National Progressive Organizations Announce New Congressional Scorecard on Public Health, Environmental Issues
Scorecard Shows Whether Members of Congress Support Five Benchmark Bills Setting Standards for a Clean, Healthy Country
A group of leading progressive advocacy and labor organizations today released a new congressional scorecard on public health and the environment. The scorecard, sponsored by National Nurses United, Food & Water Watch , and Progressive Democrats of America, shows which members of Congress have co-sponsored five key bills that would collectively ensure a strong, just future of public health and environmental protection in the United States.
The scorecard can be found at: Congress-Scorecard.org
Thus far, 12 Congress members have co-sponsored all five bills; an additional 13 Congress members have co-sponsored four of them. The bills are:
- HR 676 - Expanded & Improved Medicare for All (sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison)- Establishing a Medicare for All program to ensure every person in the country has quality healthcare.
- HR 1144 - Inclusive Prosperity Act (sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison) - A small tax on Wall Street financial transactions that would generate hundreds of billions of dollars annually, to fund public health, environmental and other progressive initiatives.
- HR 2392 - Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety (sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky) - Establishing mandatory safety limits on the amount of patients that can be assigned to one nurse, to ensure quality patient care.
- HR 3671 - Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future (sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard) - The "Medicare for All on climate and energy" would mandate 100% clean, renewable energy in America by 2035.
- HR 5609 - Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity & Reliability (sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison) - Would provide major investment needed to update and improve the country's crumbling drinking water infrastructure.
"Every day, nurses work to heal patients whose illnesses and injuries result from inadequate public health and environmental protections, so we know the critical importance of co-sponsoring this congressional scorecard with Food & Water Watch and Progressive Democrats of America," said Jean Ross, RN, co-president of National Nurses United. "These five bills are vitally important to ensure the health and safety of the American people and of our planet. We applaud those Members of Congress who have shown important leadership by co-sponsoring these bills."
"In today's tumultuous world, it is important for all Americans to know exactly who in Washington is standing up for our most essential needs: a clean, livable environment, quality universal healthcare, and a more just, equitable society for all. By advocating for bold solutions to our most pressing health and environmental problems, these 12 Congress members have shown they are public health and environmental champions in Washington," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. "We're proud to be working with National Nurses United and Progressive Democrats of America to help identify those in Congress that are forwarding a strong environmental and public health vision for our country."
"The progressive and dynamic dozen Congressional members sponsoring all five of these critical bills understand the deep integration between access to health care, economic justice, clean water, and the health of our planet," said Donna Smith, Executive Director, Progressive Democrats of America. "PDA invites people across the country to work to move their members to co-sponsor these critical bills and be environmental and public health champions."
The 12 Congress members that currently support all five benchmark bills are Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Janice Schakowsky (D-IL).
"A true tally will probably never be known of everyone who died so Kissinger could be national security adviser," wrote journalist Spencer Ackerman.
Henry Kissinger, the former diplomat whose efforts to prolong and expand the U.S. war on Southeast Asia and undermine democracy in Latin America and elsewhere took millions of lives , died Wednesday at 100 years old.
Treated like royalty in elite U.S. political circles until his death at his home in Connecticut, Kissinger—who served as secretary of state and national security adviser under Nixon and Ford—never faced justice for the secretive carpet bombing of Cambodia that he helped orchestrate, the overthrow of Chile's democratically elected president, or the murderous "dirty war" in Argentina that killed tens of thousands .
The scope of his crimes was so vast that he had to watch where he traveled , lest he be detained to face questioning for his role in assassinations , massacres , and violent military coups whose reverberations are still felt in the present.
"The covert justifications for illegally bombing Cambodia became the framework for the justifications of drone strikes and forever war. It's a perfect expression of American militarism's unbroken circle," historian Greg Grandin, author of "Kissinger's Shadow," told The Intercept earlier this year. Grandin has estimated that Kissinger was responsible for at least 3 million deaths.
Observers of Kissinger's impact have said it's difficult to convey the true extent of the destruction he inflicted across the globe.
In his obituary of Kissinger for Rolling Stone , journalist Spencer Ackerman wrote that "measuring purely by confirmed kills, the worst mass murderer ever executed by the United States was the white-supremacist terrorist Timothy McVeigh."
"McVeigh, who in his own psychotic way thought he was saving America, never remotely killed on the scale of Kissinger, the most revered American grand strategist of the second half of the 20th century," Ackerman continued. "Every single person who died in Vietnam between autumn 1968 and the Fall of Saigon—and all who died in Laos and Cambodia, where Nixon and Kissinger secretly expanded the war within months of taking office, as well as all who died in the aftermath, like the Cambodian genocide their destabilization set into motion—died because of Henry Kissinger."
"We will never know what might have been, the question Kissinger's apologists, and those in the U.S. foreign policy elite who imagine themselves standing in Kissinger's shoes, insist upon when explaining away his crimes," he added. "We can only know what actually happened. What actually happened was that Kissinger materially sabotaged the only chance for an end to the war in 1968 as a hedged bet to ensure he would achieve power in Nixon's administration or Humphrey's. A true tally will probably never be known of everyone who died so Kissinger could be national security adviser."
"This is a project of our generation, and we're not gonna stop until every school across the country has a Green New Deal and the kind of schools we deserve," said a 16-year-old student.
Youth advocates with the Green New Deal for Schools campaign notched up their first victory on Tuesday when Colorado's Boulder Valley School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution drafted by students at Fairview High School.
