Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump’s First Legislative Effort Fails as G.O.P. Pulls Bill to Repeal Obamacare

New York Times article:

"Trump’s First Legislative Effort Fails as G.O.P. Pulls Bill to Repeal Obamacare"






The Trump administration approved the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Fight back!

The Trump administration approved the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and reversed the decision of the Obama administration. The decision isn’t shocking. It’s just another step Trump and his billionaire cabinet have taken to line the pockets of Big Oil at the expense of communities.

The good news is this fight is far from over and we can win. TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, must still get approval to route the pipeline through Nebraska and the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) is taking public comments now.

This pipeline is bigger than Trump. It’s about the Native Nations whose land and water are threatened, the farmers and ranchers whose land would be taken away to benefit a corporation, and the special places -- like the Nebraska Sandhills which are home to to threatened wildlife, including whooping cranes, sandhill cranes, and bald eagles -- that lie in the path of this dirty pipeline. We will not let this pipeline be constructed -- we will continue to fight alongside our allies to stop Keystone XL.

We can fight back against the Trump administration by urging the Nebraska PSC to block the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all.


Last night, Trump issued an ultimatum to House Republicans: pass the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act today

Last night, Trump issued an ultimatum to House Republicans: pass the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or he will move on and leave Obamacare in place. This is HUGE: It means we have an opportunity to save the ACA and its crucial benefits, but only if we take action right now, before the House votes on the bill today.

Dial this number right now to be connected to one of your representatives. Tell them to vote NO on the Republican's plan to take away our care:
Call you Representative NOW: 1-866-665-4470

I just e-mailed my representative again...

Dear Representative McSally,

I appreciate your efforts to improve AHCA but your suggestions are really just band-aids that don’t help much. The Medicaid “delay” just puts the most pain after the next Presidential election, CPI-MED+1 just increases the state block grants by 1%, and how much healthcare can a person in the age range where they are most likely to need health insurance buy with $4000 in tax credits? Money they don’t get back until the middle of the following year.

We can do better than this. Look at Senator Sander's universal healthcare plan. With our collective bargaining power, we could all have healthcare and all pay less like they do in the other modern nations. It would require raising our taxes, but it would cost less individual healthcare plans (not to mention the added expense of the deducible.) Be a hero to your constituents and the whole country. Educate the other representatives and your constituents. You can make a difference in all of our lives!

Thanks for keeping up the good fight,
Jana Segal

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Are McSally's improvements on the American Healthcare Act enough?

I appreciate McSally's efforts, but they are really just band-aids that don’t help much. The Medicaid “delay” just puts the most pain after the next Presidential election, CPI-MED+1 just increases the state block grants by 1%, and how much healthcare can a person in the age range where they are most likely to need health insurance buy with $4000 in tax credits? Money they don’t get back until the middle of the following year. It’s all lipstick on a pig. What do you think?


REP. MCSALLY FIGHTS FOR CRUCIAL IMPROVEMENTS DURING AHCA NEGOTIATIONS

March 20, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today declared her support for an amended version of the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA). After weeks of advocating for specific changes to the legislation on behalf of her constituents, Rep. McSally successfully negotiated for revisions to the legislation that are victories for Southern Arizona—including billions in increased resources for states to provide robust coverage for the most vulnerable.

“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been an unmitigated disaster in Arizona—leaving us without real choices statewide. The exchanges for 14 of the state’s 15 counties are devoid of competition because they are left with only a single insurer selling coverage. However, the transition to a new system will take time and those on Medicaid and ACA exchanges deserve continuity and stability during the transition,” stated Representative McSally. “Over the past weeks, I have proposed detailed, specific changes to the AHCA that would provide better coverage and a stable transition for seniors, the disabled, children, and middle class families. Through lengthy negotiations with House leadership and the executive branch, I am pleased to have played a role in moving this bill in the right direction. I’m thankful leadership heard my concerns and worked with me to adopt these recommendations to ease the transition to a system that increases choice and access while bringing down health care costs. AHCA is not perfect and I still have concerns, but I will continue to work closely with Senators McCain and Flake, Governor Ducey, local stakeholders, and constituents to strengthen the AHCA while supporting other thoughtful bills throughout the legislative process.”

Speaker Ryan said, “I appreciate Rep. McSally’s support on the AHCA. Her unwavering commitment to her constituents and her tenacity throughout the negotiating process has led to positive changes and I believe this is a better bill as a result of her involvement.”

