Under Trumpcare, Americans abroad with pre-existing conditions may be forced to live in “exile” if the Republican health bill passes. Young families considering a return to the US would face decreased coverage for family planning and maternal/infant care. For those with loved ones in the US, cutting Medicaid funding will have an impact on our elderly family members as well as those with disabilities or mental health issues. We face very tough decisions, not only about ourselves but about our families back in the US.
There are lots of unknowns about the Senate healthcare bill. The bill is being written behind closed doors by a 13-member (all white male) working group led by Senator Mitch McConnell. Even Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price admitted on June 17th that he had not seen what the Republicans were working on. But what we do know is that the Republican-dominated Senate is pushing forward to get their health care bill passed by July 4th. The Senate plans on sending their bill to the Congressional Budget Office before making their text public and have been liaising with the CBO behind the scenes in order to speed up the scoring.
By contrast, the Affordable Care Act had months of public hearings, 160 hours of debate and discussions surrounding hundreds of amendments (170 of which were adopted).
It is critical that we demand that the senate discuss the bill in a democratic fashion - opening it up to discussion, debate and amendment. It is critical that we demand that no American's health and security be sacrificed at the altar of special interests. The pressure that McConnell is exercising on Republican Senators to get enough votes to pass this bill is immense. We must exert equal pressure by calling our Senators to let them know how the bill will impact us and to tell our stories.
Take a moment today to call your senator about the bill and tell them your story. If they are Democratic they will appreciate your support and if they are Republican they need to feel the pressure.
Below are a few personal stories from Americans abroad that provide our unique perspective on health care - both in the US and in the countries where we now live.
As Congress moves toward tax reform, Americans living abroad demand a fairer, common-sense approach
Democrats Abroad calls on Congress to consider Residence-Based Taxation as part of their upcoming comprehensive tax reform package.Read more
Last month in Washington DC at the Democrats Abroad Annual Global Convention, the LGBT Caucus presented its plans and goals in this new era, which sees LGBT rights under attack and threatened with rollback after eight years of unprecedented progress.Read more
Democrats Abroad reaffirms its support for the Paris Accord and urges President Trump to remain committed to the Agreement.
“As Americans living abroad, we see climate change as an issue that demands our urgent attention,” said Julia Bryan, International Chair, Democrats Abroad. “Our members are not only Americans but also global citizens, and we believe that the U.S. can and should take a leadership role in preventing climate change. Committing to the Paris Accord is a critical step in that leadership.”
Earlier this year, Democrats participated in science and climate change marches around the world. The issue of climate change was also a key focus in the 2016 Democrats Abroad Party Platform, which received thousands of contributions with vetting from industry experts. Members voiced their concerns related to greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions, as well as long term security threats such as food and water scarcity, and public health and security issues.
The platform was ratified by 97% of electors, who urged the US government to address this pressing issue before it is too late.
More than 50 Democrats Abroad leaders took to Capitol Hill for a two-day Congressional Door Knock following the DPCA Global Meeting in Washington, D.C.
For this year’s Door Knock, members focused on lobbying for five key DA issues:
1. Overseas voting rights to advocate for easier registration and increased rules and deadlines transparency, including support for the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act and Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP).
2. A fully funded and balanced Elections Assistance Commission to support ballot requests and information for Americans residing abroad.
3. FATCA reform through support of HR 2136 - same country safe harbor bill and combined reporting for FATCA and FBAR forms.
4. A move toward Residence Based Taxation (RBT) to reduce the burden of double taxation on Americans overseas, which DA has advocated for over the past two decades.
5. State Department and Embassy funding to continue education and support programs such as USAID, American Citizen Services, and education services; that enrich the lives of citizens abroad and increase diplomatic relations in foreign countries.
DA leaders had an impactful two days both hearing from and speaking to members of the House and Senate, many of them from their home states and districts, on these issues which greatly impact on American citizens overseas. It was also an opportunity for members to personally visit with their Congressional representatives to better encourage civic engagement.
