Protest proposed rule limiting food aid

Action Deadline: April 2 – The war against people who need help getting food on the table never ends. We fought for a 2018 Farm Bill that didn’t cut aid or impose harsh time limits for millions of SNAP/CalFresh (food stamp) recipients, and we won in a bipartisan victory! But now Trump’s Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to sneak in the back door with an executive order that would impose work requirements on people receiving food aid, limiting benefits to just three months for unemployed and underemployed individuals without dependent children. This could potentially disqualify 755,000 beneficiaries. States have always had flexibility to waive time limits on SNAP in areas that don’t have enough jobs. This proposed order would ignore the realities facing low-income Americans. We said NO to cutting food aid from the Farm Bill – let’s say NO to this too. The USDA’s mandatory comment period runs through April 2, and you can leave comments here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/01/2018-28059/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-requirements-for-able-bodied-adults-without-dependents#open-comment

Read on for suggestions for what to say, and for more info.

What you can do:

Leave a comment on the Federal Register website by April 2, 2019. The USDA is required to take and respond to public comments.

The Federal register page for the proposal, with information and a link to a page where you can leave a comment, is https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/01/2018-28059/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-requirements-for-able-bodied-adults-without-dependents – to comment, click the green button on the right side that says “SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT.” You can also read other people’s comments by clicking the link under the green button.

The comment page itself is https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/01/2018-28059/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-requirements-for-able-bodied-adults-without-dependents#open-comment

What to say:

The comments below are suggestions. It’s very important to write in your own words whenever possible and especially to add your own thoughts; identical comments are bundled together and not given individual weight.

  • I oppose stricter time limits to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • There are already strict rules for people who don’t have children or dependents (“able bodied adults without dependents”) who get food assistance through SNAP.
  • We should not make the existing rules even worse by taking away state flexibility to waive time limits if there aren’t enough jobs for low-income people.
  • Exposing more people to time-limited benefits, taking away states’ ability to waive time limits, and expanding the people the strict time limits apply to will only increase the number of people facing hunger in this country.
  • Personal comments:
    • Why is protecting access to food assistance for people struggling to find enough work important to you personally?
    • Why is it important to your community? What’s the situation like where you live?

More info:

The Farm Bill that passed with bipartisan support in December 2018 (the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018) authorized and funded SNAP and included time limitations for unemployed able-bodied adults without children, with permission for states to waive the limits if they found that there were not enough jobs that the people in question could find. Under the new proposal, the USDA proposes to do away with this flexibility, regardless of whether there are sufficient jobs for low-income people struggling to find work. Essentially, if a childless adult between 18 and 49 years old can’t get and keep a job for at least 20 hours a week, they can only get three months of food aid over three years.

Childless people in depressed areas are just as hungry as anyone else who can’t find work and can’t afford food. The current proposal blames the poor and the hungry for their own poverty and hunger. It’s a story proven time and again to be false as well as cruel. It doesn’t help anyone find a job, it doesn’t lift anyone out of poverty, and it doesn’t keep anyone from going hungry.

As one former food stamp recipient said in a moving essay:

In his speech, Trump adjudged the state of America “an economic miracle.” But what is the miraculous quality of snatching food from more than three-quarters of a million Americans? Does one in eight food-insecure Americans point to positive economic awe? Can we safely celebrate economic prosperity when 43 million human beings live disposed to the violence of poverty?

Tell the USDA: NO.

For more background read our prior articles about SNAP:

Repeal the AUMF, NOW

Deadline: Before we bomb anywhere else –

After 9/11, Congress enacted Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to retaliate against Al Qaeda and to wage war in Iraq. Congress never intended those AUMFs to be open-ended blank checks for presidents to create or pursue wars on their own; yet 18 years later, they are still being used as the legal pretext for American combat operations in close to 20 nations around the world. Young men and women not even born when those AUMFs were enacted are now fighting the endless wars the AUMFs have spawned – all in violation of the Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973, which require an Act of Congress for the country to enter into war.

