Since January 2017, Olympia Indivisible has been regularly sending a delegation of its members to meet with regional staffers of our Members of Congress in CD-10. Here are notes from that team's most recent visit to Rep. Denny Heck.
Olympia Indivisible Agenda and Responses
December 19, 2019
Congressman Denny Heck’s Office
Phil Gardner, District Director, Dallas Roberts, District Representative
For service in Congress and especially on the Intel committee during the impeachment inquiry.
For getting H.R. 1595 – Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act passed.
Maybe thank you for the passage of the USMCA / US, Mexico, Canada Agreement, but we just don’t believe it’s the best deal the Dems could have gotten.
We are happy that the House has passed Articles of Impeachment, but believe there are multiple reasons to not forward them to the Senate.
The Afghan War Papers: we want Congress to open investigations into the fraud, waste and abuse that has gone on for 18 years in the Afghan War, probably also in the Iraq War, undoubtedly also in Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya. It is probably reasonable to assume that it happens at every US military facility in the world and has for decades. What is Congress doing about it, besides giving the DoD $738 billion dollars?
Response: Phil doesn’t know Rep. Heck’s position on this yet, but he will convey our request. He also said the amount of information members of Congress had on this before the disclosure would vary by member. For example, members of the Armed Services Committee undoubtedly know some of this already.
NDAA gives the DoD $738 billion. Why? The Dems are claiming it’s “progressive” because the military has to do more to investigate sexual assault and now moving expenses are tax deductible, but really, millions of Americans do not have housing, what are we doing about that?
S. 1790: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, on Dec. 11, 2019, the House passes the bill 377 to 48, but Rep. Heck is not one of the brave ones who voted no.
Even the CATO Institute hates it because of the cost, and when progressives agree with CATO, something is terribly wrong.
Fun fact: the bill is 3488 pages in PDF form.
Response: Rep. Heck voted “no” on the original NDAA, but “yes”on the final draft. Phil also said that the size of the budgets are set early on in the committees and members are given a binary choice to support or oppose. Denny has a statement on his website specifically addressing those parts of the bill that he promoted.
What is Congress going to do about DHS and ICE preventing doctors from giving free flu shots to detainees and border facilities? In the past year at least three people have died from the flu in those facilities. What is the House doing? They passed the USMCA without doing anything for the detainees and refugees at the border.
Response: Phil said he will discuss this issue with Rep. Heck.
Why were 3 ACA taxes repealed in the appropriations bill that just passed. We know that the taxes had been suspended, but why couldn’t they could have been restored?
Response: This was forced to get the budget passed so they could show movement in the House and counter the arguments that the Democrats are focusing only on impeachment.
H.R.4540 Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act, is Rep. Neal’s bill to correct the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provisions; it has 79 cosponsors, only 2 GOP and 2 Dems from WA state, but Rep. Heck is not one of them. This is disappointing, because Emily Kolano, from the DC office told me Denny supported this bill rather than H.R.141, so why is he not a cosponsor, especially given that H.R.141 currently has 235 cosponsors including 55 GOP. It would seem that H.R141 has a better chance of passing, but if Rep Heck thinks Neal’s bill is superior why is he not a cosponsor?
Response: Emily Kolano, in Rep Heck’s DC office is still working with Rep. Neal’s office on this issue. (I should also say that Emily was generous enough to give about 20 minutes of her time in a phone conversation with me about this.)
In our last meeting you told us that Rep. Heck sent (or signed on to) a letter opposing the policy changes to SNAP.
On Dec 6th, H.R.5349 Protect SNAP Act was introduced “to prevent the changing of regulations governing the provision of waivers under the supplemental nutrition assistance program, and for other purposes.” It already has 105 cosponsors, can we count on Rep. Heck adding his name?
Response: Dallas spoke to Emily about this issue; it has not yet come across Rep Heck’s desk, but he will likely support it.
In an interview with Foreign Policy, General Mazloum Abdi of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces called on Trump to enforce the Oct. 17 agreement negotiated by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to end Turkey’s violent incursion into northeastern Syria that began in Oct. What is Congress doing to protect the Kurds who have been our most reliable ally in the region for the past 18 years?
Also the concerns about ISIS prisoners being held by the Kurds has vanished from the news, but the problem has not vanished. What is Congress doing about this?
Response: Congress passed sanctions against Turkey, but Trump hasn’t signed the authorization.
H.R.2214 NO BAN Act – National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act
This bill limits the President's authority to suspend or restrict aliens from entering the United States and terminates certain presidential actions implementing such restrictions.
This bill now has 206 cosponsor, 6 democrats from WA, but still not Denny, Why not?
Response: This is in queue to come across Denny’s desk.
H.R.2302 provides a more realistic and rational way to calculate cost of living adjustments and repeals the cap on income subject to Social Security taxation. Why hasn’t Rep. Heck signed onto these bills and does he support them?
Response: Rep. Heck supports H.R. 860: Social Security 2100 Act, sponsored by John Larson and is also in favor of H.R.2302 - Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, sponsored by Ted Deutch.
Phil also informed us that H.R. 3: Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, passed the House last week, though it looks different than the original bill. The costs of at least 50 drugs will go down and it will extend Medicare to cover ears, eyes and mouth.