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Day 30: The Government Shutdown Continues

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Having approached the one month mark, the government shutdown of 2019 is the longest in US history. With no resolution in sight, affected Americans are demanding action as they stand on the verge of losing their homes.

This weekend, Trump made a statement offering Democrats a proposal to end the government shutdown. Calling it a “common-sense compromise”, Trump has offered the following:

  • Three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients, giving them protection from deportation, access to work permits, and social security numbers
  • An extension of Temporary Protected Status for three years to immigrants whose protections are approaching expiration
  • $800 million in humanitarian assistance
  • $805 million for drug detection technology
  • 2,750 border agents and law enforcement professionals
  • 75 new immigration judge teams to reduce the backlog of court cases

Imploring both parties to embrace his plan, Trump says its an opportunity for “real bipartisan immigration reform.” However, Democrats are unwilling to accept the deal which uses DACA as a bargaining chip. Speaking out against the proposal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “unacceptable.” and stated negotiations would take place only when the government reopened.

People Aren’t Bargaining Chips

In her statement, Speaker Pelosi said, “Democrats support smart, effective border security solutions” but, initial reports make it clear Trump’s proposal is an amalgamation of several previously rejected initiatives. Responding further to the President’s address, Pelosi remarked:

Unfortunately, initial reports make it clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives. It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-started. For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports.”

While Democrats are averse to negotiations that include DACA as a bargaining chip, in the past they offered a correction in return for border wall funding. Putting $25 billion on the table for border security, Democrats plan included a 10-14 year path to citizenship for the 1.8 million Dreamers. Their plan could have included a wall, as Senator Chuck Schumer privately promised up to $20 billion for a citizenship path for eligible immigrants. Still, both parties are pressured to resolve their differences and come to an agreement to reopen the government by Americans affected by the shutdown.

2500 Stores Unable to Accept EBT/SNAP

While the government is shut down, benefits for the 39 million recipients have been available without lapse. However, that could soon change. Roughly 2,500 retailers nationwide will be unable to accept any form of SNAP EBT benefits despite the funds early dispersion. Awarded through a debit-style card, stores will be unable to accept the payment method because they missed the deadline for license renewal before the shutdown. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Over 99 percent of SNAP retailers are able to accept benefits as usual. There is a small percentage of stores that failed to complete a required re-authorization process that was due on December 21.”

In addition to concern surrounding food benefits, rental assistance programs are also at a standstill. HUD’s official website states the agency is closed until further notice, leaving recipients to panic over whether they can pay their rent. Without HUD assistance, landlords have begun to send notice to tenants that they are responsible for the full financial burden of their housing costs.

Experts speculate the number of Americans impacted by the housing assistance lapse to be nearly 70,000 but that number increases every day. With landlords in a panic, organizations that administer HUD funding are attempting to calm them down so they don’t escalate to eviction proceedings. If politicians cannot come to a resolution, potentially millions of low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children face rent hikes, eviction, and homelessness.

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Federal Watchdog Agency Claims Kellyanne Conway Violated Hatch Act

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It has been recommended that Kellyanne Conway be removed from federal office for a violation of the Hatch Act. Defined as engaging in political activity in the course of one’s work, Conway’s continuous tv appearances and social media presence have gotten her called out by a federal watchdog organization.

The Office of Special Counsel made the recommendation that Kellyanne Conway be immediately removed from her position as the senior-most advisor to Donald Trump Thursday. In a lengthy report provided to Trump, the investigation described Conway as a repeat offender, violating the Hatch Act on numerous occasions. Through disparaging remarks to Democratic presidential candidates, to speaking in her official capacity in television appearance and on social media, Conway has crossed several boundaries. The implications that her actions violate the Hatch Act have been deemed “unprecedented.”

Special Counsel Henry Kerner noted that his suggestion to fire Conway was unheard of. However, the basis for his decision rests on the example set by Conway’s behavior. Discussing the recommendation in an interview, Kerner said, “In interview after interview, she uses her official capacity to disparage announced candidates, which is not allowed. What kind of example does that send to the federal workforce? If you’re high enough up in the White House, you break the law, but if you’re a postal carrier or a regular federal worker, you lose your job?” While many have called for Conway’s termination of employment since she assumed the role as his advisor in 2017, the decision rests solely upon Donald Trump.

In predictable fashion, the White House is refusing to accept the Special Counsel’s recommendation. Instead, they have issued a letter calling for the federal watchdog agency to withdraw the suggestion of Conway’s removal. However, the Office of Special Counsel immediately declined. They are choosing not to overlook Conway’s unethical behavior but cannot force the President to take action in their favor.

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Taraji Saving Black Lives

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Taraji P. Henson has been a leader in our community by shedding light on the reality of mental health for black youth. On June 7th, 2019, Henson testified on Capitol Hill during the Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce forum on suicide among black youth. Specifically, Henson brought the room into deep thought when she reflected on her own experiences.

Henson’s father Boris Lawrence Henson passed away in 2006. Prior to that, Henson’s son’s father was murdered in Washington D.C. Now, these two traumatic events have affected her but it has also fostered a wealth of issues for her son. As a result, things get worse when young people are not able to vocalize their hurt and pain.

In her statement, Henson stated, “We’ve been taught to pray our problems away.” Henson is making it known that in the African-American community we do not discuss mental health. Instead, we let our emotions build up. If the problem is not addressed it will always be there. There will be strings attached if one doesn’t confront what is holding them back from prospering in life.

Lastly, a few years ago, Henson launched the Boris Lawrence Henson foundation with a goal to eliminate any stigmas associated with mental health. Mental health should be normalized and it should be taught in schools just like Henson stated in her statement.

I recommend everyone to watch her statement.

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Is Dr. Ben Carson Gifted in Politics?

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The Hero That Many Look Up To

Dr. Ben Carson is recognized as the most accomplished neurosurgeon in history. In 1987, he was the lead surgeon among a plethora of surgical members to separate conjoined twins. Many people can assume that this is a grueling procedure for not only the patients but the team doing the surgery. Furthermore, many black parents use Dr. Carson as a success story for their children. Specifically, Gifted Hands was the movie every black family watched and made sure their children knew.

 Moreover, Based on the movie, many of us know that Dr. Carson is aware of what it’s like to be the on the receiving end of a government that takes advantage of low-income neighborhoods. For this reason, it makes sense that Dr. Carson could serve as the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Donald Trump. In this role, he is called to increase homeownership and increase access to minorities who are often discriminated against when trying to search for housing opportunities.

The Problem With Dr. Carson In This Role

Recently, Dr. Carson testified at the House Financial Services Committee and he had two exchanges that the media and public are not taking to lightly. The first exchange was with Representative Katie Porter of California. Rep. Porter asked Dr. Carson what an REO is and he thought that she was referring to an Oreo. Now, I am not a politician, but even I know that was not what she was referring to. He is undermining the problem and he perceives it as a joke. It is, in fact, a very serious issue. He is one of the reasons many homes are going for closure which result in people losing their homes and it enables calumny.

In addition, the second exchange was with Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Rep. Pressley asked him a simple question. Her question was “Yes or no — is stable and safe housing a social determinant of health?” Dr. Carson refused to answer her question and kept dancing around the subject by laughing and quoting our Dear Auntie Maxine Waters quote “reclaiming my time”.

To sum up, this was unacceptable. Dr. Carson could not articulate competent answers to the questions. It is clear to the American people that Dr. Ben Carson is not fit or qualified for this role. It is upsetting because he has the power to help marginalized communities obtain better housing. Instead, he is spending $31,00 on furniture from government funds that are supposed to help communities.

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