And now the Trump administration is threatening to start new wars against Iran and Venezuela. Tell our Members of Congress: It’s time to call a halt to all of these endless wars. Read on for what you can do; more background follows the call scripts and contact info.

What you can do:

On February 14, 2019, Representative Barbara Lee introduced H.R. 1274, a bill which would repeal the 2001 AUMF. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier has cosponsored it; Rep. Eric Swalwell has not. There is no similar legislation in the Senate to date. Tell your Members of Congress that you want them to:

  • take all appropriate action to repeal previous AUMFs,
  • halt/oppose US military intervention taken without Congressional authorization, and
  • reject the administration’s assertion that the AUMFs permit Trump to order further military strikes without Congressional authorization.

What to say:

For Representative Barbara Lee, email; (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661

My name is ___________,  my zip code is _______ and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Rep. Lee for introducing H.R. 1274 to repeal the 2001 AUMF, and I hope she will also introduce a bill to repeal the 2002 AUMF. I also want Rep. Lee to publicly reject the administration’s claims that the AUMFs provide a legal basis for military action or intervention against Iran, Venezuela, or anywhere else, without specific congressional authorization.

For Representative Mark DeSaulnier, email; (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095

My name is ___________,  my zip code is ________ and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Rep. DeSaulnier for cosponsoring HR. 1274 to repeal the 2001 AUMF, and I hope he will also introduce and support legislation to repeal the 2002 AUMF. I also want Rep. DeSaulnier to publicly reject the administration’s claims that the AUMFs provide a legal basis for military action or intervention against Iran, Venezuela, or anywhere else, without specific congressional authorization.

For Representative Eric Swalwell, email; (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

My name is ___________,  my zip code is ___________ and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Rep. Swalwell to co-sponsor and vote for HR. 1274 to repeal the 2001 AUMF, and also to introduce and support legislation to repeal the 2002 AUMF. I also want Rep. Swalwell to publicly reject the administration’s claims that the AUMFs provide a legal basis for military action or intervention against Iran, Venezuela, or anywhere else, without specific congressional authorization.

For Senators Feinstein and Harris:

My name is ___________,  my zip code is _________ and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Senator ____ to introduce and support legislation similar to H.R.1274 to repeal the  2001 AUMF, and also to introduce and support legislation to repeal the 2002 AUMF. I also want the Senator to publicly reject the administration’s claims that the AUMFs provide a legal basis for military action or intervention against Iran, Venezuela, or anywhere else, without specific congressional authorization.

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

Background:

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Congress enacted an AUMF that instructed the President:

to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons …

At the time this was commonly understood to authorize military action against Al Qaeda and against the Taliban in Afghanistan and possibly Libya and Somalia – and nowhere else.

In 2002, Bush-II convinced Congress to enact another AUMF, authorizing military force to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. This led to the Second Iraq War; it has been used to justify U.S. military operations that continue in Iraq to the present day, and  the American military presence in Syria.

According to a 2016 report by the Congressional Research Service, in the intervening 16 years these two AUMFs were cited 37 times in connection with military actions in 14 countries and on the high seas. Since that report was written in 2016, they continue to be cited as the legal basis for military intervention around the world, with U.S. military personnel deployed and equipped for combat in Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria,  Turkey, Uganda, and Yemen. The AUMF has even been cited by the Department of Justice as authority for engaging in electronic surveillance of Americans in ACLU v. NSA – without obtaining a warrant of the special court as required by the Constitution.

Under the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Act, enacted in 1973 to prevent another undeclared war like Vietnam, only Congress can declare war – yet our country is involved in armed interventions against an ever-increasing number of organizations, factions, and clans, at great and increasing cost in lives and treasure. Now it could get worse, as some of the war hawks in the Trump administration seem to be signaling a plan to claim that the AUMF provides a legal basis for U.S. military strikes against Iran without further congressional authorization. Military strikes against Iran would be a huge, and possibly catastrophic escalation with unforeseeable consequences. Meanwhile, Trump is asserting his willingness to intervene militarily in Venezuela to overthrow the current government and install one that he favors – exactly the kind of unilateral presidential adventurism the War Powers Act was enacted to prevent.

