what happened?


DeVos, Secretary of Education
Please make calls NOW to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos by calling and writing to Republicans in the Senate, especially those on the HELP Committee. [help.senate.gov] The Committee is being pressed to hear witnesses and question DeVos further. Talking points:  We need a Secretary of Education who understands what is wrong and right with public education and wants to fix it. Betsy DeVos supports privatizing education with virtually no oversight. She does not understand the laws she would be required to enforce, and did not even know enough about them to prepare to answer questions for hearing. Please question her further, call witnesses, and  vote ‘no’ on her nomination. Why? DeVos does not seem familiar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and thinks that special education is best handled by states. [source] She supports a radical version of “school choice” — letting parents direct government money to public or private schools, including religious and for-profit schools and schools that are not designed for “troubled” students. She has opposed oversight and transparency measures for publicly funded privately run programs. She thinks it is a problem that public schools rather than “the church” have become the center of communities. The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates has written expressing concerns and seeking evidence that DeVos is committed to lawfully educating students with disabilities. [source] Following her confirmation hearing, the California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy wrote to oppose her nomination. Click here to download a pdf of our letter. 


DeVos narrowly confirmed. Mike Pence as vice-president had to break a tie because two Republican senators (Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted with all Democrats against DeVos. Maybe those two were taking a brave stand; more likely, the GOP leadership led them defect knowing they had the votes to push this remarkable nomination through. Whatever their reasons, they made eloquent comments for which we can hold them accountable when the Trump Administration tries pushing through DeVos's agenda. During the debate over DeVos's nomination, much attention was drawn to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, for which DeVos ultimately expressed great concern after seeming initially not to know what it was. Attention is not necessarily a good thing:  many special education advocates hoped to stay under Trump's and the GOP's radar. But their bandwidth is amazing, and that is unlikely. The good news is that parents, teachers and students have mobilized across the country and many of them will have their eye on the electoral ball in 2018. The continuing good news is that people with disabilities are in all classes, races, and religions, and in both parties, and that they and family members have long known that governments need to be held accountable for respecting our rights. DeVos squeaked by, but her agenda can be defeated.


Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Oppose nomination of US Representative Tom Price, MD as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price has long supported eliminating Medicaid and Medicare as insurance programs covering specified benefits for all eligible people. He has proposed privatizing schemes which would make states responsible for protecting their most vulnerable people — something many have made clear they will not do. Call Senate Republicans, especially members of the HELP and Finance Committees, and say something like this: “Please vote against confirming Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services. This job should not be held by someone who has devoted his career to cutting back on access to health care, while making money by trading stocks his colleagues tell him about. His answers to questions were evasive, but it is clear from his whole career that even if Trump wants to extend health care access, Price doesn’t. Please turn down this nomination and ask the president to nominate someone who wants to help him keep his promises to the American people.” Here are their names and phone and fax numbers: 

Pruitt, EPA
Call Republicans, especially members of the Environment and Public Works Committee [epw.senate.gov], and ask them to reject the nomination of Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator. You can say something like this: “I am calling to ask you to oppose the nomination of Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator. I am calling as a person who is concerned about disability rights who does not want our country to create unnecessary disabilities and aggravate health problems by making our air and water dirtier. Please stop this nomination. President Trump promised to drain the swamp: putting someone who cares about the most polluting companies in Oklahoma and doesn’t care about the people of Oklahoma should not move onto the national stage.”

Mnuchin, Treasury
Please call Finance Committee members right away and ask them to oppose confirmation of Steven Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury. Talking points:  Please vote no on confirming Steven Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury. His unlawful foreclosure practices resulted in thousands of people, including people with disabilities and seniors, losing their homes. Now he wants to repeal the rules that were put in place to make sure that never happens again. This would be a disastrous appointment. Please don’t let it happen. 








January 31, 2017 is the open enrollment deadline to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. President Trump has cancelled many ads to let people know about the deadline and how to enroll. [source]  It may be critical for people who do not have coverage to enroll, because Republicans may let people who have “Obamacare” keep it. Go to healthcare.gov for local help and buying insurance online. Here is the phone number for help: Main: 1-800-318-2596 (Deaf Access/TTY: 1-855-889-4325). If you have better options than buying an individual policy through the Affordable Care Act, great, but if you don't, it would be very advisable to get coverage IMMEDIATELY. Trump seems to be signaling with appointments and comments that he will let Pence and Congressional Republicans do what they want on health care and social security. Depending on the level of political opposition, Republicans may protect people who have insurance by the January 31, 2017 deadline for open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. If you or members of your family may be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program), go to: https://www.healthcare.gov/medicaid-chip/getting-medicaid-chip/. These programs are also in jeopardy because of Republican opposition, and the sooner people sign up, the better chance there is of being protected from benefit cuts.