Rep. McSally and Rep. MacArthur sent a letter today to leadership requesting that three crucial provisions be included in the AHCA which would directly benefit her constituents in Southern Arizona. This culminates weeks of discussions with House leadership, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Vice President Pence, and others. As a direct result of her advocacy, a revised version of the bill was filed tonight which included all three provisions.

The text of the letter can be found below:

The Honorable Paul D. Ryan
Speaker of the House
H-232, United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker,

As we work to finalize the House version of the bill that will be the first step in replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a better system that increases choice and access while bringing down the cost of health care, we have some concerns with the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in its current form.

As you are aware, the ACA has had an especially harmful impact on our states and has nearly destroyed the market for individual health insurance plans. Neither Arizona nor New Jersey residents have real choices and their insurance premiums have increased to an unacceptable degree - Arizona being the highest in the nation over the past year. It is clear that our healthcare system must be repaired.

We write to bring to your attention a few issues in the AHCA that are of great concern to us and our constituents.  The transition from the ACA Medicaid expansion to the Medicaid system with more state control and flexibility, as well as the individual market stabilization measures in the AHCA, will already be complex and take time. In order to prevent unnecessary hardship to low- and middle-income people, and to states, the Medicaid expansion not be moved up—as some have suggested—and remain at December 31, 2019, and that individual enrollment in expansion not states be frozen between now and December 31, 2019.

Making the transition before 2020 will make it more difficult for states and beneficiaries to adapt and potentially leave some people on the edge of poverty and at risk of falling through the cracks.
To ensure that the most vulnerable in our communities continue to have access to the health care they need, we request that states be given additional resources to provide robust traditional Medicaid coverage. The AHCA’s per-capita caps are supposed to increase by the consumer price index for medical care (CPI-MED), but we believe this is inadequate—especially for elderly and disabled Medicaid enrollees.

The per-capita allotments to states for elderly and disabled Medicaid enrollees should be increased by CPI-MED +1%. This will give additional resources to states and provide added flexibility to adjust to the new per-capita cap system and continue to provide high-quality care through their Medicaid programs.  The new tax credits created by the AHCA are simply too small for older Americans ages 50-64. These individuals, many living on fixed lower incomes, cannot afford to pay additional amounts to purchase quality health insurance.

We understand that other initiatives in the AHCA and administrative actions by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are intended to bring down the cost of plans, but this gap between the ACA subsidies and the AHCA tax credits is too large for ages 50-64. As is, we are concerned that many in this age bracket could lose coverage and access to health care, likely increasing their vulnerability and decreasing their health.

As such, the tax credits provided for ages 50-64 must be increased, ideally by at least $2000 per year, which will cost around $85 billion over ten years. We must find a way to accomplish this.

Thank you for your work on the AHCA. Please carefully consider the impact of this legislation, and work to address the concerns we have communicated in our many meetings and in this letter. We sincerely hope that you will continue improving this legislation so that it can truly offer Arizonans, New Jerseyans, and all Americans additional choices, lower costs, and increased access to high quality, affordable health care.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Contacting your representative: a matter of life and death


Many people have been forced to make this choice.
A bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act is being voted on tomorrow, Thursday, March 23rd. "Trumpcare," the proposed replacement will make healthcare unaffordable for the elderly and the poor and much more expensive for all of us.  Please, contact your representative NOW and urge them not to repeal the Affordable Care Act until they have something that will serve all of their constituents.

I just e-mailed Martha McSally:

Dear Representative Martha McSally ,

Since Trump was elected, more people are becoming active in the political process. Not only am I following the bills that affect me, I am spreading the word on what is going on in congress. Believe me, I'm not the only one. This has become a matter of life or death - especially for those of us who can't afford healthcare. I ride the city bus, so I meet people who have become homeless because they couldn't afford their medical bills. Everyday people are dying because they can't afford proper medical care. You shouldn't have to decide between paying your rent and taking your child to the doctor.

If you vote for Trumpcare you will be leaving 24 million people without healthcare. In this "right to work" state many of us are barely getting by as it is. We simply can't afford a raise in our insurance rates.

Right now, I am deeply saddened that you could consider cutting taxes on rich CEOs - while leaving the rest of us to suffer or die. Everyday I see more and more people paying attention to what our representatives are doing. Please, please, Representative McSally, do the right thing. Protect your constituents before things get worse for all of us.

Contact Representative McSally here


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Paul Ryan and hardcore conservatives in the House just found a way to to make Trumpcare even WORSE. Call your reps now!

Believe it or not, Paul Ryan and hardcore conservatives in the House just found a way to to make Trumpcare even WORSE.

The House Freedom Caucus threatened to withhold its support from Donald Trump's attack on health care because -- unbelievably -- they wanted it to make Medicaid even harder for poor and working people to access. Speaker Paul Ryan quickly caved to their demands.

