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Washington Bureau Insider: July 24, 2020

Clint Odom
Executive Director Washington Bureau National Urban League


JOHN LEWIS TO LIE IN STATE ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY. Mr. Lewis will lie on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Monday evening and all day on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a new Democratic candidate has been selected to compete in November for Mr. Lewis's vacant House seat.


Jacksonville is too hot for convention attendees but just fine for a return to school.

MORIAL TO TALK ABOUT SAFE REOPENING OF SCHOOLS. Our president joins the National Education Association on Tuesday to talk about safe school reopening.

OP-ED, COVID AS THE NEW VOTER SUPPRESSION TECHNIQUE. Poll taxes, voter ID, and voter roll purges are the usual risks in November. Covid could be the thing that keeps people at home on Election Day, unless we get prepared.

ACTION ALERTS: Don't forget to take action to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, affordable broadband Internet to families with school children, and that the Census Bureau conducts a complete and accurate count of African Americans in the 2020 census. New action alerts urge members of Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and the HEROES Act.
This is America: Gun Violence Continues to Steal Lives
Gun violence is responsible for over 23,325 deaths in 2020. 

The Latest on Justice for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd: Last week, Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan, Jr. pled “not guilty” to murder charges in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley accepted the pleas and waived arraignment at the request of the defendants’ lawyers. No court date has been set.
Earlier this month, the Louisville Metro Council Government Oversight and Audit Committee filed an order to
open an investigation into the “action and inaction” of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and his administration regarding the handling of the killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, the death of protester David McAtee, and excessive use of force during peaceful protests. Kentucky state law gives the Metro Council the power to remove any Metro Officer from office for misconduct or criminal activity, including the mayor. The Council also possesses funding power for all government agencies under its jurisdiction, including the Louisville Metro Police Department.
On Wednesday, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill
lifted the gag order against the four Minneapolis ex-police officers charged in the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd. The judge’s found that keeping the order in place left the suspects, Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Kueung, unable to defend themselves against negative publicity. Earlier this month, attorneys for Thao and Thomas Lane asked that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison be held in contempt of court for allegedly violating the gag order when he announced the additional attorneys who would be assisting him with the case. Judge Cahill rejected this request.

Health Matters
Coronavirus by the Numbers:
  • 71,588 daily cases (as of 7/23/20)
  • 4,039,523 cases (most in the world)
  • 144,308 deaths (most in the world)
  • 1,233,269 recoveries 
  • 48,794,970 total persons tested (as of 7/24/20)

Click here to see how the COVID-19 pandemic is advancing worldwide. Get free live updates from the New York Times, or sign up for a free newsletter from the Washington Post 

How Much Testing Is Enough? More COVID-19 testing is key to discovering how pervasive infection rates are in a geographic area. And yet, most states aren't anywhere near the levels suggested by the World Health Organization and other experts. Here's the latest on whether your state is doing enough testing. 

What the Research Shows About COVID’s  Impact on Kids: During Wednesday’s coronavirus Taskforce briefing, President Trump suggested that science was on the side of in-person schooling this fall, because children are less likely to get sick and die from Covid-19. “They don’t catch it easily,” he said. “They don’t bring it home easily. And if they do catch it, they get better fast.” Overall, 1.9 million kids ages 0-17 have been infected with COVID, representing 2.6% of all children in the U.S. There have been 77 reported deaths, and 805 intensive care hospitalizations in children 17 and under. So while the data may suggest that the risk of children dying or becoming critically ill is low, that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t be concerned. Undercounts are likely because kids often don’t show symptoms, tests are scarce, results lag, and data collection and reporting is sporadic across the country. The COVIDKID is a project led by a team of epidemiologists that has been tracking cases in children and teens.

