Letters to Congress: Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, Cabinet appointees must be able & willing to stand up to him

Write your senators. I did:

Dear Senator,

President Trump pledged throughout his campaign to appoint an anti-choice nominee who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and his first 11 days in office have shown that we absolutely should take him at his word when he threatens to enact policies that restrict our freedoms.

As your constituent, I’m asking you to ensure that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee commits to upholding the Constitution, all of the Constitution, including Roe v. Wade. If they won’t, I ask that you commit to blocking the nominee by whatever means necessary.

Trump has shown he will go to any length to get what he wants, regardless of legality, up to and including purging Cabinet departments of senior career leadership, using Congressional committee staff while not even telling the Members what he is doing, and firing officials who refuse to fall obediently into line.  It is imperative that if he is to be given a new Justice, that it be someone who is not afraid to stand up to him.

Sincerely,

I.Buffalo
Pittsburgh

(via NARAL Pro-Choice America.)


Once again, you can also write your House reps and other elected officials—they may not have a vote, but they know the folks who do a lot better than we do. Don’t forget to thank your local Democrat for standing against the illegal executive order on immigration.  A simple note such as the one below should suffice: 

Mr Doyle,

Thank you for standing up and joining as a cosponsor HR 724 to void the President’s unconstitutional travel ban. Please continue to do everything necessary to oppose this disastrous Trump/Bannon regime.

Advertisements

Letters to Congress: Ben Carson

Write your senators. I did:

Dear Senator,

As your constituent, I urge you to oppose the nomination of Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Carson has no experience working in government or running large organizations. But he has a long record of intolerance and of opposing fair housing laws and programs that help the poor—laws and programs he’d be in charge of at HUD.

Carson calls transgender people “abnormal” and same-sex couples “an abomination.” How can I expect him to prevent discrimination against gay couples, or ensure HIV+ individuals have equal access to public housing facilities? I believe Ben Carson would be a nightmare for gay and trans youth and adults facing poverty and housing discrimination.

As a member of the LGBT community, I am disturbed by Carson’s appalling comments about me and my community and his opposition to the very safety net programs HUD administers. Please vote no on the Carson nomination.

Sincerely,

I.Buffalo,
Pittsburgh

(via National Center for Transgender Equality.)


You can also write your House reps and other elected officials—they may not have a vote, but they know the folks who do a lot better than we do.  Here’s the letter I sent to Pittsburgh’s rep in the House, Mike Doyle:

Dear Congressman Doyle,

I realize that as a member of the House, you do not have a direct vote on Secretary confirmations. However, I hope you will use your influence on your colleagues in the Senate and urge them to oppose the nomination of Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

[…]

As a member of the LGBT community, I am disturbed by Carson’s appalling comments about me and my community and his opposition to the very safety net programs HUD administers. While I know you do not have a vote yourself, I hope that you will oppose and urge your friends and colleagues to do everything possible to defeat the Carson nomination.

Thank you,

I.Buffalo
Pittsburgh

Letters to Congress: Cuts on TAP?

Via People for Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists:

Congress is considering three amendments to the transportation bill that would significantly reduce federal bike funding by cutting two critical programs, the Recreational Trails Program and the Transportation Alternatives Program. If they pass, these amendments will make it much more difficult for communities to build bike infrastructure. Please tell your representatives to oppose the amendments from Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).


Rep Carter’s amendments would make biking and walking projects ineligible for certain types of transportation funding and allow road and bridge projects access to funding currently designated for walking and biking improvements; Rep Yoho’s amendment would make the Recreational Trails Program ineligible for any transportation funding. In Pittsburgh and in many other places, park corridors and other ‘recreational trails’ are forced to stand in for actual transportation infrastructure, and the significant source of funding for bicycling and walking.

The League of American Bicyclists has their own, slightly different letter you can send; I went with the PfB one mostly because their email showed up first. I also recommend Caron Whitaker’s post for the Bike League for more on the Transportation Bill which is currently pending in Congress.

Dear Representative ________,

As a resident of your district, I am writing to ask you to oppose three amendments to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act—Rep. Carter #68, Rep. Carter #69 and Rep. Yoho #158. These amendments undermine the bipartisan agreement on federal funding for popular, cost-effective bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects that communities rely on throughout the country.

These projects are helping a growing number of communities nationwide to quickly and efficiently address daunting transportation challenges such as road congestion and the high costs of providing parking.

The federal investment in bicycling has already produced significant results. U.S. bicycle commuting has nearly doubled during the last 15 years. In 2014, nearly one in three Americans pedaled a bike–making a total of more than four billion rides.

Given that half the trips Americans make are four miles or less (a reasonable distance to bike if the route is safe and appealing), bicycling is likely to keep growing and keep producing tangible benefits. The federal government must continue to keep the door open to support modest community investments.

The benefits of this federal spending go far beyond transportation. Bicycling generates more than $81 billion annually for the U.S. economy, $10 billion in tax revenue, and supports more than 750,000 jobs. New bike infrastructure often increases nearby retail sales and spurs residential, commercial and retail development.

As you are likely aware, in Pittsburgh we recently had three people killed by drivers in less than a week, a woman waiting at a traffic signal while biking home from work and a wheelchair user and his partner who were crossing the street from one bus to another. Just outside Washington, a Maryland couple were killed by a drunk driver last week while on a bike ride together. It would be a tremendous slap in their faces to eliminate this funding–indeed, their deaths and those of the other thirty thousand people who will be killed by US drivers this year show just how critical it is that we increase dedicated funding for safe spaces to walk and bike across the country.

