President Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government, as well as reports that Russian operatives may have been responsible for email hacks that were arguably damaging to the Democratic National Committee and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during last year’s election, have been generating a seemingly endless avalanche of sensational media coverage for the past several months. The Trump-Russia question deserves to be covered and investigated, of course, but there is an argument to be made that the extraordinary amount of attention it continues to receive might be distracting activists from other important issues.
Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration continue to introduce bills and issue executive orders that have serious long-term implications. There are several bills circulating in Congress now that could be significantly damaging to the environment, public education, reproductive rights, the working class, immigrants and national healthcare, among other things. Yet none of these bills are attracting the attention or angst from liberals that one might expect. This is, quite possibly, due to so much of our time and energy being focused on Donald Trump himself and his ongoing Russia scandal.
Again, the Russia scandal deserves attention, but we must also keep our eye on other issues that could have serious negative effects on millions of Americans and people in other countries.
Here are a few of the bills, in no particular order, that have recently been introduced in Congress and could come up for a vote in the foreseeable future.
Yes, that is the actual title of the bill, and it also happens to be the entire text of the bill. Well, to be fair, the entire body of the bill reads, “The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” At least there won’t be any confusion about what the bill is. There is no mention of replacing the EPA or delegating its duties to another agency. If you want a refresher on what the environment in the U.S. was like before the EPA came along, you can check out this recent article from Defiant, which has lots of pictures.
— Zeke Lee (@aczekelee) February 18, 2017
This is exactly the type of thing that made liberals so adamant and vocal in their resistance of Betsy DeVos’ nomination to become Secretary of Education. Now that she is secretary, Congress is helping her do exactly what everyone feared…but no one is freaking out about it. At least this bill is actually more than one sentence long. Its full title is “HR 610 To distribute Federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standards in schools.” Granted, there are already voucher programs in place. HR 610 would just expand them and their funding, which is a nice little boon for charter school industry. Throwing in the part about eliminating nutritional requirements for schools that receive vouchers was a nice touch to make it absolutely clear that children’s best interests are not a concern, in case there was still any question of that.
Well, maybe you feel like a few more vouchers isn’t that big of a deal. But how about getting rid of the entire Department of Education, along with the EPA of course. And, like the EPA bill, “H.R.899 – To terminate the Department of Education” is also only once sentence long. This bill is a huge deal. If this gets passed by the Republican-controlled Congress, it will have devastating effects on public education in America, especially for low-income and working-class families.
This one actually is getting some of the attention it deserves. After all, repealing the ACA could leave millions of Americans, many of them children, without healthcare coverage. We included it here just as a reminder that it is still on the table and making its way through Congress.
Another bill with serious implications for public health, especially women’s health. Planned Parenthood provides an array of preventive services such as cancer screenings for women, often on a sliding pay scale based on income. This bill is obviously a direct attack on reproductive rights, but it will also destroy all of the other good work that Plant Parenthood clinics do for their communities.
— The Hill (@thehill) February 25, 2017
While this bill would not “end unions” as some have suggested, it would make it harder for unions to organize and operate. It would be a serious blow to the labor movement and working-class families.
This bill is another assault on immigrants and their allies and supporters. HR 83 targets city’s that have deemed themselves “sanctuary cities,” meaning that they will not use local resources to track down possible illegal immigrants. Many sanctuary cities argue that they simply do not have the law enforcement resources to focus on immigration issues. This bill will “prohibit the receipt of Federal financial assistance by sanctuary cities.” In other words, if cash-strapped cities do not divert funds to helping federal authorities track down illegal immigrants, they will no longer be eligible for federal funding.
Bills often die in committee, or they could get voted down in Congress, but these bills deserve attention. If they seem troubling to you, contact your representatives and let them know that you do not support these bills.
[Featured image by Getty Images/Press Pool]