Repeal the Hyde Amendment for EACH Woman

In 1973, abortion was legalized throughout the US in Roe v. Wade. A short three years later, low-income women all over the country effectively had that right put out of reach by the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited federal Medicaid funding for almost all abortion services. The Hyde Amendment has been an impenetrable fortress in Congress year after year. But this might be the year it finally falls – thanks in large part to Members of Congress from the East Bay.

The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act would in effect overturn the Hyde Amendment. In the House, H.R. 771 is sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee, who first introduced it in 2015. Our other East Bay Representatives, Eric Swalwell and Mark DeSaulnier, have signed on as cosponsors. The bill was introduced in the Senate on March 12, 2019 as S. 758, with Senator Kamala Harris as an original sponsor. Senator Feinstein is not yet a cosponsor – however, she has a long history of being pro-choice. (IEB is talking to Sen. Feinstein’s staff about her position on the legislation and we’ll update this article as soon as we have any news.)

As the fact sheet about the EACH Woman Act says:

1. First, it sets up the federal government as a standard-bearer, ensuring that every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for abortion services. The EACH Woman Act restores abortion coverage to those:

  • enrolled in a government health insurance plan (i.e., Medicaid, Medicare), including those who live in the District of Columbia;
  • enrolled in a government-managed health insurance program (i.e., FEHBP, TRICARE) due to an employment relationship; or
  • receiving health care from a government provider or program (i.e., Indian Health Services, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Veterans Administration).

2. Second, it prohibits political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care. Federal, state and local legislators will not be able to interfere with the private insurance market, including the insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, to prevent insurance companies from providing abortion coverage.

Said Senator Harris:

No woman should ever be denied her fundamental reproductive rights. The Hyde amendment disproportionately targets the most vulnerable populations. I’m proud to co-sponsor the EACH Woman Act, protecting reproductive rights and increasing access to critical health care for all women.

And Rep. Lee:

No woman should be denied the full spectrum of reproductive health care because of her zip code or income level – yet that is the reality for too many low-income women and women of color. The EACH Woman Act ensures that every woman is empowered to make critical decisions about her own pregnancy – and has coverage for all pregnancy-related health care, including abortion – regardless of her financial situation. I am proud to reintroduce this bill with the support of my colleagues and the trailblazing women leading the fight for reproductive justice around the country.

This push for pro-choice, pro-woman legislation is good news indeed. And the timing couldn’t be better, coming hard on the heels of the decision of the Sixth Circuit in Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Hodges that the state can cut funding to Planned Parenthood because the organization performs abortions. That decision was handed down by six judges, four of whom were appointed by the Current Occupant. Boys and girls, in case you haven’t figured it out by now – this is why voting matters.

What you can do:

You better believe that the anti-choice forces will be screaming about the EACH Woman Act, and will have their members screaming at all the cosponsors. Our MoCs need to hear from us that they’re doing the right thing. Thank them and tell them that part of the reason you support them is that they are pro-choice – and you want them to be proactive about it!

What to say:

For Senator Harris:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for sponsoring S. 758, the EACH Woman Act. We need this legislation to overturn the Hyde Amendment. I support you because you’re pro-choice and I want you to keep being a leader to improve reproductive rights and make things better for women in California and throughout the U.S.

For Senator Feinstein:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Senator Feinstein to cosponsor S. 758, the EACH Woman Act. We need this legislation to overturn the Hyde Amendment. I support Sen. Feinstein because she’s pro-choice and she’s been a strong advocate for women’s rights and reproductive rights. I hope she will sign on to S. 758 very soon.

For Representative Lee:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for sponsoring H.R. 771, the EACH Woman Act. We need this legislation to overturn the Hyde Amendment. I support you because you’re pro-choice and I want you to keep being a leader to improve reproductive rights and make things better for women in California and throughout the U.S.

For Reps. Swalwell and DeSaulnier:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for cosponsoring H.R. 771, the EACH Woman Act. We need this legislation to overturn the Hyde Amendment. I support you because you’re pro-choice and I want you to be a leader to improve reproductive rights and make things better for women in California and throughout the U.S.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

Dumpster Fire’s Budget: $8.6 B for the wall, slash social services

One thing we can say for the Dumpster Fire-in-Chief: he doesn’t give up. OK, we could say more, but let’s stick with that for the moment. He doesn’t give up. His budget for 2020 is out, and he’s still at it with the damn funding for the damn Wall. 8.6 billion dollars, to be specific, which as Reuters points out is “more than six times what Congress allocated for border projects in each of the past two fiscal years, and 6 percent more than Trump has corralled by invoking emergency powers this year.” The budget also includes “an overall 5 percent increase to the Department of Homeland Security budget over fiscal 2019 appropriations, including $3.3 billion, or 22 percent more, for Customs and Border Protection, and $1.2 billion more for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a 16 percent hike, officials said.”