Enough. Too much. We need to keep this from spreading, and more: we need to withdraw the authority already granted before further damage is done. We need to repeal the AUMFs, NOW.

Protect the payday lending rule

By Sylvia Chi

Action deadline: May 15, 2019, 9 PM Pacific time – GET CASH NOW! The payday lending industry is getting its money’s worth from the Trump Administration: after they invested heavily in Trump’s inauguration and re-election committees, as well as Republican lawmakers and organizations, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has announced its plans to reverse an Obama Administration rule to protect borrowers from predatory, short-term, “small-dollar” loans. The industry, which targets low-income and minority communities, is also enjoying the pay-off from relocating its annual conference to the Trump National Doral Miami and influencing academic research in their favor.

On February 14, the CFPB unveiled its proposal to rescind the 2017 payday lending rule, which would have required lenders to confirm that customers would be able to pay back their loans, thus protecting borrowers from predatory lending. Reversing the rule means that payday lenders will be able to make loans with typical interest rates as high as 400 percent, without checking whether borrowers have the ability to pay off the loans’ high interest rates and fees. The biggest irony? The CFPB itself was created thanks to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as a way to protect borrowers – not industry.

You can help stop this reversal from going into effect! Keep reading for instructions on how to submit comments opposing the deregulation of payday lenders and more background on the CFPB’s proposal.

What you can do:

Submit a public comment about the CFPB’s rollback by May 15, 2019. Go to this link and click on the blue “Comment Now!” button in the upper right. Or navigate to www.regulations.gov and search for CFPB-2019-0006.

What to write:

Here are some suggested comments, based in part on the Center for Responsible Lending’s overview and initial analysis. Please personalize your submission as much as possible to make it more effective. Especially effective: share any personal experiences you have about the harms of payday loans or the debt trap. Submit your comments by 9 PM Pacific time on Weds. May 15, 2019.

Be sure to include reference to Docket No. CFPB-2019-0006.

My name is _____, and I am writing in reference to Docket No. CFPB-2019-0006. I oppose the proposed rulemaking for the following reasons:

  • Rescinding the “ability to pay” confirmation requirements would make it easier for predatory lenders to coerce borrowers into an inescapable debt trap.
  • Getting trapped in a “debt cycle” from payday and similar loans causes substantial injury to borrowers.
  • The evidence that supports the 2017 rule’s key findings is sufficiently robust, reliable, and representative, and there is no evidence to support rescinding the rule.
  • CFPB’s mission is to ensure that consumers may access fair and transparent markets for financial products, not to increase revenues for payday lenders.
  • CFPB should not weaken its interpretation of legal standards for “unfairness” and “abusiveness.” The new interpretations proposed here would make it harder for CFPB to protect borrowers and ensure fairness in the marketplace.

Learn more:

The 2017 rule applied to loans with a term of 45 days or less, longer-term “balloon-payment” loans, and single-payment vehicle title loans, in which borrowers put up their own cars or trucks as collateral. The CFPB previously concluded that as many as four out of five payday borrowers either default or renew their loan because they cannot afford to pay off the loan. The 2017 rule, which was originally slated to go into effect in August 2019, was finalized after five years of research, data collection, and public feedback, and was intended to protect low-income borrowers from getting trapped in a “cycle of debt.”

How does the CFPB justify this proposed rollback? Critically, CFPB does not dispute that payday loan-caused “debt traps” result in substantial injury to borrowers, although they do cite concerns that the 2017 rule might cause a lower number of payday loans, less revenue for lenders, decreased access to credit for borrowers, and reduced consumer choice and competition among lenders. Nor do they claim that the evidence relied on in developing the 2017 rule is so insufficient that the rule would fail judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act. Instead, CFPB claims that it is “prudent,” as a matter of policy, to hold the 2017 rulemaking to a higher standard, suggesting that evidence must meet an unspecified level of “robustness,” “representativeness,” and “reliability.” But although they claim that the evidence relied on in developing the 2017 rule is now “not sufficiently robust and reliable” to support the identification of “unfair and abusive” practices, they decline to investigate further or to offer evidence that rescinding the rule would not be “unfair and abusive” to borrowers. Instead, CFPB is re-interpreting its legal authority to weaken its standards for what practices count as “unfair” or “abusive.”

