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Washington Bureau Insider: May 15, 2020

Clint Odom
Executive Director Washington Bureau National Urban League

DEMAND JUSTICE FOR AHMAUD AND BREONNA. These two young people were killed at different times and in different parts of the country, but both cases demand justice. Read more about Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and say their names. 

NEW ACTION ALERT: Demand that the United States Justice Department launch an independent investigation of the Ahmaud Arbery homicide, the Glynn County District Attorney's Office, and the Glynn County Police Department. Click here to access the campaign.

INSIDE SCOOP ON 2020STACEY ABRAMS AUDITIONS FOR VEEP. The former Georgia gubernatorial candidate appears with Vice President Joe Biden in a political primetime appearance.

THE HOUSE EXPECTED TO PASS HEROES BILL TODAY. The $3 trillion installment to respond to the pandemic doesn't appear to be going anywhere soon after House passage.

HOW MUCH TESTING IS ENOUGH? The Washington Bureau staff launched a new infographic that shows whether your state is conducting enough COVID-19 testing to help bring down the infection rate. Chances are your state is nowhere near where it needs to be to get this virus under control.

NEW 2020 CENSUS DATA: The data show a significant lag in the 2020 participation rate, despite the addition of an online option this year to the complete the census. Also, don't forget to take action to demand affordable broadband Internet to families with school children and that the Census Bureau conduct a complete and accurate count of African Americans in the 2020 census.
This is America: Gun Violence Continues to Steal Lives
Gun violence is responsible for over 14,581 deaths so far in 2020. 

Tell the DOJ: “We Will Not Rest with an Arrest…We Demand Justice for Ahmaud!”

 ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! The lethal use of force against African Americans on “suspicion” of any crime MUST END! Because the state of Georgia is one of four U.S. states without a hate crimes statute, we are calling on U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the career officials of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to move swiftly to investigate the unnecessary killing of Ahmaud Arbery as a hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
#ArrestIsNotEnough! Contact the Department of Justice TODAY and demand #JusticeforAhmaud! When you are done, make sure your SHARE this campaign link with others in your community and social media networks! Campaign Link:
Feds To Monitor Investigation Of Fatal Police Shootings In Indianapolis: Federal law enforcement has been asked to help monitor an investigation after Indianapolis police officers were involved in two fatal shootings in less than eight hours last week. The first shooting, on the evening of May 6, followed a police chase of 21-year-old Dreasjon Reed after claiming he was driving recklessly. The chase, which Reed streamed live on Facebook while thousands of people watched, began by car and ended on foot. The video recorded the sound of a taser, Reed falling, a series of gunshots as the camera points at the sky, and responding officer making a comment about the need for a closed casket. Less than eight hours after Reed was shot, police killed another man who allegedly opened fire on officers as they responded to a burglary call.
Say Her Name, Give Her Justice: Breonna Taylor. In the early morning hours of March 13, 2020, 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor was killed by the Louisville Police Department in her own home. The officers entered Breonna’s home as part of a narcotics investigation under a “no knock” warrant. However, a lawsuit filed against the police department claims the officers were not looking for Breonna or her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was also present. Police say Kenneth Walker, fearing an intruder, allegedly shot first, injuring an officer. When police returned fire, Breonna was shot eight times and pronounced dead at the scene. No drugs were found in the home and the suspect had already been taken into custody prior to the raid. Though Breonna was killed nearly two months ago, her case gained national attention after prominent activist Shaun King and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) publicly demanded justice for her killing.
Health Matters
Coronavirus by the Numbers:
  • 1,417,889 cases (most in the world)
  • 85,906 deaths (most in the world)
  • 256,414 recoveries 
  • 10,341,775 total persons tested (as of 5/15/20)
Click here to see how the COVID-19 pandemic is advancing worldwide. Get free live updates from the New York Times at this link, or sign up for a free newsletter from the Washington Post here.