Where’s that money gonna come from?

Check out the horrifying chart in this article from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Our Members of Congress have already spoken out: Senator Feinstein released a statement; Senator Harris posted several tweets, and appeared in a Newsweek article; Representatives DeSaulnier, Swalwell and Lee all tweeted in opposition to the budget.

What you can do:

It’s true that Congress rarely approves a presidential budget, but our Members of Congress need our support as they take strong stands in opposition to Trump’s budget and its disgusting priorities. Thank them for what they’ve done, and tell them to keep fighting!

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I am appalled by Trump’s budget for 2020 – $8.6 billion for the wall, more money for homeland security, keeping tax cuts for the rich and a huge deficit but slashing the EPA and social services. I want to thank _____ for speaking out against the budget, and I want _______ to continue to speak out against it. Our budget should prioritize taking care of our environment and our people, especially those most in need.

 

Tell Congress: Fund Libraries, not the Wall

Whoops, he did it again! The newly-released Presidential budget again proposes eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent grantmaking agency that provides approximately $189.3 million funding for libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The proposal also cuts the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL), a program administered by the Department of Education (yes, that’s Betsy Cruella DeVos’s stomping grounds) that helps school libraries buy books, materials, and training focused on serving students in underserved communities across America.

LSTA and IAL probably give the biggest economic and social bang for the buck in the entire federal budget. LSTA grant funds go to every state, every year, according to a population-based formula. Each state contributes matching funds and decides how best to use their grants. Over the past few years in California, LSTA has funded improving access to legal information in Eastern Alameda County; computer training for adults; bringing books to communities without libraries; special needs and inclusive library services; summer tutoring; and so much more. Without this funding for libraries, Americans across the country run the risk of losing access to valuable services, training and education that are only possible when they’re supported by the federal government.

Think about it. Under $200 million to educate and serve people of all ages, all over the country. Versus another $8.6 billion for the presidential budget’s obscene proposal for the border wall …

Fortunately, Congress has prevented this exact travesty in previous presidential budgets; library services are one of the few things with bipartisan support. But it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You need to make your voice heard!

What you can do:

Ask your Members of Congress to publicly oppose cuts to federal library funding and commit to fighting for libraries throughout the appropriations cycle.

  • Print postcards to mail to your Members of Congress! We’ve designed a sheet with four postcards for you to send to your two Senators and your Representative. Give the extra to a friend! Print on stiff paper, with your document set to landscape orientation.
  • Call or email your MoCs and say:

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. I am strongly opposed to cutting federal funding for libraries from the 2020 budget as the Administration wants to do. Federal library funding isn’t a big part of the budget but it funds important programs for everyone. These budget cuts would make libraries provide more services with less money, or cut services altogether. Our communities need our libraries and we need you to help save library funding through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Library Services and Technology Act, and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program.

No on SB 230

Remember Stephon Clark? You should. Almost exactly a year ago, in March 2018, he was chased by the police into his grandmother’s back yard in Sacramento, shot multiple times, including in the back, and killed, because the police were suspicious of . . . his cell phone. Now the Attorney General has announced that the police who shot him will not face criminal charges. It’s past time to change when police can use deadly force. Your voice is needed: There are two competing bills in the California state legislature, but only AB 392 is good. The other, SB 230, is a weak bill being pushed by law enforcement as a counterpoint to AB 392. Contact State Senator Nancy Skinner, Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee today. Read on for more info, a call script and contact info.

The Sacramento Bee says that AB 392 would provide “serious reform – not window dressing” to address the problem of death and injury caused by police use of deadly force. We need that kind of reform. When this bill was before the legislature last year, as AB 931, it passed the Senate Public Safety Committee, of which Senator Skinner is the chair, but did not pass the Senate. This year, there’s a second chance.