Participants capped off their trip to the Hill with a special Democrats Abroad focused episode of Democrats Live which energized everyone for the summer of resistance ahead.
Until next time!
Courtney Hagen, DAUK/Global comms team
The final day of the DPCA global meeting in Washington, D.C. began with an inspiring start with a speech from DNC Vice Chair and New York Assemblyman Michael Blake. Blake challenged DA leaders from around the world with the necessity and urgency of uniting under the party.
Reinforcing an imperative to “mobilize and organize” Blake narrowed in on the great obligation for Democrats to take part not just in Congressional or Presidential races but also in local, gubernatorial, municipal, and state races.
“When Democrats come home, resistance is successful,” said Blake. “As a Democrat abroad you are the face of hope and education for someone back home. You get information that someone might not get back home. You must provide that awareness opportunity.”
After outlining Blake called on Democrats to search for commonalities to align on values to better enfranchise citizens and voters in every state in the nation and Americans across the globe.
“We have to find the connective language that unites people beyond geography,’ said Blake. “We might have different zip codes but we all still care about education, healthcare, women’s rights, LGBT rights, diversity concerns, we just have to get to that connective value differently.”
The theme of thinking globally and acting locally was also carried through to this morning’s group discussion, featuring a panel of state Democratic party leaders, including David Pepper Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, Kathleen Matthews Chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, and Georgina Cannan the Voter Protection and Policy Director for the Virginia Democratic Party.
The panel addressed concerns on state level voting and participation, stressing a need for increased cooperation and work with and for Americans that live abroad, along with the importance of their ability to vote from overseas. Better data collection and voter identification of Americans abroad in their state parties and election commissions continues to be a critical need and bipartisan issue. Panelists pledged to look for ways to incorporate a portal in their party websites for more transparent voting information.
DA leaders also voted on the venue for the next global meeting to be held in Japan, before officially adjourning. Though the DPCA global meeting is over for another year, DA leaders will stay on in Washington for a Congressional Door Knock on Capitol Hill to advocate for Americans abroad on five key issues:
1. Strengthening overseas voting rights
2. Reforming the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA);
3. Pushing for Residence Based Taxation (RBT);
4. Maintaining and refunding the Election Assistance Commission and advocating for more publicly available recordkeeping on overseas voter participation;
5. Resisting the proposed State Department budget cuts which include funding for American Citizen Services, USAID, and educational exchanges among others.
Stay tuned for an update on our door knocking!
Courtney Hagen, DAUK/Global comms team
Democrats Abroad, the official arm of the Democratic Party outside the United States, has elected a new executive committee to oversee the successful operation of DA on a global level, as well as equipping its 43 country organizations, caucuses, and other committees with the resources and tools they need to better enfranchise Americans in their communities.
The new executive committee is as follows:
International Chair - Julia Bryan, Czech Republic
International Vice Chair - Alex Montgomery, Hong Kong
International Treasurer - Lisette Wright, Canada
International Secretary - Jeffrey Cheng, Sweden
International Counsel - Tom Schmid, Japan
Voted in at the Democratic Party Committee Abroad’s annual global meeting, held this year in Washington, D.C., the team will serve a two-year term.
Courtney Hagen, DAUK/Global comms team
Larry Cohen, DNC Unity Reform Commission and Labor Chair of Our Revolution energized Democrats Abroad leaders at the start of day three of the DPCA global meeting in Washington, D.C. Cohen spoke on the importance of building a base in progressive America, outreaching to independent voters to better enfranchise them.
Stating the rights of workers, higher education, and healthcare concerns Cohen laid out a platform of motivation. He challenged members to build up the party from a progressive and inclusive point of view.
“We should support local groups,” said Cohen. “We have potential on the local level to actually win things in big and small cities all over the country. Resistance is not enough if we don’t have a positive vision of change. How can we be heard collectively and how can we build a stronger party and win elections at the local level?”
