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Tax Bill Protesters Occupy GOP Representatives' Offices

Anthony Torres

Activists with the Sunrise Movement occupied the Washington, D.C., office of Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida and the Springfield, Pa., office of Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan in protest against the GOP tax bill, which is wending its way toward what appears to be certain passage. The activists hoped to make the congressman aware of the stakes of the legislation for young voters and to persuade them to vote against the final version of the bill.

The Sunrise Movement is a millennial-led grass-roots group dedicated to making climate change an urgent national priority. According to a release from the group:

Both Curbelo and Meehan are members of the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, and both signed a November 30 letter to Congressional leadership opposing oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which the Senate tax bill would allow. Rep. Curbelo is a co-chair and founder of the caucus.

Evan Weber, one of the group’s co-founders, said in the release, “It’s simple: if Representative Curbelo, the founder of the Climate Solutions Caucus, is serious about stopping climate change, protecting the vulnerable people of his district in South Florida, and protecting the Arctic from drilling, he’ll vote ‘no’ on this Big Oil bailout of a tax bill. Otherwise, he’s voting against his district’s interests, against our generation’s future, and against his own stated values just so mega-rich GOP donors can get a tax break they don’t need — at the expense of the rest of us. Instead of passing tax breaks for the elite and giving handouts to Big Oil and Gas, we should be putting Americans to work stopping climate change and building the economy of the future.”

Stephen O’Hanlon, a Sunrise Movement leader in Pennsylvania, also said in the release, “Congressman Meehan can’t have it both ways. He can’t claim to care about stopping climate change and protecting our future while voting for bills that will give huge tax breaks to the fossil fuel billionaires who are responsible for this crisis. We’re already getting ready for 2018 here and if he doesn’t clean up his act, young people will unseat him next November.”

The group also opposes other provisions of the bill that it says would have a negative impact on the environment, like handouts to the oil and gas industries and changes in the tax code that would impede potential transition to renewable energy. The Senate passed its version of the bill late Friday, and the House and the Senate versions must now be reconciled in conference committee, then passed again by both chambers, which are hoping to do so before Christmas break—giving protesters a narrow window of time to make their voices heard and prevent the legislation from becoming law.

The Sunrise Movement has focused on what it considers harmful provisions of the tax legislation, but the hastiness and messiness of the legislation, which included handwritten notes of challenging legibility, has caused significant wider outcry. According to The New York Times:

That would be a compressed schedule in any event, but it was particularly so on Friday, as Republicans inserted several last-second amendments to secure majority support for their bill. Democrats could only scold and work up a frenzy on social media. …

Democrats took particular offense to the way the final amendments to the bill were distributed. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri posted a list of them on her Twitter account and cried foul over the fact that she received a draft from a lobbyist, not from her colleagues across the aisle. …

By late evening, the bill was finally posted online.

A live stream of the Sunrise Movement’s protest was posted to Facebook and can be viewed below:

Emily Wells
​Emily Wells is an Ear to the Ground blogger at Truthdig. As a journalist, she began as a crime reporter at the Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, The Press-Enterprise...
Emily Wells

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