First things first: Sen. Portman (R-OH), that reputed "moderate," has introduced a Senate budget amendment which would let states "opt out" of a Clean Air Act provision covering pollution from smokestacks. If you're the kind of person who likes to live and let live, and thinks that, well, maybe we can give individual states a little leeway regarding clean air laws, simply answer one simple question: do air pollutants respect state boundary lines? If the answer is "no" -- which, spoiler alert! The answer is no -- then you cannot in good conscience support such an amendment. And what does that have to do with budgeting anyway? Sen. Sanders offered an amendment closing corporate tax loopholes to pay for infrastructure improvements, and Sen. Enzi (R-WY) claimed he voted against it because Sen. Sanders's amendment should have been heard by a different committee. In light of that strange explanation, I wonder how Sen. Enzi will justify voting for Sen. Portman's amendment. Anyway, the Environmental Defense Fund helps you tell your Congressfolk to reject Sen. Portman's dirty air amendment.
Meanwhile, despite its deficit-preening, Congress actually aims to add to the Department of Defense's Overseas Contingency Operations account for war-making, even though Congress has not declared a war, or done anything to restrain President Obama's war-making adventures in the Middle East, in some time now. This so-called "Pentagon slush fund" essentially allows Defense to skirt difficult questions like shouldn't we pay for wars out of whatever money we allocate through the budgeting process? and do we really want to keep paying for open-ended military adventures without clear goals? For some people, the latter is not a difficult question: they're the ones still saying ZOMG TEH MUZLIMZ WILL KILLZ ALL TEH PEEPULZ!!!!, which, as we remember from living through Tha Bush Mobb years, can be twisted to justify just about any policy objective. But they don't get all the say around here! So the Friends Committee on National Legislation helps you tell Congress to end the "Pentagon slush-fund."
In other news, the Bureau of Land Management has released finalized rules for fracking on public lands, and, as you may expect, it takes a few steps forward (prohibiting those awful open pits for fracking fluid storage) while leaving a lot of work undone -- important work, like making fracking corporations disclose the chemicals they use to us, and not to some corporate, third-party website. Or getting rid of "trade secret exemptions" to disclosure rules. Or giving local communities more of a heads-up before fracking starts in their backyards. And we already know that fracking puts toxic chemicals in our drinking water -- so much so that it becomes flammable, gelatinous, or brackish -- and our air, just as we already know that claims that expanded fracking will slow the advance of climate change is rather optimistic, when you consider that methane packs a much larger climate-change wallop than even carbon dioxide. Luckily, Rep. Pocan (D-WI) has introduced a bill to ban fracking on public lands outright, and Food and Water Watch helps you tell the BLM to enact much stricter rules regarding fracking on public lands.
Finally, if you've missed previous opportunities to tell President Obama to force campaign finance disclosure from federal contractors, then both Common Cause and People for the American Way still help you do that. We can do that, of course, because, well, who pays federal contractors? We do, that's who -- with our taxes -- and don't we deserve to know what those contractors are doing with our money? You know, since it's our money? There's no arguing that we're "singling out" federal contractors unfairly, because, again -- and let me know if I'm belaboring the point -- it's our money. And though Congress would certainly try to stop President Obama from doing his job if he does issue such an order, they can't actually stop him unless they pass a bill either nullifying the order or stripping him of his authority to issue such an order -- and, well, President Obama would get to veto such a bill, and the Republicans in Congress couldn't override it, given their numbers. It's a no-brainer, really -- which is probably why Mr. Obama won't do it without massive public pressure.