How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: Feb. 19, 2017

Here’s how your voices made a difference last week.

  • National Security Adviser (and Islamophobe) Michael Flynn resigned amid proof that he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Russian intelligence prior to Donald taking office, and lied about it to the VP and the FBI. Subsequent findings showed that many in the Republican administration have had contact with Russian intelligence as long ago as a year. Heat is rising from the spotlight this shines on the Republican administration, and many are calling for a full investigation into Flynn, Donald Trump, and this admin’s Russian ties.
  • Tax swindler and immigration hypocrite Andrew Puzder withdrew as the Labor Secretary nominee largely thanks to public outcry that turned four GOP senators against his nomination. Moderate Republicans look to finally be beginning to take a stand against Donald.
  • GOP Senator John McCain is amping up his opposition to Donald and his admin with a withering critique in a speech in Munich Friday, and calling Donald’s attempts to discredit the media “how dictators get started.”
These are the first real signs of breaks between the Republican administration and the Republican Congress–so it’s more important than ever to keep the heat on your Members of Congress.

Reminder: Tell your Senators don’t confirm Betsy DeVos

Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, may be the worst of them all. Of course, it’s hard to say in his cabinet of horrors. She was one of his first candidates for the cabinet in exchange for giving nearly $200,000 to the Republican National Committee and millions more to super PACs aiding Trump and GOP senators’ campaigns—including one founded by the Koch brothers this year.

She said, “collectively (it) is possible” her family has given around $200 million to Republican causes over the years. She has also donated to at least four of the senators who heard her initial testimony, and none of them recused themselves from the vote. “My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee,” she wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. “I have decided to stop taking offense,” she wrote, “at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return.”

DeVos and her husband have given hundreds of thousands to Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group whose founder called the battle against LGBT rights a “second civil war,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has also pushed so-called “conversion therapy” — discredited practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation — according to the Human Rights Campaign. Betsy and Dick DeVos, have spent heavily in opposition to same-sex-marriage laws in states all over the country.

She didn’t go to public schools, was never a teacher at public schools, didn’t have her children go to public schools and didn’t run a school district or state education agency, and is quoted as saying “government really sucks” and the public school system is “a dead end.” She once described education reform as a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” She supports diverting public funds to pay for kids to attend private, religious schools.

Under oath she said she wouldn’t enforce the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act which requires that public schools provide children with disabilities a “free and appropriate” education just like other students.

She refused to promise that she would not privatize and stop funding from public schools.
She didn’t seem to understand very basic federal education laws.

She declined to say whether she believes that all schools receiving taxpayer funding — public, public charter, or private — should be held accountable to the same performance standards. She also declined to say whether such schools should be required to report suspensions and expulsions, and incidents of bullying and harassment, to the federal government.

She has no experience with college financial aid or management of higher education which is a huge part of her department.

Her only work in education has been to gut Detroit’s struggling school system which has turned their schools –including the private charters- into some of the worst in the nation.

If Trump’s voucher agenda moves forward, it is also possible that the federal government could send Title 1 funding, a $15 billion program that exclusively funds low-income public schools, to high-income private and religious schools.

Without great public education there is no hope for our democracy. We can already see the effects of schools failing to teach history, civics, critical thinking, math, science, and the arts as schools have become horribly underfunded in these last generations.

Watch this video of Tim Kaine asking her about policy https://www.washingtonpost.com/vide…

Call your Texas senators today and every and day and ask them to reject DeVos.

John Cornyn at (202) 224-2934
And Ted Cruz (202) 224-5922

Here is a link to the rest in case you’re not reading from Texas. Just put them in your phone’s contacts and it’s super easy to call every day. (Although if I ever see an incoming call from Ted Cruz I’m going to totally freak out.)

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state

And a script from Indivisibleatx:
My name is ____ and I live in ____ I am calling to urge you to vote “NO” on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. DeVos has no training or experience in education and supports dangerous and unproven policies that would funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to private entrepreneurs. This is both unconstitutional and against the values of the millions of Texans who believe in the value of public education. Our children deserve better – vote “NO.”