Last night, Ryan introduced a modified version of Trumpcare that allows states to impose work requirements on Medicaid -- and lets them turn the program into a block grant, which would slash federal support and lead to restricted access in GOP-controlled states.

The House is scheduled to vote on this new version of Trumpcare this Thursday, and now that he has the far right-wing on board, Speaker Paul Ryan says he "feels very good" about its chances of passing.

We only have 48 hours to make it clear to House members that voting for Trumpcare is NOT an option if they want to be re-elected in 2018. Can you call Representative Martha McSally now and tell her to vote NO on Trumpcare this Thursday? I just called and spoke to an actual person!

SAMPLE SCRIPT:

Hello, my name is ______________ and I'm calling from Tucson, AZ.

I'm calling to tell Representative Martha McSally to vote NO on the awful Republican plan to destroy the Affordable Care Act. This plan would drive up premiums and cause thousands of people in Arizona to lose their coverage. That is unacceptable. We need to expand access to affordable health care -- not maximize insurance company profits at the expense of working families. Thank you.

Please, call now! 

Rep. Martha McSally (202) 225-2542

Just heard that Congress passed a bill that allows hunters to shoot wolf pups and hibernating bears in their dens!


What the heck!? Congress just declared war on wildlife. They want to let hunters shoot wolf pups in their dens and kill hibernating bears across Alaska’s protected wilderness.

I am sorry I didn't post this sooner. :(

The bill (H.J.Res.69) green-light brutal hunting practices like shooting wolf pups in their dens or slaughtering bears from aircraft.

The gun lobby helped push this through the house but we must protect the wildlife on Alaska's pristine refuges.

-------

More information:

Bill Would Allow Killing Of Bears And Wolves Again On Alaska Wildlife Refuges (Huffington Post)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/alaska-resolution-hunting-predators-wildlife-refuges_us_58a62ddde4b037d17d2641e4

U.S. House sanctions killing hibernating bears, wolf pups in their dens on federal refuges in Alaska (Humane Society)
http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2017/02/u-s-house-sanctions-killing-hibernating-bears-wolf-pups-dens-federal-refuges-alaska.html

Congress Says You Should Be Able To Kill Bears And Wolves From Airplanes In Alaska (Buzzfeed)
https://www.buzzfeed.com/dinograndoni/alaska-hunting-bear-wolf-airplanes?utm_term=.dgeVPrPQl#.unynxdxbN

Storied Alaska wolf pack beloved for decades has vanished, thanks to hunting (Washington Post)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/08/09/storied-alaska-wolf-pack-beloved-for-decades-has-vanished-thanks-to-hunting/?utm_term=.6cf7e875a52b


Saturday, March 18, 2017

President’s budget proposal to eliminate federal library funding 'counterproductive and short-sighted'

WASHINGTON, DC — In response to President Trump's proposal to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services in his FY2018 budget, American Library Association (ALA) President Julie Todaro today issued the following statement:
"The President's proposal to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in his FY2018 budget just released, and with it effectively all federal funding for libraries of all kinds, is counterproductive and short-sighted. The American Library Association will mobilize its members, Congressional library champions and the millions upon millions of people we serve in every zip code to keep those ill-advised proposed cuts from becoming a Congressional reality.  Libraries leverage the tiny amount of federal funds they receive through their states into an incredible range of services for virtually all Americans everywhere to produce what could well be the highest economic and social "ROI" in the entire federal budget.
“The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funded through IMLS is the primary annual source of funding for libraries in the federal budget. IMLS distributes the majority of LSTA funds to every state in the nation according to a population-based formula. Each state library determines how to best spend its allocated federal funds, which must be matched at the state level. The range of services provided to millions of Americans through LSTA grants is matched only by the creativity of the libraries that receive them: veterans transitioning to civilian life, small businesses seeking to expand their business online, summer reading programs, resources for blind and hearing-impaired patrons, resume writing and job skills workshops and computer coding courses to teach youth 21st century job skills.
"America's more than 120,000 public, school, college and university and many other libraries are not piles of archived books. They're trusted centers for education, employment, entrepreneurship and free inquiry at the core of communities in every state in the country – and in every Congressional district. And they’re staffed by the original search engines: skilled and engaged librarians."
Shawnda Hines
American Library Association

Friday, March 17, 2017

Check out Trump's proposed budget cuts. This affects our quality of life as Americans!


I've been up all night studying Trump's proposed budget cuts. And it's shocking! We need to keep on top of what is going on in our government.

