Postcards from Home for 4/24/2020

VOTE BY MAIL

Public health officials have urged Americans to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). We must also protect elections Americans shouldn’t have to choose between their health and their right to cast a ballot. Senators Klobuchar and Wyden have introduced the National Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA), which would expand early voting and ensure that every American can safely cast a mail ballot.


Despite the president’s rhetoric, state party leaders across the country are aggressively urging their voters to cast ballots by mail, GOP officials confirm. In addition, Republican officeholders in at least 16 states that do not have all-mail elections are encouraging people to vote absentee during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a tally by The Washington Post. Republican governors or secretaries of state in Georgia, Ohio, New Hampshire and Iowa, who announced in recent days that they would allow widespread voting by mail in upcoming elections

Co-sponsors are all Democrats.

Suggested message:
I shouldn’t have to choose between my health and my vote. This is neither a Republican or Democrat issue; it is an American one. Co-sponsor and vote for the National Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 (NDEBA).
Addresses: Plan to write to all Senate non-sponsors.
Republicans at Washington, DC 20510

INSPECTOR GENERAL FIRINGS

Over the past month, President Trump has fired one inspector general, removed an acting inspector general set to oversee the pandemic response and its more than $2 trillion dollars in new funding, and publicly criticized another from the White House briefing room.


Inspectors general (IGs) serve as semi-independent actors across cabinet departments, agencies, and other government entities with the mission and power to investigate wrongdoing within those agencies. They report to Congress, not to the president. But can be fired by the President.
Trump administration has had historically high turnover in offices of inspector general. Of the 74 offices of inspector general, 13 of them are currently vacant, have an official serving in an acting capacity, or have a nominee set to replace a current IG.


HHS and Treasury, central to the pandemic fight and the economic recovery, do not even have a nominee in front of the Senate.
Politicization is obvious in Homeland Security. Since the appointment of IG Joseph Cuffari in 2019, investigations and audits have plummeted to record lows even as DHS consistently makes the GAO “High-Risk List,” an annual list that identifies “government operations with vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or in need of transformation to
address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges.”

To protect IGs, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) recently proposed the “Inspector General Independence Act of 2020,” which would set fixed, renewable terms of IGs and include a for-cause basis for their premature removal. Other officials, such as appointees to independent commissions or the Federal Reserve, enjoy such protections in an
effort to enhance their independence from the White House.


Suggested message:
Support the Inspector General Independence Act of 2020. Remove POTUS’ license to fire IG’s at will. They must be given the power to act as independent agents.

SAVE THE US POSTAL SERVICE, (ODDLY) WITHOUT POSTCARDS

U.S. Postal Service plays an enormous role in our lives. It is the only government agency that visits our homes and businesses on a regular basis. With stores largely shut down, the USPS is keeping us supplied with food, clothes, distance-schooling materials for kids, and prescription drugs. Yesterday’s mail brought THE NEW YORKER, the ATLANTIC, and my wife’s birthday present. 

Private delivery companies move a lot of packages, but don’t go to every household in the country; often they pay the USPS to carry small packages for the final stretch. 

Six hundred thousand Americans work for the USPS. One hundred thousand USPS are military veterans. An estimated 60% of those veterans are disabled. 

A great many states – red, blue, and purple – are encouraging citizens to vote by mail in the remaining 2020 primary elections. Postcard Friday supports the widespread movement to use mail-in ballots in the 2020 general election. As another issue for this week puts it, “We should not have to choose between our health and our vote.” 

Sadly, the USPS is going broke. This is due, in part, to the development of electronic modes of communication. But the USPS also has been weakened by legislation requiring it to prepay pension and retiree health care costs for all employees, even those who haven’t yet retired. And Covid-19 pandemic has drastically reduced the demand for postal services. We get hardly any junk mail these days. 

The recent CARES Act contained a $10 billion loan for the postal service. But Trump threatened to veto the bill if it provided any direct aid for the USPS. 

Recipients 

These Senators may be contacted in several ways: 

  • Send them an email. I’ve tested several of these links and it appears that Senators do accept emails from persons who do not reside in their states. 
  • If you have a Facebook account, you can (1) leave a version of this message on the Facebook page of nearly every member of Congress. This has the advantage that other Facebook users may see it. Scroll down the page until you see a relevant post and insert your message as a comment. (You also can (2) post the message on your own page, where, who knows, it might go viral. ☺) 
  • Alternatively, you can phone. 

New York’s Senators 

Charles Schumer – email, facebook or phone at (585) 263-5866 

Kirsten Gillibrand – email, facebook or phone at (585) 263-6250 

Republicans on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs 

Ron Johnson – email, facebook or phone at (202) 224-5323 

Rob Portman – email, or phone at 202-224-3353 

Rand Paul – email, facebook, or phone at 202-224-4343 

James Lankford – email, facebook or phone at (202) 224-5754 

Mitt Romney – email, facebook, or phone at (202) 224-5251 

Rick Scott – email, facebook, or phone at (202) 224-5274 (Scott’s website is ‘under repair’) 

Michael Enzi – email, facebook or phone at (202) 224-3424 

Josh Hawley – email, facebook, or phone at 202-224-6154 

Democrats on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs 

Gary Peters – email, facebook, or phone at (202-224-6221) 

Margaret Hassan– email, facebook, or phone at (202) 224-3324 

Thomas Carper – email, facebook or phone at (202) 224-2441 

Kamala Harris – email, facebook, or phone at (916) 448 – 2787 

Kyrsten Sinema – email, facebook, or phone at (602) 598-7327 

Jacky Rosen – email, facebook, or phone at 202-224-6244 

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