Briefly summarized

Sabina Unni, Assistant Opinions Editor

I am not a fortune teller. But I can read a calendar, so the following column will include the bills that the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate, will vote on in the following few weeks, a brief summary of what they mean, and what you can do if you agree or disagree with them.

The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” was brought forward by Republican Representatives Trent Franks and Marsha Blackburn from Arizona and Tennessee, respectively.This bill, if passed, would ban abortions after 20 weeks, with exceptions for rape and special conditions.

Proponents of the bill believe that a fetus feels pain after 20 weeks; opponents of the bill feel that it is unconstitutional, and that it targets young, poor, and unemployed women.

The Keystone XL Pipeline has been one of the most disputed environmental issues of the decade. Proponents of the bill claim that it will decrease dependence on foreign oil and create over 40,000 jobs. (I would like to point out that the State Department estimated 35 permanent jobs would be made, but hey, who’s counting?) Opponents of the bill state human rights infringements, trespassing on indigenous lands, a high risk of oil spills, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

NASA climate scientist James Hansen said, in an interview in Scientific American, that using tar sands indicates “either that governments don’t understand the situation, or that they just don’t give a damn.” The new Republican majority allowed the Senate to see this highly controversial bill.

Finally (not the final debate in Congress, but the final debate that this article will include because midterms week is, like, really soon) there are talks of imposing sanctions on Iran. President Obama has continually rejected them, but they are being formulated into the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015.” Relatively moderate president of Iran Hasan Rouhani said, “Iran rejects weapons of mass destruction based on its belief system, its religious belief system, as well as its ethical standpoint,” however, a consensus has yet to be made, and congressional leaders want to impose sanctions, despite Rouhani’s claim that “sanctions against Iran are illegal and are undermining international law.”

How do you make a difference? Well, if you live in Port Washington, your representative is Democrat Steve Israel. You can send a memo via his website, which I cannot confirm nor deny real humans read, or you can call his office phone number: (631) 777-7391. You could tweet him, but Twitter isn’t always the best forum for #ReliablePoliticalDiscourse.

Contacting a representative directly is always worth a shot; I know it’s overly optimistic to think that a 17-year-old with access to the Internet has the ability to change politics. But, hey, the option is there, so why not try? If you’re passionate about something, complain about it! You might just be heard. You also may end up writing a column in your school newspaper, which is the next best thing, right?