What’s Going On, On the Hill?

By Asia A. Alexander

During my summer internship with CELIE, through its XXTRA Special and Free program for women and girls, I worked two assignments: one as an intern in Congress, and the other as a special contributor to XXTRA Special and Free online platform.  This column allows me to share my experiences on the Hill and provide updates that inform a broader audience, including millennials and other women of color.

Important legislation introduced/passed:

Agriculture. H.R. 2, also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, was introduced April 12, 2018 by Representative Michael Conaway. The bill passed the House and Senate on of June 29, 2018. The articulated goal of the bill is to support a “stronger” agriculture community. In reality, the bill will hurt many working-class Americans as it calls for the expansion of work requirements for individuals receiving SNAP benefits and forces the hand of farmers to choose between either price loss coverage or agricultural risk coverage for their crops between 2019 to 2023. The bill also repeals many conservation requirements, including the Clean Water rule. See full text of bill.

Immigration. Immigration and everything having to deal with immigration reform remains an  important issue on the congressional agenda, as many legislative measures have been introduced to reunite families, call for the accountability of the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Service agents, and less harsh border security. In the midst of these efforts, pro-immigration interests suffered a major loss as President Trump’s travel ban, Executive Order 13769 was ruled constitutional by the United States Supreme Court on June 26, 2018. This travel ban targets six countries, where the primary religion has been identified as the Muslim faith: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  See full text of Executive Order 13769.

Member caught in the spotlight:

Congresswoman Maxine Waters has been in the public’s eye for a while.  She has carried on a long-standing career as a seasoned, groundbreaking politician and representative. This summer a name and work continued to attract the ire of conservative leaders. It has been evident that there are some strong differences of opinion between Congresswoman Waters and a slew of GOP members. The statements the Congresswoman made at a Keep Families Together rally, where she called for the impeachment of President Trump and confrontation of members of President Trump’s cabinet members drew harsh criticism from GOP interests and fearful members of the Democratic party.

The statements of Representative Waters may be deemed by some as hateful and by others as inspiring. For me, Representative Waters in this moment caught on camera conveyed passion similar to the passion and zeal that I only have had the privilege to read about that came out of the Civil Rights Movement. Congresswoman Waters never explicitly calls for any acts of violence against any members of the Trump administration, but she does indeed call for actions to be taken, for many fearful individuals to no longer hold fear in their hearts but to instead be brave and let their voices and concerns be heard by those who currently hold the future of the United States of America in their hands.  Take a look at the Keep Families Together video and drop us a tweet @xxtraspecial, and let us know what you think.

President Trump takes to social media to express his disdain for Representative Maxine Waters using name-calling on twitter as a mechanism to discredit Congresswoman Waters referring to her as “…an extraordinary low IQ person…”.

Clearly, more work is required to cultivate true bipartisanship at the national level. Expeditious resolution of detentions, visuals, and news associated with separating babies (and other) children from mothers (and fathers) at the border makes sense for a list of reasons.  From my intern cubicle on Capitol Hill, where I and others field hundreds of constituent calls daily, it is beyond unfortunate that President Trump continues to miss critical opportunities to demonstrate his ability to lead the nation in a direction of healing and to provide the assistance and reassurance those seeking refuge and opportunity in the U.S. deserve.

Asia A. Alexander is a contributing writer to XXTRA Special and Free, and participated in the launch of the XXTRA Special and Free Summer Internship program.  Asia worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH).   The opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author.