By Peter Sullivan for The Hill – The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed a regulation aimed at “stabilizing” the ObamaCare marketplace by making changes favorable to insurers to help prevent them from bailing out or hiking premiums. The move is surprising, given that President Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But his administration is now in the position of trying to shore up the law’s marketplaces, at least temporarily, while Congress debates replacement plans and timing options. Now that he’s president, Trump faces the possibility of being blamed for premium hikes or insurers dropping out if the market deteriorates. Trump has also taken steps to chip away at ObamaCare. Most prominently, he signed an executive order that, while not specific, called on agencies to loosen ObamaCare requirements.
By Nika Knight for Common Dreams – ‘Members of Congress owe their constituents the honest truth: which side are you on?’ While many U.S. senators and representatives have encountered contentious crowds at town hall gatherings in their home districts, many others have managed to avoid meeting with constituents in the weeks since President Donald Trump took office. Calling on reluctant representatives to hold town halls over the upcoming congressional recess from February 18-26, a coalition of groups including MoveOn.org, the Working Families Party, People’s Action, and the Center for Popular Democracy have organized “Let’s Make a Date” rallies in honor of Valentine’s Day and as part of the coalition’s weekly #ResistTrumpTuesdays series of actions. “Over the past month, Americans have taken to the streets in record numbers to speak out against Trump’s agenda,” said Nelini Stamp, Working Families Party’s membership director, in a statement.
By Paul Arden for Congressional Management Foundation – WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) released a new report today outlining the degree of influence that citizens have on congressional decision-making. The research in “Citizen-Centric Advocacy: The Untapped Power of Constituent Engagement” is the most comprehensive ever produced on citizen engagement with Congress, and outlines where and how citizens’ voices influence lawmakers’ decision-making. Recently, Congress has seen unprecedented citizen engagement, with phone lines tied up for hours and voicemails full with constituents’ comments. This report, derived from surveys of Congress over a 12-year period, resulting in more than 1,200 responses from congressional staffers, outlines the ongoing feedback loop between Congress and constituent, and details the most effective means of making one’s voice heard in Washington.
By Alexandra Jacobo for Nation of Change – Last week it was announced that a new bill introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz would propose selling 3.3 million acres of federal land in 10 different states. Thousands of people responded, with protests in several states. In Montana, over 1,000 public lands supporters joined Gov. Steve Bullock to show their opposition to the bill. Gov. Bullock stated, “Every one of us owns these public lands,” Bullock told the crowd. “And the beauty is, we don’t need permission to go on them, do we? These lands are our heritage. These lands are our birthright.” In New Mexico hundreds more rallied to protest the bill.
By Rebecca Adamson for Truthout – When TransCanada Corporation announced its plans for a Keystone XL pipeline expansion project in 2008, the company projected capital costs to be $4.3 billion for the entire project. After 6 years of waiting for US executive approval, including countless congressional votes, a Nebraska Supreme Court case and a president who has yet to budge, TransCanada increased estimated capital investments for the pipeline another $2.5 billion. The reason? “Lengthy delays,” undoubtedly exacerbated by community protests and opposition from environmental and social interest groups. One of the loudest proponents of pipeline opposition, and arguably the most vulnerable, are North America’s Indigenous Peoples
By Carl Pope for The Huffington Post – Last, week, under the cover of a media bliss-out except among Koch funded right-wing channels, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would effectively repeal future standard setting under every important environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law on the books. The bill, called the REINS Act, requires that any future major regulation adopted by an Executive Agency — say a new toxic chemical standard required by the recently enacted Chemical Safety Act, or a new consumer protection rule about some innovative but untested kind of food additive…
By Margaret Kimberley for Black Agenda Report – The people who fought against Jim Crow segregation in the 1960s were quite literally risking their lives. The list of martyrs is a long one. Activists of that era are rightly respected and their courage must not be forgotten or taken for granted. But as congressman John Lewis proves, their actions at that time should not provide dispensation from critique in the 21st century. Lewis is the latest target of president-elect Donald Trump’s attacks but that shouldn’t give him a pass either. Despite his early history, Lewis now exemplifies everything that is wrong with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic Party and the black misleadership class.