And here is a works cited & other articles:

Out of options
School choice gutted Detroit’s public schools. The rest of the country is next. https://news.vice.com/story/school-…

Betsy DeVos’s Accountability Problem https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/01/betsy-devoss-accountability-problem/513047/?utm_source=twb

Trump’s Pick for Education Could Face Unusually Stiff Resistance
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/us/politics/betsy-devos-education.html?_r=0

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Pick, Seems Unfamiliar With A Major Federal Education Law
Sens. Tim Kaine and Maggie Hassan were beside themselves at her confirmation hearing during a back-and-forth over students with disabilities.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/betsy-devos-trumps-education-pick-seems-unfamiliar-with-a-major-federal-education-law_us_587f7c0fe4b0c147f0bc01ea

Betsy DeVos: Donald Trump’s education secretary pick shows school vouchers are at the top of his agenda
http://www.vox.com/2016/11/23/13735102/betsy-devos-education-donald-trump

Trump education pick painted by Dems as unqualified http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/17/politics/betsy-devos-education-nominee-donald-trump/index.html?sr=twCNN011817betsy-devos-education-nominee-donald-trump0114PMVODtopLink&linkId=33507830

BETSY DEVOS, TRUMP’S BIG-DONOR EDUCATION SECRETARY
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/betsy-devos-trumps-big-donor-education-secretary

Questions and conflicts: Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s secretary of education choice, is surrounded by controversies
http://www.salon.com/2017/01/17/questions-and-conflicts-betsy-devos-donald-trumps-secretary-of-education-choice-is-surrounded-by-controversies_partner/

Trump’s Billionaire Education Secretary Has Been Trying to Gut Public Schools for Years
Meet Betsy DeVos, the anti-union, pro-voucher surprise nominee.
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/11/education-secretary-betsy-devos-vouchers-michigan-trump

URGENT: Call Cornyn on Betsy DeVos, well, always

**This action is targeting Sen. Cornyn’s DC office**

UPDATE 2/1/17 6:30 pm: As of now a final vote has not been scheduled, so keep the pressure on! Keep calling, faxing, and carrier-pigeoning Cornyn’s office.

GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski in back-to-back speeches on the Senate floor announced today that they would OPPOSE Betsy DeVos’s nomination to be Education secretary.

Sen. Cornyn has yet to take a strong position on Betsy DeVos, who is profoundly unqualified to be Secretary of Education. There is an opportunity to turn his vote to NO.

John Cornyn DC Office: (202) 224-2934

Fax Cornyn online with FaxZero

From our earlier NO on DeVos script:

I am calling to urge you to vote “NO” on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. DeVos has no training or experience in education and supports dangerous and unproven policies that would funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to private entrepreneurs. This is both unconstitutional and against the values of the millions of Texans who believe in the value of public education. Our children deserve better – vote “NO”.

Research Notes on Betsy DeVos

She has NO experience in Public Education.

  • Never Been a Teacher
  • Never Served in a Public School System Leadership

Organizations that DeVos has supported or led

  • Spent MILLIONS to promote policies that directed Public School Funds to either For-Profit Schools or Virtual Charter Schools that have NO accountability on how well these schools serve students or how the tax-payers dollars are spent.

CALLS TO ACTION for Friday, Jan. 27!

CALLS TO ACTION!!! – JAN. 27th, 2017 – TEMPLE PROTEST and PHONE CALLS TO CORNYN AND YOUR HOUSE MEMBER!

REMINDER! Many Indivisible folks will be heading to Temple this afternoon to join the Bell County Democrats in a protest outside the Convention Center where Sen. Cornyn is the key speaker.

There aren’t many opportunities for action against our senators directly, so come if you can make it! With Trump’s latest talk about walls and tariffs getting pushback from Texas Republicans, this is a perfect time to encourage them to defy the White House! Check out the the event page (where you can probably find a carpool if you need it!):

https://www.facebook.com/events/1141159165982939/

IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT TO TEMPLE, you can still CALL Cornyn’s office and your rep’s office!

Trump has really put Texas Republicans in a tough spot. Economists expect any tariff on Mexico to negatively impact the Texas economy. Many of them are already considering opposing him on this. This is just the kind of issue that can drive a wedge between Trump and Congressional Republicans, so we’ve got to let our reps know that we want them to defy him!

CALL SEN. CORNYN and YOUR REP and ask them to oppose any Trump plan for financing the wall that negatively impacts the Texas economy!

SAMPLE SCRIPT:

“Hello, my name is ______________ and I am a constituent of [Sen. Cornyn or YOUR REP]. I’m calling to ask him to OPPOSE the 20% tariff on Mexican imports and any other plan that asks Texans to unfairly bear the burden of paying for Trump’s wall. Texas officials and businesses AGREE that this plan would threaten Texas jobs, weaken the Texas economy and drive up the cost of living for Texas families. I’m counting on my representatives to put the interests of their constituents first. Thank you.”

