UPDATE: Disaster relief bill passes Congress

Thanks again for signing our petition asking Congress to pass climate-disaster relief for Puerto Rico and all Americans. Good news – thanks to your voice and the voices of more than 70,000 others – Congress voted this week to concur with the Senate’s changes and send the $19 billion disaster relief bill to Donald Trump.

But 58 Republicans still voted against the disaster relief package, insisting to the end that it exclude aid for Puerto Rico and include funding for Trump’s racist border wall. Trump, meanwhile, is galavanting around England and on Monday seemed confused about whether the Senate had already passed the bill (they did, 2 weeks ago).

One more time before Trump gets home, can you share this petition and encourage your networks online to demand Trump support climate-disaster relief for ALL Americans including Puerto Rico?

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The House passage is a big victory because it’s the first time in months Congress has put aside partisan bickering to address the unprecedented climate disasters rocking America – from Puerto Rico still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, to the record-setting floods in the midwest that are still disrupting planting season.

But Trump didn’t just forget about which chamber had already voted on the bill – he also forgot that he’d spent months railing against disaster funding in racist, fact-free ways. As soon as he remembers or one of those 58 Republican Trump supporters reminds him, his signature is not guaranteed.

It’s also important to put this victory in context. We started this campaign with Daily Kos, 350 dot org, Power 4 Puerto Rico and other allies because Trump was singling Puerto Rico out to not get disaster funding. Congressional negotiators were successful in getting the total aid to Puerto Rico increased from $600 million to $900 million – that’s a 50% increase over the objections of the President and nearly a third of all Republicans in the House of Representatives.

But Puerto Rico, and a lot of American Communities, need a lot more help. Our coalition estimates that Puerto Rico needs closer to $1.5 billion in relief funding – almost twice what Congress approved this week. And with midwest flooding continuing to slow planting season in the midwest, it’s likely we’ll need more aid there too before the summer is over.

The point is, in a climate changed world, it’s never been more important to demand that Congress and the President take urgent action to help Americans hit by climate-fueled storms, fires and other disasters.

This week’s vote in Congress is a good step, and a clear indication of teh work we still have to do. First, let’s make sure Trump doesn’t screw this up this progress for Puerto Rico and other communities. Then we need to keep fighting for the changes we need that will protect us all from the next climate disaster.

Just a reminder, the 2019 hurricane season started this week. Thanks for signing, please share this message to engage your networks online and spread the word. And stay tuned for more actions you can take soon.

It took a tornado in the Capitol to pass this disaster relief bill. Make sure Trump signs it

Earlier today, the Senate passed a disaster relief package that’s been held up for months by partisan bickering and Trump’s racism.

It’s an important step toward getting the billions of dollars in disaster aid that we desperately need to respond to the last two years of climate fueled super storms. Ironically, the vote happened minutes after a tornado warning sounded in the US Capitol itself, and hours after tornadoes killed at least three people in Missouri – a dark reminder that climate change is powering stronger storms all over the U.S.

But while the vote was nearly unanimous: 85 to 8 in the Senate, Trump’s support is still not guaranteed. That’s because the bill gives $19.1 billion to help communities ravaged by climate chaos – from the floods in Nebraska to wildfires in California – including $900 million for Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricane Maria.

Trump has been objecting for months to the money for Puerto Rico, and had also demanded money for his racist border wall. And all that was before he flew off the handle this week in a meeting over infrastructure and said he’d block everything until the House stops investigating his crimes and misdemeanors.

Now is the moment of truth – will you help us deliver 75,000 signatures to DC right now to force Trump to sign this climate disaster relief bill?

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico a year ago, more than 3,000 Americans lost their lives. Now, as Puerto Rican communities try to rebuild, Trump has continued to lie and spout racist tirades while denying Puerto Ricans access to critical federal recovery funds. Congress has taken the first step, after months of partisan gridlock, to provide Puerto Ricans with aid including funds for expanded infrastructure rebuilding efforts and food assistance programs.

Now the ball is in Trump’s court. It would be the height of grotesque racism for the president to veto the whole aid package because some U.S. citizens “deserve” help after a natural disaster more than others. And any denial or attempt to line-item veto Puerto Rico’s funds will make all our communities vulnerable the next time a disaster strikes. For decades, Congress has acted across party lines to provide disaster relief to ALL U.S. communities without prejudice or partisan bias. With another hurricane season starting earlier than ever due to climate change, it is essential that this bill to support Puerto Rican communities and prepare for future storms pass now.

Sign now to add your support and help us delivery 75,000 messages to DC to force Trump to act.