"This is a project of our generation, and we're not gonna stop until every school across the country has a Green New Deal and the kind of schools we deserve," said 16-year-old Emma Weber, a student leader in the district. "The Green New Deal for Schools is the kind of action and urgency that we need in order to address the climate crisis and prepare students to live with the realities of it."
that the board's president, Kathy Gebhardt, "urged the students to take their advocacy beyond Boulder Valley to local governments and the state Legislature, saying most school districts in the state are struggling to pay teachers and don't have the resources to add solar panels or buy electric buses."
Colorado Public Radio on Tuesday laid out the long history of such policies in the district, which serves over 30,000 students:
Resolutions on the environment go back to 1978. In 2009, BVSD created a sustainability action plan, with updates in later years with a long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 80% and also committed to a goal of zero net energy by 2050. It was one of the first school districts in the nation to make such a commitment.
As a part of its efforts to track carbon and lower emissions, the district has increased the number of buildings with renewable energy, purchased 19 electric buses, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by a quarter, reduced water consumption by 11% in three years, and hit a target of diverting 50% of waste from landfills. BVSD has already become a leader in providing locally sourced lunch to students.
"The students' resolution asks the district to continue and amplify efforts toward reducing carbon emissions, asking for all school buildings and buses to run on renewable energy," CPR added. "By 2026, they want a comprehensive curriculum for all students in all grades to develop sustainability knowledge and behaviors, including information on how climate change affects communities differently."
The Sunrise Movement—which is behind the national Green New Deal for Schools campaign—
on social media that the resolution also commits the district to "pathways to green union jobs for students, and increased collaboration with local, state, and federal agencies to strengthen responses to climate disasters."
With the resolution, the board is also asking U.S. President Joe Biden—who
plans to skip
COP28, the United Nations climate summit beginning this week—and Congress "to support the
Green New Deal for Public Schools Act
, reinforcing the call for a nationwide commitment to an education that prepares our generation to navigate the realities of the climate crisis,"
Spearheaded by U.S. Sen.
(D-Mass.) and Rep.
(D-N.Y.), a former educator and principal, the legislation
invest $1.6 trillion to transform the country's education system while "creating 1.3 million jobs and eliminating 78 million metric tons of carbon emissions" over a decade.
While the win in Colorado was a first for the campaign, Sunrise and students across the United States are pushing for more. The group noted Wednesday that young people in dozens of districts—from Bozeman, Montana to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—have recently testified at school board meetings and attended daylong trainings in cities including Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; and Washington D.C.
"Shoutout to the incredible students and their tireless advocacy that led to the Green New Deal for Schools resolution, which passed the Boulder Valley school board this week!" Bowman said Wednesday on social media. "Thank you for your incredible work. Now let's make this happen everywhere!"
"The people have spoken and expressed that they don't want more mines, that they want sustainable economic development, and have no intention of destroying the country for profit," said one campaigner.
Indigenous and environmental campaigners this week hailed a landmark win for the Rights of Nature movement, the Panamanian Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that the contract for the Cobré mineral mine—one of the world's largest—is unconstitutional and must be shut down.
The November 24 ruling against Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals, followed weeks of nationwide protests against the open-pit mine, which began operations in 2019 and where mainly copper, but also gold, silver, and molybdenum, are extracted. Opponents say the mine threatens area water supplies. A gunman shot and killed two people at a protest against the mine earlier this month.
Last year, the Cobré mine produced over 86,000 tons of copper, approximately 1% of the world's total production, 5% of Panama's gross domestic product, and 75% of the Central American country's export revenue. More than 2% of Panama's workforce is employed at the mine.
Cobré—which is located in a biodiverse area on Panama's Caribbean coast—will now shut down as a result of the ruling.
"The Panamanian people have spoken," Kherson Ruiz, executive director of the London-based Sustainable Development Foundation, told Mongabay . "The people have spoken and expressed that they don't want more mines, that they want sustainable economic development and have no intention of destroying the country for profit."
Referring to his introduction of Panama's Rights of Nature law , Juan Diego Vásquez Gutiérrez, an independent—and, at age 27, the youngest—member of Panama's National Assembly, said Wednesday that "I am very happy to have been part of a fundamental legal instrument to end the metal mining industry in the country."
"This is one of many tangible effects that we must repeat in defense of the environment thanks to legislation like this," Vásquez added.
Rengifo Navas Revilla, secretary of the National Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples of Panama, said in a statement that "when all this nature is contaminated, we all die."
"Even the planet itself, even Mother Earth herself, dies," he added. "This is the principle that has been instilled in us and that is why we continue to fight."
Since Ecuador became the first country to constitutionally enshrine the Rights of Nature in 2008, more than 30 nations have taken similar actions to protect their environment.
The advocacy groups Leatherback Project and Earth Law Center noted Wednesday that the Panamanian ruling "comes after a similar blocking of a copper mine earlier this year in Ecuador, where a provincial court ruled a mining project violated the constitutional Rights of Nature in the Intag Valley of the tropical Andes."
Constanza Prieto Figelist, Latin America legal director at Earth Law Center—which provided input and expertise on the Rights of Nature as the law was being drafted—said of the Panama ruling that "this case demonstrates that under a Rights of Nature framework, governments must give stronger consideration to the health and intrinsic value of nature when overseeing mining and other activities, elevating the interests of species and ecosystems to a higher status alongside human interests."
"The case also shows that the Rights of Nature can be an effective tool to protect the environment where traditional laws might fall short," she added. "We hope this will inspire other governments to give nature a formal voice and rights in the legal system, as Panama did."