Pfizer, BioNTech Reach $1.95 Billion COVID-19 Vaccine Deal with U.S. Government: 
In the administration’s largest investment yet in a vaccine that has not been proven effective, Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech will supply the federal government with 100 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine under a $1.95 billion deal announced this week. The government also has an option to acquire an additional 500 million doses of the vaccine candidate (BNT162). Pfizer must still secure regulatory approval or authorization that the company estimates seeking as early as October. The agreement could allow the U.S. to buy a large portion of the vaccine Pfizer plans to make through the end of 2021 and comes on top of the government’s vaccine contracts with AstraZeneca for 300 million doses and Novavax for at least 100 million doses.
The Latest in 2020
The Countdown:
 Days to Election Day

179 Days to Inauguration Day 

Trump Cancels Republican Convention Activities in Florida: In a striking turnaround for Trump, who moved the convention to Jacksonville after North Carolina's governor raised public health concerns about having massive gatherings in Charlotte, as the GOP had long planned, the President announced Thursday that Republicans have scrapped plans to hold convention activities in Jacksonville, Florida. Pared-back events in Charlotte will still be held, Trump said.

Obama Blasts Trump, Praises Biden in New 2020 Campaign Video: The 15-minute video, posted online Thursday, is the latest effort to get the former president more involved in the 2020 campaign as his former vice president tries to rebuild Obama’s winning coalition. Obama has promised an active role on the campaign trail this fall.

Biden and Lawmakers Warned of Foreign Interference in Election: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said he is putting Russia and other foreign governments “on notice” that he would act aggressively as president to counter any interference in U.S. elections. The statement came hours after Democratic leaders issued a new warning that Congress appears to be the target of a foreign interference campaign. The new alarms give a renewed urgency to concerns that foreign actors could be trying to influence the vote or sow disinformation. Biden said last week that he had begun receiving intelligence briefings and warned that Russia, China and other adversaries were attempting to undermine the presidential election. Biden gave no evidence, but he said that Russia was “still engaged” after 2016 and that China was also involved in efforts to sow doubts in the American electoral process. During an online fundraiser Monday night, Biden added: “It’s going to be tough, there’s not much I can do about it now except talk about it, and expose it, but it is a serious concern. It is truly a violation of our sovereignty.”​

Democrats Tap Nikema Williams to Replace John Lewis on November Ballot: Facing an urgent legal deadline, Georgia's Democratic Party executive committee met Monday on Zoom to select Williams, a state senator who framed herself as a protégé of the civil rights giant, over four other finalists filtered from dozens of applicants who sought the seat after Lewis’ death Friday. Williams is seen as a virtual lock to win the Atlanta-based district, which is so heavily Democratic that Lewis often drew only token Republican opposition since he first won the seat in 1986. She will face Republican Angela Stanton-King, an ally of President Donald Trump, in November. 

Trump's Campaign Clashes With AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile Over Spam Texts: President Trump’s reelection campaign is reportedly fighting cellphone carriers over
the right to send Americans unsolicited texts. According to Business Insider, the campaign’s lawyers are in active talks with phone companies after a third-party screening tool blocked Trump texts in early July. The campaign alleges that screening the texts amounts to suppressing political speech, while carriers fear allowing them will result in fines for violating anti-spam rules. The 2020 election has brought a wave of text messages from across the political spectrum, particularly with the pandemic limiting in-person outreach. Many users didn’t opt in to these missives, and it’s unclear whether they violate federal laws meant to curb unwanted texts. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has imposed steeper fines for spamming and illegal robocalls, putting carriers on edge.
Policy & Hill Happenings
House Passes Emergency Legislation to Avert Govt Shutdown: The House approved a $259.5 billion spending package today in Democrats’ opening bid to ward off a government shutdown in September — a potentially devastating scenario while the nation is embroiled in a pandemic and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The lower chamber cleared the package in a 224-189 vote. The four-bill minibus, H.R. 7608 (116), pads budgets at the departments of State, Interior, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and other agencies with billions of additional dollars, while imposing new restrictions on the Trump administration that guarantee it will never become law. It’s the first appropriations measure to move through any chamber of Congress this year, but lawmakers are almost certainly hurtling toward a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open beyond the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Senate GOP Pandemic Bill Delayed Over Internal Disagreements in Spending Priorities: Senate Republicans were planning to roll out their $1 trillion opening bid on the next round of coronavirus aid on Thursday morning, but delayed the release over disagreements between the White House and Republican leadership on the extension of federal unemployment insurance benefits and funding for schools. Meanwhile, 1.4 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the week ending July 18, the first weekly increase in months and the additional $600 in unemployment insurance benefits expires at the end of next week.
While specific details of the plan have yet to be finalized, here is the
latest on what the White House and Republicans were able to agree on:
  • Payroll Tax Cut. Not likely going to be in this time around, according to Mnuchin.
  • Testing. It will likely include up to $25 billion for states to upgrade state-level coronavirus testing and contact tracing capacity;
  • Stimulus checks. It will likely include a new round of direct payments to Americans but with the same income restrictions as in the first CARES Act.
  • Liability protection. It will include protection from lawsuits from COVID-19 exposure for schools, businesses, and other organizations as they begin to reopen.
  • Small Business Aid. The package is expected to include an additional $90 billion in Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses;
  • School funding. The package is expected to include $105 billion for schools as they seek to restart operations. Of those funds, $70 billion would go to elementary and secondary schools, with schools reopening in-person getting more money, and another $30 billion for colleges and universities.
  • State Aid.  The package is expected to include a provision to provide flexibility for the use of state aid.
 Trump To Reverse Obama-era Fair Housing Rule That Made Desegregation A National Priority:  In his latest effort to appeal to white suburban voters—particularly white women whom polls show support for him has plummeted—by playing up racial tensions, Donald Trump moved to eliminate an existing Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule that requires jurisdictions that receive federal funding through the agency to ensure that they are adhering to the key fair housing and anti-discrimination tenets of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. “The Suburban Housewives of America must read this article,” Trump wrote Thursday on Twitter, linking to a New York Post op-ed by former New York lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey that argued that Biden would ruin the country’s bedroom communities. Trump’s tweet continued: “Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream. I will preserve it, and make it even better!” 
The implementation of this rule, officially known as the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), was last updated in 2015 by the Obama Administration with the support of consumer and civil rights groups, including the National Urban League.  Former Vice President Joe Biden has promised to restore the 2015 rule in full should he win the Presidency this fall.