The new proposed rollbacks also delay the rule’s implementation date from August 2019 to November 2020, and remove related underwriting and reporting requirements that apply to payday and related lenders.

 

Sylvia Chi is an attorney and activist in Oakland, with expertise on environment and energy issues.

 

 

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

 

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

No Boots No Beds No Wall

Action Deadline – ASAP: Tell Your MoCs to Reject a Budget Deal that Expands ICE and Funds Trump’s Border Wall

As the clock ticks down to another government shutdown, negotiations on the federal budget funding deal continue, with Senate leaders saying on February 11 that they reached a tentative agreement including $1.375 billion for border “barriers,” including 55 miles of new fencing. Unacceptably, the deal also excludes Democrats’ demands to limit immigrant detention funding for ICE. House Democrats must stay strong and reject any additional funding that will allow Trump to tear more families apart.

Let’s be clear: we don’t want another shutdown. But, as Indivisible National put it:

choosing between protecting immigrants and keeping the government running is a false choice—especially with Democrats in control of the House. This bill goes too far in fueling Trump’s deportation force, even if it technically doesn’t have funding for a concrete wall. Congress still has time to pass a clean, year-long continuing resolution (CR), that would keep the government open, and that wouldn’t expand Trump’s deportation machine any further.

Please tell your Members of Congress that we demand a bill that keeps the government open with NO new funding for:

  • Beds: In two years, Trump has dramatically expanded the number of immigrants being incarcerated. In President Obama’s last year in office, 34,000 immigrants were in ICE detention. Now the number is close to 50,000—far above the 40,500 for which Congress had authorized funding. How can ICE detain more people than Congress has authorized? Because DHS uses their transfer and reprogramming authority to effectively steal money from other programs, such as FEMA, to jail more immigrant families. It is Congress’s responsibility to end this financial shell game and add strict limits on DHS Secretary’s transfer and reprogramming authority.
  • Boots: Negotiators are considering giving Trump more Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents. Don’t be fooled. HSI agents are ICE agents — and funding for HSI agents is funding for Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. ICE HSI agents conduct highly militarized worksite raids. The National Immigration Law Center has a great resource with more information on HSI agents here. Congress must NOT increase HSI’s funding — it must cut it and prohibit HSI from arresting workers, while conducting this type of “papers, please” enforcement. 
  • Trump’s racist wall: Negotiators are currently considering including $1.375 billion for border wall funding, which will devastate local communities, as private land is seized using eminent domain, just so Trump can fulfill his hateful campaign promise to build his racist wall along the southern border. It’s critical to keep up the pressure on our Members of Congress and tell them NOT ONE PENNY for Trump’s hateful wall. There must also a policy rider to prevent Trump from using an emergency declaration to transfer and reprogram Defense Dept funding for wall construction. 

 

What you can do:

Call to Action: Ask your senators and House rep to reject any funding deal that expands ICE’s power, funds Trump’s border wall, and maintains DHS’s ability to “reprogram” money to ICE.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m asking ____ to reject the current working budget deal in favor of a bill that keeps the government open with NO new funding for increased detention beds, additional ICE agents, or Trump’s racist wall. Please don’t give in to threats of a shutdown and don’t let our country be held hostage. Please support ONLY a clean budget deal, and place strict limits on reprogramming and transfer authority!

Senators (please call both):

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

House of Representatives (please call your Rep only):

  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11_: (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13): (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15): (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.

First vote on the Green New Deal!

By Sylvia Chi

Action deadline: February 4, 2019 and ongoing –

The year has hardly started, and our Members of Congress are about to get a chance to vote to show – and act on – their support for the Green New Deal, when two resolutions supporting the Green New Deal are proposed in the House and Senate during the week of February 4. We want our MOCs to support a Green New Deal (GND) that will eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, provide jobs in a new green economy, and support all communities and workers through the transition. We need your help to tell our MOCs to:

  • Support the Green New Deal, publicly support the upcoming resolutions, and vote for the resolutions when they reach the floor
  • Support the ideals of a Green New Deal by taking the No Fossil-Fuel Money Pledge

Call your representatives now! See our example call scripts at the end of this post, and read on for updates to the status of the Green New Deal.

