An Update from Congressman Keating’s Office
Indivisible leaders from Cape Cod Women For Change, Lower Cape Indivisible, and Indivisible Outer Cape have met with Congressman Keating’s staff for updates on the issues (see original list below) that we raised at Indivisible’s “Whose House Our House” first day of action on January 3, 2019. There has been progress on several of the issues.
Our number one issue pertained to the threats on our Democracy and ways that it might be protected. The first bill of the new House, HR1, has laid out plans to: expand voter access and address security; overhaul campaign finance; and address corruption. The bill includes Automatic Voter registration (AVR), but does not contain Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).
New questions concerning our Democracy have arisen. We were concerned about the citizenship question on the census. A federal judge has ruled that the administration cannot ask citizenship questions on the 2020 census, but we are worried that the judge’s order will be appealed or ignored. We learned that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been called to an Oversight Committee meeting on March 14.
We also asked about ways to protect the Mueller investigation and learned that Rep. Nadler in the House and Senators Blumenthal and Grassley in the Senate have filed bills. MA 09 residents, please encourage Rep. Keating or if he is not your MoC, contact your MoC and tell them to cosponsor the House bill, H.R.197 – Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act. The Senate bill (S236) is being held up by Sen. Graham in the Judiciary Committee even though he signed an identical bill last year! If you know any of his constituents, please ask them to contact him!
We will see a new comprehensive immigration reform bill soon. In the meantime, Rep. Keating has cosponsored HR590, Freedom of Religion Act, which would prohibit any future bans similar to the Muslim ban and he is also a cosponsor of HR615, Refugee Sanitation Act, to protect women in refugee camps internationally. If Keating isn’t your MoC, check the links to see if your own Rep has co-sponsored. If not, ask them to add their name.
We learned that Speaker Pelosi will have hearings soon on DACA but that the fate of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) immigrants is still tenuous. A resolution has been filed, HR549, that would permit Venezuelans to qualify for TPS, and a House Concurrent Resolution (H. Con. Res. 5) which would express support for Haitians who are living and working here under TPS.
Although many people and candidates are talking about Medicare for All, there are many different versions and scenarios. Rep. Jayapal’s new Medicare for All bill has been released and is different than the previous ones filed. We have also heard of a Medicare After 50 bill. Of course, there are many factors that need to be considered. Rep. Keating will only consider cosigning a bill after examining the full text and it is referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee which reviews healthcare bills and considers financial concerns. The Hastert rule, prevents a bill from reaching the floor until a majority of the majority party (democrats) supports the bill. Rep. Jayapal’s newest version addresses this roadblock.
We are also concerned about the ongoing sabotage of the ACA and the Congress is fully committed to protecting it.
In 2018 there were three bills introduced to protect *Title IX: HR4030, HR6464, HR194. These would stop DeVos’ harmful changes to Title IX protections against sexual harassment and assault in education. Although it has not happened yet, it is expected those three bills will be reintroduced. It is also possible that the House Education Committee will hold hearings about the proposed changes.
The Trump administration’s policy on ** Title X is shockingly ill-informed and harmful, especially to small, rural healthcare such as Outer Cape Health and the Hyannis Family Planning Clinic. Not only have doctor’s been gagged, but women’s health services are threatened as funds are now being diverted to non-medical, faith-based centers, rather than actual medical facilities. We learned that although HHS has its own authority, it is supposed to follow appropriation rules. The House Appropriations Committee can ‘protect’ funding for Title X but we need to apply significant pressure now. Please contact your MoC and ask them to protect title X funding, and if your MoC is on the appropriations committee they will be tasked with this protection.
Sadly, we learned that the Conference Committee to resolve the budget impasse took VAWA out of the budget bill to make sure it passed (Imagine that! Violence against women is too controversial!) Rep. Keating and the majority of Congress support VAWA and will fight for it. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee will be reintroducing it as a stand-alone bill and adding restrictions like prohibiting individuals who are convicted of dating violence and stalking from having firearms.
We learned there will be a reintroduction of HR2282, The Equality Act, that would amend the Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual and gender identity. Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Cicilline will reintroduce it in March and Rep. Keating will cosponsor it.
We learned that Rep. Kennedy will be introducing and Rep. Keating will cosponsor H.Res.124 expressing opposition to the transgender military ban. There is also another bill HR1032 to protect transgender individuals in the military which we support.
We learned that the GND resolution (it is not a bill) calls for Congress to develop legislation and it is considered a good framework for the policy that will come. It is hoped that the new Select House Climate Crisis Committee will oversee this. This committee includes members from several different committees and will produce various climate bills. The Select Committee will be also able to coordinate between their own committees and with other outside experts. Rep. Keating is an original cosponsor of the resolution and a strong supporter of saving our environment.