How Much Testing Is Enough? There is widespread agreement that more COVID-19 testing is key to discovering how pervasive infection rates are in a geographic area. Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R- TN) has said repeatedly that "all roads back to work and back to school school run through testing." And yet, most states aren't anywhere near the levels suggested by the WHO and other experts. 

So we have examined the states served by the National Urban League to determine how well they are doing. We hope you find this useful. We will publish the data on a weekly basis so you can track the progress over time.

The Latest in 2020

The Countdown:
172 Days to Election Day
250 Days to Inauguration Day

Stacey Abrams Gets Her Close Up in the Veepstakes: (Reprinted From the AJC“Stacey Abrams took her vice-presidential tryout to primetime on Thursday when she appeared on an MSNBC virtual town hall with Joe Biden. The Georgia Democrat used the appearance to push for an expansion of vote-by-mail programs and demand changes to the criminal justice system after the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old unarmed black jogger who was gunned down in south Georgia. “What we know is we have to not only rebuild America, but as Joe Biden said so eloquently, restore the soul of America,” Abrams said. “Rebuilding our democracy means making sure we restore our soul and that we treat every citizen as valid and equally deserving of justice.” Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, echoed her stance. He said the graphic video of Arbery’s killing has prompted a significant societal change: “The blinders have been taken off.” “Good people who haven’t been focused on this before are all of a sudden saying, ‘My God I didn’t have any idea how deeply this institutional racism runs,” he said.

"In the days leading up to the town hall, Abrams formally endorsed Biden after long staying neutral in the race. In their first joint TV appearance, conducted on socially-distant split screens, she showered praise on Biden and touted his decades-long record in the U.S. Senate. He responded in kind by promoting her Fair Fight Action voting rights initiative and lauding her as an “incredibly capable person.” And when she was asked by a viewer why she passed on a U.S. Senate race but is jockeying for vice president, Biden jumped in: “She’s capable of doing both.” Abrams has engaged in an extraordinarily candid effort to persuade Biden to select her for the No. 2 spot, flipping the script of potential running mates who usually sidestep public talk of a promotion while working behind the scenes to do just that. But the Georgia Democrat is also 
keeping one eye on another campaign against Gov. Brian Kemp, a rematch that’s seen by her allies as a near certainty in 2022 if Biden passes her over this summer.”

So We’re (Not) Going to (Democratic) Party Like It’s 2016? In a show of solidarity and compromise rarely seen during presidential races, Vice President Joe Biden and his former primary rival Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have unveiled six Joint Policy Task Forces that will work to craft a compromise Democratic platform and shape a possible Biden administration. The task forces will focus on the economy, education, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and health care. Some notable task force participants include Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), tapped to co-lead the task force on climate issues, Representative Karen Bass (D-CA), tapped to co-lead the task force on the economy, and former Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder, who will serve on the task force for criminal justice reform.

Biden Backs Rent and Mortgage Forgiveness During Pandemic: In 
a Wednesday interview on the Snapchat show “Good Luck America,” Biden called for the federal government to help keep jobless Americans in their homes and apartments amid the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. “There should be rent forgiveness and there should be mortgage forgiveness now in the middle of this crisis,” Biden said when asked if he supported a “federal rent bailout.” Biden has previously voiced support for delaying mortgage payments, banning evictions and foreclosures, and freezing rent for those who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic.

State Department Chief Pompeo Still Says No to Kansas Senate Run: President Trump recently encouraged Secretary of State 
Mike Pompeo to reconsider running for the U.S. Senate in Kansas but Pompeo rebuffed the request. Trump spoke to Pompeo about making a bid for the seat during a one-on-one meeting at the White House about two weeks ago, according to reports. This underscores the growing nervousness among Republicans that they could lose control of the Senate in this fall’s election and that a once-safe Kansas seat could now be in play. Of the 35 Senate seats up for grabs this fall, Republicans are defending 23 of them. Republicans currently hold a 53-to-47 advantage in the Senate. Kansas has a June 1 primary-filing deadline. The seat is up for grabs following the decision by incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R) to not seek reelection.

