After passing a tax bill designed to benefit the wealthiest Americans and large corporations and spending the afternoon patting themselves on the back at the White House, congressional Republicans have now finally turned their attention to funding the government—with only hours to spare. Latest reports indicate that the continuing resolution to fund the government through January 29 19 will not include a true solution for the lapse in funding for children’s health care and will disregard the desperate situation for tens of thousands of Dreamers, but will include a provision that allows the budgetary impact of the $1.5 trillion in giveaways to rich donors to be ignored.
This bill makes it absolutely clear: the congressional majority’s only real concern is keeping their rich donors happy. It is an abdication of their job responsibilities, and shows that while they would do anything to make sure they and their friends got tax cuts, they are not willing to lift a finger to help ensure children get health care and Dreamers are protected.
With the vote on the continuing resolution expected later today, it is unclear whether the congressional majority has the votes needed to pass their sham of a bill. What is clear is that a continuing resolution without a fix for DACA is a bill that funds the deportation of Dreamers, 3,400 more of whom will lose DACA protections during the four weeks this resolution will run. It also means that families across the country will go into the holidays not knowing whether they children will have health insurance next year. And, it means that the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV)—an evidence-based program that pairs new and expectant parents with nurses and social workers—will remain unfunded.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#DreamActNow. Every day that Congress delays action on the Dream Act, 122 more young immigrants lose DACA protections—a number that will climb to 22,000 by March. As of today, over 13,000 young people have lost DACA protections. If Congress passes a spending bill this week through January 19 that does nothing to protect Dreamers, another 3,400 DACA recipients will lose protection. But you can take action. Go to DreamActToolkit.org, and urge your representatives to pass a clean #DreamActNow. And then share this video about Esmeralda, a DACAmented military spouse and mother who came to the U.S. when she was two years old.
Don’t Hold Your Breath. Immediately after the passage of the GOP’s tax bill, several major companies, such as Cisco, Pfizer, and Coca-Cola, suggested that most of the benefits the companies stand to gain from their massive tax cuts will not trickle down to their employees, but will be distributed to their shareholders. A few companies that happen to have pending mergers and other regulatory business before the Trump Administration made headlines by claiming they will be providing one-time bonuses to their employees. But it’s important to examine those announcements a bit more carefully. While those employees will be receiving a little extra cash, these one-time bonuses represent a very small percentage of the extra revenue these companies will get to keep every single year and are crumbs compared to what shareholders are getting. Moreover, AT&T’s “increased investments” just mean they will be investing the same amount as 2016. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo, which is facing severe penalties from federal regulators for defrauding customers, announced wage increases that drew headlines – but amount to only about 2 percent of the tax cut the giant bank stands to receive. Before you start celebrating these companies, make sure you read the fine print and question why they would want to curry favor with the Trump Administration.
Drawing Names. This week has seen unexpected developments in the race to determine who will represent Virginia’s 94th House district. David Yancey, the Republican candidate, initially won the race by 10 votes. After a recount, Shelley Simmonds, the Democratic candidate, was ahead by a single vote. But yesterday, a judge declared that an irregular ballot was to be counted as a vote for Yancey, leaving the race tied. Now, the two candidates will have their names put into a film cannister, and the winner’s name will be randomly drawn by an election official next Wednesday. The loser, however, can call for another recount. It’s unclear just how long this process will take, but it is a good reminder that every single vote counts. Make sure you’re registered and exercise your right to vote whenever you can.
Lone State. On Monday, the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn the United States for its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move which broke with decades of international diplomacy and tradition. The resolution was swiftly vetoed by the United States. Today, the UN General Assembly – in which the United States does not possess veto powers – voted overwhelmingly to condemn the United States. The United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has come out strongly against this vote, claiming the resolution threatened the sovereignty of the United States and that she “will be taking names.” President Trump followed this up by threatening to cut off aid to any country that votes to condemn the United States, which was every single country, except for the U.S., Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Togo, and a few Pacific island nations. Trump and Haley’s condemnations include rebukes of strategic Middle East allies like Egypt. This sort of zero-sum, isolationist diplomacy in which the current administration is partaking only weakens our position on the global stage.
UNDER THE RADAR
Walking in Memphis. After a unanimous city council vote in Memphis, Tennessee, two separate parks were sold to a nonprofit in the city for $1,000 each. The confederate monuments standing within these parks (one of KKK leader and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, and one of Confederate President Jefferson Davis), were subsequently removed from the parks last night. The removal of the statues has been months in the making, as Memphis prepares for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., which occurred in downtown Memphis. The statues had received increased attention since the white supremacist March in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this year, with thousands of activists joining the “Take ‘em Down 901” movement (901 is the area code for Memphis phones). With these statues gone, residents of color can finally walk in Memphis without the painful reminder of the hatred and subordination that their ancestors endured at the hands of those who have long been venerated through monuments in their hometown.