What the Deuce Is Happening in D.C. and Other Stories
This has been one of the most packed few weeks since the 2017 election. More news, more actions, more policies from Presidential hopefuls. Let’s get to it.
But before we do, if you haven’t donated to help wrap-up the Public Advocate campaign, I need your help. Matching funds is available, so donations are multiplied by eight! Here’s how to give and an invitation to an upcoming event.
If you have given, thank you so much. I hope you’ll be able to make the party!
Recap: What The Deuce Is Happening In D.C.
This week has seen some of the fastest paced news coming out of D.C. since Donald Trump was elected. Here’s what you need to know:
The Contempt Issue
Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Barr refused to attend the House Judiciary Committee hearing. Barr further refused to hand over unredacted Mueller Report to the House.
The Trump administration claims Executive Privilege over all unredacted sections of the Mueller Report. In response, the House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress. The full House will now consider the measure. The case will likely end up in court, though Congress has some it’s own enforcement powers.
The House Judiciary Committee is set to hear testimony from Robert Mueller on May 15.
The Tax Issue
The House Ways and Means Committee requested Trump’s tax returns from the White House under a 1924 law giving them the power to do so. The White House, through Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, refused claiming it does not believe Congress has a valid legislative reason.
The NYT revealed that Trump claimed losses of over $1B in old tax returns throughout the 1980s and 1990s (not the ones requested by Congress). Some dispute this is possible, saying it’s a tax dodge using Trump’s investors’ losses.
The NY State Senate passed a law allowing the NY Dept of Taxation and Finance to release State tax returns to Congress - including Donald Trump’s as NY is his personal, and business, State of residence. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign the law.
The Press Issue
Sarah Sanders instituted new rules for the White House Press Corps which disqualifies virtually the entire pool. The White House has been issuing exemptions at their leisure, but the move makes clear that it views access to the White House as political discretion, not a right of the free press.
The Russia Issue
Donald Trump Jr. has been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee. It has been noted that while no specific agreement between the Trump campaign and Russia was found, a counterintelligence review of the Trump campaigns activities might land it in hot water.
It’s worth remembering: Collusion is not a legal term. You cannot charge someone for collusion and the Special Counsel was not looking for collusion. A lack of “collusion” does not mean a lack of wrongdoing - many of Trump’s associates have already gone to jail.
Vice President Pence issued a statement that the administration will seek to eliminate the ability of courts to issue nationwide injunctions, cutting off a lifeline for those seeking to use the courts to combat policies which hurt their communities. Basically, imagine if every person stopped by ICE after the Muslim Ban had to be heard in court one-by-one; in the meantime suffering deportation or detention until they could be heard.
BoE Unveils 38 Early Voting Sites; Pols Demand More The New York City Board of Elections to include seven early voting sites for the 2020 general election. Many are arguing the plan is woefully inadequate as it features just 38 early voting sites for all of New York City. The largest borough, Queens, only has 7. One of New York’s highest trafficked areas, Lower Manhattan, only has one on the far West Side.
Early voting can begin as early as ten days prior to the November 5th general election. The city will close the sites the day before the election.
City Will Now Allow Access-A-Ride Vans to Use Commuter Lanes for Disabled The Department of Transportation granted disabled commuters the ability to use the city’s bus lanes for certain AAR vehicles. Advocates say this will noticeably decrease their commute time. The new rule comes into effect May 30th.
Specifically, wheelchair accessible vans with a four passenger or more capacity will be allowed to use bus lanes. In the past, AAR customers have been forced to detour off their originally intended route in order to experience faster travel times. Advocates are now pushing for the rule to be expanded to allow other types of AAR vehicles permission to use bus lanes.
Bolsonaro Cancels Trip to NYC Altogether First, political pressure convinced the American Museum of Natural History that hosting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a known homophobic bigot, was a bad idea. After AMNH canceled its contract with the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce gala, which was set to honor Bolsonaro as the Brazilian Person of the Year, the party was moved to the Marriott Marquis in Midtown. The resistance moved too, and kept the pressure on. Many high profile sponsors of the gala pulled out, and Mayor DeBlasio chimed in, calling Bolsonaro “dangerous” and “destructive.”