Mounting Financial Hardships During Pandemic Leading To Unpaid Utility Bills For Vulnerable Families:  In another sign of the challenges families with limited means face as the nation plunges deeper into the current economic crisis, data continues to show that financially-vulnerable families nationwide are increasingly falling behind and unable to pay their utility bills, with many at risk of having their water and electricity services shutoff in the middle of the pandemic. These challenges highlight the need for Congress to rapidly increase resources designed to provide families with the financial relief they desperately need to help make ends meet during these difficult times. 
Insurance Industry To Undertake Review of Practices In Effort To Weed Out Racial Bias & Discrimination: In the latest sign of far of the consequential changes to longstanding business norms precipitated by the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that erupted thereafter, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners announced this week that it would undertake a
comprehensive review of all current insurance industry practices—including sales practices, rate pricing, underwriting, recruitment, etc.—to help identify practices that may unintentionally disadvantage minorities. 
Romney To Oppose Trump Federal Reserve Board Nominee:  On Thursday, Senator Romney became the
first Republican to announce his intention to vote against Judy Shelton, Donald Trump's controversial nominee to serve on the Federal Reserve board.  Shelton’s nomination passed the Senate Banking Committee on a 13-12 party-line vote on Tuesday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to bring her nomination to a vote the week of August 3rd. Because Republicans only hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, the loss of three more Republicans would render Shelton’s candidacy for this Fed Board seat effectively dead. Having   

Sens. Sanders, Warren, Wyden Back National Facial Recognition Ban Bill:  In June, Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Pramila Jayapal and Sens. Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley introduced the bill in the House, which calling for a complete ban on facial recognition use by law enforcement until Congress passes legislation to lift the moratorium. This week, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Ron Wyden joined the bill as co-sponsors, along with eight other lawmakers. The U.S. has seen a growing call from privacy and other groups to ban facial recognition across its cities, as well as concern about human rights issues from companies that provide the technology. Facial recognition concerns stem from the technology's track record of racial bias, with researchers finding that it frequently misidentifies people of color and women. That's led to cases where Black men were wrongfully arrested because of the technology, prompting a rising call to stop police from using facial recognition. 