We are pleased that the House introduced HR8 to expand background checks and passed the bill this week! We learned that Rep. Cicilline will soon introduce an assault weapons ban that Rep. Keating will cosponsor. We have also learned that there will be a rider to the appropriations bill that would allow the CDC to study gun deaths (which it is not currently allowed to do) and Rep. Keating supports this.
*Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance, more here.
** Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. Title X is legally designed to prioritize the needs of low-income families or uninsured people (including those who are not eligible for Medicaid) who might not otherwise have access to these health care services. These services are provided to low-income and uninsured individuals at reduced or no cost. Its overall purpose is to promote positive birth outcomes and healthy families by allowing individuals to decide the number and spacing of their children. More here.
Attend a Lobby Day!
Lobby Days are normally held in the first months of a new congress and help legislators decide on the bills they will take up for the new session. If a bill is not sponsored/ cosponsored and filed in this period, it must wait another two years until the next session, so it is vitally important that activists speak up now. You do not need to have any experience to do this. Most Lobby Days are sponsored by large activist groups who offer advice/training and usually group inexperienced folks with those who have done it before. The new Indivisible Guides make it clear that pressuring our state legislature is vitally important to protecting us from harmful federal cuts. IOC has been examining the proposed bills for this MA legislature and has identified many we support.
On January 17, IOC members joined CC Women for Change for Sexual Health Lobby Day at the MA Statehouse. We were joined by a dozen other Indivisible groups from across MA to speak to MoCs about reproductive health issues that are important to us.
We asked for support of three very important bills: they include a new bill called the ROE Act, the Healthy Youth Act, and An Act to End Child Marriage. Happily, Senator Cyr and Representative Peake have cosponsored the ROE and the Healthy Youth Act and Senator Cyr has cosponsored the Act to End Child Marriage.
The new ROE Act (An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access) is designed to strengthen and protect safe and legal access to abortion in MA. As you know, currently, there is no abortion access for Cape Cod women and the Trump administration is intent on eroding this important right further for all women and denying important Title X funds for all reproductive health services.This act would expand access to people who now must travel across the country to receive medically necessary abortions after 24 weeks, would remove the onerous requirement that teens obtain parental permission, and, like the NASTY Women Act, would eliminate other, currently unenforced laws, such 24 hour waiting periods for patients seeking abortion. These are important protections in the event Roe v. Wade falls.
The Healthy Youth Act (H.3704 and SD.579), which was successful in the Senate, was never put forward in the House. This act requires zero funding and simply requires that all public institutions that currently teach sex education, must teach medically accurate information, consent, and be LGBTQ inclusive. This addresses the widespread problem of sexual assault and bullying at its root, via education.
An Act to End Child Marriage (HD.583 and SD.343) seeks to end all marriages for children under the age of 18. The states of NJ, DE, and others have recently passed such legislation. This act is extremely important as married minors find it difficult to access DSF services, legal or financial help, and are even prohibited from entering shelters. Girls and young women in these situations experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence and are more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to go to college.
It is very important that MA residents lobby/send emails and letters/call their MoCs now so that these bills will be taken up in this legislative session.
WHOSE HOUSE? OUR HOUSE!
JANUARY 3, 2019 – 1:00 – 1:45 PM
CONGRESSMAN KEATING’S OFFICE
259 STEVENS STREET
On January 3rd, the first day of the new 116th Congress, Indivisible held its first DAY OF ACTION! Indivisible Outer Cape joined other Indivisible groups in Congressional District 9 in front of our Representative’s office to let him know we support him and our brand new House of Representatives! Indivisible Outer Cape, Lower Cape Indivisible, Cape Cod Women for Change, and Martha’s Vineyard Indivisible reached out to Congressman Keating and his staff to let them know that Indivisible will not be fading away and we will hold the new Congress accountable! We discussed seven issues of concern with the Congressman, including the proposed Democracy Reform Act (HR1), Immigration Reform, Healthcare, Women’s Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Climate Crisis, and Gun Reform. We symbolically presented these on January 3, along with signs, balloons, and cupcakes! Here is a summary:
WHOSE HOUSE? OUR HOUSE!
SEVEN AREAS FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION IN THE NEW 116th CONGRESS
DEMOCRACY: The Democracy Reform Act (HR1) is slated to be first on the agenda of the new Congress. The actual legislative text is expected to be drafted by January 5, 2019 and is not yet available. Cape Indivisibles want a bold and a progressive a bill without watering down and Congressman Keating is a cosponsor and fully supports this: “A bill that aims to do what HR 1 is intended to do is long overdue.”