DNC Chair Criticizes Federal Response to COVID: In a virtual conference this week,
DNC Chairman Tom Perez criticized how President Trump and Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos have handled the coronavirus pandemic. When asked why Trump should shoulder the primary responsibility if schools struggle to reopen, Perez stated that the president’s failure to address the pandemic and January and February was “impossible to overstate” and that without a strong testing and tracing system, schools would not be able to pick back up again. He also said “if we are unable to open up our schools again, it’s somehow a failure locally when you’ve had this abject failure of the federal government to lead.” These statements come after health officials warned this week that the key to reopening schools will be widespread testing and tracing.
Policy & Hill Happenings
HEROES Bill Expected to Pass Today Amid Intraparty Handwringing; Trump Threatens Veto: The next $3 trillion-plus installment of legislation to address the coronavirus pandemic, the HEROES Act, is up for a vote today around 5:00 PM. It may well pass the House on a narrow vote, but it is dead letter in the Senate. And for rhetorical flourish, President Trump has issued a rare veto threat before the Senate even takes it up. The WBI expects party defections on both sides. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said he and several other Republicans are expected to support the package, while both the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic party have expressed serious concerns with the bill. Plus it is still not clear that every member of the Democratic caucus will return to DC for the vote. Health concerns, virtual graduations, and other such complications could make the margins for passage a little thinner.

The Progressive Caucus — which was upset that some of their priorities were left on the cutting room floor — has been discussing a floor strategy to tank the rule for the relief bill, although it’s unlikely the caucus would torpedo the underlying legislation. And during a call with progressives, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tried to lobby her colleagues to block the relief measure in an effort to get it amended, according to sources.

Moderates, meanwhile, are worried about the price tag of the legislation and the optics of supporting a partisan bill. Freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), a frontline freshman who flipped her seat in 2018, told
CNN’s Manu Raju she is undecided on the package. Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) — another frontliner — said she’ll oppose the legislation, dismissing it as a “messaging bill” with no GOP support.

That is why Democratic leaders have been on a whipping frenzy over the past 72 hours. And during a private caucus call last night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made one last pitch to her troops about why they should support the bill. "If you vote against this and all this funding for your state, then you have to go home and defend it. And if you can defend that no vote, then you’re a better politician than me,” she said, in classic Pelosi fashion.

The Latest in the Michael Flynn Drama: John Gleeson, a retired federal judge and former mob prosecutor, has been appointed by the judge overseeing the case against
Michael Flynn, will oppose the Justice Department’s move to drop a charge against President Trump’s former national security adviser. On Wednesday, the federal judge overseeing the case of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn appointed Mr. Gleeson to oppose the Justice Department’s plan to drop the charge. The position, as a kind of legal adviser to the judge, Emmet G. Sullivan, was both unusual and slightly ill-defined, and is going to put Mr. Gleeson into an open confrontation with President Trump and his army of supporters. This may end up as the latest development of the diminution of the U.S. Supreme Court stature as the small claims court of the president’s grievances. The Supreme Court is already tied up with cases involving the president’s efforts to shield his tax returns from disclosure. Another case bound for the Supreme Court involves the Emoluments Clause and whether the president may receive money from his Washington, DC hotel when foreigners stay in the property to curry favor with the president. 

Federal Reserve Board Report on Economic Well-Being of Americans During COVID-19 Pandemic Finds Troubling Results:  Yesterday, the Federal Reserve Board released its much anticipated annual Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households which included an April 2020 survey of how consumers are faring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Overall, nearly 40% of people working in February with a household income below $40,000 reported a job loss in March while 6% of all adults had their hours reduced or took unpaid leave. Taken together, 19% of all adults reported either losing a job or experiencing a reduction in work hours in March.  While nine in ten surveyed individuals reported being told by their employer that they likely be able to return to their job, most were not given assurances nor a potential timeline for when to expect to return to work. 

