If you’re like me, you did a little victory lap in your kitchen on Friday when Ryan pulled AHCA. I hope you did, because no matter how many people blame Paul Ryan, or DT’s ignorance and instability, or the Freedom Caucus’s draconian instincts, I’m here to tell you that they’re all missing the bigger picture.
They’re missing YOU.
It’s because of you. And me, and us, and the collective WE that we have become in the past four months. If you ever doubted that phone calls, town halls, postcards and protests had an impact, hopefully now you’ve seen that our courage, our cheerfulness and our resolution will indeed bring us victory.
And now that we’ve got our feet wet, I think it’s time to dive right in. The water seems just fine.
So let’s get to it.
Tuesday: Support an independent, bipartisan, transparent, investigation of Russian interference.
Background: Donald Trump did not have a good week. It started with a public hearing in which the FBI Director confirmed that his campaign had been under investigation since July. Things went downhill from there – due in part to the House Intelligence Committee chairman (Devin Nunes) confirming that he is not independent by running to the White House to provide information… about the investigation they’re doing. This blistering NYT editorial lays out what everyone is thinking – that Nunes is a watchdog-turned-lapdog, and Congress is no longer fit to run these investigations. (Hat tip to John McCain who confirmed in an interview on Wednesday that a select committee is now more important than ever.)
Rep. Eric Swalwell – who is himself on the House Intelligence Committee – also wrote a fantastic op-ed for The Guardian that summarizes precisely why we need an independent commission. He and Elijah Cummings introduced H.R. 356 – the Protecting our Democracy Act, which, like Senate Bill 27, would provide for an independent 9/11-type commission to investigate Russian interference. Currently H.R. 356 has 198 co-sponsors, only one of which is a Republican. That needs to change.
Call: Your Representative. Find their telephone number here if you don’t already have it programmed into your contacts. If your Rep is a democrat, check to see if he/she has already sponsored H.R. 356. If they haven’t, ask them to co-sponsor! If they have, please call them to thank them.
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I live in zip code _____. I’m calling to encourage Representative ____ to co-sponsor H.R. 356. As the events of the last week have shown, we can no longer entrust this investigation to either the House or the Senate Intelligence Committees. Regardless of the intentions of those committees, because of Rep. Nunes’ actions this week they no longer appear to be operating independently. Americans deserve to trust that the outcome of any investigation is a-political and independent, and it’s time that a commission is created to do just that.
Call: Your Senators. Find their telephone numbers here if you don’t already have them programmed into your contacts.
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I live in zip code _____. I’m calling to encourage Senator _____ to cosponsor SB 27. As the events of the last week have shown, we can no longer entrust this investigation to either the House or the Senate Intelligence Committees. As Senator McCain said last week, regardless of the intentions of those committees, because of Rep. Nunes’ actions this week they no longer appear to be operating independently. Americans deserve to trust that the outcome of any investigation is a-political and independent, and it’s time that a commission is created to do just that.
Wednesday: Get out the vote in Georgia, from the comforts of your couch.
Voting has already started in Georgia, where the 6th district is holding a special election for Tom Price’s seat. Maybe, like me, you don’t live in Georgia but want to encourage democrats to get out and vote. And maybe you don’t feel like you should campaign on behalf of any particular candidate, seeing as you aren’t in their district.
Enter the Sixth District Task Force. This combined effort of the Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton Counties is going to “work in a unified force to activate thousands of volunteers and party resources.” Fantastic! You can help from home by heading to the link above and letting them know how you’d like to help. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear from you!
Thursday: Draw Attention to “Lavish” Trump Lifestyle (and hypocrisy of so-called fiscal conservatives)
Background: On Monday I got a newsletter from Ann Wagner – a Missouri representative for Saint Louis County. She’s well-funded by investment houses and banks, so it makes sense that she has had it out for the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau. In her newsletter she noted the CFPB spent $200 million on its “lavish” headquarters. That’s true – but the designs were approved and the costs are comparable to two other similar projects identified by the General Services Administration (GSA). The GOP squawked and squealed and stomped their feet – demanding investigations into why the renovation cost so much.
And they have a point: when we’re spending $200 million, it’s probably a good idea to know that the money is being spent in the best possible manner, right? But where are the “fiscal conservatives” who demanded investigations into a renovation that cost $200 million when POTUS’s security budget has ballooned to such an extent that the Secret Service may need to divert funds from other programs (for things like cyber crime and missing and exploited minors) to cover the costs? Just this week we learned that the Secret Service has asked for an additional $60 million to cover the increased cost of detailing Trump – whose golfing schedule is far different from what he claimed it would be on the campaign trail. For reference – the average family pays $4,000 in taxes; in order to subsidize Trump’s super-sized travel, we’d have to use 15,000 families’ tax bill.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I pay taxes for.
