This was a big week in national and Washington politics – but we’ll help you stay up to date on what’s going on, and what you can do to help out and advance the cause of progressive policies and politics.
1. House Democrats Pass Education Funding Bill
On a party line 50-47 vote, the state House of Representatives this week passed HB 1843, the Democratic legislative proposal to fully fund education.
This bill will increase education spending, raise teacher salaries, lower class sizes, and fund additional investments in career & technical instruction, bilingual instruction, guidance counselors, the Learning Assistance Program for struggling students, Highly Capable, and other important programs. Meanwhile, Republicans proposed failing amendments to CUT local education funding in the bill.
Now both parties have passed education bills – the House Democratic plan would increase school funding and raise teacher salaries, while the Senate Republican bill raises regressive taxes on the middle class and enact backwards reforms that hurt teachers and students.
A lot of work is yet to be done, but this is a big step forward for full funding for our schools. We’ll continue to keep the spotlight on this issue and how we can push for a fair and effective McCleary solution that helps all students succeed.
2. Republicans Hiding From Constituents
This week was the Congressional recess, and Republicans were here in Washington – but none of them made time to speak with their constituents about important issues like health care and immigration. None of the Congressional Republicans held town hall meetings – so we went to them. Across Washington State, Democrats, progressives, and labor rallied at the offices of the Republicans to hold them accountable.
Across the nation, Republicans returning home from Congress are facing angry constituents demanding answers on a range of issues from the future of health care to what’s happening at the Environmental Protection Agency.
On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, well over a hundred people gathered outside of U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s Vancouver office. Some were hoping the congresswoman would emerge and address their questions directly. Others arrived knowing it was unlikely they would see Herrera Beutler.
Several people carried a cardboard sign picturing the congresswoman sporting a “Where’s Waldo?” striped shirt and hat with the words, “Where’s Jaime?”
More than 100 people rallied and marched on U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse’s Yakima office Wednesday asking to be heard on health care, immigration and other issues.
Carrying signs reading “We want answers” and other messages seeking a meeting, the group marched several blocks from Performance Park to Newhouse’s office at The Tower, at the corner of East Yakima Avenue and South Fourth Street.
The rally was one of a number of similar events in Washington state primarily targeting Republican congressional members by groups unhappy with the Trump administration’s stance on health care, immigration, fiscal policy and a host of other issues.
Members of the Yakima crowd carried letters addressed to Newhouse outlining what they called the disadvantages to repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act.
“Congress should not repeal without replacement and if there’s no replacement, they should leave it alone,” said Alice Westphal, a Yakima nursing assistant.
Where’s Cathy McMorris Rodgers?
This is the question many of the congresswoman’s constituents have been asking after they have invited her to host and attend in person town hall meetings. McMorris Rodgers is not the only Republican member of Congress facing heat from some constituents. Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, California Congressman Darrell Issa, and even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have also been called out.
When U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert appeared on a KCTS 9 livestream Thursday, his message for those constituents demanding he host a public forum was clear: Don’t hold your breath.
“I’m not going to do a town hall,” said Reichert, the longtime Republican representative from the Eastside. “They’re just not productive.”
But as the more than 1,000 protesters near his Issaquah office earlier in the day suggested, that answer may not fly with some of his constituents.
Along with other Republican members of Congress in the state, Reichert has faced criticism from his constituents for not holding any town hall-style public meetings since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Some allege he has even gone so far as to lock one group out of his office — although the same group acknowledged that some of their members later met with his staff.
3. Inslee Leading Charge To Protect Immigrants
While Donald Trump is attacking Muslims and immigrants, Washington is continuing to lead the charge to defend human and civil rights for all.
Gov. Jay Inslee this week signed an executive order restricting state agencies cooperation with Trump’s attacks. The Seattle Times reported:
In a news conference, the governor said the order sends a message about Washington state’s values.
“This executive order makes clear that Washington will not be a willing participant in promoting or carrying out mean-spirited policies that break up families and compromise our national security and, importantly, our community safety,” Inslee said.
The order, however, will not interfere with federal law, and “if there is a federal criminal arrest warrant, we will honor it,” he said.
He said the goal of the executive order is to make sure state workers remain focused on their jobs, not on enforcing immigration statutes. Fears of deportation could lead undocumented immigrants to bypass state services or cooperate with law enforcement investigating crimes, Inslee said.
Inslee has emerged in recent weeks as a leading voice against the Trump administration, railing against the administration’s actions over the Affordable Care Act, federal protections for transgender students and immigration policy.
What you can do
1. Levy cliff bill still waiting on a vote!
Despite action on education funding in the House, Senate Republicans are still refusing to allow a vote on the “levy cliff” legislation that would prevent $358 million in school funding cuts statewide next year if the legislature doesn’t act. The bill received bipartisan support in the House, but Senate Republicans refused to act on it.
Gov. Jay Inslee and school superintendents from the Lake Washington, Federal Way, Sunnyside, and Seattle school districts held a press conference calling on Senate Republicans to hold a vote on the bill so that the legislature can prevent funding cuts:
The four superintendents from Seattle, Lake Washington, Sunnyside and Federal Way School districts said their districts would take a combined hit of $66 million if the bill doesn’t pass — ranging from $2 million in the Sunnyside district to $30 million in Seattle.
While timing for each district varies, Seattle Superintendent Larry Nyland said that his district will have to send out budget notices next Tuesday notifying schools about potential staffing allocations.
Dino Rossi represents the 45th LD in the Senate and is one of the Republican budget leaders, but he’s preventing the bill from moving forward. His inaction is creating the possibility for huge cuts to schools in his area and across the state.
We all know Dino Rossi, and we know that we’re going to have to FORCE him to act. Call Rossi’s office at 360-786-7672 and let him know that we need to avoid school funding cuts and students, teachers, and the superintendent of the schools in his own district are ALL calling on the Senate to allow a vote on the levy cliff bill, HB 1059!
2. Share Video of Gov. Inslee
You may have seen above the link to Gov. Inslee on MSNBC – let’s share the link of him standing up for our values with our friends and neighbors. You can email the link, share it on Facebook, or retweet on Twitter, with a sample message like:
“America was founded to be a welcoming place for all who seek better lives and to help us grow together. I’m proud of our Governor Jay Inslee for standing up for these basic principles and rejecting Donald Trump’s attacks on human and civil rights! Thank you Jay!”
3. Help fund our grassroots organizing – join the DEM club!
We’re looking to expand our communications program and hire organizers to help the grassroots activate against Donald Trump and the Republicans. Joining our Democrats Every Month club (the DEM club!) is a great way to make a small monthly commitment to support Democratic organizing and progressive politics.
If you’ve already signed up for the DEM club, send this link or forward this email to a friend and encourage them to join us! This is the most important thing we can do to build our Party and the progressive movement.
Thank you for your support!