Since Trump’s inauguration, a number of disturbing political developments have taken place, perhaps most notably the recent immigration ban. We at The Blognonian know that a lot of people are looking for ways to fight back. Keeping in mind that the amount of information available online can be overwhelming, this column intends to summarize several important happenings taking place in Congress and the White House. It aims to give you the resources you need to call your representatives and make yours a voice for change. We do not pretend to be unbiased, and you’ll find that our suggestions oppose Trump and generally oppose a number of right-wing agendas. We also recognize that due to limitations on time and space, we cannot cover every issue, and so we have attempted to include a variety of lesser- and better-known causes. Each week will feature different topics.
One thing we can’t stress enough, though: call your representatives.
What’s Happening: Trump appointed Stephen Bannon to the National Security Council, and the Dems have introduced a (very important) Bill that would remove him
What it Means: A few days ago, Trump put Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, on the NSC’s Principal Committee. According to a story from The Washington Post, the move give Bannon major sway in foreign policy and national security decisions. Not only does Bannon lack any national security experience, but he is a member of the alt-right who was heavily involved in orchestrating the Muslim Ban. According to a piece from Mother Jones, Bannon has opposed Black Lives Matter, is the former head of Breitbart News—a media platform popular among racists and white nationalists—and has praised Pamela Geller, the head of an anti-Muslim hate group. The Post story mentioned earlier says that Bannon could “be a loose cannon in the foreign policy decision-making process,” and argues that the appointment reveals Bannon’s strong ability to influence Trump.
There have been a few viral articles floating around suggesting that the events of the past week mark preparation for a coup d’état in which Trump and his closest advisers, most notably Bannon, would seize power. Regardless of whether these are accurate or far-fetched theories, there’s no doubt that the Trump administration is dangerously unwilling to listen to the advice of experts. And Bannon’s position is terrifying: another piece from the Post has an intelligence official saying that Bannon is “running a cabal, almost a shadow NSC.” Fortunately, The Hill reported today that Democrats introduced a bill which would effectively remove Bannon from the NSC, and ensure that important security advisers, including the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would be able to attend important NSC meetings.
When you call your representative… Tell them to do everything they can to push the bill forward, and explain why Bannon is unfit to serve on the NSC—any number of reasons will do. Let them know his presence is a huge threat to American security and American values.
What’s Happening: Trump just nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
What it Means: According to the New York Times, Neil Gorsuch would be an even more reliably-conservative member of the Supreme Court than the late Antonin Scalia, maintaining the conservative direction of the court for many years to come. He will likely vote against gay rights, abortion, and affirmative action programs. According to the Washington Times, Chuck Schumer has announced that Senate Democrats will move to filibuster the nomination, requiring that Gorsuch receive 60 votes to be confirmed.
When you call your representative… It seems as though Gorsuch will face a contentious battle in the Senate. While Senate Democrats will not be able to stop the ninth Supreme Court Justice spot from being filled with a conservative, they can try to fill it with someone more moderate than Gorsuch. Telling your Republican representative not to vote for Gorsuch and telling your Democratic representative to filibuster his confirmation are both legitimate ways to help keep the judicial branch from being conservative for decades to come.
What’s Happening: Republicans in Congress are moving to gut environmental rules leftover from the Obama administration
What it Means: According to a piece from The Hill, next week Congress will vote on several resolutions eliminating important environmental rules President Obama put into place at the end of his term. One of the rules under fire aims to cut methane emissions on federal land (in the short term, methane has 25 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide). The resolutions also threaten the Stream Protection Act, which ensures small waterways stay safe from coal pollution but Republicans claim reduces jobs. Note that Congressional Republicans are also trying to undo a measure proposed by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) which requires oil, mineral and natural gas developers to release financial information about money they’ve given to the government, thereby promoting transparency. This article, also from The Hill, describes the “Payment rule” in more detail.
When you call your representative… Ask them to vote against the CRA resolutions next week to ensure the Stream Protection Act and the Interior’s rule on methane emissions stay intact. Also ask them to fight to keep the SEC’s payment rule.
What’s Happening: Trump issued an executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries
What it Means: By now, you’ve probably heard plenty about Trump’s immigration ban, which would have also deported people arriving at airports from any of the seven countries. Fortunately, a federal judge put a stay on the deportations, but we still have a lot of work to do. The Atlantic reports that the ban also bars refugees from entering the country for 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely. It has left people stranded, unable to return to the United States and in some cases unable to see their families. According to an article in the New York Times, it blocks children who are in most need of aid. Experts have noted that it will be counterproductive in fighting terrorism, not to mention the fact that it’s probably illegal. Basically, the ban is bad news all around.
When you call your representative… If your representative has already been fighting the ban, thank them and ask them to continue doing everything they can. Otherwise, tell them you’re paying attention and you expect them to oppose the Muslim Ban with everything they’ve got. If you have the means, you can also donate to the ACLU, which is taking legal action against the ban.
What’s Happening: Congress is moving to repeal Obamacare
What it Means: The Hill reports that on Thursday, the House will consider various bills that could replace Obamacare. In a report from June, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the ACA would increase budget deficits by $137 billion over the next ten years. A piece in The Atlantic suggests that the repeal would cause a serious loss in jobs nationwide and an article for The Washington Post, written by two professors in public health, argued that repealing ObamaCare could cause 20 million (or more) people to lose healthcare coverage and kill over 43,000 annually; Bernie Sanders claimed it would kill 36,000 (note that other sources say these estimates are too high).
When you call your representative… Republicans haven’t repealed the ACA yet, but they are about to try to do so. Call your representatives—especially if they are Republicans—and urge them not to repeal Obamacare, citing any of the above information.
What’s Happening: The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (H.R. 7) has passed the House and has reached the Senate
What it Means: According to congress.gov, this act passed the House on January 24th and was introduced to the Senate on January 30th. A statement on the White House’s website claims that if presented with this bill, President Trump will sign it. That means if this bill should pass the Senate, it will definitely become a law. According to GovTrack, this law will prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion or health plans that cover abortion. It also prohibits federal facilities employees from giving abortions. A piece from CNN notes that this will in effect make the Hyde Amendment, which barred federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother, permanent. Democrats explicitly started working last year to repeal the Hyde Amendment, and passing this bill—which, according to an article from Vox, disproportionately affects low-income women—will hinder that goal.
When you call your representative… Since this has already passed the House, focus on calling your Senators—especially if they are Republican—and ask them not to pass H.R. 7. When you call, it’s worth noting the act’s unfair impact on low-income women.