COVID, BBB, COP and other acronyms in the news that affect you

Progressive Maryland tries to keep activists up to date on the matters that really matter. Here is our account from last week, starting with federal issues that affect every worker and working family in Maryland.

Media conventional and unconventional give us a perspective on the pandemic's latest threat, the enduring climate threat, Build Back Better in the Senate sausage machine, and other issues.



 

 

Progressive Maryland tries to keep activists up to date on the matters that really matter. Here is our account from last week, starting with federal issues that affect every worker and working family in Maryland.

Here’s the roundup from the People’s Action Federal Affairs Team as House and Senate (especially Senate) come back to face big scheduling crunches.

Congress returns this week and is expected to take up the National Defense Authorization Act, as well as a government funding bill by December 3rd this week;  action is expected on raising  the debt limit by December 15th and that the focus would next be on the Build Back Better Act in the Senate. We will keep folks updated on timing for BBB. Meanwhile, advocacy groups are circulating this organizational  Sign on letter by People's Action, the Center for Popular Democracy, Indivisible and the Working Families Party to Majority Leader Schumer urging him to do everything in his power to preserve all of the critical investments included in the House-passed Build Back Better Act. Got a local group that cares (our definition is three or more email addresses)? Chime in. Deadline is 3pm Tuesday, 11/30. The letter is available here.

Via Maryland Matters and their connection with the excellent States Newsroom: Endangered in the U.S. Senate? As the U.S. Senate prepares to debate the Build Back Better bill, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in order to send the measure to President Joe Biden’s desk. That gives any individual Democratic senator virtual veto power over the bill — and some are already declaring what they won’t accept. States Newsroom reporters break down the provisions passed by the House that are endangered in the Senate.


Overdose Crisis: The Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing this Thursday titled, “The Overdose Crisis: Interagency Proposal to Combat Illicit Fentanyl-related substances.” People’s Action will seek to submit testimony for the record of the hearing that includes recent op-eds by PA member-leaders. A federal jury said Tuesday that Walgreens, CVS and Walmart recklessly distributed pain pills in two Ohio counties and played a hand in the hundreds of overdose deaths that plagued the communities. CVS has said it will appeal the decision. Two other pharmacies already made settlement agreements with the counties. Maya Swenwar, editor-in-chief of Truthout, wrote a great op-ed in NBC news explaining why criminalization exacerbates the overdose crisis and includes better solutions.  Vice published this article, “Cops Are Needlessly Scaring People With Fentanyl-Laced Weed Stories.”

Immigration: Democratic staff met with the Senate parliamentarian last Tuesday to discuss the provisions offering temporary status that passed the House in the budget reconciliation bill. From Politico: “Two people familiar with the meeting described it as positive and were optimistic that the immigration provisions would move forward to what's known as a ‘Byrd bath,’ a formal test of their budgetary effects to comply with Senate rules. Why it matters: Democrats have vowed to pursue immigration reform as part of their social spending plan. Democrats initially pushed for a pathway to legal status but that proposal was rejected by the parliamentarian. Many Democrats view the social spending bill as their best chance to enact immigration reform, but it’s not clear that the House proposal will pass muster with the parliamentarian. Dozens of House Democrats sent a letter to Senate Democrats yesterday asking them to put a pathway to citizenship back into the Senate’s version of the social spending bill, calling the parliamentarian’s opinion ‘not binding.’ Read that here.”

  

ISSUE UPDATE: CLIMATE

Biden released 50 million barrels of crude oil from the U.S. emergency reserve to ease the pressure on oil prices. The WaPo describes Biden’s tricky messaging on this issue. Segueing into Maryland issues – Maryland Matters suggests a new push for a a state constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to a healthy environment will receive renewed attention and vigor in the next legislative session. to ensure climate/environment issues are considered in making law or administrative regs.


Reflecting on COP26: The latest international conference on climate change, which was held earlier this month in Glasgow, Scotland, drew tens of thousands of world leaders, business executives, nonprofit organizations, and grass-roots activists, and produced a mixed record of results. Here’s Maryland Matters interview with three Marylanders who attended.

A few more environmental observations from recent local-media dispatches: Any lessons from COVID response about the pandemic? (UMD’s Capital News Service). How’s Larry H doing on the environment? You can imagine the answer Maryland Matters got from the League of Conservation Voters.

AND FINALLY, COVID --  what’s with this Omicron variant on Covid? It was not identified in the US yet as of 2:30 Monday afternoon, but it’s splashed down in Canada, so stay alert and careful. So far at the beginning of the week, the state government doesn’t seem to have an official reaction. Anecdotally:

The WaPo: “Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) said on Sunday that face coverings have always been the ‘first line of defense’ against the coronavirus. He expressed relief that the county moved to reinstate its mask order last weekend — even as D.C. eased its rules amid high vaccination rates and a growing sense of ease.

“If the omicron variant were detected in Maryland or any surrounding areas, Elrich said, he would push the county to enact more stringent requirements — such as a vaccine mandate at restaurants.

“He wishes more public health experts and elected leaders would be frank about the potential dangers of a new variant, he said, and act quickly to protect the public instead of ‘fantasizing’ about an early end to the pandemic.

“ ‘Unfortunately,’ he said, ‘the alternative to not changing your behavior and your mind-set is that people might end up dead.’ “

Maryland has already taken a big hit from COVID, in the wallet and jobs area, as well as the toll of grief, according to a Pew study.


Compiled by Progressive Maryland staff organizers. See something we missed in the info traffic? Email [email protected]