THE COMPLETE 14 PERCENT: Netflix and Chill…and Legislate
Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA- 44)
You might loathe going to the dentist, but Nanette reminds us that just to be there is still a privilege that everyone doesn’t enjoy. This past July she introduced the Medicaid Dental Benefit Act to require state Medicaid programs to provide adult dental coverage. Now, she and several other Democratic lawmakers wrote to Pelosi and Schumer urging them to make comprehensive adult dental care a component of Medicaid coverage as part of the Build Back Better Act. Do you think dental coverage deserves the star treatment Nanette and others are hoping for?
Jason Crow (D; CO-4)
I Can Feel it Coming In the Air Tonight
Imagine living near a chemical plant with no idea what emissions they’re sending out into the air of your community. Jason and his fellow Colorado Democrats wrote to the EPA about just this – asking the agency to update its safety measures at chemical plants to increase transparency for people who live nearby. Their proposed rules would require the facilities to monitor toxic emissions and make that information available to the public. The letter also recommended that the EPA compile a list of safer technologies for facilities to implement. This seems like a helpful public safety measure, but the regulatory backlash might get the best of them on this one.
Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
We’re all tired of hearing the words ‘supply chain’ and while it might seem like all hope for speedy shipping and delivery is lost, Congress is working to address these issues. Last week, the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act, co-sponsored by Antonio, passed the House – it will update international ocean shipping laws and give the Federal Maritime Commission the resources to protect consumers and businesses against price gouging by foreign ocean carriers. At this point – let’s try whatever might work!
Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)
Luck Be a Lady
It’s never a surprise when a notable member of the government releases a book, but Ruben’s feels a bit unique amongst the rest. His new book is titled ‘They Called Us Lucky’ and it chronicles his combat experiences in Iraq. In a recent interview he described the painstaking process of writing the book that so many in his unit have been wanting to write for a while. “1 out of 3 of us were either dead or wounded and then some men had to go home because they couldn’t deal with the stress anymore… I accepted that I was going to die,” he said. This one is certainly on our Christmas list!
Josh Harder (D; CA-10)
Cap the Costs
Democratic leadership is certainly getting an earful recently as lawmakers jockey to ensure their favored provisions end up in the final version of the Build Back Better Act. For Josh’s part, he’s focused on the price of prescription drug costs, specifically insulin. He joined a letter to Leader Schumer urging the Senate to make access to affordable insulin part of the final piece of legislation. The House version of the bill included a cap on out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 which these lawmakers hope stays in there. Are prescription drug costs one of your biggest issues?
Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)
Strike a Pose
Did you know that fashion is one of the most polluting industries? When we think of climate change we think of oil, gas, and transportation as the main perps, but the fashion industry creates more greenhouse gas emissions than maritime shipping and international flights combined. In fact, in 2018, it made up roughly 4% of global emissions. Ro, self-admittedly not a fashion expert, is spearheading an effort to ask the EPA to measure – for the first time! – the impacts of the fashion industry. Time to trade in those H&M visits for a stop at a thrift store!
Mike Levin (D; CA-49)
Currently, servicemembers’ Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is counted as part of their income when determining their children’s eligibility for school meal programs. However, is that really fair? Mike doesn’t think so. He introduced bipartisan legislation that would stop counting BAH as income which would qualify almost ALL children of entry-level active duty servicemembers for school meals. “It’s unacceptable that nearly one in seven military families face food insecurity,” he said. We couldn’t agree more!
Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)
The Growing Spotlight
Despite a threat of her district being taken down by Republican-led redistricting, Stephanie has continued to be a leader in the Democratic party and specifically of the moderate block she belongs to. A recent profile by the New York Times highlights her key role in steering the Democrats towards an agreement when it came to passing the infrastructure bill AND the larger social spending package (the latter of which she was originally opposed to because of the cost). Now, she’s in the spotlight again as one of the youngest members of the Jan. 6th commission, drawing from her experience as a security specialist at the Pentagon. Of those key bipartisan talks revolving around the infrastructure bill vote Stephanie said, “This demonstrated that top-down isn’t the only way you can get things done.” Watch out Pelosi…
Ilhan Omar (D; MN-5)
Turning a Moment into Action
After Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Islamophobic comments about Ilhan became public a couple weeks ago, it might have seemed like yet another ‘gossip du jour’, as we named it. However, Ilhan has turned that tough moment into action and authored legislation combating islamophobia which just passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on a party-line vote. The act would require the State Dept. to create a special envoy for monitoring and combating islamophobia and include state-sponsored Islamophobic violence in the departments annual human rights report. They argue that the special envoy would help policymakers better understand the global problem of anti-Muslim bigotry. Do you think it will make it into law?
Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)
Make it Mean Something
Though the news cycle may have moved on, Elissa and other members of the Michigan delegation in Congress have not forgotten the school shooting a couple weeks ago at Oxford High School which left four students dead. She spoke on the House floor and led a moment of silence for the students, but didn’t stop there. Elissa pleaded with other lawmakers to DO something. She spoke of a bill requiring background checks for all gun purchases, which passed the House with bipartisan support and has been sitting in the Senate, waiting for a vote. “To my colleagues in both parties, I look to you all – every single one of you – to join me in recognizing the pain that our community is going through and to make it mean something,” she said.
Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)
When Haley and her staff found out that black, Latino or Hispanic Americans only represent 8% of the nation’s business owners with employees, they sprang into action. Haley introduced the IDEA Act of 2021 which would create a grant program to develop a network of business accelerators that promote growth for minority-owned businesses through networking opportunities, capital offerings, and public and private partnerships. Many resources like this have historically been unavailable to minority communities. How do you think the country would benefit from more minority-owned businesses?
Kelly Armstrong (R; ND)
Coal for Christmas
Historically, the National Coal Council (NCC), which was established in 1984, has been a federal advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy on coal policy. However, the Biden administration let the charter that created it to lapse this year and the Dept. of Energy has proposed a major overhaul which refocuses the council’s mission away from coal industry innovation. Kelly co-sponsored legislation that would re-charter and codify the NCC to, as Kelly puts it, “continue advancing policy, technology and markets for North Dakota’s coal producers”. Do you think that Biden should have these coal experts by his side still?
Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)
Let Freedom Ring
Dan usually has a way with words – managing to say just the right thing to win the hearts and minds of conservative voters. However, he put his foot in his mouth last week after he made comments to seemingly disparage at least certain members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, using words like ‘liars’ and ‘grifters’. He was quick to walk back the comments, insisting that he was only talking about select members of his parties who simply say what voters want to hear but lack a real internal compass. Though some supporters are distancing themselves from Crenshaw, members of the Freedom Caucus itself aren’t letting the controversy boil over – which is probably in the best interest of the party.
Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)
Energy, the Nuclear Way!
Anthony is one of the strongest proponents for nuclear energy in Congress and his legislative activity reflects that. He introduced legislation last week which would spurn innovation and increase private sector investment in advanced nuclear reactor technologies by eliminating review fees that can reach tens of millions of dollars. The fees, he says, disincentivize nuclear companies from bringing novel technologies to market. Are you pro-nuclear?
Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)
Job Applications, Made Easy
As the country recovers from Covid, the process of applying for a new job can seem daunting in and of itself. On top of that, the paperwork that comes along with it for applicants AND employers can be confusing. Trey introduced legislation that would standardize regulations around requirements such as background checks and make the process more transparent for everyone. Hopefully this bipartisan legislation can offer a sigh of relief to anyone looking to hire or be hired in the coming year!
Brian Mast (R; FL-18)
Water, Water Everywhere
Currently, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is used for land acquisition efforts directly related to recreation. Brian and Sen. Marco Rubio introduced legislation that would allow states to utilize existing funds from the LWCF to support water quality projects that states are required to propose under the Clean Water Act. Florida is especially in a clean water bind as harmful algae blooms keep popping up and threatening ecosystems. “In Florida, water quality and recreation go hand-in-hand,” Brian said. Do you think states should have more discretion with certain federal funds like these depending on their environmental needs?
Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)
A 2014 law provides career services and upskilling opportunities for adults and displaced workers. However, given the current hiring crisis in the U.S., Elise was concerned with the low number of participants in that career program (only about 125k workers exit the program each year). She introduced the Employer-Directed Skills Act which would allow job creators to determine the skills their workforce needs and streamline the process for workers to access skill development in those areas. On last week’s episode of our Happy Hour podcast, restaurant-owner Bobby Kronfli addressed his own hiring difficulties so this proposed bill feels particularly topical to us!
