Stop Tom DeLay’s Payback to His Credit Card Donors

Soon the U.S. House will debate bankruptcy “reform” legislation that will make it harder for low- and moderate-income individuals to get out of debt even when blindsided by sickness, divorce, or job loss.  These are the very times when people are most vulnerable to credit card companies’ pitches to rack up debt.

With this bill, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the banking, finance and credit card industries’ friends in Congress are rewarding their donors.

According to a recent analysis we’ve conducted, the big banks and credit card companies have contributed nearly $43 million since 1989 to current members of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1989.  Of that, about one-third went to Democrats and nearly two-thirds went to Republicans.  Tom DeLay ranks near the top of that list; when contributions to his leadership PAC are added, he has received more than $620,000 from the industry.
Help Restore the Everglades!

In 2000, Congress authorized the largest environmental restoration program in our nation’s history, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).  A blueprint for restoration, CERP is comprised of more than 40 individual construction projects that will route freshwater back to the Everglades.  Each project is designed by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and must then be approved by Congress before federal money is designated for construction.  Right now, two important CERP projects are awaiting Army Corps approval and Congressional authorization, the Indian River Lagoon project and the Picayune Strand project.  Unfortunately, the civilian head of the Corps, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, has held up action on these projects, we need your help to ensure the Secretary, and ultimately, the US Congress fulfill their promise to restore the everglades and move these projects forward!  

Please write Acting Assistant Secretary J.P. Woodley, today and urge him to approve both projects so that Congress and authorize these two vital projects, ensuring the Everglades are a healthy and vibrant home for wildlife, birds and people in the years to come.

Urge Senators to Oppose the So-Called, “REAL ID” Act of 2005

On Thursday, Feb. 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed (261-161) the so-called, REAL ID Act of 2005 (HR 418).  The Senate will soon decide whether to consider the REAL ID Act via amendment or free-standing bill.    

If enacted, this radical proposal would undermine the rule of law, have a profound negative impact on immigrants and asylum seekers, and do little to protect American lives.

Urge senators to oppose the “REAL ID” Act because it would:

Place the Secretary of Homeland Security above the law by giving him/her the unprecedented authority to waive all laws including environmental protections, civil rights laws, immigration laws, labor laws or even criminal laws deemed an interference with the ability to quickly construct barriers at US borders.  The “REAL ID” Act would also eliminate the ability of any court to review a decision to waive such a law.

Prevent legitimate asylum-seekers from obtaining safe haven in the United States by arbitrarily requiring any form of “corroborating evidence” to support an asylum claim, with little regard to whether the evidence can realistically be obtained.  Further, asylum seekers would have to prove their persecutor’s “central” motive for engaging in persecution, which could essentially make the outcome of asylum petitions depend on the unlikely cooperation of the persecutors themselves.

Force state motor vehicle departments to enforce immigration laws, undermining public safety and driving millions of undocumented immigrants even further underground.  If enacted, undocumented immigrants could not receive licenses even in states that wish to provide them in the interest of public safety.  It would also create a separate temporary license for visitors on temporary visas, and would require motor vehicle agencies to verify each piece of identification used to support an application for a drivers’ license with the agency, domestic or foreign, that issued it.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) urges senators to oppose the so-called, “REAL ID” Act of 2005 because these provisions are being used to attack basic civil rights most notably, the right to due process and equal protection under the law.

Stop the `Nuclear Option’

Senate Republicans are expected to invoke the “nuclear option”–an attempt to end the right to filibuster extremist judicial nominees.  This unprecedented power grab would hand the White House and its Senate allies the unchecked ability to pack federal courts with out-of-the-mainstream judges.  It’s an undemocratic effort to seat anti-worker, anti-rights judges in our highest courts–and we have to stop it now.

Please send your senators the message at the link below–it will take only a moment.  If we fail to act, here’s how the “nuclear option” will happen:

To provoke a filibuster, Republicans would move to confirm one of President Bush’s most controversial nominees–maybe Janice Rogers Brown, nominee for the District of Columbia Circuit, who calls Social Security “cannibalization” by senior citizens.  Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist then would ask the chair–most likely Vice President Dick Cheney–to rule that filibusters cannot be used for judicial nominations.  Democrats would try to overturn Cheney’s ruling, but they are in the minority in the Senate and would need a majority–51 votes–to prevail.  Then, we could kiss our right to fight for a balanced judiciary goodbye.