For these reasons and many others, I hope you will oppose these amendments (Carter #68, Carter #69 and Yoho #158). It is important for communities to have the opportunity to invest in bike infrastructure projects and reap the important economic and safety gains that follow.

Please: send your own message to your Representative via People for Bikes or via the League of American Bicyclists.

Letters to Congress: TIGER Edition

Via People for Bikes: The U.S. Senate is currently working on a proposal for TIGER grants, an important source of federal transportation funding for projects to build roads, transit, ports, and bicycle infrastructure. The House has proposed $100 million in funding for next year, far less than the $500 million that TIGER was funded at this year. Let your senators know that you support full funding of the program and the bicycle projects it helps make possible.

Dear Senator ________,

The Senate Appropriations Committee proposed $500 million in funding for U.S. DOT’s popular TIGER program in Fiscal Year 2016. As Congress continues to work on FY16 appropriations for the U.S. DOT, please support this funding level.

Surveys have shown 60% of Americans would ride a bike if they felt safer on the roads. In Pittsburgh, we’ve made great strides toward implementing safer cycling infrastructure, and we’ve seen results: the Census ACS survey has shown a gain of over 400% in commuting by bicycle in the last 15 years in Pittsburgh. But we’ve still got a long way to go, and we’ll need funding to get there.

The TIGER program helps states and communities build a broad range of innovative transportation solutions across the variety of modes, including improvements to ports, highways, rail, transit and bicycle infrastructure. The TIGER grant program and the broad set of project eligibilities are critical to allowing states and communities to secure funding for multimodal and multi-jurisdictional projects that are hard to fund through traditional U.S. DOT programs.

I hope you will weigh in with your colleagues in support of the final FY2016 THUD bill including the $500 million in funding for TIGER with a broad set of project eligibilities included in the Senate Appropriations Committee passed legislation.

Check out the links above and send your own message to your Senators.

And yes, it really is called the THUD Bill.

Interesting tidbit hidden at the end of an old AnnArbor.com interview with the CEO of Con-way Inc, published back in 2011 when the trucking & logistics firm moved their corporate HQ to Michigan:

AnnArbor.com: …What do you advocate in terms of boosting transportation infrastructure spending in Michigan and the rest of your network?

Stotlar: We’re supportive of highway infrastructure, bridge infrastructure just as a state of good repair. We want society to have good safe roads to operate on.

Obviously the poorer condition of the infrastructure, the more it costs us from a maintenance standpoint because it just beats our equipment up. The highways are our production line, so we need a good sound infrastructure to be able to support what we do on a daily basis.

AnnArbor.com: Do you support proposals to increase the gas tax to fund some of that infrastructure spending?

Stotlar: We’re right there with the rest of the industry, supportive of increased user fees primarily in the form of gas taxes or diesel taxes to do it, and we can’t get any political backing.

AnnArbor.com: Wouldn’t that hurt your margins though?

Stotlar: I’m assuming if it’s going up we know what that cost impact is and it’s going to get reflected in pricing. There’s no free lunch here.

Read the rest of the interview at http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/why-con-way-inc-moved-its-headquarters-from-silicon-valley-to-ann-arbor-area/

Letters to Congress: Bike Summit Edition

The League of American Bicyclists is currently hosting the 2015 National Bike Summit in Washington, DC.  Here are the main issues they’re talking to Congress about today.  For those of us that can’t be there, they’ve got a campaign up at bikeleague.org to email our representatives–here are the slightly-fleshier versions I sent instead of the default texts.

House edition:

Today participants of the National Bike Summit are on Capitol Hill to highlight the critical issues facing bicyclists in communities across the country. As your constituent, I encourage you to support the Vision Zero Act, HR 1274, an innovative strategy to bring roadways death to zero. You can read more about the Vision Zero Act here: http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/VZ_FAQ.pdf — As we here in Pittsburgh push our local leaders to adopt a Vision Zero plan for the City, it would be a great help to know that we have the backing of our friends in Washington.

Additionally, I hope that we can count on your office’s support for continued–even, if possible, expanded–funding for bicycling and walking as part of a multi-modal federal transportation program. Please encourage your colleagues in the Senate to support the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act, which will ensure greater local control over transportation funding decisions and priorities for these program funds. You can read more about the TAPIA here: http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/TAPIA_FAQ.pdf

Senate edition:

Today participants of the National Bike Summit are on Capitol Hill to highlight the critical issues facing bicyclists in communities across the country. As your constituent, I encourage you to support the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act, which will ensure greater local control over transportation funding decisions and priorities for these program funds. You can read more about the TAPIA here: http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/TAPIA_FAQ.pdf

I hope, too, that you will encourage your colleagues in the House to support the Vision Zero Act, HR 1274, an innovative strategy to bring roadways death to zero. You can read more about the Vision Zero Act here: http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/VZ_FAQ.pdf — As we here in Pittsburgh, and in cities across Pennsylvania, push our local leaders to adopt a Vision Zero plan for the City, it would be a great help to know that we have the backing of our friends in Washington.

Check out the links above and feel free to use these templates to send your own message to your Representative and Senators.