William Timmons (R; SC-4)
We Have Some Thoughts
As the vice chairman of the House Modernization Committee, William is tasked with helping come up with new, innovative solutions to making Congress operate more smoothly – yes please!! Last week, the committee came up with 25 recommendations to do so. 14 of them are designed to create a more collaborative environment – things like an orientation for new lawmakers. It also made recommendations related to encouraging evidence-based policymaking (what a concept…). “These recommendations,” he said, “are about trying to refocus Congress’s attention away from the bickering and on to solving America’s biggest challenges.” Perhaps easier said than done, but we gotta start somewhere!
Josh Hawley (R; MO)
The Hold Out
There’s no doubt that Josh is a strategic politician with a possible eye on a presidential run in 2024. His most recent strategy has revolved around being one of two main holdouts (the other is Ted Cruz) on confirming many of Biden’s ambassador picks. As we near year-end, Leader Schumer is attempting to strike a deal that would convince Josh to move ahead with some ‘yes’ votes so that the nominees don’t have to be sent back to the beginning of the process (which would be the case if they’re not confirmed before January). While Cruz has signaled some terms under which he might agree to confirm various nominees, Josh’s intentions remain relatively unknown. Do you think Josh should stand his ground or begin to make some concessions for the sake of foreign policy?
Mondaire Jones (D; NY-17)
Not So Amicus
If you’re not a law scholar like us, you might not know what an amicus brief is. Until now! It is a brief written by an outside party to a legal case providing information and expertise. In recent years, amicus briefs have become insanely popular in federal court cases (increasing over 800% in the Supreme Court from the 1950s to 2014). Mondaire joined a group of Democratic lawmakers to introduce the AMICUS Act which would require the disclosure of the identity of funders of amicus briefs to court cases much like lobbyists must disclose information when lobbying members of Congress. Do you think this would be a helpful practice to have in place?
Nikema Williams (D; GA-5)
Republican members of the Georgia state legislature announced the creation of the Georgia State Freedom Caucus which would serve as a model for other states to follow suit under the umbrella of the U.S. House Freedom Caucus – the influential far right group that promotes conservative values and limited government. Nikema, who is chair of the George Democratic Party sees the move as a win for Democrats saying “While the GOP spends the next year engaged in a nasty and divisive internal battle, Democrats are united and laser focused on delivering on the issues that actually affect the lives of everyday Georgians.” That may be true, but are they also ready to combat the organized messaging these various Freedom Caucuses are surely going to leverage against Democrats?
Lauren Boebert (R; CO-3)
The Kids Are Alright
It wouldn’t be a week of news without Lauren making the headlines for a controversial statement so here’s the Boebert move du jour – she tweeted that 365,348 children went missing in 2020 and criticized the mainstream media for not covering the statistic. The tweet appears to be reminiscent of a popular QAnon theory that U.S. children are being abducted en masse. Here’s the thing, while that number is technically true, FBI data shows that 95% of those children were runaways reported missing for at least one night, not abductees. Lauren also shared a photo of her kids posing for a Christmas photo with guns and responded to an SNL sketch making fun of her. Big news week…
Tracey Mann (R; KS-1)
Looking Out for the Little Bank
Many American communities are held together by local community banks which were especially burdened during the pandemic in distributing stimulus funds, PPP loans, and more. While pandemic legislation reduced that burden, Tracey wants to make the change more permanent, introducing a bill that would extend regulatory flexibility through 2024. Several Kansas banking associations support the move, unsurprisingly. Do you think giving community banks more flexibility will allow the Americans who rely on them to return to normalcy more quickly?
Andrew Garbarino (R; NY-2)
Defenses Are Up
Thankfully, the annual National Defense Authorization Act for 2022 passed the House last week without much fanfare (you might recall that was not the case last year). Andrew was pleased to report that two of his amendments were included in the bill and WE were pleased to see that they were both cybersecurity related. One will create a stronger cybersecurity partnership between the U.S. and Israel. The other ensures our response plans to national cyber attacks are updated every two years. Given the speed of technology, it still feels like a snail’s pace, but we’ll take it!
