The Congressional calendar for March is packed, so we wanted to give you a rundown of some of the key issues on Capitol Hill this month. Below is an overview of the issues that could potentially come up, why they matter, and how they might play out.
- Gun Violence Prevention
- Wall Street Deregulation
- A Vote to Stop Trump’s Devastating War in Yemen
Block the NRA’s “Number One Legislative Priority”
- What’s the issue: On February 14, 2018, a high school in Broward County, Florida, experienced a mass shooting when a former student used a legally-purchased assault weapon to kill at least 17 students. This marked the thirtieth mass shooting to that point in 2018 – with more than one school shooting occurring per week in 2018 alone. Since then, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have risen up in the #NeverAgain movement to pass common-sense gun violence prevention laws and end school shootings.
- What to expect: Despite overwhelming public support for gun violence prevention measures such as universal background checks, waiting periods, and ending the sale and possession of high-capacity magazines, the Republican-controlled Senate intends to push forward with the NRA’s “Number One Legislative Priority” — the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (which already passed in the House). Under this legislation, states would be required to recognize other states’ standards governing the possession of concealed firearms in public, depriving states and localities of the right to determine the appropriate gun safety protocols for their communities.
- Bottom line: Your Senator needs to hear from you that voting to loosen gun safety laws in the wake of this tragedy is unacceptable. We need sensible laws to take guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and others—not more people carrying guns in public. Use our resource to hold your MoC accountable if they voted for this in the House, and tell your Senator: thoughts and prayers are not enough—vote no on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.
- Off the Hill: Even as Republicans in Congress stonewall nearly every proposed measure that could stem the tide of gun violence in America, states are taking decisive action to push back against the NRA’s agenda. We have a resource on the myriad ways states can act to prevent gun violence, and we’re working with the National School Walkout to help them organize student walkouts across the nation on April 20 (the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings). You can register a walkout here, and see where students have already registered a walkout by checking out the map here.
Tell Your Senator to Vote No on the Bank Lobbyist Act
- What’s the issue: House Republicans voted to gut the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law this past summer with legislation called the “Financial Choice Act.” Now, on the heels of a huge giveaway to the rich and corporations with the #GOPTaxScam, the Senate is back with its own version of Wall Street deregulation in the form of the deceivingly-titled “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155).”
- What to expect: The Senate will vote on this bill the week of March 5 – and with 12 Democratic co-sponsors, it’s expected to pass. This “Bank Lobbyist Act” will put us at risk of another financial crisis by loosening tough restrictions on 25 out of the largest 38 banks in the country. It opens the door wider for mortgage originators to engage in discriminatory lending practices. It also ends protection for homebuyers from surprise insurance fees and taxes, and allows lenders to surprise buyers with new predatory loan terms at the time of closing, without adequate time for review. These changes and more tilt the playing field further in favor of the big banks and put consumers at risk.
- Bottom line: It’s not too late for Democrats to acknowledge they made a mistake and end their support for this bill. You can use our resource and call script to call your Senator and tell them: don’t sow the seeds of the next financial crisis. Vote no on S. 2155.
Tell Congress to reclaim its constitutional authority and stand up to Trump.
- What’s the issue: Trump has doubled down on the United States’ participation in the Yemen civil war. By backing a Saudi-led coalition with weapons, intelligence, and refueling support, the U.S. is complicit in the massive humanitarian crisis that has resulted, and has entered into a tangled web of alliances that is counter to our national security. What’s more, Congress has never authorized this war, even though the Constitution places war authority powers in the legislature’s hands. It’s time for Congress to do its job and rebuke the #TrumpThreatLevel.
- What to expect: A bipartisan group of senators is using a procedure under the War Powers Resolution to force a vote on the Senate floor on S.J.Res. 54 to stop Trump’s war in Yemen. This will happen very quickly, and a vote is expected the week of March 12. Each senator will have to decide whether to reclaim their constitutional war powers, or give yet more power to Trump.
- Bottom line: Tell your senators to vote for this resolution and stop Trump’s illegal and inhumane war in Yemen. There’s a short window of time to influence this vote, and this effort will serve as a trial balloon for whether Congress will stop Trump from starting other illegal wars in the future (such as in North Korea).
Protect DREAMers and Immigrant Families from Deportation
- What’s the issue: Funding for the government expires on March 23. This time, instead of a “continuing resolution” (which authorizes agencies to spend the same amount of money as before), Congress is expected to pass an “omnibus” spending bill, which will set new spending levels for agencies through the end of the fiscal year. The omnibus is Congress’ last chance to demand protections for Dreamers because Republicans are unlikely to do anything unless they absolutely have to.
- What to expect: Even with the federal court cases requiring that the U.S. Government accept DACA renewals beyond the March 5 deadline Trump unilaterally imposed, the number of DACA recipients losing their protections will dramatically increase on March 5th, the “DACA cliff.” Remember that the federal court decision on DACA does not fix the problem—it does not provide permanent relief for Dreamers. Only Congress can do that. Plus there is always a chance another court will make a different ruling. This why it’s so critical that Congress take action to protect Dreamers, either by passing some form of relief or by making it harder for them to face deportation by refusing to fund Trump’s deportation force.
- Bottom line: Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell all say they want to protect Dreamers—yet their actions indicate that they would rather deport them. Congress must act to protect Dreamers from Trump’s deportation machine, or break the promise that the United States made to them when DACA was first created by President Obama.