This week, we have five action items for you, plus a bonus mini-item for MIT affiliates!
- 1) Support Senate Candidate Foster Campbell
- 2) Conflict of Interest: Keep pushing!
- 3) Fight Mnuchin
- 4) Support DACA and the Dreamers
- 5) Educate yourself about the appointment process
We know it’s a busy week for many people – we understand if you can’t put in the whole 2 hours, but it’s crucial that you take at least some action! And as always, encourage your friends to take the solidarity pledge as well!
We’re also adding a TWO question survey to our weekly system so we can better understand what’s working, what needs work, and what our priorities should be. Please take 30 seconds right now to help us be more effective. Thank you!
[MIT community] Please sign the MIT values statement, and get everyone you know at MIT – especially faculty – to sign on as well! Over a quarter of MIT faculty have signed on already, and the statement has been picked up by Boston Magazine, the LA Times, and more. You can sign the statement here.
1) Support Senate Candidate Foster Campbell
The election isn’t quite over yet. Because of a unique primary system, the Louisiana Senate runoff election won’t be held until December 10th. But things are not looking good for Democratic candidate Foster Campbell: he’s been consistently polling far below Republican candidate John Kennedy. If Campbell wins, the Senate will have a 49-51 split (Dem-Rep), which puts the Democrats in a better position to resist Trump’s policies and deny confirmation of his nominees. Support Campbell by calling, donating, and/or volunteering. “Mr. Campbell was alone among the major Senate candidates here talking openly about human-caused climate change; he also supports an increase in the minimum wage and promises to vote against any repeal of the Affordable Care Act… Mr. Campbell’s fondness for bashing the oil and gas companies, along with the railroads, the tobacco companies, the payday loan companies and a long list of other corporate targets, makes him an interesting figure in a party suddenly trying to figure out how to regain support among the rural working class.”
2) Conflict of Interest: Keep pushing!
Last week we asked for outreach regarding Donald Trump’s unprecedented number of conflicts of interest. President-elect Trump’s conflicts of interest are dangerous: Trump’s business partners, interests, and debts will impair his ability to make impartial decisions for the good of the United States, in turn posing a serious risk of corruption and even a threat to our national security. It is vital to keep pressuring Congress to look into these issues, because they are only getting worse.
Call the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz still has yet to formally respond to the Nov. 28 letter from all 17 Democratic committee members requesting the committee investigate Trump’s conflicts of interest. In an interview, Chaffetz has instead called it “ridiculous” that he has received letters regarding Trump’s conflict of interest before Trump has been sworn in. Keep calling your representative or contact the Republican committee members directly and urge them to review the president-elect’s conflicts of interest. Scripts and contact information here.
Call the Government Accountability Office – Senator Elizabeth Warren has co-written a request that the Government Accountability Office conduct a review of President-elect Trump’s transition into the White House amid concerns of his conflicts of interest and potential violations of protocol and security precautions regarding his contact with foreign leaders. Contact the GAO to show support for a review of Trump’s transition. Scripts and phone number here.
Read, share, donate! – The Sunlight Foundation (a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses the tools of civic tech, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all) is keeping a useful, continuously updated list of Trump’s potential conflicts of interest. Donations are tax-deductible.
3) Fight Mnuchin
Contact your Senators to oppose the appointment of Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive, was Trump’s top fundraiser during the campaign and helped him raise millions. He has never worked in policy and led a bank that was known for aggressively foreclosing on families (for as little as 27 cents!) and has been accused of racial discrimination. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have issued a statement in strong opposition to Trump’s nominee. Call your Senators to let them know that you don’t want Mnuchin making fiscal policy. You can find an example script here.
4) Support DACA and the reamers
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy started by the Obama administration that allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors (known as “Dreamers”) to receive two-year work permits that allow them to work and pay taxes, receive in-state tuition, and most importantly, protection from deportation. If Trump decides to repeal DACA, the information these young people submitted in good faith could be used to track them down for deportation.
Support Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who announced he is preparing legislation that would provide some protections to Dreamers if Trump tries to revoke their status under DACA, and encourage other Senators to support and sponsor his efforts. Find phone numbers and scripts here.
5) Educate yourself about the appointment process
Blocking Trump nominations will be a crucial tool in our efforts to defend vulnerable people and progressive values over the next four years. It’s vital that we have a firm understanding of the nomination and confirmation process in order to successfully lobby and pressure Congress. For a detailed look into the process, see this overview or this one, and this FAQ. In summary:
Individuals nominated by the president to positions that require Senate confirmation must to pass investigations by the FBI, IRS, OGE (Office of Government Ethics), and an ethics official from the agency that oversees the position they will occupy. The nominee must also fill out a Public Financial Disclosure Report and other paperwork.
The relevant Senate committee holds hearings in which the committee can question the nominee more closely. Committees may also conduct independent investigations into the nominees.
After the hearing is completed, the committee votes to report the nominee favorably, unfavorably, without recommendation to the Senate, or not to take action at all. If no action is taken, the Senate may vote to invoke cloture to force the nomination process to continue.
Once the nomination leaves the committee, it moves to a Senate floor vote. As of 2013, appointments by the president are confirmed by a simple majority (51 votes) in the Senate, except for Supreme Court appointments.
Since the Republicans have a majority in the Senate, Democrats will need to convince some Republicans to “switch sides” on the vote in order to successfully block an appointment once it moves to the Senate floor. In order to do so, Democrats can demand more thorough investigations and draw out the committee hearings by grilling the nominee. This will require our senators to have stamina and a strong conviction that their constituents and the American people don’t want them to compromise their values. This is where our phone campaigns will make a difference!
That’s all for this week. Thank you for dedicating real time and effort to standing with us for real progress. And don’t forget to share your commitment and actions with friends, both online and in person!
If you have questions or suggestions, or would like to get more involved, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We especially welcome suggestions for potential action items!
Until next week,