The Week Ahead: April’s Fools
Well things are popping in the Capitol as we head into week 11 of the Trump presidency. Wait, what?! Has it only been ten weeks since the inauguration? Although it may feel like we have been resisting this administration’s nefarious efforts for a millennium, it has been a relatively short time in the four year term. We must remember to pace ourselves as we stay vigilant, and respond to the ignominious presidential agenda in the most efficient and effective way we can. The progressive Resistance has seen victories lately and we have to continue to follow that model. Together We Will!
The past never stays in the past
This past week saw a flurry of action in the Russia scandal with Rep. Devin Nunes providing plenty of fodder for political analysts by unwittingly revealing that he may have been party to some clumsy White House espionage. President Trump, in one of his stupid tweets, said he supports Michael Flynn’s request for immunity in exchange for testimony about Russian state interference in our election process. The plot thickens.
Surely, there could be no more surprises in store. But wait–late on Friday the White House released financial disclosure information on some of the top administration officials. Now we know that chief consigliere Steve Bannon earned almost half of his income last year from Robert Mercer. Haven’t heard of him? Mercer is co-owner of Breitbart News, and his money basically got Trump elected. The web of right wing connections to the Oval Office continues to stun.
Friday was International Trans Day of Visibility, an annual holiday founded in 2009 to celebrate the accomplishments and victories of transgender and gender nonconforming people, and raise awareness of the work that still needs to be done to save trans lives. North Carolina celebrated by repealing and replacing the infamous bill that targeted transgender people by requiring them to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate.
H.B. 2 was put forth as a “repeal” in order to satisfy organizations threatening to take business out of North Carolina because of the discriminatory law. Now, the replacement gives the state authority over public bathrooms moving forward, and bans cities and towns statewide from passing nondiscrimination measures through the end of 2020. This means that cities will be prohibited from enacting legislation to protect transgender people from harassment and discrimination in public restrooms. So much for visibility.
World Health Day is on Friday, April 7, just in time to coincide with the Gorsuch confirmation vote. The unfortunate irony is that Gorsuch has shown that he places business and religion over women’s health. All the more reason to take action on April 7. World Health Day, celebrated on April 7 every year, marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization, and encourages mobilization around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world. The theme of this year’s campaign is depression with activities and campaigns you can join.
In continuing irony, Trump proclaimed April as National Sexual Assault and Prevention Month, vowing to commit his administration to raising awareness on the issue and “reduce and eventually end violence” against women, children and men. The president said there is “tremendous work to be done.” Perhaps he was just reminding himself.
Actually, this awareness campaign takes place every year. Former President Barack Obama made a declaration in 2016 announcing grants aimed at ending the backlog of untested rape kits, resources to help states and communities take advantage of the best available measures to prevent sexual violence, and direction to military leadership to prioritize the issue and equip our men and women in uniform with the tools necessary to combat sexual violence. What a difference a year makes.
One of the most important days in April will be the 8th, when the congressional recess begins again. This means that our representatives are coming home and we will have a chance to pay them a visit. Call now and set up an appointment. Decide ahead of time what you want to discuss and write a script if you like. Make your time count!
Cabinet nominations are almost all complete. According to the New York Times, Trump’s cabinet is “more white and male than any cabinet since Ronald Reagan’s.” We await confirmation hearings and votes on secretaries for the Departments of Labor, Agriculture, and the U.S. Trade Representative.
While we have worried about how many games of golf Trump hacks away at, the House and Senate continue to do business. Last week the House either saw, introduced or considered 54 House resolutions. The Senate considered or sent to committee 26 Senate bills and five Senate resolutions.
Legislation items that may be coming to the House and Senate floor this week include:
- H.R. 654 Pacific Northwest Earthquake Preparedness Act of 2017
- H.R. 1214 Disaster SAVE Act
- H.R. 1304 Self Insurance Protection Act
- H.R. 1430 HONEST Act – Pay attention to this bill which would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible. 5 Calls says this attack on the EPA is misleadingly titled the HONEST Act. It was introduced by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and requires the EPA to only utilize scientific studies whose data, code, and other materials are all publicly available online. It also requires that all results be independently reproducible. This bill basically prohibits the EPA from using science to make policy. Another nail in the EPA’s coffin.
On March 28, President Trump issued an executive order titled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” The order proclaims: “It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation’s vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation. Moreover, the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the Nation’s geopolitical security.”
Basically, this order will roll back a group of actions taken by the Obama Administration regarding the climate and clean energy initiatives. It directs the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan, in the hope of repealing it. This is part of the attempt to bring back coal. While the coal industry provides somewhere around 75,000 jobs in our country, renewable and clean energy industries actually provide ten times that number. Seems like it would make sense to focus on those areas instead. Lobby your senators and representatives when you see them next week!
- Congressional Bills to be considered in the coming week
- White House list of Executive Orders
- Government Publishing Office’s Federal Digital System (FDsys): free online access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government.
- House Floor Proceedings: current House floor activities provided by the Office of the Clerk.
- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s schedule
- The Congressional Record
- THOMAS: legislative information from the Library of Congress
Jacqui Viale is an educator living in Long Beach, California with her family, enjoying a temperate climate and clean air. Her social activism focuses on education and equal rights for all.