Invest in Minority and Low-Income Communities

The CRA has been instrumental in helping to increase home, small business, and community development lending in underserved and lower income communities.

Now the CRA is under a new attack.  Once again we need your quick action to block this most recent attempt to further weaken the CRA.  The FDIC has joined the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in proposing changes to the CRA.  While an improvement from the fall FDIC proposal, serious issues remain.  The regulators must change their proposal in significant ways to prevent reductions in lending and investing in our communities.

In order to make sure that banks do not decrease their level of lending, investing and branches in minority and low- and moderate-income communities, we need you to comment to the agencies.

Tell Congress: Protect Social Security!

The President’s Social Security proposal will hurt children, people with disabilities, and widows.

When the President’s Social Security Commission designed its plan to create private accounts, it assumed that all Social Security benefits — including those for children, disabled workers, survivors and retirees who do not choose to have a private account — will be reduced.

Under the proposal, benefits would eventually be 46 percent lower than benefits scheduled under the program as it currently exists.

To see just how devastating these cuts can be in your state, see the report issued by the National Women’s Law Center illustrating how such benefit cuts would affect survivors and people with disabilities in each state.

Tell your Representative and Senators to protect Social Security for children, women and people with disabilities.

Tell President Bush & Congress: Torture is NOT an American Value

We, the undersigned, urge President Bush and our senators and representatives in Congress to stop the torture that threatens the safety of our troops should they fall into enemy hands and that has critically damaged the reputation of the United States around the world.  We call for the following:

A full investigation and independent prosecutor to look into the roles of high-ranking officials including Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales in torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other U.S.-run facilities around the world.

The Bush Administration’s adherence to the Supreme Court’s 2004 decisions allowing detainees in U.S. custody access to attorneys and the chance to hear the charges against them and to challenge their detentions in a court of law.

An end to the practice of hiding thousands of ghost detainees from the International Committee of the Red Cross and beyond the reach of law.

An end to the unlawful practice of extraordinary rendition whereby torture is outsourced to other countries.

Stir It Up!

The global coffee crisis continues to deepen, with no immediate end in sight, and still Kraft has ignored peoples’ demands for fairness for coffee farmers.  

Kraft has failed to ensure a decent price was paid to farmers by buying Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee without also complementing it with buying Fair Trade Certified coffee.  Overall, you’ve failed to take real steps to address the global coffee crisis in a comprehensive and serious way.

Kraft makes enormous profits while coffee farmers are receiving the lowest prices in 100 years.

E-mail Kraft and demand they follow Procter & Gamble’s lead by offering Fair Trade coffee.  Tell them to give coffee farmers a break by paying a decent price for their coffee.

Support Election Reform in Congress

Congress will soon be taking another look at election reform.  Audit the Vote believes that election reform is essential.  In spite of Congress’ intervention with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the system remains broken.  Please use this form to urge your representative and senators to support real change that will make elections a real expression of the will of America’s voters.

Support the Voting Integrity and Verification Act of 2005

Common Cause has been working on the issue of electronic voting machines as part of our campaign to promote electoral integrity.  The most basic of all democratic principles is that all eligible votes are counted.  Yet there is much controversy around electronic voting machines.

The nation still has not fixed the machinery of voting.  In the November 2004 election, about one-third of voters used electronic voting machines that have been shown to be unreliable and insecure.  Elections officials need to step back and take another look at what is the best technology for voting.  Any voting system must ensure that disabled voters can vote privately and independently.

Electronic voting machines are based on software that is, by its nature complex and essentially invisible to those overseeing it.  Further, the machines, especially if not carefully tested and safeguarded, are vulnerable to malicious and nearly undetectable changes in the software.  That is why it is important to have the assurance of a voter-verified paper ballot – a paper audit trail.

What is a “voter verified paper trail” (VVPT)?  This phrase, or variations of it, describes a voting system that allows voters to confirm that their votes are recorded as they intended and that elections officials have a clear confirmation of the voters’ intent for counts, audits, and recounts.  Such systems include electronic voting machines with the capacity for printing out a ballot and precinct-based optical scan systems, which allow a voter to mark a paper ballot and then scan it into a counter.

Please email your senators and ask them to support the Voting Integrity and Verification Act of 2005.

This bill is waiting to be introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator John Ensign (R-NV).  In a truly a bi-partisan effort, Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Assistant Minority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), will co-sponsor the bill.

These and over 400 other action alerts are archived at

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