It’s been one month since 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Congress has passed zero bills to prevent gun violence. Trump remains tied to the NRA, and he has backed off proposals to raise the minimum age for purchasing guns after it was rejected by the NRA.
But change is happening. Numerous businesses have dropped ties with the NRA. The NRA has hit record-low approval ratings. The Florida legislature took first steps by passing some pieces of gun reform (the NRA is now suing). And today, students across the country walked out of their classrooms to demand change and make it clear that they’d had enough. Check out some of the live coverage we got from students all around the DC-metro area on our Twitter, @CAPAction.
Congress has refused to take action, but there’s some simple things they could do to reduce gun violence today. The six proposals include: ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines; enable the CDC to research gun violence as a public health issue; require background checks for all gun sales; support local violence prevention and intervention programs; disarm all domestic abusers; and, make extreme risk protection orders available in every state. The Center for American Progress is releasing these proposals in a series of videos and fact sheets over the next couple weeks. Check out the first two proposals’ videos here and here.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#NeverAgain. Today marks one month since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and students walked out of their classrooms this morning all across the country. In ten days, the March for Our Lives will happen in D.C. and in cities across the U.S. Check out if an event is happening near you! And be sure to watch CAP’s new series on 6 ways to prevent gun violence here—the second video is out now!
Change in Pennsylvania. Last night, Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district—which Trump won by 20 points—held a special election between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone. Although the race remains too close to call, the results are part of a pattern of Democratic wins across the country, from Alabama to Virginia. At the beginning of the campaign, Saccone and his surrogates used the tax bill to urge constituents to vote Republican—but they backed off that strategy near the end, realizing that the tax bill wasn’t as popular as they had hoped. And the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee made a big progressive step in regards to criminal justice reform. They advanced a bill that would “allow for automatically sealing criminal records involving minor offenses,” which could provide a second chance for thousands of people.
CULTURE OF CORRUPTION
Hand-Picked. Earlier this month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) came under intense scrutiny when it was revealed that $31,000 was spent on a dining set for Secretary Ben Carson’s office. HUD quickly denied that Carson or his wife, Candy Carson, had any knowledge of the purchase, and the order was cancelled. But new emails show that Secretary Carson and his wife selected the dining set themselves. It’s just the latest in a string of cabinet members that seem to love buying extravagant things—using taxpayers’ dollars.
Zinke’s Untruths. Speaking of wasteful spending and lies… Yesterday, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke came before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to defend the Trump Administration’s budget and its 16 percent cut to the Interior Department. But Zinke’s performance strayed far from the facts. To a question regarding his private travel habits, Zinke responded “I never took a private jet anywhere” – despite his well-known trip on an oil executive’s private plane at a cost of $12,000 to taxpayers. Zinke also challenged Senators to find “one square inch of land that has been removed from federal protection,” after apparently forgetting that he spearheaded the largest rollback of federal land protection in U.S. history.
Pruitt Blows Through Taxpayer Dollars. And it continues… According to records obtained by the Washington Post, the taxpayer tab for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s private, soundproof phone booth was closer to $43,000, not the $25,000 originally reported. Before the eyebrow-raising phone booth could be installed, significant other work had to be done to prepare the area, including pouring 55 square feet of 2-foot-thick concrete for unspecified reasons at a cost of nearly $3,500. This piles onto the scrutiny Pruitt is already facing for potential misuse of taxpayer funds, including over $100,000 in first-class plane tickets from his first six months as EPA administrator, and a missed deadline to report these expenses to Congress. No previous EPA Administrator had a soundproof phone booth, further underscoring Pruitt’s paranoia and leading Americans to wonder what he has to hide.
UNDER THE RADAR
Early Childhood Agenda. Today, the Center for American Progress released an agenda that outlines 10 early childhood ideas for states in 2018. This report provides a menu of policy recommendations for states as they look to expand early childhood education systems to meet the needs of all children and families. Among the policies detailed in the report are ways states can address the high cost of child care and preschool, the chronically low wages of early educators, the prevalence of child care deserts, and the lack of support for young children with disabilities and developmental delays. National polling finds bipartisan support for making quality early childhood education more affordable for working families, so early childhood education is likely to be an important issue in upcoming elections.