Julia Letlow (R; LA-5)
Last month, Julia introduced the Parents Bill of Rights Act which would help increase parent participation in their children’s education and enhance the dialogue between parents and educators. This bill seemed to fall directly in response to Republican Glenn Youngkin’s surprise gubernatorial win in Virginia that emerged from a campaign heavily focused on education. Now, Julia’s bill has over 100 Republican co-sponsors and counting. It will be interesting to see how this issue blossoms or fizzles as next year’s midterms heat up and, if Republicans win control of Congress, if this Parents Bill of Rights might pass.
Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)
Protect Our Small “d”!
There’s truly nothing “small” about our democracy and the extent to which you feel it’s in peril likely correlates to your chosen political party. That is to say that Republicans seem less concerned about its health than Democrats (big D) do. Case and point, Pete, who led the charge on the House passing the Protecting Our Democracy Act. Included in the bill is a key provision that amends the Help America Vote Act, requiring each state’s chief election official to create a database of election officials who have received threats. The bill enables said individuals to request anyone, including businesses or government agencies to remove their personal identifiable information (PII) in the interest of personal safety. Afterall, individuals helping usher forward our democracy shouldn’t have to live in fear during the process.
Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)
Tis the season from congressional redistrict mapping, and let’s just say, Brendan is raising more than a few questions about the proposed Pennsylvania map. Leading the drawing is Democratic State Senator Sharif Street, who’s been met with a barrage of criticism from all sides following the leaked redistricting map which would throw Brendan’s seat into competition with…you guessed it…Sharif Street! Sharif has all but confirmed he’ll mount a challenge – is that fair if he drew the map? Brendan has accused Street of conspiring with Republicans to gerrymander for personal political gain. Should the State’s General Assembly fail to agree on the mapping, the state Supreme Court would be tasked with drawing it. The court currently has a 5-2 liberal majority.
Jared Golden (D; ME-2)
A GEAR Shortage
The GEAR program in the state of Maine is one of the more successful grant programs that prepares economically disadvantaged students for college. Except that the U.S. Education Department failed to renew funding for the program, and now Jared is leading the bipartisan delegation from Maine in demanding answers. They’ve written to Secretary Cardona expressing concern over the rejection for funding renewal, saying the DOE “hasn’t provided a justification for why it didn’t prioritize GEAR UP over other non-established state programs.” The program has assisted thousands of students and families, and would have helped an estimated 6,500 more over the next seven years, for which they applied. It’s unclear why this seemingly successful program was rejected and if it has the chance to be reinstated with enough renewed support.
Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)
This past November, the CDC announced that drug overdose deaths in the US had now surpassed 100,000 per year for the first time ever. Since more than 75% of those deaths were due to opioids, Andy has a new bill called the Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act, which just passed the House. The bill directs the CDC to conduct a public education campaign about the dangers of fentanyl and other lethal synthetics, as well as promote the treatment services available. The bill would also require the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to publish training materials for first responders. But Andy isn’t stopping there. He’s introduced a companion bill that, if passed, would eliminate red tape for healthcare providers to use buprenorphine, a proven treatment for those with substance use disorder.
Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)
Broken, or Just In Disarray?
It seems every week, there’s a new bill aimed at fixing something at the VA, which begs the question, what exactly is so screwed up over at the VA? This week, Joe has his sights on removing financial barriers for low-income Vets seeking disability claims. In Joe’s bipartisan, bicameral legislative package, the PTSD Processing Claims Improvement Act looks to improve on PTSD claims processing training, so that VA personnel can better identify cases requesting disability. Additionally, the Veteran’s Pro Bono Corps Act would expand supplemental pro bono medical care for low-income veterans. Regardless of the VA’s actual functionality, the weekly introduction of bills proves it’s not being forgotten.
Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)
You’ve Got Sale!
The year’s end often motivates us to finally put those idle household items up on ebay to see if they may earn a second life—and perhaps a second revenue stream for our holiday shopping bill. Except there’s a new tax reporting requirement set to go into effect thanks to the American Rescue Plan that Chris is calling foul. The IRS will now require reporting of sold goods on online marketplaces, yet the tax code does not require you to pay taxes on items sold for a price below what you bought it for. Chris is concerned this is going to offer much confusion for folks who rely on these marketplaces as a viable way to help make financial ends meet. He led 15 of his House colleagues in writing a letter to leadership asking that Congress raise the threshold for 1099-K reporting for goods sold by the end of the year.