All Hands on Deck, Reopening America’s Campuses  Safely and Equitably: As school districts across the country struggle to find solutions for the coming school year, we want to host a dialogue focused on how educators, families, students, and community leaders can take the lead. The Senate is stalling, some politicians are pressing for unsafe reopening conditions, families have to figure out how to balance work and their children’s education, and educators are preparing for virtual learning, ‘hybrid’ schedules and everything in between.  Decision-makers need to be asking families and educators what they need and how they will feel supported. And if educators and families join together to make sure health, safety, and student learning are addressed, they are unstoppable.

For more information on school reopenings, tune into "All Hands on Deck, Reopening America’s Campuses  Safely and Equitably” on Tuesday, July 28th from 7:00 - 7:45 pm EST. Join the National Education Association and National Urban League President and CEO, Marc H. Morial, for an exclusive discussion on how to open schools safely. "Click
here to register. 

Black Maternal Health Caucus Hosting Summit: On Monday, July 27 at 9:30 a.m. EST, the BMH Caucus will host its "2020 Black Maternal Health Caucus Stakeholder Summit: Passing the #Momnibus and Promoting Black Maternal Health in 2020 & Beyond." The event will be live-streamed on Twitter @BMHCaucus

State and Local Spotlight
Virginia H.S. Renamed for Rep. John Lewis: Fairfax County Public Schools is renaming Robert E. Lee High School in Northern Virginia for the late Georgia congressman, a historic switch that follows a wave of similar rechristenings throughout the South. The school board voted unanimously to change the name to John R. Lewis High School at a virtual meeting Thursday evening. The change comes after several years of efforts to rename the school, a push that stalled last year but gained new momentum after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

New York Ends Drivers License Suspensions for Unpaid Fees: The New York State Senate and Assembly have passed a bill to end the suspension of driver's licenses based on the failure to pay traffic ticket fines or fees. The legislation also creates a payment plan system for drivers. Governor Andrew Cuomo must sign the bill before it can become law. The bill is part of a national push to address policies that unfairly impact low-income communities and people of color.

As Cases Rise, States Pause Reopening Plans: As the coronavirus sweeps through the south and west, we may be headed toward a new round of restrictions. States are pausing their reopening plans. Check here to see the latest in every state. In US cities hit hard by the virus, like Los Angeles and Houston, mayors are considering new stay-at-home orders despite pushback from state leaders. 

tool allows you to check the state or the county where they live and see a COVID-19 risk rating of green, yellow, orange, or red, based upon the number of new daily cases per 100,000 people. 

Updated School Plans for the Fall: States vary on plans for reopening schools over the summer and fall. Check here for the latest where you live. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a searchable database of college policies. Learn more about each state’s reopening plan from Ed WeekEd Reform Now, and now Johns Hopkins
Action Alerts!
COVID: The New Voter Suppression Technique
The recent passing of civil rights hero John Lewis dredged up painful memories of voter suppression that prevented African Americans from registering to vote and exercising that right. For the better part of the 19th and 20th centuries, lynching and other racialized terror was used to intimidate Blacks and keep them away from the ballot box. In the 20th century, Blacks were subjected to such indignities as literacy tests, counting jellybeans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap, and other such tasks to register to vote. As recently as the 1960s, Black voters were subjected to poll taxes and police intimidation to deny them the franchise.

Despite the heroic efforts of figures like John Lewis, Rev. C.T. Vivian, and Fannie Lou Hamer, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 came under assault within minutes of its passage. Voter ID laws, voter purges, reduction of voting locations, exact name-match requirements, and refusal to re-enfranchise former inmates who have paid their debt to society are the hallmarks of modern voter suppression. The Roberts Supreme Court also played a role in this shameful history by eliminating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a provision that prevented voter suppression efforts before they could inflict harm to the Black voting rights. And in 2016, the revelation of attempted and ongoing Russian interference in our elections was thought to be the last straw.

The novel coronavirus pandemic, however, provided opponents of fair elections an effective new tool. This spring, states like Wisconsin fought to require in-person voting during a pandemic. Some 7,000 poll workers in Wisconsin said they would not work during the April primary election because of their fears of the coronavirus. Fewer poll workers added to voter anxiety and longer voting lines and wait times. After the votes were counted in Wisconsin, dozens of poll workers and voters contracted Covid. To some, maybe that was the only election outcome that mattered.

