“Sweeping” and “Staggering”

That’s how legal experts are describing a leaked draft executive order from the Trump Administration that would sanction taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people. Last night, news organizations reported on a potential executive order from the Trump Administration titled “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.” In blatant violation of Trump’s promise to “protect our LGBT citizens,” this sweeping executive order would target LGBT Americans under the guide of “religious freedom” (à la Mike Pence in Indiana).

If the rumors are accurate, this executive order would legalize broad discrimination against LGBT people, women and their families by giving federal employees and any recipients of federal funds—including for-profit companies—free rein to discriminate against LGBT people and anyone who does not comply with their beliefs. And on top of that, the draft order directs every federal agency to gut protections for LGBT people—from executive orders to agency rulings and guidance.

Make no mistake: Trump’s order could return America to a time when people could be denied federal rights and services any day in any place because of who they are or who they love. This would be the most extreme anti-LGBT action taken by a president in American history. While the White House remains vague about whether such an order will be announced soon, civil rights groups are staying vigilant. You should too.

ACTION OF THE DAY

#DumpDeVos. Yesterday Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced in back to back speeches on the floor that they will not vote for Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. That means that Senate Democrats are just one vote away from defeating Betsy DeVos. Need more info on why DeVos is unfit to be Education Secretary? Check this out. Then call one (or all!) of these three Senators and tell them why they should #DumpDeVos.

  • Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE): (202) 224-6551
  • Senator Corey Gardner (R-CO): (202) 224-5941
  • Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS): (202) 224-6521

Can’t get through on the phone? Send them an email. Find addresses here.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Australia. Trump’s newest bone-to-pick is with Australia, one of America’s oldest friends and strongest allies. TBD how that will play out but Senator John McCain is not happy.

CRA. Senate republicans are using the Congressional Review Act, which has only successfully used one other time, today to pass two resolutions to enable corruption in the oil Industry and allow coal mine waste to destroy streams. The House handily passed both bills yesterday. The SEC’s anti-corruption rule has been fought by oil giants like ExxonMobil under Rex Tillerson. With the Senate repeal of the Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule, we may now see the destruction of about 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forest over the next two decades. These votes mark the beginning of an unprecedented sell-out of basic American environmental and public health protections to special interests.

History lessons. President Trump and Sean Spicer both discussed Frederick Douglass yesterday in statements about Black History Month, but it was unclear whether they actually knew much about him. In case anyone needs a refresher, Frederick Douglass is a renowned abolitionist, author, and speaker who escaped slavery and fought for civil rights until his death in 1895. Check out his autobiographies here and a response from his direct descendants here.

Grizzly Bear Protection. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is seemingly doubling down on President Trump’s promise to scrap critical gun safety legislation. Spicer implied that the administration is working to develop a NRA-supported Executive Order to eliminate gun-free school zones. As you may recall, Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVos famously said guns may be necessary in schools to protect children from grizzlies. Under such an executive order, public schools stand to experience more firearms in schools while conversely losing public funding.

TRANSITION TRACKER

#PollutingPruitt. Today Republicans on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works suspended their own rules in order to force the confirmation of Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee for EPA Administrator. Sound familiar? It’s the same thing they did yesterday with HHS Nominee Tom Price and Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin.

The United States of Exxon. American diplomacy is officially in the hands of big oil now that Rex Tillerson—who has no diplomatic or government experience—is officially confirmed as Secretary of State. Foreign policy isn’t his only first: he’s also the most controversial and widely-opposed Secretary of State nominee in recent U.S. history. What now? On the same day House Republicans voted to nullify a rule that makes it harder for U.S. oil companies to engage in bribery and corruption in developing countries – a rule the new Secretary of State personally lobbied against.

Worker dissatisfaction. For what appears to be the first time ever, workers at a federal agency are circulating a letter protesting their possible incoming boss. Current and former Department of Labor employees have written a letter to the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee asking them to vote no on Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary. See the letter here.

#PriceIsWrong. You may have heard a lot of talk about HHS Nominee Tom Price and a scandal involving the STOCK Act. Here’s what you need to know.

UNDER THE RADAR

Yemen. Over the weekend, the Trump administration launched its first counterterrorism operation in Yemen, which resulted in the death of several Al-Qaeda militants as well as U.S. Navy Seal Ryan Owens. Trump hailed the operation as a success—but now, there are reports that a number of U.S. soldiers were wounded and a dozen Yemeni women and children were killed as a result. Apparently, the operation was ill-planned and botched from the start. Reuters reported, “Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.” These allegation are serious business, and mean Trump’s inexperience and recklessness have directly put innocent lives in harm’s way.

TWINS! In case you haven’t been on the Internet in the last 24 hours, Beyoncé dropped a bombshell announcement that she and husband, Jay-Z, are expecting twins. Beyond owning the most liked picture on Instagram, the singer’s announcement caps off a record-breaking year during which she put political activism on the world’s biggest stages, centered black femme bodies, and served as a staunch voice against police brutality and for women’s rights. What a way to kick off Black History Month.