Thursday, June 22, 2017

Here's How We Kill the Senate's Trumpcare Bill





















What's in this “new” TrumpCare bill?

After weeks of total secrecy, this morning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the Senate TrumpCare bill. And what a cruel, ugly bill it is. It guts Medicaid, it increases health costs for the middle-class, it cuts coverage for pre-existing conditions, it eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood...and it does this all in order to greenlight a massive tax cut for millionaires and billionaires.

But this isn't over yet. Senate Republicans don’t have the votes...at least, not yet. If we peel off just 3 Senators, we win. We have time to fight back, and it doesn’t matter if you have a Republican or Democratic Senator -- you are needed in this fight. We’ve got three ways to fight back:

Got a Republican Senator? Excellent. CALL THEM. Find daily scripts and material at TrumpCareTen.org.
Got a Democratic Senator? Great. Help them filibuster-by-amendmentby submitting your amendment to to bury this awful bill: OurAmendments.org. Also ask them to slow down Senate business by withholding consent.
Want to join a congressional office TrumpCare sit-in? Awesome. Here’s a list of planned events.

How the TrumpCare fight will play out

Senate Republicans have promised a vote by the end of next week. But there are still several steps between now and passage of TrumpCare. Here’s how the former congressional staff at Indivisible think the fight will unfurl:

Tomorrow, we’ll get a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score, which will quantify exactly how many millions of Americans will be screwed by this bill and in what ways
On Monday or Tuesday, Republicans will officially announce the vote is happening by the end of the week and start debate on “the bill,” which is a fake bill intended to make it look like they’re being transparent but in reality is a trick to hide just how awful their finished product will be
Over the next couple days, Senators will submit amendments
On Thursday, the Senate will plan to vote on the legislation, but first they will vote on all submitted amendments (known as “vote-a-rama”)
At the last possible minute, Senate Republicans will replace the entire bill they just got finished “debating” with an alternative TrumpCare bill secretly crafted behind closed doors
By end of Thursday, there will be a final vote in the Senate
As soon as Friday, the House may then pass the legislation and send it to Trump to sign. This could take longer, but this is the worst case scenario and quite possible.
On Friday, one week of congressional recess begins. They’ll either have the bill done by Friday, or they’ll have to wait another week.

Throughout this process there will be precisely zero public hearings in the Senate. Make no mistake, this is a historically partisan, secretive, and undemocratic process for one of the largest pieces of legislation of our generation. This is atrocious.

Got a Democratic Senator? Help them Filibuster-By-Amendment or Withhold
Consent

If you’ve got a Democratic Senator, you’ve still got work to do. As mentioned above, one of the final stages of the TrumpCare bill is a little-known process known as “vote-a-rama” where ANY Senator can submit as many amendments as he or she wants. And here’s the thing: EVERY amendment takes time to be introduced and voted on. We’re collecting THOUSANDS of amendments and submitting them directly to Senate staff.

Please please please: submit your amendments here, and get your friends and family members to submit amendments. We know this is working already. Senators are reading these amendments on the Senate floor. But we need thousands more.

Your Democratic Senator can also slow down Senate business, in part by “withholding consent.” The rules of the Senate are so complicated that Senators have to regularly consent to waiving some of them so that they can actually get work done. That includes shortening time for debates, expediting consideration of amendments, and scheduling committees. Your Senator can slow the Senate down to a crawl and focus attention to TrumpCare by withholding his or her consent on legislative business.

This is about applying your constituent power directly to the process. These tactics can delay the bill and make it more politically painful for Republicans to move forward. It’s not a silver bullet -- McConnell and Senate Republicans can still blow up Senate rules and cut off the amendment process. But to do that they’ll have to go on the record literally silencing the victims of TrumpCare in their own states, which they really don’t want to visibly do.

Got a Republican Senator? Time to fight like hell.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose 2 Senate Republicans and still pass this monstrosity. We have it on good authority that 2 are already VERY close to “no.” We are painfully close to defeating this bill. We need one more, and that’s the ball game.

That means now—literally right now—is the time for to amp up your pressure. All you need to pressure your Republican Senators, including DAILY scripts and new materials, is on our TrumpCareTen.org website. It’s critical that you’re showing up and that when you’re not showing up, you’re calling your Senators every single day.

Want to attend a TrumpCare sit-in?

Indivisible groups are coordinating sit-ins in our ten Republican target states.  As Senators continue to hide from their constituents, doing fewer town halls and shunning public appearances, these events provide a much needed opportunity to bring constituents concerns directly to them. Providing people a venue to share healthcare stories in the district offices of the Senators is great direct communication, and can be great fodder for negative local press, which Senators hate. These sit-ins also show the broad breadth of the resistance to these bills; this isn’t just a concern in liberal enclaves, this thing is universally reviled. There are events all over each state, so take a look here to find one near you. The list will continue to update through next week.

This is it.

We are under no illusions that victory is assured here, but victory is possible. Every member of Congress voting on this bill will eventually have to get your vote to be reelected. That’s the source of your constituent power. That’s what makes them responsive to pressure. Remember in March when Paul Ryan embarrassingly called off his first TrumpCare vote? That happened because of public pressure. That happened because of you.

We’re not going down without a fight. Let’s stand stand indivisible again. Let’s win this.

© 2017 Indivisible Guide


Leah Greenberg is co-author of the Indivisible Guide. Follow her on Twitter: @Leahgreenb
















Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine

























June 22, 2017

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, seems to be championing a single cause: Israel.