The fear of contracting coronavirus will certainly play a role in voter turnout in November. Not to be outdone, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently signed an executive order requiring Texans to wear masks in public. The order, however, contained a curious exemption for poll workers and voters. When viewed in conjunction with the refusal of Texas to allow absentee mail-in ballots for those concerned about Covid, many in Texas hope that large numbers of voters, especially voters of color, will stay at home to avoid contact with people who might expose them to the virus.

Voter suppression is alive in well in 2020. Here's what you need to remember. You must get registered to vote. You must check your rules on voting. You must know the candidates and the issues. You must know your polling location.  And, in the words of John Lewis, you must “get out there and vote like you’ve never voted before.” You'll be hearing more from us in the coming days on how to get ready. 

#JusticeInPolicingAct People around the world watched in horror as George Floyd was publicly executed by members of Minneapolis law enforcement…officers sworn and entrusted by the public to “serve and protect." The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 seeks to address persistent, unchecked bias in policing and bring accountability for police misconduct. It includes measures originally proposed in the National Urban League's 10-Point Justice Plan such as mandated use of body and dashboard cameras and the revision of police training procedures and use-of-force policies.
Black Americans have been crying out for change, justice, and police accountability for far too long... it's time for Congress to pass the Justice in Policing Act NOW!
here to contact your member of Congress.

#PassTheHEROESAct Black Americans and minority-owned small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Let's make sure Americans who need it most get federal dollars, not big business and corporations!
The HEROES Act will provide a second round of stimulus funds to individuals and families, healthcare resources to low-income and incarcerated citizens, support to essential front line workers, safe access to the ballot whether in person or by nationwide vote-by-mail, and much more!
here to contact your Senators.

Justice for Breonna Taylor
! Breonna Taylor was an award-winning emergency medical technician from Louisville, Kentucky. On March 13, the reckless and excessive actions of three Louisville police officers executing a “no knock” warrant on the wrong home, cut her promising life short. To date, no charges have been filed against the officers involved.

Despite the absence of arrests, there have been some recent wins for the side of justice:
  • May 28, the FBI announced it would open an investigation of Breonna’s case;
  • May 29, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer suspended the use of “no knock” warrants by the Louisville Metro Police Department;
  • June 2, Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad was fired for continued police misconduct leading to the death of local businessman David McAtee who was attending a protest for Breonna; and
  • June 3, Louisville Mayor Fischer announced he is seeking an independent firm to conduct a “top to bottom” review of the Louisville Metro Police Department.
  • On June 19, Mayor Greg Fischer announced that Louisville Metro Police is moving to fire Brett Hankison, one of three LMPD officers to fire weapons that killed Breonna Taylor.
Let’s continue to apply pressure to get the three officers directly involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor off the streets!

Send an email AND Tweet to KY Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer demanding swift justice for Breonna Taylor using
this link (Don’t forget to share the campaign on Facebook and Twitter!)

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:

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!
Entertainment & Notables
John Lewis Will Lie In State in the Capitol Rotunda: Congressional leaders announced Thursday that Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and a civil rights icon, will lie in state next week in the Capitol Rotunda, one of the highest American honors. Given that the Capitol is closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Lewis will spend only a few hours lying in state under the Capitol dome after an invitation-only ceremony on Monday afternoon. Afterward, his coffin will be moved outside to the top of the Capitol steps, and members of the public will be able to line up — with masks required and social distancing enforced — to view it from the plaza below on Monday evening and all day Tuesday.

State Utility Commissioners Demand Review Inmate Calling Rates: The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners agrees with 
a recent letter from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on the issue of exorbitant inmate calling rates and is urging its member state commissions to review inmate calling rates in their respective jurisdictions. NARUC states the rates "discourage family engagement, communication and hamper the successful reentry of incarcerated persons. We are asking all of our members to take a comprehensive review in their jurisdictions around these rates and take action where warranted."

Twitter Exploring Subscription Service Amid Drop In Ad Revenue: Responding to a marked drop in advertising revenue spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said on an earnings call with investors on Thursday that the company was currently in the early stages of exploring a subscription option on the platform. The comments came as the company reported that its advertising revenue, a core part of its business, suffered a year-over-year decline of 23 percent, which it attributed in part to the rapid scaling back of ad spending caused by coronavirus lockdowns.  
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