Norma’s Corner

June 2019

6/6/2019

In another age, exposure of foreign interference in a U.S. election would have brought Republicans and Democrats together to develop a strong response. This President has not only not acknowledged Russian involvement, he is investigating and endangering our intelligence services for investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election. In 2018, the White House eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council.  So far there's been little action in Congress to secure the 2020 election. The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed two bills addressing election security but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring them up for a vote, nor has he allowed consideration of HR 1, For The People Act of 2019, the Democrats' major anti-corruption bill that includes addressing issues of election security, voting rights, money in politics, etc.

More targeting of vulnerable groups: the Denial of Care Rule was finalized by President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services. The Center for Reproductive Rights charged that this discriminatory rule invites health care workers to impose their personal religious or moral beliefs on patients, giving them the unmitigated power to decide who receives care and who doesn't. There are no limits on what constitutes a religious or moral denial, and it does not need to be a doctor who objects - it could be a hospital receptionist or an orderly booking an operating room. Under the guise of “freedom of religion”, this rule allows government-sanctioned discrimination, particularly affecting gay and transgender people, but also women and abortions. Several organizations are bringing suit. “The Denial of Care Rule is only the latest example of the Trump administration’s efforts to sanction discrimination in the name of religion against all of us in every facet of our lives. The list of those now at risk includes women, LGBTQ people, children in foster care and prospective parents, public schoolchildren, any patient, immigrants, religious minorities, the nonreligious – and all of us who cherish our country’s commitment to true religious freedom for all.” (Americans United, May 31)

 

 
    The Census has become yet another contentious issue. The decennial count established in the U.S. Constitution is the basis for the number of a state's Representatives to Congress, how federal funds are allocated to states, and specifically refers to the count of people not citizens. Introduction of the question of citizenship by the Trump administration has raised the possibility of large undercounts of immigrants and people of color, meaning less funding for major Urban/Democrat communities. Recently exposed was a long-range Republican plan for using the lowered census count for gerrymandering to their advantage. Because of the urgency of timing and organizing for the 2020 Census, watch for an imminent decision by the Court on the citizenship question.

Coming months require discussion and debate in Congress on the 2020 budget. Senator Marco Rubio, along with 26 Senate colleagues, requested Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), to retain long-standing pro-life and religious freedom protections in all Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bills that advance out of the committee. [In the federal budget?!?] Trump's budget plan makes cuts not only to people programs and many science programs, but to the EPA, State Dept and international aid. He wants increased defense spending by $34 billion next year, to a $750 billion budget baseline, a 5 percent boost to defense and military spending over 2019. And adds $8.6 Billion for his border wall. The U.S.spends more on defense than the next 7 countries combined, according to the Stockholm Int'l Peace Institute. Where are this administration's priorities?

(If you have an opinion: Rubio 202/224-3041; Scott 202/224-5274; Buchanan 202/225-5015.)