By Katherine Paul for Organic Consumers Association – I have cancer, and I don’t want these serious issues in HED [EPA’s Health Effects Division] to go unaddressed before I go to my grave. I have done my duty.” It’s been four years since Marion Copley, a 30-year EPA toxicologist, wrote those words to her then-colleague, Jess Rowland, accusing him of conniving with Monsanto to bury the agency’s own hard scientific evidence that it is “essentially certain” that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, causes cancer. Copley has since died. But her letter suggesting that EPA officials colluded with Monsanto to hide the truth about Monsanto’s flagship weedkiller has been given new life.
By Janine Jackson for CounterSpin – Like others, this story was about how right-wing Republicans might present hurdles to the plan’s passage, because it’s too much like the dreaded Obamacare, and how they might be appeased. So much coverage of healthcare is set in terms of the political process—who presents obstacles, what groups are being whistled to—that the specifics, the reality of how changes in policy could affect actual people, can sometimes get lost. And healthcare could hardly be a worse place for that to happen. Here to help us see some of what’s going on with this GOP bill is Nancy Altman. She’s co-director of Social Security Works and co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition and campaign. She joins us now by phone from Maryland. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Nancy Altman.
By Staff of Congressional Budget Office – The report’s conclusion is totally believable, despite President Trump, his Secretary of Health and congressional Republicans claiming it is not accurate. Repealing the ACA should result in going back to pre-Obamacare levels of people without insurance — about 50 million people. It is worth noting that an internal White House review found even higher numbers of uninsured, 26 million new uninsured people compared t the CBO’s 24 million. To put these numbers into perspective, a consistently accurate measure is for every one million not covered there will be 1,000 deaths — so the Republican plan will result in 50,000 deaths annually. The ACA, with 29 million without insurance, results in 29,000 annual deaths
By Beyond Extreme Energy. Over 130 organizations across the country announced today that they will oppose nominees made by the Trump Administration to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The move reflects the growing resistance nationwide from residents, farmers, business owners, physicians, and environmentalists to FERC’s practice of recklessly permitting pipelines that put hundreds of communities and the drinking water of millions of Americans at risk, in addition to the global climate. At a time when citizens are increasingly calling on Senators to oppose appointed officials that support the fossil fuel industry, the pledge signers, representing over a million people nationwide, pledge to work against each nominee to FERC made by the Trump Administration, and to call on U.S. Senators to use the nomination process to highlight FERC’s rubber stamping of pipeline projects and refusal to listen the legitimate concerns of community groups.
By Lee Fang and Nick Surgey for The Intercept – JUST HOURS BEFORE House Speaker Paul Ryan held a press conference to sell his health care overhaul legislation — using a PowerPoint presentation mocked for misrepresenting basic facts — he was doing something he’s much better at: fundraising. The two things were related. The Thursday morning breakfast fundraiser he attended was hosted by a lobbying firm working to unwind the Affordable Care Act on behalf of health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the big winners of Ryan’s proposed legislation. The breakfast, according to an invitation, was sponsored by McGuireWoods PAC, the political action committee for the lobbying firm McGuireWoods.
By Tony Pugh for McClutchy DC Bureau – WASHINGTON After more than 17 hours of deliberations, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act early Thursday morning even though the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t determined what the legislation will cost or how many people it will cause to lose health coverage. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is in the midst of a similar marathon session. They’re expected to approve the GOP bill on Thursday, setting the stage for the House Budget Committee to finalize the legislation next week. Republicans hope to move the bill to a full House vote…
By Gina Coplon-Newfield and Maggie Newsham for Join The FIght – States across the U.S. have been introducing legislation that would punish people for switching to electric vehicles. Since the start of 2017, six states (Indiana, South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Montana) have introduced legislation that would require EV owners to pay a fee of up to $180 a year. Sadly, this isn’t the first time people have been penalized for driving green. Wyoming, Colorado, Virginia, Nebraska, Missouri, Washington, North Carolina, Idaho, Georgia, and Michigan have all implemented yearly fees on electric and hybrid vehicles that vary from $50 to $300 per driver per year. Arizona’s and Arkansas’ respective Department of Transportations are also suggesting legislators cast a fee for EV ownership. Georgia, formerly the state with the second most EV sales, used to offer a tax credit of up to $5,000, but replaced the program with a $200 yearly fee that led to an 80 percent drop in EV sales.
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.