The expectation is that HR1 will cover three broad areas including:
Elections and voting rights: election security, redistricting and gerrymandering, AVR , voter suppression, voter access and voting rights
Corruption and Ethics: strengthen ethic codes, emoluments, conflict of interest, divestment, restrictions on lobbying
Campaign Finance: full disclosure of donation sources, regulating super-pacs, overturning Citizens United
Additionally, Cape Indivisibles expect Congress to investigate the many areas where the President has treated the coffers of the Treasury as his own piggy bank!
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call/Email Congressman Keating to thank him for his support of a bold and progressive HR1! If you live elsewhere, call your own Congressman to tell him the same.
IMMIGRATION: DACA and a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill have languished with the Republican House leadership refusing to allow a vote. Congressman Keating is a cosponsor of DACA and would also cosponsor a new Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill. Cape Indivisibles want a clean DACA bill and a new Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill introduced and voted on in the new Congress. We also deem it imperative that investigations be launched on the numerous outrages at the border including: ICE, military spending, detention center conditions and deaths of children. Congressman Keating fully supports and expects these to happen.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call/Email Congressman Keating to thank him for his support of DACA, Immigration Reform, and opening investigations into the administration’s spending and behaviors at the border. Demand the same of your MoC if you live outside of CD9.
HEALTH: The Affordable Care Act has been under attack from many angles. The most recent ruling by a TX federal judge will be appealed and we understand that any action of the new Congress will need to take that into consideration. When possible, Cape Indivisibles expect legislation to be introduced to protect key provisions of the ACA and to pressure the Senate to support the ACA or healthcare for all. Additionally, Indivisibles support a Medicare for All Act and support HR676, introduced by former Congressman John Conyers, or similar bill. Congressman Keating is not opposed and should begin immediately to explore a cost and timeline for implementing such a system.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call/Email Congressman Keating and tell him that we want protection of the ACA until a Medicare for All style bill can be implemented. Tell him to address concerns about or improve the Conyers bill or to work to introduce a new Medicare for All bill! If you live outside of CD9 call your representative and tell them the same!
WOMEN: Title X provides funding to women’s health centers and has been severely restricted by the administration. Title IX guarantees the rights of women/girls to equal education free from sexual assault/harassment; this is being overturned by the administration. Cape Indivisibles and Congressman Keating feel very strongly that this is a ‘terrible mistake.’ Additionally, the administration has moved ahead with final regulations regarding religious/moral exemptions for birth control coverage, despite the pending legal challenges. Cape Indivisibles request all avenues be pursued to prevent the administration from curtailing women’s health and reproductive choices. Additionally, HR 6545 Violence Against Women Act reauthorization has lapsed and must be renewed.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Write some “Enough is Enough” postcards to protect Title IX and send to the administration by January 27. Urge Congressman Keating (or your MoC) to pursue all avenues, including letters and through the courts, to protect all women’s rights outlined in Title IX and X. Stress the importance of re-authorizing HR 6545 to protect women from violence.
LGBTQ: The administration has proceeded with the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. This is a human rights violation. Cape Indivisibles and Congressman Keating are outraged and concerned for the 10k transgender individuals already serving.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call/Email Congressman Keating to let him know that you support all who serve in the military and urge him to pursue all avenues, including letters to administration or amendments to the defense authorization bill, to stop this human rights violation of the LGBTQ community.
CLIMATE: The Green New Deal proposes using a green infrastructure bill to address social inequity. This is not yet a bill and only lays out general goals. Cape Indivisibles and Congressman Keating support the tenets of this and other legislation to address the climate crisis. The Congressman notes that climate change disproportionately affects the poor and is also a national security threat and hopes to address it through the Foreign Affairs Committee. It is particularly important for our local economy and lifestyle. We have identified two existing bills: HR7173 Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act which encourages market driven innovation of clean energy and HR2326 Climate Solutions Commission Act which sets up committees to generate green solutions. Similarly, it appears the new House will set up a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and its members will not be recipients of big oil donations.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Urge Congressman Keating and others to support/cosponsor HR7173 and HR2326 or similar legislation. Tell them to act quickly to limit carbon deposition. Also urge Senators Warren and Markey to do the same in the US Senate and our MA State Representatives and Senators to act on similar bills at the State level.
GUN REFORM: Sensible gun reform includes universal background checks, red flag laws, limiting access to firearms/accessories that inflict mass casualties, disarming domestic abusers, supporting CDC research, and holding the gun industry accountable. Cape Indivisibles support all of these measures and Congressman Keating is already a cosponsor for many bills that address these. He is hopeful that the new Congress will be able to change the language of laws that prevent the CDC from studying gun deaths and advance other reform measures.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Continue to support Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety and March for our Lives.