CONTACT INFO:

Sen. John Cornyn
Central Texas office: (512) 469-6034
Washington, DC office: (202) 224-2934

Congressional District 10
Congressman Michael McCaul
Austin office: 512-473-2357

Congressional District 17
Congressman Bill Flores
Austin office: (512) 373-3378

Congressional District 21
Congressman Lamar Smith
Austin office: (512) 912-7508

Congressional District 25
Congressman Roger Williams
Austin office: (512) 473-8910

Congressional District 31
Congressman John Carter
Austin office: (512) 246-1600

Congressional District 35
Congressman Lloyd Doggett
Austin office: (512) 916-5921

for more info:

http://www.chron.com/…/Trump-proposal-for-20-percent-tax-on…

http://www.khou.com/…/trumps-import-tax-on-mexico…/393802314

http://www.dallasnews.com/…/trumps-20-percent-tax-mexican-i…

Questions to ask your MoCs about Trump’s Executive Orders

The Washington Post’s 5-minute fix has a write-up of the difficult corner into which Trump’s executive orders have backed your members of congress (MoCs). It includes questions that MoCs now have to try to answer or deflect:

  • Do you agree that as many as 5 million people voted illegally in November?
  • Do you support a proposal to revive secret CIA prisons, and possibly torture?
  • What about a draft ban on resettling refugees? 

Here in Texas, we would add:

  • Do you support building a wall across the entire U.S./Mexico border?

(The Texas Tribune asked this question of all 38 Texans in Congress and none of them endorsed it. So it’s an especially interesting question to ask in light of Trump’s position.)

Give them a call and report back in the comments.

We Went to Sen. Cruz’ Office and Then This Happened…

Today 129 Texans went to visit Sen. Ted Cruz’ Austin office to raise their voices about the president’s corrupt and unqualified cabinet nominees. This is what happened. It was amazing!

Thank you to everyone who came out, and to everyone who had to stay at home or at work, but made calls today instead.

Thank you to everyone who spoke and shared your story. Your courage to show up and to speak up is empowering and encouraging to everyone! #Resist

Film credit: Andrew Matthews and Katie Graham

Actions for January 22-28, 2017

Sunday, January 22

TONIGHT: Emergency call with Indivisible, MoveOn, and Working Families

7 Central Time

Monday, January 23

Call your Senators!

Senate will vote on the confirmation of Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (NYTimes)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Secretary of State nominee, Rex W. Tillerson (NYTimes)

View scripts here.

Tuesday, January 24

Rallies at Senators’ district offices to stop the cabinet of corruption

When: Tuesday, January 24 at noon (local time)

Where: Senators John Cornyn’s and Ted Cruz’s Austin District Offices
Chase Tower, 221 W. Sixth St.
Austin, TX 78701

This event is hosted and organized by MoveOn. Per MoveOn, all protestors are required to abide by local laws and be peaceful.

Call your Senators!

Committee votes on Carson, Chou, Hailey, Ross.

Hearings on McMahon, Mulvaney, Price.

This is a good primer. 

Here are some scripts.

Call your representative in the HOUSE and tell them to vote No on HR 7 aka the Hyde Amendment.

You would think, in the wake of Saturday’s monumental Women’s March that Congress might show some respect for women’s rights. You’d be wrong. Instead, on Tuesday, January 24th, the House has scheduled a vote on HR 7. This unnecessary and intrusive legislation meddles with the private insurance marketplace and attacks women’s reproductive rights. It’s not the first time Republicans have tried to pass this anti-woman bill.

Planned Parenthood page on the Hyde Amendment

Weekly IndivisibleATX Conference call

8 p.m. Central Time

Dial-in Number: 1-(712) 770-8067
Conference Code: 409542

Wednesday, January 25

This space intentionally left blank. Get some rest.

Thursday, January 26

Call all of your Members of Congress (MoCs) on Trump’s executive orders. 

 

Friday, January 27

Keep the Pressure On: Tell Congress to #ProtectOurCare.

One of President Trump’s first acts in office was to sign an Executive Order that could threaten essential components of the Affordable Care Act. But to dismantle the ACA, Trump will need to get repeal legislation through Congress. Keep the pressure on your members of Congress! Tell your Representative and two Senators that you won’t stand by and let 30+ million people lose their healthcare — and that you expect that they won’t either.

Saturday, January 28

Coming soon!

Did we miss anything? If so, please make a note in the comments. We’ll update this post throughout the week.

Indivisible Austin goes to Washington!

Greetings from your Washington, DC correspondent for this week!  I traveled to Capitol Hill to hear our Texas Senators, Cornyn and Cruz, speak at the Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing on Wednesday.  It was an interesting experience, and I look forward to my next visit!