In the end, President Bolsonaro himself declined to visit New York at all, citing attacks and pressure from the Mayor and interest groups. Marriott stands by its decision to host the event saying it shows their “openness and inclusivity” and that hosting is not an indication of endorsement. It seems the gala is still on for May 14 and will honor its designated American Person of the Year, Mike Pompeo.
Participate in NYC Charter Revision NYC is re-writing it’s Charter (our Constitution). There’s are a bunch of upcoming opportunities to tell the Commission how YOU think the city should work and one’s TONIGHT.
Manhattan Borough Hearing on Charter Revision - Come Testify! Thursday, May 9⋅6:00 – 7:00pm City Hall, New York, NY 10007, USA
Staten Island Borough Hearing on Charter Revision - Come Testify Tuesday, May 14⋅6:00 – 7:00pm CUNY College of Staten Island 2800 Victory Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10314, USA Description: Building 1P - Room.116, Williamson Theatre
Help Stop The Westchester Machine From Kicking An Activist Off The Ballot
“We’re trying to make democracy work. None of this should be this difficult,” says Kat Brezler, a public school teacher who is running for White Plains City Council. Brezler, who has been endorsed by Working Families Party, unions, and other progressive groups, is fighting to get her name on the ballot’s Democratic Party line after a judge threw out dozens of signatures from her petition. Brezler is a progressive who got into the race to fight over-development and keep White Plains affordable for teachers and others like her on fives incomes, and she thinks the powers that be are scared of her candidacy.
This “textbook” case shows the State Democratic Party machine in action, arbitrarily scrutinizing and dismissing a campaign that did everything right. The election system is designed to work for incumbents, and after the disruption of 2016, where 6 state senators lost their primary races to upstart challengers, and where Alexandria Ocasio Cortez beat Democratic Party leader James Crowley in an upset congressional primary, incumbents are much more nervous. Brezler, an AOC activist and Bernie delegate, is a threat to the incumbent system, and three candidates endorsed by the White Plains Democratic City Committee are running in the June 25 primary against her.
Can you help Brezler get on the June 25 ballot? This is a call to action for democracy and for party reform!
Give to Kat’s campaign to help her track down the real folks who signed her petitions and help her pay exorbitant court fees that mean nothing to the rich developers who oppose her affordable housing policy but are a drain on her grassroots campaign funds.
(Democratic) Presidential Policy
O’Rourke Joins Call to Impeach Trump
Former Texas Congressman and Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O’Rourke is joining the call to impeach Trump. Weeks after the release of the Mueller Report, O’Rourke stated, “We’re finally learning the truth about this president. And, yes, there has to be consequences. Yes, there has to be accountability. Yes, I think there’s enough evidence now for the House of Representatives to move forward with impeachment.” Although O’Rourke openly supported impeachment during his campaign for Senate, he also voted twice against it as a Representative. Other top presidential contenders who have voiced support for impeachment include Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Former Vice President Joe Biden.
Booker Releases Plan to Combat Gun Violence New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker released a fourteen-point plan to combat the gun violence epidemic. By calling for one of the most progressive plans tackle the controversial issue, Booker is attempting to stand out in a crowded field of more than 20 presidential candidates.
One of the measures that stands out in the plan is a national gun licensing program. The program would require Americans to apply for a five-year gun license before buying a firearm. The comprehensive process includes fingerprinting, an interview, gun safety courses, and a federal background check.
Booker also proposes a ban on assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and bump stocks. Loopholes such as the one that allows people on the federal terror watch list to purchase firearms would be closed. Oversight on gun manufacturers would increase, empowering the Consumer Product Safety Commission to add warnings on guns and recall them if necessary.
Klobuchar Releases Plan for Opioid Addiction Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar released her plan to support mental health. Major portions of the plan include calls to invest in treatments for mental health and addictions, including an increased focus on early intervention. The plan also supports incentives for state governments to implement ignition interlock laws for those accused of drunk driving in order to reduce recidivism. Klobuchar also calls on support for educational initiatives that focus on the risks of using alcohol, along with early identification and treatment.
The plan proposed an offset two cent-per-milligram fee on active ingredients contained in opioids. Klobuchar proposes to expand treatment centers as well as Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.
