Posted on August 01, 2019 in Countdown

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Summer Night Fights

The Democrats just held their second set of debates this week, and there were bigger fireworks this time around. CNN’s Jake Tapper kept poking the candidates for some “progressive-on-centrist” violence (figuratively speaking), and he got his wish. On the first night, Bernie Sanders delivered some zingers, interrupting John Delaney’s argument about the “health care business” by saying “it’s not a business,” and retorting Tim Ryan’s questioning of his knowledge on the impact of Medicare for All on unions by saying “I wrote the damn bill.” When Elizabeth Warren had enough of Delaney, she delivered the night’s biggest zinger, wondering out loud why people like Delaney, who have basic platform ideas, bothered to run for office at all. To the credit of CNN’s Don Lemon, he explicitly called out President Trump’s racism and the threat of white supremacy. On the second night, dozens of protesters joined the debate, heckling the candidates on multiple occasions (as if 10 voices on stage wasn’t busy enough). Joe Biden wasn’t able to effectively retaliate against Kamala Harris’s knockdown punch on busing from the last debate, but Tulsi Gabbard stepped and showed him how to damage Harris with jabs at her prosecutorial record. Sadly for all of us, foreign policy, voting rights, the Muslim/refugee/asylum ban, etc.discussion took up about 8 milliseconds out of a 3-hour debate, leaving entire areas of significant presidential influence virtually unexplored. Hilariously for all of us, Biden closed the whole debate by directing people to a strange website that was supposed to be an SMS number. It was a fun party!

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Bring the Heat, Not the Hate

Like we said earlier, the debates featured a couple references to the increase of white supremacist violence and hate crime in American society, but we’ve yet to see a serious policy conversation between the candidates about how to address this problem. Though they didn’t bring it up, two of last night’s debate participants, Senators Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, have cosponsored a pretty important bipartisan bill in Congress that would improve our understanding of hate crime and help communities respond. The bill is called the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act and is named after two people (one Arab American) whose murders were prosecuted as hate crimes but not recorded in federal statistics. You, too, think better data is something everyone should get behind? Amazing! Now’s a great time to contact your members of Congress this August recess and tell them to cosponsor this important bill. This is just the first of three legislative priorities we have this summer. What are the others, you ask? Read on, friend.

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Plug the Fan, Not the Ban

Discriminatory admissions policies into our country must be banned and we have a fix. The NO BAN Act seeks to end the Muslim, Refugee, and Asylum Bans, and prevent future acts of faith and national origin-based discrimination in immigration and travel to the United States. This would be done by changing the law on which these bans have been based, the Immigration and Nationality Act. We have a great one-page explainer on the bill if you’d like to learn more, along with a letter signed by 9 pages of organizations, both national and local, from across the entire spectrum of American society that endorse the bill. The bill also has 34 cosponsors in the Senate and 141 cosponsors in the House. But guess who has yet to support the bill? A single Congressional Republican. That’s why we need constituents to act this month to convince Congress that this should not be a partisan issue. So, are you going to act or what?

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Beach Descension, Not Child Detention

Ok, at this point we’re overdoing the summer-themed headers, so we’ll skip it on the last one. But, but, pay attention, because the lives of children depend on this: H.R. 2407, the Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, was introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN)this past Spring. It’s a bill that creates an accountability mechanism to prohibit U.S. funds from being used for the “military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment” of children anywhere. It also authorizes the appropriation of funds to monitor human rights abuses and to provide physical, psychological, and emotional rehabilitation to Palestinian child victims of Israel’s military detention system. Why is this bill important?  Because the Israeli military detains and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children every year in military courts, and regularly subjects them to physical violence, solitary confinement and torture. So, go on, ask your Representative to support this bill.

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No Security Inside a Turtle Shell

“The Turtle,” “Mitch The Snitch,” “Grim Reaper” – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a lot of nicknames. But none of them have seemed to bother ol’ Mitch (they roll right off his turtle shell), except maybe his most recent one: Moscow Mitch. Mr. McConnell was upSET after the Washington Post called him a “Russian asset,” and other reports dubbed him “Moscow Mitch,” leading #MoscowMitch to trend on Twitter. These accusations come after McConnell blocked multiple election security measures in the Senate. Can we have a bill requiring campaigns to report offers of assistance from foreign governments to the FBI? Mitch said nope. What about a bill that would direct election assistance funding to states and require backup paper ballots? Mitch said no and NO. And those are only a couple examples of the proposed legislation he’s shutting down. So, here’s the thing: our elections can be more secure. State- and local-election officials are preparing for the worst election breaches, and Robert Mueller said that “much more needs to be done in order to protect against these intrusions, not just by the Russians but others as well.” You’d think we’d pounce on this threat like a mountain lion. Instead, we’ve stuck our head in a shell.

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