I arrived at the Russell Senate Office building at around 8:30 a.m.  When you walk into the building, you pass through a security checkpoint, which has the same basic setup as airport security (no water bottles allowed, etc.).

I had correctly guessed that the public audience line for the Sessions hearing would be manageable on Wednesday because another very disturbing Trump cabinet nominee, Rex Tillerson, had his hearing at the same time.  Regarding press coverage, the Sessions hearing on Wednesday was also competing with Trump’s ridiculous press conference debacle on Wednesday afternoon.  In any case, I waited in a relatively short line in the rotunda to get in to the Sessions hearing.

Shortly after 9:00, the line started moving up the stairs toward the room (SR325) where the hearing was being held.  The room was next door to Sessions’ Senate office.  Sessions was nowhere to be seen, though, as far as I could tell.  I may have just overlooked him, though, because there were a lot of white men with white hair in the general vicinity.  Also, Orrin Hatch is a dead ringer for Sessions, except that Hatch appeared to frequent the same orange tanning salon as Trump.

I took a seat in the back of the room and waited for the hearing to begin.

Some of my favorite testimony of the morning came from Oscar Vasquez.  He came to the US as a child and was an undocumented immigrant for years before he finally was able to become a citizen.  He is now a mechanical engineer who volunteers with high school robotics teams, and he also served in Afghanistan.  This guy is a perfect example of why our country is great already… and he’s a fellow Texan!!

The most bone-chilling moment of the morning for me came during the Q&A with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.  He admitted that Trump’s pick for Attorney General would have the power to stop an FBI investigation into allegations that Trump and members of his campaign coordinated with Russia to interfere with our democracy.  Considering how active Sessions was in the Trump campaign, this was a particularly terrifying realization.

I’ll move on now to specifically talk about Senators Cornyn and Cruz.  Each senator had 7 minutes to speak or ask questions.  Senator Cornyn gave me a glimmer of hope because, instead of spending his 7 minutes snarkily attacking NAACP President Cornell Brooks or sparring with Al Franken like some of his colleagues, he spent his 7 minutes highlighting the importance of the 21st Century Cures Act, particularly with regard to the importance of not treating mentally ill people as criminals.  He also emphasized the importance of bipartisan cooperation.  Unfortunately, my dream that Cornyn would become an ally of the Resistance was short-lived, though, after viewing his twitter feed today:  “First sign of enhanced U.S.-Russia relations under Trump” and “The Climate Intelligence Agency:  Democratic CO2 obsessions reach new comic heights”.  Oh, well!  Next up was our other Texas Senator, Ted Cruz.  I actually had to leave for a bathroom break because Cruz’s demeanor totally stressed me out.  While Cornyn gave off a chillaxed/drinking a Lone Star vibe, Ted Cruz struck me as histrionic and hysterical (and not in the ha ha way).  Perhaps he should try a guided meditation class next time he’s in Austin.  I think he’s going to need to develop some strategies to calm down if he wants to make reasonable and rational decisions.

After hearing what our Senators had to say, I paid a visit to their DC offices.  First up was the office of Senator Ted Cruz, which was just upstairs from the hearing room.  My picture is a little shaky, which may or may not reflect my stress response to hearing Senator Cruz speak at the hearing.

His staffers could not have been sweeter, and it was a pleasure to meet them.  They were young, bright people working hard and enjoying their time in D.C.  I mainly spoke to one young woman who was a fellow Texan.  She initially asked if I had a meeting with the Senator, and I explained that I was just visiting from Austin.  I told her some of my concerns, focusing on Tillerson, which was our Indivisible Austin action item of the day.

Next, I crossed over to the Hart Senate Office Building to visit Senator Cornyn’s office.

Again, his staffers were bright young people, and they were easy to engage in conversation.  I spoke about my concerns and asked why Senator Cornyn supports Tillerson’s nomination.  They told me that Senator Cornyn knows what kind of man Tillerson is.  I said, “What kind of man is that?”  “A good man”, she replied.  She also mentioned that he has experience with foreign dignitaries.  I greatly appreciated their time, but I remained unconvinced, as did many others who followed Tillerson’s hearing.  A strong candidate for Secretary of State must be qualified to deal with many other issues besides oil.  In any case, it was great to meet these staffers and to put faces to names.  I plan on talking to them many more times in the weeks and months to come!

Well, with that, I’ll sign off.  Have a great weekend everyone- rest up!!  We have a lot of work to do next week!!

 

 

 

Actions for Week of Jan. 9, 2017

This week it’s all about cabinet nominees in the Senate. Call Cruz and Cornyn’s offices. If you don’t get through to the Austin office, try one of the others.

