Today I called my Senators (which took about 100 years, they all have busy signals) and tasked them to reject Sessions and DeVos confirmation, both of which are likely to come tomorrow or by the end of the week. DeVos only needs one more Republican Senator to deny her a vote and she’s out, so if you haven’t been calling, now is really the time to start. In fact, if you want to know how your Senator voted for each of POTUS’ cabinet nominations, use this great tool and hold your elected officials responsible.
Bigger news today was the Seattle city council voting to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo because of their backing of the Dakota Access pipeline. This is a huge win, and the incredible grassroots organizations and protests in Seattle deserve all the thanks.
In NYC, more than 1,000 Yemeni American grocery stores are planning a large strike on Thursday, to protest POTUS’ executive order on immigration.
The administration had a very busy day today. POTUS ordered an easement for the Dakota Access pipeline, paving the way for construction to restart despite the protests of thousands at Standing Rock, lead by the Sioux tribe who’s land they’re infringing on. It’s already been reported that the police and private security contractors are reconvening on the camps and front lines of Standing Rock.
Steve Mnuchin (SecTreasury) and Tom Price (SecHHS) made it through the committee stage after Senate GOP suspended the rules because of a boycott by Senate Democrats. Sessions (Attorney General) was also sent to a full vote, while Senate Democrats boycotted the vote for Scott Pruitt (EPA). The only roadblock the cabinet nominations faced today was two Republican Senators, Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), who said they will vote no on DeVos. The biggest get was Rex Tillerson’s confirmation as SecState.
Related to Tillerson: House Republicans voted to repeal an SEC requirement for energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. They also repealed a rule that prevents coal waste from being dumped in stream. Both totally fine, nothing shady here, carry on.
Down the DC rumor mill today came the news that POTUS wants to rename a U.S. program designed to counter violent ideologies so that focuses solely on “Islamic extremism.” The current program, “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) would be renamed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or some variation thereof, and would no longer target groups like white supremacists. Seems fine, nothing shady here, carry on.
Further from the mill came a draft executive order from POTUS that would allow religious organizations that receive federal dollars to hire and fire employees based on their beliefs. This opens the floodgates for employers to deny health care benefits for birth control, prevent same-sex couples from adopting, and pretty much screw over LGBTQ+ and women folk.
Now my favorite moment of today: POTUS warned Mexican President Nieto that he would send U.S. troops to stop the “bad hombres down there” unless Nieto did more to stop them. Nothing says friendliness like threatening military invasion.