First, it's been awhile for a blog update, and that's because I've been working on Call Them In, an email reminder service that makes it easy to call your Senators and make your voice heard on progressive legislation. We do the research, find the Senators and write the scripts, all you need to do is make the call. Please sign up to stay informed with what's happening in Washington and how you can make a difference. Now without further ado, the news!
Last week, the Senate held a Vote-A-Rama (real name) where they passed Senate Continuing Resolution 3. This vote didn't actually mean anything, the Senate wasn't voting on a budget, or anything of substance. The continuing resolution they passed will allow them to draw up legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare, for everyone who may still not know that those two are the same thing). Because they are doing this through the process of reconciliation, whatever they ultimately pass will not be subject to a filibuster.
But in order for something to do through reconciliation, it has to be a budget, or be related to a budget. So instead of completely repealing all aspects of Obamacare, all the Republicans can do is gut the funding. Once again though, the Republicans have managed to find the worst way to go about this. By removing subsidies and keeping the right of people to have coverage with a pre-existing condition, Congress is ensuring that only people who need healthcare will by insurance. Without subsidies or a tax penalty (carrot and stick) there is no incentive for healthy people to buy insurance. And that is going to hurt the insurance companies. Hey, no one ever said the Republicans were going to replace Obamacare with something terrific.
Drugs from Canada
If you too live in a liberal bubble, and were on Facebook last week, you probably saw a lot of posts about the Democrats who voted against an amendment that would have allowed Americans to buy low cost prescription drugs from Canada. Several Democrats voted against the bill, including Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), most citing safety concerns, as not all foreign drugs are subject to FDA standards.
But the key thing to remember about this vote is that this amendment, and the bill it was attached to, had no possibility of becoming law. This Senate continuing resolution wouldn't have ever crossed the president's desk whether 51 Senators voted for it, or 100 voted for it. Because this was a continuing resolution, not an actual bill. The votes taken in this Vote-A-Rama have no real-life implication, and are mostly used in negative campaign ads. You know, Cory Booker hates cheap medicine. When in reality, Senator Cory Booker may love cheap medicine, he just voted no on a meaningless amendment.
No More NEA
The big news yesterday (we're not going to focus on today, it's too sad) was that Trump was adopting what's known as the Heritage Skinny Budget (because even Trump's budget is a 10). This means there would be major reductions for the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy as well as a total elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and a privatization of PBS. Laying aside what this would do to Big Bird and the gang over at Arthur, dramatic NEA cuts (and the elimination of the program altogether) actual hurt rural areas the most.
But this budget isn't set in stone yet! Now more than ever, we have to stay on top of on our government, follow what's going on in Washington and make our voices heard. Now more than ever, with everything on the line, we have to call them out. And that starts with Call Them In.