But SB 230 is coming up before Senator Skinner’s Public Safety committee first. Supported by law enforcement agencies, this bill would allow law enforcement officers to use deadly force, even when they have other options available and even when there is no actual threat to others. Although the bill addresses training and policy, it does so in a superficial and vague way, providing no requirements and setting no minimum standards. It does not address the fact that police in our state kill people at significantly higher rates than the national average, and disproportionately kill people of color, particularly those who are unarmed, and does not do anything to prevent future tragedies of this kind. Although it requires all agencies to maintain use of force policies, it includes no requirements for these policies, other than “guidelines” without specificity. SB 230 would thus authorize agencies to issue policies in direct conflict with the recommendations of the California Attorney General, which emphasized clarity and specificity on use of force policies. SB 230 similarly provides toothless training guidelines with no requirements beyond a short list of subjects to be given “adequate consideration.” Beyond the subject, there is no specificity on what standard officers should be trained to. This is NOT the kind of reform we need.

What you can do:

Contact Sen. Nancy Skinner at (916) 651-4009 or (510) 286-1333. Since she is chair of the committee that the bill is before, you can contact her even if you aren’t her constituent; however, if you do live in her district, you should mention that fact.

Check out this list of members of the Senate Public Safety Committeeif any of them represent you, contact them, or if you know anyone in their districts, please send them this article.

What to say:

My name is ___________, my zip code is ___________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m asking Senator ______ to vote NO on SB 230 when it comes up before the Senate Public Safety Committee. This is a weak policing bill being pushed by law enforcement as a counterpoint to AB 392, which is the real progressive police reform that our state needs to save lives. SB 230 doesn’t deserve to pass the Senate Public Safety Committee. The Public Safety Committee already passed the stronger policy through committee last year as AB 931. It would be disappointing to see the committee pass a weaker bill this year. Can I count on Senator ___________ to help block SB 230 in the Public Safety Committee?

Add for Senator Skinner: I would like Senator Skinner to use her leadership to kill SB 230 in her committee. 

 

Tell our MoCs: no raiding the budget for wall funding

Our Members of Congress have been consistent opponents of Trump’s efforts to increase militarization of our country’s southern border. But on February 14, all of them other than Senator Kamala Harris voted for H.J. Res. 31, providing $1.375 billion for border “fencing,” rejecting Democrats’ demands to limits on funding for immigrant detention funding for ICE, and – perhaps most dangerously – setting no bounds on Trump’s ability to take funds granted to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the Army Corps of Engineers, and use those funds instead to build his border wall.

Please thank Senator Harris and put the others on notice that now that we’ve won the House, control of immigration detention funding is not something to compromise on. Read on for more info; call scripts and contact info below.

We get it – no one wanted to be responsible for another government shutdown. But as we said in our action blog post last week, the threat of shutting down the government if H.J.Res. 31 failed was a false choice, and our MoCs should not have caved to the administration’s bullying. And we can of course hope for the best but we are sincerely disappointed if any of our MoCs who voted for this plan actually believe that this administration will “ensure … the humane treatment of immigrants.”

We are thankful this is the first time since ICE was created In 2002 that a new spending bill didn’t increase its funding and that “the deal” only affects Customs and Border Patrol funding at ports of entry. But we are done settling for stopping things from getting worse. We elected a Democratic House of Representatives to make things better and going forward we expect our representatives not just to rein in, but also to cut spending on harmful immigration enforcement.

The semi-good news is that there’s always something down the road, and in this case it’s a short road. In less than three weeks, the president’s Office of Management and Budget will release the president’s budget. We expect plenty of horrible funding requests on all sorts of issues, including requests for yet more “border security” and yet more detention funding. We want our MoCs to reject these, and we want them to go further – we want them to revoke “reprogramming and transfer authority” for all agencies that Trump is commandeering for this war on immigrants and asylum seekers. Specifically, we want our MoCs to vote to prohibit Trump from taking money allocated to the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, or any other agencies, and using it for his wall and inhumane immigration policies. Congress must seriously examine why there is so much slop in the system that these agencies can have billions – in some cases over $6 billion – that can be reprogrammed and transferred, in defiance of Congressional appropriations authority.

What you can do: Contact your Members of Congress

For Sen. Kamala Harris (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for voting against H.J.Res. 31. I’m very disappointed that so many Democrats agreed to a spending deal that didn’t cut funding for detention beds and didn’t limit DHS’s ability to use money Congress designated for other purposes as a slush fund for its harmful immigration enforcement policies. I hope Senator Harris stands firm and works to make sure that next year’s bill does both those things.

For Sen. Feinstein and all three Reps:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m very disappointed that the Democrats agreed to a spending deal that didn’t cut funding for detention beds and didn’t limit DHS’s ability to use money Congress designated for other purposes as a slush fund for its harmful immigration enforcement policies. I want ______ to work to ensure that next year’s bill does both those things.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  •  Rep. Eric Swalwell: (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

 

Oakland Teachers Strike. Act in Solidarity!