"Trump’s budget takes a sledgehammer to the EPA. Eliminates more than 50 programs and 3,200 jobs lost. Discontinues funding for international climate-change programs. Cuts funding for the Office of Research and Development in half. Cuts funding for the Superfund cleanup program and the Office of Enforcement and Compliance."

The cuts to the EPA alone eliminates more than 3,200 jobs. Now compare that to the 40 jobs the Nestle bottling facility brings to Phoenix (to bottle up AZ. CAP water) or the 400 Green Valley miners who were let go when the mine was deemed "not profitable enough."

"Climate change and ocean research would suffer sharp cuts in the Trump budget proposal for the Commerce Department, which aims for a reduction of 16 percent, or $1.5 billion, much of that targeted at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Commerce cuts would eliminate $ 250 million in coastal research programs that prepare communities for rising seas and worsening storms, including the popular $73 million Sea Grant program, which works with universities in 33 states.

But scientists, including a former NOAA administrator, Jane Lubchenco, strongly criticized the proposed cuts when they were reported on previously, saying that they would harm coastal readiness in the face of rising seas and damage states that rely on these funds to manage their shorelines."

"The EDUCATION DEPARTMENT faces a 14 percent cut under the Trump administration budget, which would downsize or eliminate a raft of grants, including for teacher training, afterschool programs, and aid to low-income and minority college students. The cuts would be coupled with a historic investment — $1.4 billion — in charter schools, private schools and other school-choice initiatives."

This is just the tip of the sinking iceberg. Check out the proposed budget cuts for yourself - then speak out! This is about our quality of life as Americans: our education, our health, our arts, our public lands and national parks, our animals, our rivers and streams, even the water we drink and the air we breath. This is about the science and innovations that make us a world power. This is about being a compassionate nation. This is about taking care of our own - our elderly and our children. This is about protecting freedom and the American Dream. The American Dream is providing a BETTER LIFE for our children.

It's time we asked ourselves, "What makes America great?"And fight like the dickens for it.  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Bills Introduced

In case anyone is getting too sidetracked by the Russian spy drama and the 'Obama bugging', the following bills have been introduced:
1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education
4. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
7. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
10. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran


Call your House Representative and ask them to not only vote "NO"...but to speak up for our rights, health & safety, and our beautiful country.


If your senators and reps aren't saved in your phone yet, text your zip code to 520-200-2223. You'll get a text back with everyone's contact info. It gives you Federal and State.


PASS IT ON. This is participant democracy at work.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

President signed executive order to remove Clean Water Act protection


First, Congress voted to let coal companies dump their waste into the streams of Appalachia.1


Next, President Trump put someone in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency who has sued the EPA to weaken clean water protections.2

Now the president has signed an executive order to remove Clean Water Act protection for nearly 2 million miles of our nation's streams, a move that will leave Americans with dirtier drinking water.3

But the president can't roll back the Clean Water Act with a single stroke of his pen.

We're prepared to protect the waters we love in the courts, at the EPA and in Congress. The most important thing you can do to help right now is to contact your senators.

Please tell your senators: We want stronger, not weaker, protections for the waters we love and depend upon.

Yes, I'll take action.


President Trump's executive order directs the EPA to "withdraw and reconsider" the Clean Water Rule -- the rule that you helped us win in 2015, one that makes it clear the Clean Water Act protects small streams and wetlands, not just big rivers and lakes.4

The Trump administration calls this protection "burdensome" and "unnecessary."5

Our bottom line: Clean water isn't an unnecessary burden. It's the wellspring of a healthy and thriving America.

Tell our senators to protect the waters we love today.


To me, and I hope to you, this is just common sense. But it's a message our senators need to hear loud and clear -- from you.

The EPA, now being run by President Trump's appointee Scott Pruitt, will now begin the lengthy process of undoing the Clean Water Rule. But we also expect members of Congress to push to overturn it as well. If we can secure 41 votes in the Senate, we can stop them.

Our national network is putting extra effort into a few key states where swing-state senators could go either way.

But we need every senator to hear from us. Supportive senators need to speak out. Senators on the fence need to stand up and be counted. And senators on the other side of this issue need to know you're paying attention.

That's why we're amplifying the voices of all Americans, from Washington state to Washington, D.C. We'll send your petition, along with thousands of others, to our senators by March 17th. 

Add your name to the call today. Tell our senators to stand with us.

Thanks, as always, for making it possible.

