3 Key Activist Efforts This Week That Don't Involve Trying to Impeach Donald Trump
Americans attempting to enjoy their Sunday were galvanized by the news that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer promising him dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. The revelation was catnip to those pinning their hopes on Trump's impeachment, but most activists kept their attention and organizing efforts on fighting against the Senate’s delayed health care bill and so-called Voter Integrity Commission and on protecting net neutrality.
Here's what to watch for this week.
1. Sit-Ins and Arrests Protesting the Health Care Bill
Mitch McConnell announced Monday that he hopes to have a new version of the Affordable Care Act repeal bill as early as Thursday, with, as Politico reports, a new Congressional Budget Office score early the following week. Multiple advocacy groups, which had already spent the bulk of the Senate’s July 4 recess confronting their senators about the bill, continued their fight. The focus remains on 10 senators (the TrumpCare Ten) up for reelection in 2018 in vulnerable states, many of whose residents rely on Obamacare to survive.
Photo courtesy of the Indivisible Project
ADAPT, a national disability rights advocacy group, has emerged as a key player in the fight to protect the ACA, and in particular its Medicaid funding. Before and during the July 4 recess, activists from ADAPT staged sit-ins and were arrested at multiple senate offices including those of Colorado Senator Cory Gardner in Denver; Mitch McConnell in Washington, D.C.; and Rob Portman in Columbus, Ohio.
Images of disabled protesters handcuffed, or worse, dragged out of their wheelchairs, were circulated widely. Protesters at Gardner’s office sat in for 59 hours before being arrested, and nine were held for over 24 hours by Denver police, according to an ADAPT statement.
Activists showed no signs of slowing down as the Senate came back in session. Multiple groups arrived at the Capitol building on Monday to target senators like Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and on the House side, Rep. Paul Ryan.
Vox's Jeff Stein captured video of the protesters and police:
Police forcing activists out of Ryan's office. Getting handcuffs ready outside https://t.co/az5xZlv7Po— Jeff Stein (@Jeff Stein)1499716123.0
24 Capitol Police officers. 7 protesters. https://t.co/UbxEMx6IT4— Jeff Stein (@Jeff Stein)1499716306.0
Photo courtesy of the Indivisible Project
2. ACLU Sues the Voter Integrity Commission
While most of the anti-Trump energy has focused on health care, multiple groups are keeping a careful eye on voting rights and the so-called Voter Integrity Commission’s requests for key voter information.
While at least 44 states have rejected the requests, the ACLU isn’t taking any chances, and filed a lawsuit against President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The suit alleges that the commission violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act. According to the complaint, "Defendants have violated FACA in two respects... The Pence-Kobach Commission has already held its first meeting without public notice; without making that meeting open to the public; and without timely notice in the Federal Register.”
Secondly, the complaint alleges that the commission was only created to mask the fact that Trump lost the popular vote in the 2016 presidential race. The real issue is not voter fraud, which Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State is obsessed with, but voter suppression, which various groups including the ACLU are readying campaigns against.
3. Protecting Net Neutrality: Day of Action on July 12
Consumer advocacy groups are frequently at odds with large corporations like Google and Amazon, but on July 12, they're coming together for what organizers hope will be one of the largest digital protests ever, a massive push to protect net neutrality and prevent the largest telecom companies from controlling our access to the internet.
Thanks to 2015 regulations passed by President Obama, internet service providers can't slow down, block or restrict access to particular apps or websites. Trump's Federal Communications Commission, led by former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, under the guise of a proposal called "Restoring Internet Freedom," wants to roll back these regulations, paving the way for a segregated internet experience, where providers can make customers pay a premium for faster speeds or the ability to access certain sites.
On July 12, dozens of apps and websites will feature banners, pop-ups and push alerts encouraging users to contact the FCC and their representatives to demand protections for net neutrality. Advocacy groups Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund and Demand Progress have created Battleforthenet.com, a clearinghouse for information on net neutrality, where corporations can download ads and images for use on the 12th, and consumers can get scripts for calling the FCC and Congress. According to the site, scores of companies have joined, including giant players like Amazon, Google, Netflix, and Reddit.
The FCC is collecting public comments on Restoring Internet Freedom through July 17, and replies to the comments through August 12.