Thursday, 2/21 – see this Action Network resource to find out how you can help  support the striking teachers. There’s a map and list of priority schools, so you can join the pickets. For any questions, text 617-935-3254. Can’t join in person? Donate to Bread for Ed to help feed students and teachers during the strike! And check out this must-watch video — support Oakland teachers because Daveed Diggs and Boots Riley say so!

Saturday, 2/16, 2 PM – Oakland teachers have just announced they will strike next week, Thursday, 2/21. IEB stands in solidarity.

What you can do:

  • Tell the school board that 5% over three years is not a living wage and Oakland Unified School District teachers need more than that.
  • Tell your friends: this is not just about a salary increase, it is also about class size reduction and changing the ratio of support staff (school nurses and counselors) to the number of students they are expected to serve.
  • Join teachers on the picket line if you can.
  • If you can’t join the picket line, bring food and warm drinks to those who are picketing.
  • If you live near a picket line, make your home restrooms available to teachers who are picketing.
  • Deliver cards and letters of appreciation to teachers on the line, especially from parents and their students. It boosts morale hugely!

For more info, see our previous article (pre-strike).

FYI: Teach For America announced that they will send their young participants to cross pickets lines and will dock their pay if they refuse.

We will update as we can, stay tuned!

 

No Nukes, Two Ways

Deadline: Before the world blows up – The good news: some of our Members of Congress are trying hard to keep the U.S. from getting into a nuclear war. The not so good news: some are missing in action. Your mission: thank the first group, tell the second to get in line.

1. Hold the LYNE

Actually, you can tell them to get in LYNE: specifically, the bicameral Hold the LYNE (Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive) Act, which would prohibit research, development, production, and deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. This is crucial for our national security: These nuclear weapons have the potential to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons and thus increase the risk of entering the U.S. into nuclear war. The administration has already started the process of converting some of our existing stockpiles to low-yield warheads, with plans for delivery to the Navy as early as September of this year. We have time to stop this program.

Representative Barbara Lee is an original cosponsor of the Hold the LYNE Act in the House, as is Senator Dianne Feinstein in the Senate. However, Reps. Mark DeSaulnier and Eric Swalwell, and Senator Kamala Harris have not yet spoken up. Please thank Rep. Lee and Sen. Feinstein, and ask Sen. Harris – and Rep. DeSaulnier or Swalwell, if you are a constituent – to step up. Their contact info is at the bottom of this article.

What to say:

For Senator Feinstein and Representative Lee:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for cosponsoring the Hold the LYNE Act. I agree that low-yield nuclear weapons increase the chance that the U.S. could enter into a nuclear war. I want legislation that puts a stop to their research, development, production, and deployment.

For Senator Harris and Reps. DeSaulnier and Swalwell:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want _____ to cosponsor the Hold the LYNE Act. I believe that low-yield nuclear weapons increase the chance that the US could enter into a nuclear war. I want legislation that puts a stop to their research, development, production and deployment. I hope that ____ speaks out soon.

2. No first use of nukes!

We’ve been asking Senator Harris since 2017 to cosponsor S. 200, which would prohibit the conduct of a first-use nuclear strike absent a declaration of war by Congress. Senator Feinstein has cosponsored this bill, as she cosponsored similar bills in previous legislative sessions. Sen. Harris is, to put it bluntly, MIA. We don’t know why. We can’t think of a good reason.

In addition, Democrats led by Adam Smith in the House and Elizabeth Warren in the Senate have introduced H.R.921/S.272 – The No First Use Act. The House version has not yet been cosponsored by any of our Representatives; the Senate version has been cosponsored by Sen. Feinstein but not by Sen. Harris.

What to say:

For Senator Feinstein:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for cosponsoring S. 200 and S. 272. It’s incredibly important to prohibit the first use of nuclear weapons without a declaration of war by Congress. I appreciate your cosponsorship of S. 200 this session and in the past, and now of the No First Use Act.

For Senator Harris:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Senator Harris to cosponsor  S. 200. It’s incredibly important to prohibit the first use of nuclear weapons without a declaration of war by Congress. I don’t understand why Senator Harris has not cosponsored this bill this session or in the past. I hope she does so very soon. I also want her to cosponsor S. 272, the No First Use Act.

For Reps. Lee, DeSaulnier and Swalwell:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Rep. _____ to cosponsor H.R. 921. It’s incredibly important for the President not to be able to authorize first use of nuclear weapons without a declaration of war by Congress. We need legislation to keep this from happening.

