fresh voices from the front lines of change








Vernell Robinson

Making a #HomesGuarantee a Reality For All

My name is Vernell Robinson, and I live on front lines of our nation’s housing crisis. My voice, and other voices of those directly affected by this crisis, belong at the table with decision-makers – because we are the ones who know what needs to change, now. That’s why I was proud to chair the first-ever Congressional briefing on a Homes Guarantee with Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (IL) and Ayanna Pressley (MA) and other People’s Action members, on Capitol Hill last Tuesday. What is a Homes Guarantee? It’s simple. The way we see it, in the richest country in the history of the world, we CAN and we MUST guarantee safe, healthy, and truly affordable homes for all. When we say “Homes Guarantee,” we are talking about policies that include massive public investment in housing, with millions of new social housing units, sweeping tenant protections, reparations, and regulation of Wall Street to stop housing costs from spiraling out of control. These ideas aren't radical. In many advanced countries, social housing is the norm. So take it from me – we’re just getting started. We won’t rest until we have a #HomesGuarantee for everyone in this country. That’s what it will look like to put people over profit. With some political imagination and courage, we can do it.

AG Barr In Contempt Of Congress

Congress and Barr steam toward clash over contempt. Politico: "The House Judiciary Committee will proceed with a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress on Wednesday, Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) confirmed late Monday, as the Justice Department attempts to fend off the effort ahead of a negotiating session with the Democratic-led committee on Tuesday. Nadler's firm stance comes as he seeks punitive actions against the attorney general for defying a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report on the Russia investigation and its underlying evidence. It also comes hours after the Justice Department put forward a last-ditch plea to negotiate with the panel, offering a Wednesday meeting but later agreeing to Nadler’s demand for a Tuesday sit-down. 'At the moment, our plans to consider holding Attorney General Barr accountable for his failure to comply with our subpoena still stand,' Nadler said in a statement. 'My hope is that we make concrete progress at tomorrow’s meeting towards resolving this dispute. The committee remains committed to finding a reasonable accommodation.'"

Treasury Refuses To Reveal Trump Tax Returns

Mnuchin refuses to turn over Trump taxes to House Democrats. CNN: "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday denied a request from House Democrats for access to six years of President Donald Trump's personal tax returns. 'I am informing you now that the Department may not lawfully fulfill the Committee's request,' Mnuchin wrote in his one-page letter, written in consultation with lawyers from the Department of Justice. Mnuchin added that the Department of Justice would issue a formal legal opinion. The denial comes after two missed deadlines by the Treasury secretary, who again in his letter said the request by House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal under an obscure statute of tax law is 'unprecedented,' arguing it raises 'serious constitutional questions' that could have dire consequences for taxpayer privacy. Trump has refused to release his tax information, first as a candidate and now as president, breaking a precedent going back to Watergate."

Trump Tweets May Derail China Trade Talks

Inside the White House's bitter fight over China. NPR: "President Trump escalated the trade fight with China this week, saying he will steeply increase tariffs on Chinese products this Friday. But while the White House projects a unified front in favor of wielding tariffs as a weapon against China, it wasn't always this way. Early in Trump's presidency, close advisers fought bitterly over whether tariffs would help — or devastate — the U.S. economy. And the disagreements weren't just behind closed doors. 'They were having fights in front of the Chinese delegation, which is like a cardinal sin of negotiating,' says Susan Thornton, former acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. As for the president, he has long railed against China and its trade relationship with the United States, calling the U.S.-China trade deficit 'the greatest theft in the history of the world.' On the campaign trail, he frequently offered tariffs as a way to rebalance trade with China and revive American manufacturing jobs. Still, when Trump was elected, he assembled a team of advisers who were not always in agreement about how to confront China. And the group quickly splintered, deadlocked over whether tariffs would bring China to heel — or send the world's two largest economies into turmoil."

EPA Stalls On Contaminated Water In 43 States

As EPA stalls, 43 states have water sites contaminated with toxic chemicals. ThinkProgress: "Toxic chemicals found in nonstick cooking pans and other household items have contaminated more than 600 water sources across at least 43 states, according to a new report, with Michigan by far the most impacted. The findings underscore the wider water crisis facing the United States and are likely to increase pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enact stricter limits on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), toxic chemicals that can increase the risk of cancer and other severe health problems. New analysis published Monday by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University finds that 610 water sources across the country contain PFAS. The water systems include drinking water sources that serve upwards of 19 million people, along with military and industrial sites, dumps, and airports. PFAS itself is found in everything from firefighting foam to rain jackets. Using data from sources including the federal Safe Drinking Water Information System and the Pentagon, the authors mapped the nationwide prevalence of PFAS. The version released Monday reflects an updated map — the last version was released in July 2018 and found 172 contaminated sites in 40 states. And it is likely that the new report still doesn’t account for many contaminated sites around the country."

SCOTUS To Rule Soon On LGBTQ Rights

Here’s what to know — and what to do — about the Supreme Court’s major LGBT rights cases. The Lily: "The Supreme Court is set to rule on whether LGBT Americans are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. The conservative-leaning court will decide whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination, is broad enough to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, we don’t need to wait for the Supreme Court ruling interpreting Title VII. We can to take action now to push for equal employment rights for LGBT Americans. On May 1, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Equality Act, which would ban all discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in everything from employment and housing to education and public accommodations. As this bill heads to the full House and beyond, we should make our voices heard and demand an end to workplace inequality."

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