Yesterday, elections were held all across the country for a wide range of levels of government – from governors to city councils. And from the elections, one message from voters became clear: progressive issues win. From immigration to health care, successful candidates ran on progressive platforms that seek to expand access and equity to those communities who are often disenfranchised. It’s clearer than ever that the #Resistance is powerful—and led by women.
In Virginia, Ralph Northam was elected Governor of Virginia, defeating Ed Gillespie and his white nationalist rhetoric. From racist ads to portraying immigrants as members of the MS-13 gang, Gillespie “pulled directly from the Trump playbook,” attempting to stoke fear and xenophobia among voters. But, thankfully, it didn’t work.
Also in Virginia, Chris Hurst won his race for the State House of Delegates on a pro-commonsense gun reform campaign. Hurst chose to run for office after his girlfriend, Alison Parker, was killed on live TV two years ago. Voters made a clear choice in electing Hurst, who was running against an individual with an A+ rating from the NRA.
In Maine, voters chose by a wide margin to expand Medicaid, bringing affordable access to health care to 70,000 of the state’s residents. This win sent a clear message to Trump: stop sabotaging the Affordable Care Act, and start working to strengthen it.
And, across the country, diverse candidates who fought against messages of hate and bigotry won big. Danica Roem became the first openly transgender woman to be elected to a state house of representatives. She defeated Robert Marshall, who declared himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe” and worked to restrict access to bathrooms for transgender people. And in Hoboken, New Jersey, Ravinder Bhalla became the city’s first Sikh mayor, even after he was branded a “terrorist” during the campaign.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#NotOnePenny. Today, the House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to vote on the House Republicans’ tax bill, which include huge giveaways to the richest Americans. This comes just as the Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the bill, saying it will add $1.7 trillion to the national debt. This bill is for the top 1 percent, not the middle class. Hear from Carrier workers in Indiana about the who really benefits from corporate tax cuts. Learn how the bill does not address child care affordability. Read about the families that stand to lose from the bill. Then, fight back at TrumpTaxToolkit.org.
Unqualified. Last night, the Senate voted 51-47 to confirm Steven Engel as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel. Engel’s nomination was opposed by many groups, including the Human Rights Watch, who wrote a letter about Engel’s involvement in allowing torture under President George W. Bush. Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Greg Katsas for the DC Circuit and Brett Talley for the Middle District of Alabama, both of whom have been keen to suppress voting rights. Katsas, whose nomination is opposed by over 200 civil rights groups, admitted in his hearing yesterday that “he worked on the White House’s response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election,” as well as numerous other issues like DACA. As for Talley, the American Bar Association has labeled him as unqualified, a rare occurrence for a president’s nominee. A few of the young lawyer’s highlights include: his work as a pro-Trump commentator; opposition to gun safety laws; willingness to dismantle environmental protection regulations; and, a “hostility” towards civil rights laws.
#DirtyDeputies. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public works held a hearing today for Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump’s nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Hartnett White is grossly unqualified to head the body responsible for making environmental policy recommendations to the President. She is a noted climate skeptic, a fossil fuel champion, and once said coal helped put an end to slavery. Under her leadership, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) knowingly and regularly “lowered the statistical data — as compared to federal EPA data” for levels of radiation in drinking water. Hartnett White’s explanation? She has “far more trust in the vigor of the science that TCEQ assess, than [she does] the EPA.” She is the latest and, arguably, one of the most egregious examples of Trump’s endless parade of unqualified nominees to vital government roles. The Senate needs to protect the public and vote against Hartnett White’s confirmation.
Expelled. A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that 250 preschoolers are suspended or expelled from school every day. This shocking finding highlights the fact that “zero tolerance discipline has gone too far,” and contributes to a preschool-to-prison pipeline. And these actions disproportionately affect black children. In fact, “black children are 2.2 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than other children.” So what needs to change? Instead of using such harsh discipline strategies, teachers should embrace other tactics that actually have been proven to produce good behavioral results. Policy leaders should also push to end such exclusionary practices. Unfortunately, in the Trump era, we know that these efforts will face even more obstacles, as Trump has worked to eliminate civil rights protections across his administration.
UNDER THE RADAR
Workers and Small Businesses in Harm’s Way. Yesterday, House lawmakers passed the poorly named “Save Local Business Act” that would harm workers and small businesses while providing a huge benefit to corporations. The bill would dismantle 80-year-old worker safeguards which recognize that the company that signs a worker’s paycheck may not be the company that controls workplace conditions. If passed by the Senate as well, the legislation would not only weaken workers’ ability to hold accountable corporations that control work standards, but it would also result in small businesses having less power over decisions affecting their own businesses.