Healthcare was also a central focus of discussion, citing support California’s SB 562 bill that would greatly reduce the role of insurance companies in providing more state funded medical care and services for citizens, Cohen cited the need for more grassroots support in states across the nation and Americans abroad in their home states for similar bills.
Following Cohen’s speech, DA leaders broke to elect the new executive committee, while global committees and caucus groups, including the Global Action Team, Tax Advocacy and Activism Committee, Fundraising, Voting Issues and Voting Rights Committee, Global IT Team, Global Volunteer Team, LGBT Caucus, Youth Caucus, Progressive Caucus, Veterans and Military Families Caucus, and Global Communications Team gave reports on their activities from 2016 and goals for 2017 and beyond.
Next up, DPCA Executive Committee elections. Stay tuned for more…
Courtney Hagen, DAUK/Global comms team
Saturday, the second day of the Democrats Abroad’s Global Convention in DC, began with a new addition to the family: DA China was officially recognized as a country committee. Although members from China have long participated in DA events they had not until now been officially recognized. After many years of hard work, this unanimous welcome to the newest member of the family was a huge victory for members in the country, and in the Asia-Pacific Region. Welcome China!
After the enthusiastic celebration, International Chair Katie Solon gave her annual report on the activities and accomplishments of Democrats Abroad. Katie spoke of our mission to resist the administration’s agenda and to encourage resistance activists to turn into voters, and then reviewed the Global Presidential Primary, our last Global Convention in Berlin, the Democratic National Convention, our various Global Town Halls with Keith Ellison, Tom Perez and George Takei among others, as well as our outreach to Democratic leaders and to our members to get out the vote.
Solon also highlighted all the various resistance efforts undertaken since the election : the Women’s March, the Science March, the NoBanNoWall action. It has been an intense and productive year for Democrats Abroad, and the next two years leading up to the 2018 election will be equally if not more engaging for our members world-wide, because, as Solon concluded, “we can act together, we must resist together, the price of democracy is participation, and there are no more sidelines to sit on.”
After Chair Solon’s annual report, the Convention was joined by freshman Congressional Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who has a special place in his heart for Democrats Abroad, since he used to be one, having been a member of DA France for many years. He told the group, to many cheers, that the most interesting, dynamic and active of the state parties isn’t even in the states, and said that he makes it his mission to raise DA’s profile with his congressional colleagues. He also contributed a protest chant for future resistance efforts : “No more Trump, No more Pence, Impeach Them for Emoluments.”
The Congressman stayed for a long while to respond to many questions about health care, voting, government oversight, the Russia investigation, and how restoring the true mission of the Democratic Party will help us win in 2018 and beyond. He concluded by saying that “Democrats Abroad is an essential and vital part of the party today.”
Much work also has also been done this weekend, notably on bylaw amendments. Fourteen resolutions and amendments were presented and discussed, with a final vote scheduled for Sunday. Amendments included proposals to expand the international excom, to adjudicate non-compliant country committees in a manner that would either bring them back into compliance or dissolve them, and to require voting members of the DPCA to carry no more than one proxy vote at international meetings in observation of the democratic principle of one person, one vote.
After the lunch break, the Convention welcomed DC Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. The Delegate commented on the administration's agenda and the Republican Congress’s ineptitude. More important, Holmes Norton, for whom voting rights have been a key issue for decades, was also surprised to learn about the many voting rights issues for Americans abroad, and listened attentively as members spoke about these issues. She also listened attentively to Carmelan Polce of DA Singapore as she outlined the major problems of FATCA. This was a great opportunity for DA to advance understanding of some of its most important agenda items with an important voice in Congress.
After the Congresswoman’s visit, the group returned to business for the rest of the afternoon with further discussions on bylaws and resolutions as well as training sessions before adjourning til tomorrow, when the ExCom elections will take place.