How to reach them:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

Clap back at the wall

Deadline: February 15, 2019 and keep going – Clap if you can hear me, and tell our Members of Congress to keep it up: No wall, no use of military funds for the wall, no further immigrant detention and border militarization, no bargaining to keep the government open.

Leader Dearest talked and talked and the message was: if you aren’t nice to me about the Wall and immigration, I’m gonna keep on tantrumming. Yeah, nope. We want our Members of Congress to keep right on standing up to him: no funding for the wall, no militarizing the border or jailing more immigrants. No more separating families.

What to do:

Please thank our senators for their votes against the wall, and ask them to continue to vote against all additional funding for ICE, CBP, or wall construction; stronger accountability for DHS; and restricting the administration’s ability to use its transfer and reprogramming authority to treat DHS funding as a slush fund to increase detention programs and invest in ineffective and inhumane policies.

On the front lines, Representative Barbara Lee is on the bipartisan committee that is in charge of writing the Dept. of Homeland Security bill to avert another shutdown. The committee has a deadline of February 15. And Senator Kamala Harris is one of the original cosponsors of a new bill, the ‘‘Restrictions Against Illegitimate Declarations for Emergency Re-appropriations Act of 2019’’ (‘‘RAIDER Act of 2019’’), which would block the administration from using military funds to build the wall without Congressional authorization.

What to say:

To Senator Harris (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator Harris for opposing funding for the border wall and for cosponsoring the RAIDER Act of 2019. I hope she’ll continue to oppose all additional funding for ICE, CBP, wall construction, or any form of border militarization.

To Sen. Feinstein (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator Feinstein for opposing funding for the border wall. I hope she’ll continue to oppose all additional funding for ICE, CBP, wall construction, or any form of border militarization.

To Rep. Lee (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Rep. Lee for opposing funding for the border wall. I’m asking her to continue to vote against all additional funding for ICE, CBP, or wall construction. I hope she’ll also support stronger accountability for DHS. And we need to keep the administration from using its transfer and reprogramming authority as a way to treat DHS as a slush fund to increase inhumane detention programs. And I hope she will do everything possible on the bipartisan committee to keep the government open without giving into the administration’s demands for this kind of funding.

No More Shutdown, No More Wall Funding

Deadline: February 15, 2019 – Tell our Members of Congress: Keep the government open, without funding for the border wall!

For the moment, the federal government is open again, and Hostage-Taker-In-Chief failed to get funding for his Wall. So why are we still running action items? Because the new bipartisan committee only has until February 15 to come up with a compromise bill and get Trump to sign it – or he may shut the government right down again or issue a bogus emergency declaration in order to get his funding. (Although given what’s going on with the polar vortex, isn’t it more likely that people will be coming here over the Northern border?) (Memo to the White House: No, the Polar Vortex doesn’t mean there’s no global warming … or waming … sigh)

What to do:

Please thank our senators for their votes against the wall, and ask them to continue to vote against wall funding and all further immigrant detention and border militarization.  Although neither of our Senators is on the bipartisan committee, they both work closely with the committee members (Sen. Harris on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Sen. Feinstein on the Senate Appropriations Committee), so ask them to make this a priority in their discussions with their colleagues.

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator ___ for opposing funding for the border wall. I’m asking her to continue to vote against wall funding and all further immigrant detention and border militarization. And I hope she will do everything possible to persuade her colleagues on the bipartisan committee to keep the government open without giving into demands for this kind of funding. Our government should not be held hostage in this way.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Representative Barbara Lee is on the bipartisan committee. If you are her constituent please thank her for her record to date and ask her to stand strong against funding for the border wall and all further immigrant detention and border militarization.

What to say:

My name is ____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Rep. Lee for opposing funding for the border wall. I’m asking her to continue to vote against wall funding and all further immigrant detention and border militarization. And I hope she will do everything possible on the bipartisan committee to keep the government open without giving into demands for this kind of funding. Our government should not be held hostage in this way.

Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661

 

The Shutdown: a Tale of Two National Park Communities

Yosemite. Arches. You may associate National Parks with fabulous photos, fun and leisure. But these and other federal lands are the major source of employment and income in some communities; and the federal shutdown has been a crisis with much farther reach than people realize and has wrecked much more than winter vacation plans. Tell your Members of Congress: the government needs to reopen, without giving into extortion over funding for an unneeded, unworkable, racist border wall. And then read more, below, to find out how the cynical shutdown is thoughtlessly cutting at the heart of the people and the land where our National Parks are located.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m strongly opposed to the border wall. Thank you for everything you’ve done in opposition to it. I’m counting on you to vote against any bill that has funding for the wall. And don’t let the President keep using federal employees as hostages — we need to reopen the government without funding the wall!

