The Week Ahead: April 9, 2018

 

Federal
“War Cabinet”: After weeks of recess—and very few Town Halls (none for Amash!) — our members of Congress (MoCs) are heading back to DC this week. And they’re ready to get back to work. Before the opposition has a chance to mobilize against them, Mitch McConnell wants to push through Senate confirmations for Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State (as early as April 12) and Gina Haspel as CIA Director soon thereafter.
“New Tax Scam”: Fresh off their unpopular Tax Scam in December, Republicans are hoping to salvage their chances of keeping the House in November by… passing another Tax Scam! Trump and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady have been talking about trying to pass another tax bill that would spend billions of additional dollars to make some provisions of the first Trump Tax Scam permanent and give away even more money to corporations. If Republicans want to move any major legislation through Congress before the midterms, they’ll need to move fast. Their goal is to trap Democrats into “voting against middle-class tax cuts” right before the midterm elections — but the bill will be filled with even more goodies for the wealthy, like an expanded pass-through loophole and a lower tax rate on capital gains. The timing of this legislation is unclear, but it could start moving this month.
“Balanced Budget Amendment”: House Republicans want to vote on a “balanced budget amendment” to the Constitution. After voting to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit with the #GOPTaxScam, Republicans want to vote, the first week back from recess, on a balanced budget amendment to make you think they’re “serious” about fiscal responsibility. While it might sound good in theory, a balanced budget amendment would pose a number of serious threats. It would put us at risk of longer, deeper recessions; it would threaten Social Security, and it would force deep cuts to programs working families rely on. It’s extremely unlikely that this proposal passes the House, let alone the Senate (where it would need 67 votes since it is a Constitutional amendment). It’s just a ruse demanded by extreme conservatives in the House to fulfill a promise they got from Paul Ryan in exchange for their votes on the #GOPTaxScam, when they were reluctant to support it early in the process because of how much money is added to the deficit.
“Farm Bill and SNAP cuts”: The “Farm Bill” is a broad legislative package that covers everything from farm subsidies to conservation and water quality. It also includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). Republicans in the House are expected to propose a reauthorization of the Farm Bill that includes significant cuts to SNAP. They may try to impose stricter work requirements or make drastic changes to SNAP eligibility. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to release legislative text shortly after the April recess ends. If it includes the deep cuts to SNAP that we expect, it will mean that this bill will move on strictly partisan lines. That’s a huge departure from the bipartisan history and support the Farm Bill has had in the past. The Farm Bill won’t be heading to the President’s desk any time soon, but this partisan proposal is yet another part of the Republican agenda to impose work requirements and slash programs that people rely on.

And on other fronts, Trump plans to deploy the National Guard to the southern border, over the objection of dozens of local communities and several governors. With unauthorized border crossings at the southern border at a 46-year low, the only effect this will have is to further terrorize immigrant communities, including the millions of Americans who live along our already-militarized border. Trump has also started a trade war: China has proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of American soybeans, cars, chemicals, and other goods in retaliation for Trump’s off-the-cuff decision to impose tariffs on many Chinese imports. Trump’s volatility has consequences: his ramblings turn into policy, which then can affect anything from our economy to our standing in the world. Finally, the Trump Administration still has no coherent strategy for Syria. On April 3, Trump said he wants to pull US troops out of Syria “very soon.” Also on April 3, Army General Joseph Votel said that troops will remain in Syria. The next day, the White House issued a statement saying that troops will remain in Syria. This should all make one thing very clear: as the US gets pulled further into the quagmire of conflict in Syria, the Administration still has no idea what it’s doing there. A chemical attack on Saturday on Syrian civilians in Douma, most likely by Assad’s government, has finally prompted Trump’s first tweet today criticizing Putin by name (but also blaming Obama for not having stopped Assad sooner!).
And so it goes.
State and Local

State Personnel Director Jan Winters recently announced proposed changes to Michigan’s civil service rules, which would prohibit unionized state employees from negotiating the way staff are assigned after layoffs, how overtime is doled out, or how performance bonuses are issued. This would give supervisors more control over staff assignments and performance pay. Unions are opposed to these changes. Hearings are scheduled for September 20.

A controversial anti-gun control bill, HB 4616, would prohibit local units of government from imposing certain restrictions on the ownership, purchase, registration, etc. of firearms. It passed the Michigan House but has been referred to the Senate’s Government Operations Committee. In light of the recent Parkland shootings and the student-led March For Our Lives movement, you might want to tell your state senator to oppose HB 4616, which would prevent localities in Michigan from imposing many common-sense gun control measures.

MEETINGS/TRAINING (Thanks to Linda Kristensen, The Hub – Organize and Kent County Dems for much of this information!)

MONDAYApril 9

TUESDAYApril 10

  • No events scheduled

WEDNESDAYApril 11

THURSDAYApril 12

FRIDAYApril 13

SATURDAY, April 14

  • Progressive/Conservative Summit
    Mark Lilla, “After Identity Liberalism”
    GVSU Loosemore Auditorium
    401 Fulton St, Grand Rapids
    8:15 A.M.- 5:15 P.M.

SUNDAY, April 15

On the Horizon

  • Cocktails with Rachel Hood – April 17
  • Gretchen Whitmer for Governor Fundraiser – April 24
  • GR Rapid Response to ICE April Training – April 25
  • 2018 Kent County Democratic Party Spring Gala – April 28

Amplify Actions
-Tell your state representative to oppose HB 5638 and fight for clean water.
-Tell your state representative to oppose SB 652-654, which would weaken the Department of Environmental Quality’s ability to protect clean air and water.
-Say NO to Pompeo for Secretary of State and Haspel for CIA Director.