This is going to be a roller-coaster of a week in Washington. There’s a hell of a lot going on and it’s going to be hard to stay focused what with the grotesque orange man-child in the White House doubling down on his Obama-surveillance fever dream and tweeting about Hillary getting the questions for the presidential debates ahead of time.
Yes. He did. I don’t know what’s worse, him tweeting about a non-issue while there are real, legitimate crises going on in the US and around the world or the 67k users who liked the tweet.
Anyway. Let’s see what’s on order in D.C.?
The Main Concern: Intervention in Yemen (Click here for a broader look at the issue)
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has requested that the US provide “limited support” for a military operation in Yemen. A bipartisan group of Representatives in the House (Mark Pocan (D-WI, 2nd), Justin Amash (R-MI, 3rd), Ted Leiu (D-CA, 33rd), and Walter Jones (R-NC, 3rd) have drafted a letter to President Trump requesting that he obey the U.S. Constitutional mandate regarding declarations of war and The War Powers Resolution and obtain Congressional Authorization prior to engaging U.S. forces in a military operation.
Call your Representative and let them know you want them to sign this letter urging the President to honor the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution before committing the U.S. to a military intervention in a foreign war.
Here is a script if you need one!
(if you are a registered voter, it’s important your Congressperson KNOWS you live in their State and are watching their actions) Hello. My name is (NAME), I am a US citizen living in (STATE), my zip code is (ZIP). I am calling to ask the Representative to sign the Pocan-Amash-Lieu-Jones bi-partisan letter urging President Trump to seek authorization from Congress before escalating the war in Yemen. The deadline to do so is April 4th.
It’s crucial that President Trump adhere to the rules set forth in the US Constitution. There are millions of lives and escalating aggressions with Iran at stake and broad disagreement within our own government regarding how to respond.
The Background Info:
The letter from Mark Pocan (D-WI, 2nd), Justin Amash (R-MI, 3rd), Ted Leiu (D-CA, 33rd), and Walter Jones (R-NC, 3rd) reads:
“Engaging our military against Yemen’s Houthis when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers clearly delineated in the Constitution. For this reason, we write to request that the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) provide, without delay, any legal justification that it would cite if the administration intends to engage in direct hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis without seeking congressional authorization.”
(See Friends Committee on National Legislation: https://www.fcnl.org/updates/ask-your-rep-put-the-brakes-on-yemen-war-715, 4/3/2017)
For more information about the crisis in Yemen and its impact on the region:
- New York Times 3/29/2017: U.S. War Footprint Grows in Middle East, With No End Game in Sight
- Washington Post 3/26/2017: Trump Administration Weighs Deeper Involvement in Yemen War
- Washington Post 2/24/2017: Hundreds of Thousands of Yemeni Children are Nearing Starvation
- The Guardian 3/16/2017: Yemen ‘at point of no return’ as conflict leaves almost 7 million close to famine
Other Stuff to Keep an Eye on:
The Gorsuch Filibuster
According the New York Times Democrats have the votes to filibuster the Gorsuch SCOTUS nomination, although it remains to be seen whether the Republicans in the Senate will change the rules and force through the confirmation. (See The New York Times 4/3/2017: Senate Democrats Appear Poised to Filibuster Gorsuch Nomination).
Senate Committee Hearings of Interest.
- Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is holding a hearing regarding Trump’s nomination of Scott Gottlieb to head the FDA.
- Foreign Relations is holding a hearing on Tuesday, April 4th to “examine the European Union as a partner against Russian aggression, focusing on sanctions, security, democratic institutions, and the way forward.”
- Homeland Security and Government Affairs is holding a hearing on April 4th to “examine fencing along the Southwest border” (that’s the gorgeous bigly wall that the great and powerful orange one has promised) and April 5th to “examine improving border security and public safety.”
The House of Representatives Hearings of Interest:
- Education and the Workforce is holding a hearing on April 5th to discuss H.R. 1180 which allows employers to offer employees compensatory time off IN LEIU OF overtime compensation.
- Committee on Financial Services is holding a hearing on April 4th relating to the Federal Reserve’s “mandate and governance structure” to “examine how well the Federal Reserve’s statutory mandate and governance institutions more generally are performing in terms of providing foundational support for businesses and household economic opportunities.” Yes, this is as terrifying as it sounds.
- Committee on Appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies is holding a hearing on April 5th regarding the Federal response to the US opioid crisis.
- Natural Resources is holding a hearing on April 6th on the following bills H.R. 218, H.R. 497, H.R. 1157, and H.R. 1728 all of which seek to either “modify” or “clarify” boundaries on federally protected lands.