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Check out Indivisible National’s latest message with updated information about the mess (in DC) and the need for a clean continuing resolution. Then, after you call Senators Feinstein and Harris, here are two great ways that we Blue Staters can spread the word to target Red States!

A Tale of Two National Park communities

1. Inyo County and the Eastern Sierras

The whole of Inyo County has a population of 18,000, and 300 of those people are federal workers. That’s as if there were nearly 7,000 federal workers living in Oakland (there are about 1,600). There’s a good reason: almost 92% of the land in Inyo County is owned and managed by the federal government, including Death Valley, and Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48 states, and part of Yosemite, and more.

Lone Pine, CA, near Mount Whitney - photo by Ann Daniels
Lone Pine, CA, near Mount Whitney – photo by Ann Daniels

According to a January 19, 2019 article in the Inyo Register, things are bad now for the workers affected by the shutdown, and they’re going to be just as bad when they return to work. Some are considering leaving government employment; it isn’t worth the uncertainty and the depression that they’re suffering, along with the significant lack of income. And it isn’t just government workers who are affected. In Inyo, private sector partners like the nonprofit Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA) work with the government employees to operate visitor centers and information services; these workers are locked out too (and they’re not going to get back pay).

ESIA is going the extra mile: they are actually using their own funds to keep some facilities open at the parks in Inyo during the shutdown. And they estimate that they’re going to lose nearly $40,000 in sales revenue from the shuttered visitor centers and gift shops. It could take years for them to recoup those losses. This is one way a government shutdown can wreak havoc on even nongovernmental entities that are part of the backbone of the community.

Now, let’s talk about how the shutdown wreaks havoc on the land: the Register says that workers are “concerned about the daunting task” of making up the work they’re missing. Imagine if no one at your office came to work for a month or more, with no time to prepare in advance. How long would it take to catch up, if the outside world didn’t know you weren’t there and kept piling things on as though you were taking care of business as usual? And if some of your coworkers quit in the meantime because the thought of returning to work was just too awful? Not to put too fine a point on it: nature pays no attention to shutdowns. According to the Inyo Register, this is the time of year when federal agencies should be hiring seasonal firefighters in anticipation of next year’s fire season. Yosemite still shows the scars of recent fires – everyone knows what could happen if next year’s fires can’t be prevented or fought because the government has prevented the work from being done. One would hope the government would care. One would hope.

2. Moab

The town of Moab, Utah is just outside of Arches National Park, one of the most likely places in this country to end up in scenic photographs. The Moab Times-Independent online business section has devoted itself to chronicling the shutdown. Arches and the nearby Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands National Park have reopened to visitors, they report, but not because federal workers have come back to work.

Arches in winter
Arches in winter

As in Inyo, a local nonprofit has chipped in: the Canyonlands Natural History Association is spending about $2,000 a day to keep visitor centers open in the parks, not counting wages to pay the staff in the centers. They don’t expect to be reimbursed any of this money. We’ll do the math for you: that’s $14,000 a week. $60,000 in a month (ok, $56,000 in February). In 2017, the CNHA donated “more than $937,000” “for the educational and research efforts of [their] public land partners” throughout all of Southwest Utah” – again, we’ll do the math for you. One month of keeping the visitor centers open in Arches and Island in the Sky, alone, equals about one month of CNHA’s entire expenditures last year. And that’s money they will not get back – money that they won’t have for other uses, other parks.

Unlike in California, as far as we know, the State of Utah is also expending considerable resources to fill in where the federal government has shut down. The Utah Office of Tourism has put forth money to keep the parks open, and the Utah Department of Transportation has promised aid to clear roads and parking areas in all the state’s major National Parks. That’s money that the state would ordinarily not have used on federal lands; which means that wherever the state had planned to use the money, they will now have to find other sources or do without. Thus an entire state can suffer as a result of a federal shutdown closing the National Parks.

And even with private and state funds and workers filling in, visitors to Moab are cutting their visits short or not coming. Local hotels are reporting cancellations and early departures. With tourism a major part of the local economy, this is how an entire community suffers from the federal shutdown. And an entire state.

Half dome, photo by Ann Daniels
Half dome, photo by Ann Daniels

And, of course, an entire country.