Call of the Day: Let Congress Know You're Paying Attention

If you're anything like me, you've been glued to the computer for the past 24 hours.  (Okay, week.)  (Okay, month.)  (Okay, we haven't slept since November 9th.)  The unending barrage of new developments in the Trump-Russia investigation – including the appointment of a special prosecutor (YAY!) and the fact that our very own Representative Steve Scalise KNEW that Trump was backed by the Russians BEFORE the election and laughed it off (BOO!) – all of it has kept me, and probably you too, calling our Congressional reps relentlessly.

But while we're all distracted by the Trump-Russia investigation, Congress is keeping up with business as usual. And that's not a good thing.

So today's call is another grab bag (courtesy of 5calls.org).  Call about one issue or all three.

** ISSUE ONE: STOP THE MIDNIGHT RULES RELIEF ACT **

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security passed S.34, the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which would allow Congress to vote down large blocks of legislation submitted to Congress in the last 60 legislative days of the previous presidential administration.  The really nasty thing about this Act is that it obscures how your representative is voting.  Your representative can block a particular bill or program as part of the bloc, without actually voting against the bill on the record.  S.34 already passed the House, and its next step is a full vote on the Senate floor.  This is our last chance to stop this bill.

WHO TO CALL:

Senator Bill Cassidy - in DC at (202) 224-5824, and in Metairie at (504) 838-0130.

Senator John Kennedy - in DC at (202) 224-4623, and in Monroe at (318) 361-1489.  (<-- Note the new number.  Several of you have reported that Kennedy's Lafayette office just rings and rings.  So we'll just try a different number then until somebody picks up!)

Sample Script:

Hi, my name is [Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].  I don't need a response.

I'm calling in opposition to S.34, the Midnight Rules Relief Act.  Congress should not be allowed to vote down federal regulations, programs, and services without carefully considering each one, and the transparency of making that vote easy to find for constituents.

Thank you for your time and your work answering phones.

** ISSUE TWO: PROTECT DODD-FRANK REGULATIONS **

House Republicans have introduced legislation known as the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 (H.R. 10) that would repeal key regulations from the financial legislation passed in the wake of the Great Recession known as the Dodd-Frank Act.  First, HR 10 would repeal the Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from making certain kinds of speculative investments, such as those that led to the housing market crash in 2008.  Second, it would strip enforcement powers from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), including the ability to fine institutions for unfair lending practices (which the CFPB recently used to fine Wells Fargo $100 million for opening 2 million fake accounts that their customers didn't know about).  We do not need a return to the same irresponsible banking practices that led us to the Great Recession!

HR 10 has already passed out of House Committee, and its next step is a full vote on the House floor.

WHO TO CALL:

Representative Steve Scalise - in DC at (202) 225-3015, and in Metairie at (504) 837-1259

OR

Representative Cedric Richmond - in DC at (202) 225-6636, and in New Orleans at (504) 288-3777

Because of how Congressional districts are drawn, New Orleans residents have either Richmond or Scalise as their representative.  If you don't know who your representative is, you can look it up by entering your home address on the U.S. House of Representatives website.

Sample Script:

Hi, my name is [Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].  I don't need a response.

I'm calling to express my opposition to H.R. 10, the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017, which would undermine the crucial consumer protections provided by the Dodd-Frank Act.  These regulations protect consumers from risky lending practices and corporate greed.

Thank you for your time and your work answering phones.

** ISSUE THREE: DON'T LET CONGRESS HAMSTRING THE FEDERAL GOVERNNMENT **

The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2017, or REINS Act, would make it much harder for federal agencies to create, manage, and fund the programs that serve the American people.  Under REINS, among other obstructions, ALL major programs and funding requests for services must be submitted to and passed by both chambers of Congress within 70 days – meaning if they don't want to fund a request, Congress can simply sit on it until time expires, then table it.  S.21 already passed the House, and its next step is a full vote on the Senate floor.  This is our last chance to stop this bill.

WHO TO CALL:

Senator Bill Cassidy - in DC at (202) 224-5824, and in Metairie at (504) 838-0130.

Senator John Kennedy - in DC at (202) 224-4623, and in Monroe at (318) 361-1489.

Sample Script:

Hi, my name is [Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].  I don't need a response. 

I'm calling in opposition to S. 21, the REINS Act. Congress should not create regulations to obstruct the operation of the federal government.

Thank you for your time and your work answering phones.