As the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis takes shape, we are continuing to push for action on a Green New Deal (see our previous action articles here and here). We faced a setback when some of the features we had asked for – subpoena power, mandate to develop a Green New Deal plan by 2020, limiting fossil fuel company campaign donations to committee members – were not included in the formation of the committee. Thus, although we are happy to see the House of Representatives taking on climate change again, we know that the current iteration is not going to be enough. The Sunrise Movement, one of the main driving forces behind the Green New Deal in its current form, continues to expand on the proposal and advocate for specific steps in moving it forward. They are focusing on legislative strategies to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, guarantee a job to anybody who wants to be part of creating the new green economy, and provide for a just transition for all communities and workers.

The Green New Deal is a hot topic among 2020 Presidential hopefuls, including our own Senator Kamala Harris, who the day after kicking off her Presidential campaign announced her support for a GND – although, disappointingly, she hasn’t said that she supports its important components of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, and a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice.

All our Members of Congress have good environmental records, but not all are in the same place with respect to the GND, or with respect to the pledge not to accept campaign money from fossil fuel companies – a pledge endorsed by groups ranging from Sunrise Movement and Climate Hawks Vote to Public Citizen and Courage Campaign. Here’s where they stand:

  • As noted above, Sen. Harris has announced her support for a GND but has not said whether she supports net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, or a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice.
  • We have been unable to find a published comment from Sen. Feinstein on the GND; she has taken the California-specific Oil Money Out pledge.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee was an early GND supporter and has pledged not to take campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies.
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell has previously stated his support for the proposal but has not said whether he supports net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, or a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice.
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier has previously stated support for the concept of a GND.

Now, we need to make sure all our Members of Congress know that their constituents want a Green New Deal and that we want our representatives to lead the charge. Our representatives can show their support for the Green New Deal by publicly supporting and voting for two resolutions that will be proposed in the House and Senate during the week of February 4. We also need to push all our Representatives and Senators to take the pledge not to accept contributions from fossil fuel companies, in order to stop the corrupting influence of fossil-fuel money on the political system. 

What you can do:

Call your members of Congress by February 4, and keep calling afterwards!

What to say:

For Sen. Harris: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for endorsing the Green New Deal! In order to address the urgent climate crisis, we need to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, and a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice. Please continue to publicly push for a Green New Deal by supporting and voting for the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate. I hope that the Senator also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

For Sen. Feinstein: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your continued and vocal support of federal action on climate change, and for taking the Oil Money Out pledge. Please support the Green New Deal and support and vote for the Green New Deal resolution in the Senate. I hope that the Senator also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

For Rep. Lee: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your leadership in endorsing the Green New Deal and taking the no fossil-fuel money pledge. Please continue to publicly push for a Green New Deal by supporting and voting for the Green New Deal resolution in the House.

For Rep. Swalwell: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your past statements supporting the Green New Deal! In order to address the urgent climate crisis, we need to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a federal jobs guarantee, and a just transition for all communities and workers, focused on economic and social justice. Please continue to publicly support the proposal, including the Green New Deal resolution in the House. I hope that Representative Swalwell also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

For Rep. DeSaulnier: My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your continued and vocal support of federal action on climate change. Please support the Green New Deal, and vote for the Green New Deal resolution in the House. I hope that Representative DeSaulnier also takes the no fossil-fuel money pledge, to stop the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics.

  • 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

 

Anne Spevack and Ann Daniels contributed to this article. 

Sylvia Chi is an attorney and activist in Oakland, with expertise on environment and energy issues. Anne Spevack is an expert on transportation and infrastructure issues with a passion for the environment, and is rapidly becoming an expert in the Green New Deal.

Above: Sunrise Movement’s graphic of Bay Area legislators on the GND.

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.