Drawing inspiration from a bipartisan resolution from Sen. Chris Murphy, Klobuchar's plan calls for enhanced assurances that health insurance companies provide proper coverage for addictions and mental health issues.
Another measure in the Minnesota Democrat’s plan includes a measure that would mandate coverage of inpatient residential treatment for eating disorders.
Washington Gov. & Democratic Presidential Candidate Jay Inslee Releases Energy Plan On Friday Governor Jay Inslee released his energy plan, which draws inspiration from the Green New Deal. In the plan, Inslee calls for all U.S. electricity to be carbon-neutral by 2030 and requires all new car and light truck sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030 as well. Inslee’s campaign is testing the theory that a presidential campaign can be successful by focusing on a single issue platform: energy and the environment. Inslee is also calling for all new residential and commercial buildings to be net-zero by 2030.
A big portion of Inslee’s plan requires successfully passed legislation, which does not look promising in a potentially split government. Inslee has, however, supported retracting filibusters from the Senate if Democrats regain it.
Inslee has also proposed for the U.S. to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, while simultaneously cutting emissions in half by 2030.
Inslee calls for a national “Clean Electricity Standard” which requires utilities to provide all carbon neutral power by 2030 and completely clean, renewable, and zero-emissions generation by 2035. The plan includes refundable tax credits for not only renewables, but also storage, smart grid, transmissions, and other technology.
Federal Court Throws Out Ohio’s Congressional Map The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio decided Ohio’s Congressional map is “unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.” The court determined the map must be redrawn for the 2020 elections. The ruling comes a week after Republicans in Michigan were forced to redraw their Congressional lines for the 2020 elections.
U.S., China Trade Talks Hit The Rocks Amid sliding markets, Trump holds fast to his threat to raise tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump had tweeted that the hike would go up to 25% after he believed China was trying to renegotiate the terms of the deal. Despite the apparent collapse of good will, Trump was optimistic about striking a deal this week and said he'd likely speak with President Xi Jinping.
Rod Rosenstein Resigns After outlasting the revolving door at the Justice Department for longer than most at its helm, Rod Rosenstein will leave the White House of his own accord on May 11. The embattled Deputy AG took heat from the President for nearly 2 years after appointing special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Special Counsel’s report revealed that Rosenstein had resisted Trump’s efforts to get him to take the blame for firing former FBI Director James Comey. Rosenstein personally delivered his resignation to Trump, and in the letter he wrote, "We keep the faith, we follow the rules, and we always put America first."
Trump Changes Asylum Rules Trump has issued a memo for the attorney general and homeland security secretary to implement major changes to the nation’s asylum application process. The memo gives the departments 90 days to develop new policy that would charge fees to file asylum applications, would severely limit access to work permits for applicants, and would require all applications to be settled within 180 days of filing. Trump says his national emergency declaration allows him to circumvent Congress and unlock money to build his signature border wall, though the courts have blocked many of his past immigration related proposals.
Indivisible UES Meeting
Thursday, May 9⋅6:00 – 8:00pm
1157 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10075, USA
Manhattan Borough Hearing on Charter Revision - Come Testify!
Thursday, May 9⋅6:00 – 7:00pm
New York, NY 10007, USA
Village Independent Democrats Monthly Meeting
Thursday, May 9⋅6:30 – 9:00pm
Monthly on the second Thursday
83 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014, USA
West 37th/38th st Block Assn Meeting
Wednesday, May 15⋅7:30 – 8:30pm
Grand Street Democratic Club Spring Meeting
Thursday, May 16⋅6:30 – 7:30pm
Asian American Leadership Forum for Youth (AALFY) Workshop
Saturday, May 18⋅11:30am – 12:30pm
Hunter College High School (71 E 94th Street, New York, NY 10128)
There Will Be Wine - An event to celebrate and wrap-up the 2019 Public Advocate's Race
Tuesday, May 21⋅7:00 – 10:00pm
70th Annual Lexington Democratic Club Dinner
Thursday, May 23⋅6:30 – 9:30pm
Description:Please join the Lexington Democratic Club in honoring Jay Jacobs, Chair of the New York State Democratic Committee at the Club's 70th Annual Gala Dinner on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 6:30pm at the Liederkranz Foundation at 6 East 87th Street off of Fifth Avenue.