Issue 187, 2021 Week 11

The Activism Newsletter
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Hey everyone,

Do you want to know what is going on and how you can help? Read on to make sure that you’re staying informed!
As always, please reach out (activism@patrothfuss.comwith any tips, suggestions, questions, or concerns!

Thanks,
The Activism Team

The biggest news of the week technically hasn’t happened yet, which makes drafting interesting to say the least. Think of it as a holiday gift, along with that extra hour of sunlight we’re getting back on Sunday–sure, Monday will be extra sleep-deprived, but it’s also the Ides of March, so we’re getting off light. (See what I did there?)

Events to Know

Dismantling the Deportation Machine?  We did get some positive news on immigration fronts this week. The Biden Administration is converting family detention centers back into 72-hour processing facilities per their original legal purpose. It also announced it is creating a temporary protected status for displaced Venezuelans, which we should have set up years ago, and it has officially ended a Trump-era rule that penalized legal applicants for being low income.  However, the administration is still struggling to meet the needs of unaccompanied minors, who are coming to the U.S. in unprecedented numbers, and is holding them longer than legally permissible.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – Texas Family Detention Centers Expected To Transform Into Rapid-processing Hubs
  2. Axios – Scoop: Leaked HHS docs spotlight Biden’s child migrant dilemma
  3. Washington Post – Biden Administration Declares Up To 320,000 Venezuelans Eligible For Temporary Protected Status
  4. CNBC – Biden Justice Department stops defending Trump rule that limits benefits for immigrants
  5. New York Times – Biden Seeks Help On Border From Mexican President
  6. CNN – Exclusive: Unaccompanied migrant children staying in Border Patrol facilities an average of 107 hours, internal records show

Insurrection ReduxThose who followed the immediate insurrection aftermath may recall that QAnon started naming March 4th as another date of attack pretty quickly, latching onto the fact that it used to be the date of inauguration. And as it would happen, March 4th was also last Thursday. As the date approached, officials increasingly expressed concern that there may be further insurrection planned at the Capitol building complex–so much so that the House shifted its work schedule and canceled Thursday’s floor plans. After the date, it was announced that the National Guard will remain in place for the next two months.

 

Key links: 

  1. Associated Press – Police Uncover ‘Possible Plot’ By Militia To Breach Capitol
  2. CNBC – Police Preparing For Possible Militia ‘Plot To Breach The Capitol’ In Washington On Thursday
  3. Politico – House Scraps Work Schedule Amid Security Threat
  4. Washington Post – Pentagon chief approves request to extend National Guard protection of Capitol

Confirmation Tango (continued).  Although Tom Cotton delayed Merrick Garland’s final vote, he was confirmed this week anyway by 70-30 vote. Additionally, the Senate confirmed Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; she will be the first Black woman to lead the department in over 40 years.


Key links: 

  1. Forbes – Sen. Tom Cotton Reveals He’s Holding Up Merrick Garland’s Confirmation Vote
  2. NPR – Garland Confirmed As Attorney General 5 Years After Thwarted Supreme Court Bid
  3. Washington Post – Marcia Fudge confirmed as first Black woman to lead HUD in more than 40 years

Recent Resilience

Recent Legislative Resilience. In addition to the stimulus bill mentioned above, the House passed a couple of other promising pieces of legislation in the past week. First on the roster was the For the People Act, which is a very comprehensive voting rights act bill passed in response to coordinated state efforts to expand voter suppression and a pending Supreme Court case. (If this bill passed in the Senate, this could potentially curtail Supreme Court damage, but it’s unlikely to succeed unless the filibuster is removed or altered.) The House also passed The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a policing overhaul bill first passed in 2020. The new version was passed just as the trial began of George Floyd’s killer, highlighting the strong need for reform–which this bill does not comprehensively do, but it would be a start.

Key links:

  1. Washington Post – House Democrats Pass Sweeping Elections Bill As GOP Legislatures Push To Restrict Voting
  2. New York Times – A Supreme Court Test For What’s Left Of The Voting Rights Act
  3. New York Times – The Filibuster Fight
  4. NPR – House Approves Police Reform Bill Named After George Floyd
  5. Washington Post – Chauvin Murder Trial: What To Know As The First Officer Is Tried In George Floyd’s Death

