Environment, Financial Services and General Government, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2019
It passed the Senate 92 / 6 Senate.gov. It is on the way to the president’s desk. 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
Sen. Cantwell’s Amendments
Sen. Cantwell’s amendments made it into the minibus bill.
The amendments according to Congress.gov:
S.Amdt. 3464: To provide for election security grants;
S.Amdt. 3608: To prohibit the use of funds to implement certain new policies of the Federal Transit Administration relating to the Capital Investment Grant program (Sen. Cantwell cosponsored); and
S.Amdt. 3578: To add a provision to clarify eligibility and establish an eligibility appeal mechanism under the rural broadband loan and grant pilot program.
SW WA Got a Federal Grant!
The Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council got $2.4m. They describe the benefits: “First, getting people in opioid-affected communities to work will help the economy, which analysts say has suffered $1 trillion in costs since 2001 as a result of the crisis. Second, they believe every worker they’re able to reach will be less likely to relapse or fall into addiction.” ChronLine.com
Tariff Damage to Boeing
Trump’s tariffs against China have begun to cause problems for one of the region’s largest employers – Boeing. China is expected to eclipse the US as the world’s biggest market for planes by 2022, and Trump’s tariffs and rhetoric are driving China’s government straight into the arms of Boeing’s main rival, Airbus. Contracts by airlines and governments typically span multiple years and airplanes and include long-term maintenance agreements, meaning that Trump’s tariffs, even if they are rescinded, could depress business long-term for the company. SeattleTimes.com Bloomberg.com ThePointsGuy.com
Sens. Murray and Cantwell wrote a letter to Perdue, along with Rep. Dave Reichert and Rep. Dan Newhouse, to ask for relief from the impacts of the tariffs. It included the statement, “Our cherry growers are estimating they will experience up to $86 million in damages from trade wars during the 2018 season, and they deserve the same assistance afforded to producers of other agricultural commodities that have been negatively impacted by retaliatory tariffs.” Murray.Senate.gov Tri-CityHerald.com
“Any changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement could have an especially large impact on Washington state, because Washington is now the most trade dependent state in the nation…. When NAFTA went into effect in 1994, it virtually made North America a tariff-free trade zone. And since the agreement was signed, trade has exploded between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.” King5.com
Immigrant Family Separations
View a good timeline: ACLU.org
Sen. Cantwell has not mentioned family separations for about 7 weeks. Cantwell.Senate.gov We want her to continue to be vocal about it. Five of the children under 5 are in Washington State.
Every week, Sen. Cantwell’s staffers talk to Health and Human Services. Louise will get back to us about this next week. We think the head of HHS should go to jail for contempt of court for not fulfilling the judge’s requirement that they meet the deadline for reuniting families.
Nielsen and Azar Need to Resign
We want our senators to demand Nielsen and Azar’s resignation: This especially after the little girl died just after being released. ABCNews.Go.com Nielsen did threaten to resign, in May of this year, following a Trump tirade against her. Politico.com
On June 29, a growing number of lawmakers were calling on Kirstjen Nielsen to resign. BusinessInsider.com
On July 20, Rep. Deutch called for her resignation when she cast doubt on US intelligence’s findings that Russia hacked the 2016 election. TheHill.com He is the top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee.
Companies Are Making Serious Money Out of Detaining People
… and that money goes back into funding political candidates.
According to OpenSecrets.org, “Since 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has paid out $1.2 billion to nonprofit organizations that care for minors. None have benefited more from Trump’s now-rescinded child-separation policy than the firm, Southwest Key Programs, Inc. The Austin, Texas-based nonprofit was paid $596 million in the last two fiscal years to house immigrant children, including those seized from parents at the border. The facilities operated by Southwest include Casa Padre, a federal detention center in Brownsville, Texas, housing over 1,400 children — some of whom were among those separated from parents, according to media reports. The facility is a converted Walmart.”
Law Should Protect Detainees
S. 3112: Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2018
This bill would protect detainees. Sen. Murray is a cosponsor. Sen. Cantwell is not.
“The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act would significantly restrict family detention, preventing the federal government from expending resources to detain immigrants except in instances where immigrants pose a flight risk or a risk to public safety. The bill also ends the use of private prisons to detain immigrants, sets humane standards for detention facilities, strengthens the inspection and monitoring of facilities in order to crack down on abuses, and better protects the civil rights of immigrant detainees.” Booker.Senate.gov
What Have our Senators Done?
The ACLU has filed class-action suits about this. ACLU.org
More about the family separations: ACLU.org.
Our Senators Required Investigations
6/28/18 “Inspector General Launches Inquiry After Senators Murray, Cantwell Demand Investigation of Health Department’s Treatment of Children Separated from Parents Under President Trump’s Policy.” Murray.Senate.gov
7/31/18 Sen. Murray previously joined a letter from Sens. Wyden and Weinstein to the administration demanding answers about the children taken from their families seeking refugee status. The letter concludes, “Please provide a staff briefing by no later than August 3, 2018, and written responses no later than August 1, 2018…” Murray.Senate.gov.