Cruz is 512-916-5834

Cornyn is 512-469-6034

MONDAY:

Cabinet Nominees / Fast-Tracking / OGE Letter

I’m calling to ask what the Senator is doing about cabinet appointees such as Rex Tillerson and Betsy DeVos who have not completed financial disclosure forms or undergone background checks. In the Office of Government Ethics’ 40-year history, the Senate has never held a confirmation hearing before the nominee’s ethics review was complete.  The Senator cannot fulfill his Constitutional duty if he doesn’t fully understand potential conflicts of interest. Can you tell me what the Senator is going to do about this?

Hat tip to Indivisible D/FW TX – contact them for long-form scripts

TUESDAY:

Jeff Sessions

I am calling to voice my concerns about the selection of Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and urge you to block his appointment to the Justice Department. Sessions has a long record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law and hostility to the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the attorney general of the United States.

Affordable Care Act

Call your senators to protest the repeal of the ACA. Be sure to share your personal stories. More here:

The Affordable Care Act

 

Millions March Action

Millions March Action and Rally at the State Capitol

WEDNESDAY

Rex Tillerson

Hello. I’m calling to ask my senator to vote NO on the nomination of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. I am concerned about Mr. Tillerson’s numerous potential conflicts of interest, especially his close ties with Russia’s Vladmir Putin. These ties are worrisome in light of the US intelligence community’s assertion that there was Russian interference in the November 2016 election. Furthermore, Tillerson’s stance on climate change is unclear and should be considered during his confirmation because as Secretary of State he could have some influence on environmental policy. Thank you for your time.

Courtesy of Kendall Shearman

Elaine Chao

Hello, I’m calling to ask my senator/representative to vote NO on the nomination of Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation. I am concerned about Ms. Chao’s financial and political conflicts of interest. Furthermore, Ms. Chao’s tenure as Secretary of Labor was earmarked by brutal cost slashing and union busting efforts. If this same style of reduction is applied to our nation’s infrastructure, it could potentially have a deadly result. Thank you for your time.

Courtesy of Kendall Shearman

John F. Kelly

Hello, I’m calling to ask my senator/representative to vote NO on the nomination of John F Kelly as head of the Department of Homeland Security. I am concerned about Mr. Kelly’s flippant attitude about civil rights issues, particularly in regards to prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Kelly described actions by civil rights groups as “foolishness.” The President Elect’s attempt to fill positions with warhawks is disconcerting. Thank you for your time.

Courtesy of Kendall Shearman

(Betsy DeVos delayed until next week!)

THURSDAY

Ben Carson

I’m calling to urge you to block the appointment of Dr. Ben Carson as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Dr. Carson himself admits that lacks the experience and expertise necessary for this, or any, cabinet position, and his retrograde statements on fair housing rules are a threat to the civil rights of countless American citizens. Please block Dr. Carson’s confirmation. Thank you.

James Mattis

Hello, I’m calling to ask my senator/representative to vote NO on the nomination of James Mattis as Secretary of Defense. I am concerned that Mr. Mattis has not yet completed the mandatory waiting period required between armed service and appointed office. Furthermore, Mr. Mattis has a checkered history, having once been quoted as saying it was a “a hell of a lot of fun to shoot” people. The President Elect’s attempt to fill positions with warhawks is disconcerting. Thank you for your time.

Courtesy of Kendall Shearman

Mike Pompeo

Hello. I am calling to ask you to vote No on the confirmation of Mike Pompeo for CIA director. Pompeo has no meaningful experience in espionage. He has advocated for the bulk collection of domestic calling records that violates US citizens’ privacy. He also advocates returning to the use of waterboarding and other ineffective torture techniques, and is against closing CIA black sites. Please vote no and do not confirm Mike Pompeo.

Rex Tillerson

(Call today if you didn’t get to it yesterday.)

Hello. I’m calling to ask my senator to vote NO on the nomination of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. I am concerned about Mr. Tillerson’s numerous potential conflicts of interest, especially his close ties with Russia’s Vladmir Putin. These ties are worrisome in light of the US intelligence community’s assertion that there was Russian interference in the November 2016 election. Furthermore, Tillerson’s stance on climate change is unclear and should be considered during his confirmation because as Secretary of State he could have some influence on environmental policy. Thank you for your time.

Courtesy of Kendall Shearman

*URGENT* #SaveACA Conference Call TONIGHT 7 pm CST

SUNDAY

Austin Writers Resist: A Counter-Inauguration

6-9 p.m. at BookPeople

View all our scripts here:

Sample Scripts