Report Faults SBA for Failing to Direct Lenders to Prioritize Minority- and Woman-owned Businesses per Congressional Intent: The Inspector General's
findings, which come at a time when the SBA is urging publicly-traded companies to return PPP funds they inappropriately received, adds to growing concerns about Congressionally-appropriated funds aimed at helping small businesses have been allocated fairly and whether large businesses that can already raise capital privately were prioritized by banks.  The Inspector General also faulted the agency for failing to require borrowers to report demographic data that would help the SBA track its progress.   

New Data on Food Insecurity: This week, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released new data on food insecurity and communities of color. In a national survey, nearly 23 percent of households responded that the food they bought did not last and they did not have money to buy more. That number was significantly higher for Black and Hispanic families, 29 percent and 34 percent, respectively. The CBPP is advocating for policymakers to raise SNAP benefits and to boost the social safety net in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Administration Talks with Higher Ed Leaders: Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx huddled with college leaders on Wednesday to discuss how students can return to campus in the fall. Part of the discussion revolved around White House and CDC guidance for higher education administrators. The meeting came as colleges and universities are grappling with how to protect school finances without putting student and faculty lives in danger as health officials warn against reopening too soon. Some of the participants on the list have already expressed cautious optimism about allowing in-person instruction this fall.

Participants on the call included:

— Purdue University President Mitch Daniels
— President of University of Texas-El Paso Heather Wilson
— Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn
— Marquette University President Michael Lovell
— University of Virginia President James E. Ryan
— Chancellor of the University of Alabama System Fess St. John IV
— University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs
— University of Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins
— Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian
— The Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake
— Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne
— Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch
— Arizona State University President Michael Crow
— Hampton University President William R. Harvey

These Census Completion Rates Ain't No Joke: Curious about how many people in your community are responding to the 2020 Census? Stay up-to-date with a map of self-response rates from across the United States here. The chart below shows the percentage of people who self-reported completing the census in each state (in green), compared to the total response rate in 2010 (in blue). 

State and Local Spotlight
After Suppressing Detailed Guidance on Reopening, CDC Releases Picture Guidance: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released six flow charts meant to help schools, restaurants, transit systems, and other businesses decide when to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, the agency’s first release of such guidance after a more comprehensive draft was rejected by the White House.

The decision trees are mostly composed of basic tips that can serve as a checklist for businesses before they reopen. The public release of the guidance on Thursday follows a tumultuous back-and-forth between the CDC and the White House. Trump administration officials had sent back the CDC’s initial recommendations, arguing that they were too prescriptive and rigid when the density of confirmed coronavirus cases can fluctuate widely from state to state, and even county to county. Some federal agencies also said the draft guidelines could harm businesses and the economy.

Stay at Home Orders: Check here to see the latest in every state.

Michigan Settles Suit After Landmark "Right to Read" Ruling: On Thursday, Michigan announced a
settlement in a 2016 lawsuit over the state's failure to teach Detroit schoolchildren to read at grade level. The settlement comes weeks after a federal appeals court issued a groundbreaking decision recognizing a constitutional right to education and literacy. On April 23, the appeals court said students at poor-performing, dilapidated Detroit schools are entitled to a basic minimum education under the U.S. Constitution. The decision could lead to millions of dollars in new spending. The Republican-led Legislature recently asked the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to set aside the 2-1 ruling. It said managing K-12 education is a job for state and local officials, not the federal judiciary. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and vice presidential hopeful, replaced Republican Gov. Rick Snyder as a defendant after her election in 2018.

Out of Illinois - Clearview AI to Stop Selling App to Private Companies: Controversial facial recognition provider Clearview AI says it will no longer sell its app to private companies and non-law enforcement entities, according to a Thursday legal filing. It will also be terminating all contracts, regardless of whether the contracts are for law enforcement purposes or not, in the state of Illinois.​ The document, filed in Illinois court as part of lawsuit over the company’s potential violations of a state privacy law, lays out Clearview’s decision as a voluntary action, and the company will now “avoid transacting with non-governmental customers anywhere.” Earlier this year, a leak revealed that Clearview’s technology has been used by thousands of organizations, including companies like Bank of America, Macy’s, and Walmart.