The exact financial impact of Trump’s travel is hard to know – because a lot of the expenses depend upon whether Trump feels like taking a vacation or staying home. (Remember when he said that he would never take a vacation? Well – let’s be thankful that he’s not working harder.)
But still. A potential 4-year total for Trump’s travel and protection of $526 million is just obscene. And it’s ridiculous that we’re still hearing the GOP harp about the costs of a building renovation when their fearless leader is sapping funds from important programs because he feels like playing a round of golf in Florida. Enough already.
Call: Your Representative and your Senators
Script: My name is ___ and I live in zip code ___. I am disgusted by Trump’s lavish travel, which is putting undue stress on the Secret Security’s budget and is excessive by any standards. In the past, Representative [Wagner]/Senator [Blunt/McCaskill] has encouraged fiscal responsibility. This travel is anything but responsible. What is _____ planning to do to bring attention to the President’s wasteful travel, and how is he/she planning to ensure his vacation spending does not negatively impact programs that his/her constituents rely on?
Friday: Oppose the confirmation of Gorsuch for Merrick Garland’s stolen seat.
On Monday, the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee delayed the Committee’s vote on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court for a week. The Judiciary Committee’s vote will probably happen on Monday, and the Senate floor vote will come shortly thereafter – probably Tuesday.
Senator Schumer has already said that the Democrats plan to filibuster his nomination. So, everyone’s talking about whether the GOP has 60 votes needed to end that filibuster. Because the GOP has 52 votes, they’ll need 8 Ds to vote with them to end the filibuster. If they don’t get enough votes, the GOP could change the rules to eliminate the filibuster in Supreme Court nominations (the “nuclear option”). The Democrats used that option in 2013, and the GOP has been rightfully seething about it ever since.
The “nuclear option” debate is anything but new. In fact, all the way back in 2009, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said:
[I]t is one thing to disagree with expanding the use of the filibuster into a non-traditional area [such as judicial nominations] regardless of who is the President and who is in the minority. It is another thing to be for expanding the filibuster into judicial nominations when one is in the minority, but to turn around and urge it its elimination altogether when one is in the majority.
– Mitch McConnell Opening Statement Before the Rules Committee Hearing, at pg. 6.
His lovely quote notwithstanding, it seems likely that they will employ the nuclear option when the Democrats filibuster. And, honestly, so be it.
The GOP should be ashamed of itself for acting like a bunch of toddlers and holding that seat open because they weren’t going to get their way. This seat will always be seen as a stolen seat – because it is. Adding to that principled objection, the POTUS is literally under FBI investigation for potentially colluding with Russia to win the election. Any of his appointments will carry the stink of that with them forever. It’s time to tell the GOP Senators that we will never forget what they have done (and are currently doing), and tell the Democrats to buck up and go down fighting.
Call: Both of your Senators.
If one of your Senators is on the Judiciary Committee, call and encourage them to vote against Gorsuch at Monday’s hearing.
If your Senators are not on the Judiciary Committee, call them anyway! Ask republicans to vote against Gorsuch. Ask the democrats to hold firm on the filibuster and require that the GOP get 60 votes. As Senator Schumer said – if the nominee can’t get 60 votes, you don’t change the rules – you change the nominee.
GOP script: My name is ___ and I live in zip code ___. The President’s campaign is under investigation for potentially colluding with a foreign power to win the election. Voting on a Supreme Court nomination right now is totally inappropriate. The Senate should not vote on any lifetime appointments until after this Russian investigation is finished. And changing the rules of the game when you’re in charge so that you can do whatever you want is childish. I hated it when I saw the Democrats do it in 2013, and I think it’s ridiculous that the Senate leadership would consider it now. I ask the Senator vote no on Gorsuch, and not support the use of the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.
Democratic Script: My name is ____ and I live in zip code ___. The President’s campaign is under investigation for potentially colluding with a foreign power to win the election. Voting on a Supreme Court nomination right now is totally inappropriate. The Senate should not vote on any lifetime appointments until after this Russian investigation is finished. This vote is a matter of principle: I ask the Senator to vote no on Gorsuch, and to support the filibuster of his nomination by not voting for cloture.
OKAY, FRIENDS. It’s a busy week again. LET’S GET TO WORK.
Victory belongs to those who believe in it the most and believe in it the longest. ~Randall Wallace