19 Years After Columbine

Today is the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School, where twelve students and one teacher were killed. The tragedy shook the nation as it was one of the first major school shootings in this country—but certainly not the last. Since Columbine, 193 schools have experienced a school shooting, affecting over 187,000 students. The San Diego Union-Tribune calculated that over 11,000 years of life have been cut short due to gun violence in schools since Columbine.

Today is also National School Walkout Day, and students around the country are leaving their classrooms in over 2,000 schools to make their voices heard. As the debate on what changes are needed to ensure students’ safety, it’s crucial that students’ voices are lifted up, as they are absolutely critical to hear. One eighth grader who had marched to the White House told us today, “It’s not fair that kids go to school and feel like they may not come out of school that day.” She’s right. Check out six of the most-needed reforms to reduce gun violence. Then, call your members of Congress and demand they take action so that all students feel safe, both inside and outside of school.

ACTION OF THE DAY

#ProtectMueller. Last week the nation was on alert that Donald Trump was about to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s boss—because of his involvement in the independent investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Trump didn’t fire him last week, but yesterday refused to take that option off the table. Trump has threatened to fire Mueller and now Rosenstein. Call your senators today at 202-224-3121 to demand that they support bipartisan legislation to protect Mueller and the Russia investigation and defend the rule of law.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Big Bucks for Banks. Today, the Associated Press released an analysis showing that the “nation’s six big Wall Street banks saved at least $3.59 billion in taxes last quarter, thanks to the recently enacted Trump tax law.” This is no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to who the #TaxScam actually benefits. Earlier this week, we noted that banks are seeing huge windfalls. In fact, the savings reported by JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America are worth more than all working and middle class family annual tax savings in 13 separate states. Despite Trump and his allies’ rhetoric, the fact remains that this was a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans—not for middle class and working Americans.

4/20. Today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his plan to introduce new legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. In addition to decriminalizing marijuana, the bill would “establish funding for women- and minority-owned marijuana businesses, require more research on the drug’s public health impact, and maintain federal authority to regulate commercial advertising, similar to existing regulations for tobacco and alcohol.” This is an important step in the right direction, and something that 60 percent of Americans support. It is also crucial that any new policies apply retroactively for people with past marijuana convictions. As the Center for American Progress’s president and CEO, Neera Tanden, stated, “An integral part of any forthcoming legislation must include provisions to rectify destructive policies that have left far too many Americans with a criminal record.”

Drilling in the #ArcticRefuge. Yesterday, the Department of the Interior announced it was officially beginning the process to sell out the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling – a provision that was snuck into last year’s tax bill. The Trump Administration’s attempt to rush the environmental review process would put critical wildlife in jeopardy and ignore Alaskan native populations. Moreover, this reckless giveaway of one of our last great wilderness areas is likely to yield less than four percent of the revenues proponents claim could be raised. This announcement kicks off a 60 day comment period – share your voice and tell the administration to protect the Arctic Refuge here.

OFF-KILTER

Farm Bill. This week on Off-Kilter, the House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the farm bill — a massive piece of legislation that among many other things includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. House Republicans claim the bill is about “lifting Americans out of poverty” — but the draconian nutrition assistance cuts it proposes would be a recipe for massively increasing hunger and hardship, as Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, explains. Also tune in to hear from Caroline Lewis, a south Florida principal turned climate change activist, who founded the CLEO Institute to make the conversation around climate change accessible to the people most likely to bear its burden. Finally, you won’t want to miss the conversation with Tarra Simmons, who went to law school to remove barriers to opportunity for people with criminal records—and then was blocked from taking the bar exam because of her own record. She sued for the right to take the bar exam and won.

UNDER THE RADAR

#BootPruitt. A new report from Reuters shows that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “spent about $45,000 in government money to fly five people to Australia to prepare for a planned trip that was later canceled.” Each aide and security agent flew in business class, with tickets costing approximately $9,000 per person. This new scandal is one of a growing list—from living in an energy lobbyist’s condo for only $50 a night to reassigning people who disagreed with him at EPA. Join more than 170 members of Congress in calling for Pruitt’s immediate resignation at BootPruitt.com.