Action Alert!
Get Families Connected!
Urge Congress to include the Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020 [H.R. 6563] in the fourth COVID-19 Relief package is now LIVE!
Please take a moment TODAY to
send an email to your Senators and Representatives in the House. 


Make Black Count! 
We still lack the resources to ensure our communities are counted. Without a complete and accurate count, the African-American community will lose more than $40 billion in federal dollars and could also lose seats in Congress and hard-fought political representation at all levels of government. Unless immediate changes are made by the Census Bureau, the National Urban League predicts that the 2020 Census will produce an undercount of African-Americans greater than the 2.1% (that’s close to 1 million individuals!) seen in the previous census. But YOUR voice can make a difference…

 WRITE the Census Bureau director to make the following changes TODAY!

IMPORTANT REMINDER: To ensure compliance with our 501(c)3 status, please use your personal email address and not your NUL email address when advocating on this issue.

Ride for Maud on Saturday, May 16th: The JUST Georgia Coalition, the ACLU, and the Urban League of Greater Atlanta are organizing a “Justice for Maud” Caravan from Atlanta to Brunswick and Rally on Saturday, May 16th departing at 7:30 am. Our collective voices are required to ensure that justice is served for Ahmaud Arbery.

For details about the goals of the rally, please visit  General 1 — Just Georgia

Depart Atlanta, GA on Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 7:30 AM from Victory Outreach Church, 2175 Metropolitan Pkwy SW, Atlanta, GA 30315 
Arrive at the Glynn County Courthouse, 701 H Street Brunswick, GA 31520, at 2:00 PM. Rally participants are reminded to observe social distancing and wear personal protective equipment.
Entertainment & Notables

Join the Congressional Black Caucus for a "Speak Up & Speak Out" town hall with Teachers and Educators 
Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 7pm ET/4pm PT 
To register, click here!

Google Reportedly Cuts Back on Its Diversity Programs to Avoid Conservative Backlash: According to reports Google has made massive cuts to its diversity and inclusion initiatives. Current and former employees contend the moves were meant to shield the company from conservative backlash. "One of the major motivations for cutting Sojourn [one of Google's diversity initiatives] is that the company doesn't want to be seen as anti-conservative," an employee told NBC News." It does not want to invite lawsuits or claims by right-wing white employees about Google discriminating against them." Google has released a statement denying these accusations, stating "Any suggestion that we have scaled back or cut our diversity efforts is false. Diversity, equity, and inclusion remains a company wide commitment and our programs have scaled up to match the pace of Google's growth." Google told NBC News that it cut Sojourn because the program was mainly focused on racism in the US, making it difficult to scale globally--even though the majority of Google's 100,000-plus full-time employees are based in the United States.

MLB Owners Approve Plan to Start the Season in July: Major League Baseball (MLB) owners have finalized a plan that may allow the 2020 season to start on Fourth of July weekend. The season, which was set to start on March 26, was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. MLB owners and league management have agreed upon an 82-game regular season, down from the traditional 162 games. Spring training will begin in early to mid-June, and games would resume in early July in ballparks without fans, as long as state legislation and health officials allow. 

TikTok Accused of Violating U.S. Child Privacy Laws, Again: More than a year ago, TikTok paid a $5.7 million fine and promised to comply with the law under a settlement with the FTC. But this week,  a group of 20 advocacy groups
allege that TikTok is still violating COPPA, and they are calling on the FTC to investigate the practices of the popular app and impose the maximum allowable fine.

TODAY - Facebook to Stream Virtual Graduation Ceremony with Oprah Winfrey as Commencement Speaker: Facebook recently announced that it will
stream a live graduation event on May 15th on the Facebook platform, which will feature a commencement speech from Oprah Winfrey, as well as smaller speeches by Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X, and Simone Biles. Although the show will be broadcast over Facebook, select clips will show up on Instagram too.
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