Sen. Murray about reunification of families at the border: Twitter.com
The Agricultural Workers Visa Program Can Fix the Immigration Issue
It seems that the most sensible way to solve the attack on immigrants now is to offer agricultural visas. The visas: USCIS.gov That way, we can harvest our food, and people coming here can be safe.
Secure Elections Act
S. 2611: Secure Elections Act
This act is stuck in the Committee on Rules and Administration. It has 3 Democrat and 2 Republican cosponsors. Our senators are not cosponsors. Some of the bill has to go through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, but it is moving forward.
Sen. Lankford has Hope
In remarks to a Yukon chamber luncheon Friday and to reporters after the event, Sen. Lankford said the bill still has the support of the Senate and president, blaming “misnomers” and an “inappropriate” comment from the White House for any confusion.
Lankford explained, “We had a bipartisan majority that would support it through committee but there were a couple questions from some of the members and individuals that said, ‘Hey, I’ve got one thing I want to be able to look at.’ The decision was made to be able to pull it, try to work that out so we can have a unanimous majority on it, rather than just a bipartisan majority…” SWTimes.com
He continued,“I’ve talked to several people in the White House. They are not opposing this bill. There has been an inappropriate word that came out saying they were in opposition to it. They’re not. Do they have some questions? Yes, they do, but they were already allowing it to be able to go through the Rules Committee markup and then they wanted to see some things change before it went to the floor, but they are not trying to stop this bill.”’ SWTimes.com
It Would Allow AGs to See Threats
“The Secure Elections Act would grant security clearances to a top election official in each state so they can track threats to their voting systems, would establish a channel of communication between Homeland Security and states, and would incentivize states to audit their elections.” SWTimes.com
WA’s Voting Systems Security
Our state’s voting systems appear to be mainly secure. HeraldNet.com
However, its “failure to require post-election audits on paper ballots leaves the state open to undetected hacking and other Election Day problems,” according to the CDN.AmericanProgress.org See other topics and more about the center at Center for American Progress.
National Prisoners’ Strike
8/21 – 9/9 “The demonstrations are planned to take place from August 21 to September 9, which marks the anniversary of the bloody uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. During this time, inmates across the US plan to refuse to work and, in some cases, refuse to eat to draw attention to poor prison conditions and what many view as exploitative labor practices in American correctional facilities.” Vox.com. We don’t have a statement from our senators on this issue.
The strike web site: IncarceratedWorkers.org
Cancelled Pay Raises for Federal Employees
Trump cancels pay raises for federal employees. CNN.com
Our senators don’t have a statement about that.
Sen. Cantwell’s Amendment Enriches Coding Opportunities
This bill enables schools to obtain grants to teach coding. This expands the grant program to a new subject area.
When the Senate was working through the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act (through the above bills), Sen. Cantwell introduced legislation into the amendment to encourage schools to teach computer science. About the CTE Act: EducationDive.com. The amendment – with many other provisos: Congress.gov.
WA Has a Huge Demand for Computer Grads
Many colleges are limiting how many people they can take in in computer science classes. SeattleTimes.com
“The state’s workforce has struggled to keep up with the demand for new coding jobs. In 2015, only 1,212 Washington students graduated from college with computer science degrees, leaving more than 16,200 computing jobs in the state unfilled.” Cantwell.Senate.gov “In Washington, more than 13,000 internet companies provide more than a quarter of a million jobs, and we want to keep this American success story going…” said Senator Cantwell.’ KXRO.com
Sen. Cantwell Emphasizes Rural and Underserved Areas
‘The amendment also requests that the Secretary of Education prioritize coding program grant applications from rural or underserved areas.” Cantwell.Senate.gov
Hurricane season is coming back. We want our senators to be preparing to protect our residents.
Policy Changes for Student Visas
There are policy changes for student visas that are adversely affecting colleges, because fewer foreign students will be able to study here. NYTimes.com This takes money away from colleges (because foreign students pay out of state tuition). That fits with this administration’s apparent goal of taking money away from the education of the general public. It will also strip talented graduates from our job pool, costing us as a nation.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund
S. 569: Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act
This is Sen. Cantwell’s bill.
It is in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Sen. Cantwell is the highest ranking Dem in the committee. We don’t know if it will be funded.
Sen. Cantwell’s tweet about this: “For the economy, sportsmen, wildlife, and our kids & grandkids, we must permanently reauthorize #LWCF. In Washington state alone, the outdoor recreation economy contributes over $26 billion in consumer spending and supports more than 201,000 direct jobs.” Twitter.com Sen. Cantwell headed a rally in Seattle on 8/13/18 to fight for the fund.
LWCF in WA
Sens. Cantwell and Burr led a bipartisan group of senators urging Senate leadership to permanently reauthorize LWCF. The senators wrote, “The LWCF is one of the country’s best conservation programs, preserving public lands and ensuring access to outdoor recreation in rural and urban areas….For the last half century, it has protected lands, historic sites, national parks, wilderness areas, and urban parks in every state… It is critical that this program be reauthorized before its expiration on September 30, 2018.” Cantwell.Senate.gov
(This program has given our area Green Lake State Park, Gas Works Park, Discovery Park, and many more.)
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. This is the reauthorization bill: S. 569: Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act