When Haley speaks about Israel, her language is not merely emotive nor tailored to fit the need of a specific occasion.  Rather, her words are resolute, consistent and are matched by a clear plan of action.

Along with Haley, the rightwing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is moving fast to cultivate the unique opportunity of dismissing the United Nations, thus, any attempt at criticizing the Israeli Occupation.

Unlike previous UN ambassadors who strongly backed Israel, Haley refrains from any coded language or any attempt, however poor, to appear balanced. Last March, she told a crowd of 18,000 supporters at the Israel lobby, AIPAC’s annual policy conference, that this is a new era for US-Israel relations.

“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement,” she told the crowd that was thrilled by her speech. “It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick ’em every single time.”

Trump’s new sheriff/ambassador, condemned, in retrospect, UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which strongly criticized Israel’s illegal settlements. While still in its final days in office, the Obama Administration did not vote for – but did not veto the Resolution, either – thus setting a precedent that has not been witnessed in many years.

The US abstention, according to Haley, was as if the “entire country felt a kick in the gut.”

What made Israel particularly angry over Obama’s last act at the UN was the fact that it violated a tradition that has extended for many years, most notably during the term of John Negroponte, US Ambassador to the UN, during the first W. Bush’s term in office.

What became known as the ‘Negroponte doctrine’ was a declared US policy – that Washington will oppose any resolution that criticizes Israel that does not also condemn Palestinians.

But Israel, not the Palestinians, is the occupying power which refuses to honor dozens of UN resolutions and various international treaties and laws. By making that decision, and, indeed, following through to ensure its implementation, the US managed to sideline the UN as an ‘irrelevant’ institution.

Sidelining the UN, then, also meant that the US would have complete control over managing the Middle East, but especially the situation in Palestine.

However, under Trump, even the US-led and self-tailored ‘peace process’ has become obsolete.

This is the real moral but, also political, crisis of the Haley doctrine, for it goes beyond Negroponte’s silencing any criticism of Israel at the UN, into removing the UN entirely – thus international law – from being a factor in resolving the conflict.

In a talk at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council – which is made up of 47 member countries – Haley declared that her country is ‘reviewing its participation’ in the Council altogether. She claimed that Israel is the “only country permanently on the body’s calendar,” an inaccurate statement that is often uttered by Israel with little basis in truth.

If Haley read the report on the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, she would have realized that the Rights body discussed many issues, pertaining to women rights and empowerment, forced marriages and human rights violations in many countries.

But considering that Israel has recently ‘celebrated’ 50 years of occupying Palestinians, Haley should not be surprised that Israel is also an item on the agenda. In fact, any country that has occupied and oppressed another for so long should also remain an item on international agenda.

Following her speech in which she derided and threatened UN member states in Geneva, she went to Israel to further emphasize her country’s insistence to challenge the international community on behalf of Israel.

Along with notorious hasbara expert, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, Haley toured the Israeli border with Gaza, showing sympathy with supposedly besieged Israeli communities – while on the other side, nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza have been trapped for over a decade in a very small region, behind sealed shut borders.

Speaking in Jerusalem on June 7, Haley took on the UN ‘bullies’, who have ‘bullied’ Israel for too long.

She said, “I have never taken kindly to bullies and the UN has bullied Israel for a very long time and we are not going to let that happen anymore,” adding “it is a new day for Israel in the United Nations.”

By agreeing to live in Israel’s pseudo-reality, where bullies complain of being bullied, the US is moving further and further away from any international consensus on human rights and international law. This becomes more pronounced and dangerous when we consider the Donald Trump Administration’s decision to pull out from the Paris accords on global warming.

Trump argued that the decision was of benefit to American businesses. Even if one agrees with such an unsubstantiated assertion, Haley’s new doctrine on Israel and the UN, by contrast, can hardly be of any benefit to the United States in the short or long run. It simply degrades US standing, leadership and even goes below the lowest standards of credibility practiced under previous administrations.

Worse still, inspired and empowered by Haley’s blank check, Israeli leaders are now moving forward to physically remove the UN from Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Two alarming developments have taken place on that front:

One took place early May when Culture and Sport Minister, Miri Regev, made a formal demand to the Israeli cabinet to shut down the UN headquarter in Jerusalem, to punish UNESCO for restating the international position on the status of Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem.

The second was earlier this month, when Prime Minister Netanyahu called on Haley to shut down UNRWA, the UN body responsible for the welfare of 5 million Palestinian refugees.

According to Netanyahu, UNRWA ‘perpetuates’ refugee problems. However, the refugees’ problem is not UNRWA per se, but the fact that Israel refuses to honor UN resolution 194 pertaining to their return and compensation.

These developments, and more, are all outcomes of the Haley doctrine. Her arrival at the UN has ignited a US-Israeli hate fest, not only targeting UN member states, but international law and everything that the United Nations has stood for over the decades.

The US has supported Israel quite blindly at the UN throughout the years. Haley seems to adopt an entirely Israeli position with no regard whatsoever for her country’s allies, or the possible repercussions of dismissing the only international body that still serves as a platform for international engagement and conflict resolution.

Haley seems to truly think of herself as the new sheriff in town, who will “kick ’em every single time”, before riddling the bullies with bullets and riding into the sunset, along with Netanyahu. However, with a huge leadership vacuum and no law to guide the international community in resolving a 70-year-old conflict, Haley’s cowboy tactics are likely to do much harm to an already bleeding region.

Since the Negroponte doctrine of 2002, thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis were killed in an occupation that seems to know no ends. Further disengagement from international law will likely yield a greater toll and more suffering.