By Tyler Durden for Zero Hedge. With the Trump inauguration just over 10 days away, attention has now shifted to what Trump will do the moment he steps foot in the White House, and as The Hill reported this morning, judging by his campaign promises, Donald Trump will be a busy man starting on his first day in the Oval Office: “Trump has pledged to take sweeping, unilateral actions on Jan. 20 to roll back President Obama’s policies and set the course for his administration. Many of Obama’s policies he can reverse with the simple stroke of a pen.” The reality, however, is a bit more nuanced than captured in the report, and has to take into consideration not only what Trump’s intentions are, but how they would integrate with Congress, where simply structural limitations could put hurdles ahead of the Trump agenda.
By Brody Levesque for NCRM – The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a rules change this past week by a vote of 234 to 193, that would allow Congress the ability to essentially give away federal lands and buildings for free. The new rule, authored by GOP Rep. Robert Bishop of Utah, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, codifies that any legislation to dispose of federal land and natural resources would have a net sum zero cost to taxpayers. As the rule applies only to the House legislative rules, it is not subject to approval by the Senate or a presidential signature and is effective immediately. All Democrats in the House voted against the measure, while only three Republicans joined them in opposing it, USA TODAY reports.
By William J. Barber II for Common Dreams – The positions and policies he has supported do not uplift America’s shared values of love, justice and mercy. On Capitol Hill today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding confirmation hearings to consider the first of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations, Sen. Jefferson B. Sessions of Alabama. 26 years ago, this same committee denied Sessions a recommendation for the federal bench. “Most of Reagan’s judicial appointments have been people with impressive credentials regardless of their ideologies,” the editors of the LA Times wrote. “Sessions is a different story.” The Senate refused to confirm Sessions in 1986 because the testimony they heard suggested that he sided with his namesake, Jefferson Davis, over America’s commitment to equal protection under the law.
By Mary Papenfuss for The Huffington Post – Just when you thought ethics standards couldn’t get much worse on Capitol Hill… It’s emerged that the House GOP quietly changed a rule last week to allow members to keep their records hidden from ethics or criminal investigations. The tweak allows politicians to conceal any information members produce — even suspicious expenditures and budgets — if the Office of Congressional Ethics or the Department of Justice investigates them for criminal activity, the Center for Responsive Politics reports. The change essentially makes a member of Congress the owner and sole controller of any records he or she creates…
By Tristan Ahtone for Yes! Magazine. As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to occupy the Oval Office, much of Indian Country is bracing for the worst. But the U.S. Congress has an opportunity to welcome tribal nations to the table in a unique way: It can seat an Indian delegate. For more than 200 years, the Cherokee Nation has held the right to send a nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives, much like Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia. That right stems from treaties signed by the United States and the Cherokee Nation—treaties that are currently in effect and backed by the U.S. Constitution. It’s a right that’s also enshrined in the Cherokee Constitution: “In accordance with Article 12 of the Treaty with the Cherokees, dated November 28, 1785 (Treaty of Hopewell), and Article 7 of the Treaty with the Cherokees dated December 29, 1835 (Treaty of New Echota), there shall be created the office of Delegate to the United States House of Representatives, appointed by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the Council.”
By Indivisible Aganist rump. NOTE: The information below was written by former Congressional staffers who consider themselves to be progressive. It provides insight into how to pressure your member of Congress, which is valuable. One area where we disagree with the information is that we do believe in putting forward a positive agenda for change. While Democrats are huddling to unify themselves against the Republican agenda, the task of the movement is to be independent of the duopoly parties and unify around a movement or People’s Agenda. This means that while we fight harmful policies that come down the road from either duopoly party, we can still build national consensus and push for a popular agenda. -MF Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen
By Staff of Tulsi Gabbard – Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act today. The legislation would prohibit the U.S. government from using American taxpayer dollars to provide funding, weapons, training, and intelligence support to groups like the Levant Front, Fursan al Ha and other allies of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda and ISIS, or to countries who are providing direct or indirect support to those same groups. The legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT-AL), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-48), and Thomas Massie (R-KT-04), and supported by the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and the U.S. Peace Council.
By Staff of Washington Examiner – Seventy-five years ago today, Congress declared war on Japan. U.S. declarations of war against Germany and Italy followed four days later, and Congress hasn’t declared war since. Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Granada, Kosovo, Bosnia, Yemen, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia — America fought its wars in all these places without an official declaration. Usually Congress passed some sort of authorization, but often, most recently in Libya, even that step was skipped. The executive has steadily seized war powers from the legislative branch, where the Constitution places it.