Yours,

Anna Aurilio
Environment America Federal Legislative Director


1. GOP Congress votes to undo first of many Obama regulations, CNN, Feb 3, 2017
2. Donald Trump's EPA Pick Is A Leading Foe Of Clean Water Laws, The Huffington Post, Dec 9, 2017
3. Trump moves to kill Obama water rule, The Hill, Feb. 28, 2017
4. Clean Water Rule, EPA.gov, accessed March 2, 2017
5. An America First Energy Plan, WhiteHouse.gov

Stop Corporate Power Grab in Congress


Republicans in Congress are aiding and abetting a corporate power grab that would allow corporate interests to take hold of our democracy at the expense of everyday people.
The package of three dangerous bills has already passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. If the Senate approves, Donald Trump will certainly sign them — preventing key agencies from fulfilling their crucial missions to protect Americans, and rolling back vital health protections. We need you to stop this from happening.
Urge your senators to reject the "Regulatory Accountability" Act, the REINS Act, and the "Midnight Rules Relief" Act.
The so-called "Regulatory Accountability" Act would block crucial protections Americans rely on for their health and safety: rules to protect our air and water from corporate polluters, workplace safety requirements, food safety measures, and sensible Wall Street regulations that protect middle-class families from the irresponsible behavior that caused the last recession.
The REINS Act would prevent federal agencies from putting in place life-saving standards that keep Americans safe. Critical, commonsense updates to everything from clean air standards to overtime rules could be completely tied up in red tape — indefinitely.
Finally, with the "Midnight Rules Relief" Act, Congress could kill vital safeguards that President Obama provided in his final year as President. This includes actions like providing school breakfast to children, implementing life-saving ozone pollution standards, and limiting methane pollution from oil and gas wells on public lands.
President Trump and Republicans in Congress want to diminish our voices and prevent us from truly having a say in our own democracy, which is why we’re working with our partners including Daily Kos, NextGen Climate, and SumofUs to stop them. We need you to speak out NOW against this power grab and support democracy for all Americans.
Thank you for being such a strong activist against corporate interests interfering in politics.
-- Katie O'Connell, People for the American Way

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Breaking: Jeff Sessions spoke with Russian ambassador during campaign

UPDATE: News broke late last night that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with the Russian ambassador at least twice during the presidential campaign, despite claiming otherwise during his confirmation hearing.

This is deeply disturbing and unprecedented news. Attorney General Jeff Sessions secretly met with the Russian ambassador -- at the same time Russia was trying to influence our election.

Even worse, during his confirmation process, multiple senators asked Sessions if he had met with Russian officials during the campaign. Sessions said flat out that he hadn’t -- and now we know he wasn’t telling the truth.

Jeff Sessions cannot continue to lead the Department of Justice. One senior Trump official, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, already had to resign over secret communications with Russian officials. But the DOJ will oversee investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia -- and it can’t do that credibly under Sessions’ leadership.

Add your name: Jeff Sessions must immediately resign as Attorney General -- we will deliver your signatures to the Department of Justice next week.

Copied from petition from Common Cause whose purpose is to hold power accountable. 

According to SierraRise:

This goes beyond politics. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the former House Oversight Committee Chair, called for a special prosecutor on Real Time with Bill Maher. Issa stated that Attorney General Jeff Sessions (a political appointee who campaigned for Trump) should not be in charge. According to Issa, Putin is "a bad guy who murders people, who runs a gas station with an economy the size of Italy."2

Russia is a classic case of what happens when a fossil fuel oligarchy combines with authoritarian politics. As democracy withers, civil rights and environmental protections collapse. We cannot let that same regression happen here.

Defending American ideals against foreign intrusion is patriotic, and members of Congress from both sides have called for congressional investigations.3 It's harder to find a senator who doesn't think the issue should be looked into.

However, it was just revealed that the White House has enlisted the chairs of the House and Senate intelligence committees to defend the Trump administration in the media.4 A clear majority of the Senate is concerned with Putin's influence, but it's unclear if anything will happen if they think people will forget and move on.

Democracy requires transparency and vigilance -- and protecting our environment requires a functioning democracy. Will you stand up for American values and demand an independent investigation into claims of Russian interference?

In it together,

The SierraRise team

References:
1. Entous, A., Nakashima, E., and Miller, G. (1 March 2017). "Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose." Washington Post. 2. Wang, A. (25 February 2017). "Top Republican says special prosecutor should investigate Russian meddling in Trump's election." Washington Post.3. Kopan, T. and Bradner, E. (12 December 2016). "McConnell, senators unite behind investigation into Russian hacking." CNN.4. Miller, G. and Entous, A. (24 February 2017). "Trump administration sought to enlist intelligence officials, key lawmakers to counter Russia stories." Washington Post.