Things to Watch

Stimulus News.  Democrats continued to fight about the $15 minimum wage provision in the $1.9T stimulus package after the package itself passed in the House last Friday, and eventually the Senate parliamentarian decided that it couldn’t be included in the Senate version for procedural reasons. In a move to keep the Democrats united enough to pass something, President Biden ended up limiting who qualifies for the stimulus and keeping employment benefits at $300 per week. (He did, however, add an expansion of the Affordable Care Act.) The final version in the Senate passed on Saturday in a 51-50 vote entirely along party lines, and it passed in the House on Wednesday. It’s now headed to President Biden’s desk for signature, which is likely to happen on Friday.
Key links:

  1. NPR – Senate Can’t Vote On $15 Minimum Wage, Parliamentarian Rules
  2. NBC – Biden, Senate Democrats Agree To Limit Eligibility For $1,400 Checks
  3. Washington Post – Senate Passes Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill After Voting Overnight On Amendments, Sends Measure Back To House
  4. New York Times – With House passage, Congress clears the nearly $1.9 trillion stimulus plan for President Biden’s signature.

State of the COVID-19. Both Texas and Mississippi decided to end mask mandates for all businesses this week, which as health experts note is a pretty garbage way to apologize for utility failures.  This is particularly true as infection rates rise worldwide, although they are still going down in the U.S. for now. Meanwhile, in vaccine news, Biden is hoping to have enough doses to vaccinate all adults by the end of May, in part because Merck is helping Johnson and Johnson produce their single-dose vaccine.  But vaccine rollouts are still having a lot of issues, particularly regarding equitable distribution. Adding to the pile, several American Catholic officials have forbidden or discouraged parishioners from receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine because something something stem cells.  (It is worth noting, however, that this is not the Vatican’s position.) Finally, the CDC issued new guidance today for people already vaccinated, clarifying what are and are not considered best practices.

Key links:

  1. Politico – Texas, Mississippi To Lift Mask Mandates, Let All Businesses Reopen At Full Capacity
  2. New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
  3. Stat – Biden Promises Enough Covid-19 Vaccines To Inoculate All Adult Americans By The End Of May
  4. Washington Post – Merck Will Help Make Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Vaccine As Rivals Team Up To Help Biden Accelerate Shots
  5. CBS – Some Roman Catholic Leaders In U.S. Call Johnson & Johnson Vaccine “Morally Compromised”
  6. New York Times – Vaccinated Americans May Gather Indoors In Small Groups But Should Still Wear Masks In Public, The C.D.C. Said.

Actions for Everyone

The pandemic seems to be reaching some type of plateau, a stimulus bill was passed (not the best but it’s better than what we had), more people are getting vaccinated everyday and our days are slightly brighter as spring approaches. Lets keep the momentum up!

Make some seed bombs! – It’s the perfect time to make some seed bombs with your friends/family and go around spreading the joy; please make sure to use native seeds to ensure biodiversity and conservation. Here is a little tutorial.

Women’s History Month and voting rights – This year is a continuation of last year’s theme, which was interrupted by the pandemic declaration: Valiant Women of the Vote. 2020 marked the centennial of women’s right to vote in the US, even though it left BIPOC women out of their voting rights till mid-century.  You can read more about this year’s theme here. 

Congress is currently starting a debate to pass the For The People Act; that focuses on voting accessibility, election security, cuts down on partisan gerrymandering and more; all measures that will promote the vote for BIPOC communities. The Republicans are opposed to these changes and they will be fighting against these changes, so we must keep our eyes peeled for when the bill is up for a vote in the Senate; since it already passed in the House.

Gun Safety bill: The House recently passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act; a bill that requires “a background check on every gun sale or transfer, with carefully defined exceptions for gifts to family members, and temporary transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense. It would require unlicensed gun sellers to use the same National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS), which is managed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), that licensed dealers use” according to the gun safety group Giffords.

It’s now up to the Senate to pass the bill’s companion legislation; the Background Checks  Expansion Act. A similar legislation was proposed before but was shut down by the Senate lead by Mitch McConnell; but the new leadership and new Democrat administration could change the outcome of this bill that is supported by the majority of Americans. So lets call those Senators!

You can text UNIVERSAL to 34131 to call your senators and tell them to support universal background checks.

We hope this newsletter left you feeling more informed and more energized to go out there and make a difference in whatever way you can.

We’d love to hear from you, not only for tips or suggestions (though they’re always welcome), but also to hear about how the activism has been going. Do you have any success stories? Did anything surprise you that you weren’t expecting? Let us know at activism@patrothfuss.com and hopefully we can use your stories to help encourage and educate others!

Best,
The Activism Team

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