Talk about the Green New Deal, not this Senate vote

Let’s get one thing clear about this week’s Senate vote on a Green New Deal: Mitch McConnell is a twerp.

The resolution that was voted on this week was not the non-binding Green New Deal resolution introduced by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which we’ve talked. a lot. about.

That resolution would need to be referred to committee, where it would have committee hearings and consideration and debate – the kind of stuff that might address the concerns we and others have raised about banning fossil fuels, stopping pipelines, and the like. It also would give time and space to fill in details that are missing.

McConnell doesn’t want that debate, so he introduced this binding resolution making “it is the sense of the Senate” that the Green New Deal should become “the policy of the United States.” Like I said, he’s a twerp.

But Whatever McConnell’s shady motivations, this week’s vote was a slap-in-the-face loss to the climate community. The vote was 57-to-0, with 4 Dems, 1 Independent and every Republican voting “no” and all other dems voting “present.”

That’s especially galling because the oil, gas, & coal industries contributed more than $55 MILLION to senators who voted “no” on the #GreenNewDeal resolution – 11x more than to those who voted “present”.

It’s also hard to swallow because after 3 months of a new Congress, thousands of media stories, hundreds of lobby visits, sit ins, protests, and press conference galore we’ve actually managed to convince a majority of Americans that this is a crisis worth tackling – and tackling this way.

Which is why I’m sticking to my guns on this 198-methods strategy: We need outside action, especially direct action, that slows or stops the buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure. AND we need an inside-strategy that presses politicians and regulators to take actions (like a real, fossil-free, Green New Deal), because only big policy solutions will change the dynamic fast enough.

What’s the big deal?

Don’t get me wrong, the Green New Deal has re-shaped the debate on climate change and gotten politicians to talk about the scope and severity of the crisis in a serious way for the first time in a long time.

But the conversation is still stuck in false assumptions that will not keep fossil fuels in the ground or address the systemic racism and injustice of sacrifice zones. In the House of Representatives (outside Mitch the twerp-turtle’s jurisdiction), at least 3 committees are considering climate legislation. But all those bills, and even the actual resolution from Markey and AOC still talk about “net zero emissions” or set the timeline to end fossil fuels and nuclear power way too far in the future (like 2050 or later).

And I’m not just being a stick-in-the-mud: The decision to leave fossil fuels and nuclear on the table in the Green new Deal is shaping the 2020 conversation already: Beto O’Rourke said he supports a Green New Deal, and fracked gas, when Friends of the Earth questioned him in New Hampshire. A few days later, Sen Cory Booker said “I already support the Green New Deal. This resolution of bold vision is what we need. … And I agree with you. Nuclear has to be part of this solution.”

As a side-note, Booker was at a South Carolina town hall meeting organized by CNN that night. If he’d read the local paper, he might have seen that a few miles away another nuclear waste site was caught leaking tritium into the ground water in Barnwell, SC.

If we leave fossil fuels and nuclear on the table, what we’re really saying is that we’re ok with sacrifice zones. Because if we don’t start phasing out dirty energy NOW then they will keep building them, and people will keep getting sick, having their land stolen, and worse.

The 5 biggest oil companies (BP, Exxon, Shell etc) are planning to spend $110 BILLION on new oil & gas projects THIS YEAR (2019) & just 3% as much on clean alternatives.

Wall Street, the fossil fuel companies, the utilities, every single Republican in the Senate and a shockingly large number Democrats are committed to that same vision: another 20-50 years of drilling, spilling, pipelines, genocide, and ecological devastation.

So, now what?

The Senate vote was a sham and a stunt — not least of all because it distracted everyone (effectively) from the real action in the House where this week Nancy Pelosi introduced HR 9 . to keep the US in the Paris climate agreement.

Paris is not a panacea — It’s non-binding, like the AOC/Markey resolution. But it creates a framework to debate bills that have a lot more force and effect.

It’s like agreeing on the playing field, the rules, and saying that we’re in the game. We still need to do all the things to win (in this case stop climate change before it kills us all). And none of that will be possible if we slash our own achilles’ tendons — which is what building 12 new gas export facilities, millions of acres of fracking and drilling rigs, and millions of miles of new pipelines would do to our chances.

But, it’s a start. So this April we’re encouraging you to work on those two tracks: You can join a local Promise to Protect training stop and learn how you can turn up to stop the Keystone Pipeline, and stay tuned for updates on other actions targeting Dominion and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. At the same time, keep the pressure on Congress to keep debating climate solutions, and make sure they #KeepItInTheGround and say #nonukes as part of those solutions. A great action this week is to call your Senators and tell them to oppose Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist who is exactly as corrupt as you think he is.