Darren Soto (D; FL-9)
Hallelujah, It’s Raining Water-Stimulus!
If you follow Florida politics or even just a handful of the Sunshine State’s congresspeople on this platform, then you know how important water is to their way of life. Darren was all celebrations when he returned to his district to tout the EPA’s announcement that Florida will receive $275,420,000 in Infrastructure funding thanks to Darren’s yes vote on the Build Back Better Bill. The funding will go towards protecting clean water, upgrading the aging water infrastructure within the state and also address lead contamination in drinking water. This is such no-brainer improvements and it really does beg the question: how did every Florida representative NOT vote for this?
Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)
When Disaster Strikes
That’s one of those sayings that you hate to ever think about but when the prophecy comes true, you’re grateful you gave it some consideration. Such is the tragic case for so many communities across this country, most of which stemming from our aggressively changing climate. Now, Eric has introduced a bipartisan bill to help communities better prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters. The bill would make several changes to FEMA’s pre-disaster mitigation grant program by increasing funding, ensuring that communities who need it most get access to this funding. It would also improve data collection to better track and manage resources before and after natural disasters. Indeed, proper planning does often times prevent poor performance.
Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)
While Lauren is not yet a mother herself, she has taken up the legislative mantel on behalf of mothers everywhere, seeing her first “Momnibus” bill get signed into law. Now, another key provision in her broader bill package just passed the House with Unanimous bipartisan support. Yeah, let that sink in. The Maternal Vaccination Act looks to provide critical funding to increase maternal vaccination rates and reduce vaccination disparities. The US has one of the highest pregnant mortality rates among high-income countries, many of those deaths being preventable through proper vaccination. She is now urging her colleagues in the Senate to pass this bill so it can get working. Leave it to a nurse to deftly triage the shit out of the legislative process…Bravo!!
Jim Banks (R; IN-3)
Making Sense of That iTunes Agreement
Big Tech has found themselves squarely in the cross-hairs of both Republicans and Democrats, but one of the major issues Jim is focused on right now centers around the H-1B visa program. The program is complicated but one of its initial purposes was to offer companies the ability to hire foreign workers for highly specialized jobs that were unable to be filled by Americans. Jim is now saying that tech companies are taking full advantage of this, bypassing American workers all together, in the name of cheaper foreign employees. The American Tech Workforce Act looks to set a base salary price for foreign workers that is in line with what an American worker would get, thereby removing the financial incentive to outsource and hire Americans instead.
Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)
Speaker of The Mar-A-Lago?
Matty MAGA-nificent (new nickname?) is an absolute pro at knowing how to dominate the headlines, even if it’s…what’s the word…Bonkers? Except what he’s bringing back into the aether is an idea previously floated which is actually possible: installing Trump as Speaker of the House. Should Republicans win control of Congress in the 2022 midterms, they would constitutionally speaking have the power to install whomever they chose as Speaker irrespective of whether or not said individual was an elected member of Congress. Yeah. Whoa. Matt claims he’s spoken with Trump about this idea and went further in saying that his far-right cadre of MTG and L-Boebs is very down to reclaim power. “And when we do,” Matt prefaced, “it’s not going to be the days of Paul Ryan.”
Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)
Invasion, United Nations Style?
Immigration and border security is indeed an issue that remains unsolved, regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on, and now Lance is introducing a very interesting charge to this equation. In a recent appearance on Fox And Friends, Lance made the assertion that the United Nations is “generously financing the invasion of the US.” He says that currently the UN is working with Mexico to supply biweekly debit cards worth $400 for these migrants traveling to the border. Lance goes on to say that given the US finances 20% of the UN, “taxpayer dollars should not go to any organization that is actively undermining our national security.” Lance is introducing a new bill that would block the UN from funding this. Would you classify this as funding an invasion or a peace organization providing humanitarian aid?
Dusty Johnson (R; SD)
You wouldn’t readily think a guy from the plains would be too concerned with ocean legislation but alas, you haven’t been paying close enough attention to our man Dusty. He recently sponsored the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which overwhelmingly sailed to passage in the house. The bipartisan bill would be the first major overhaul of federal regulations for the global shipping industry in over 30 years! And with global supply chains a real cluster-dust right now, the timing feels good. Specifically, the bill would help safeguard South Dakota agriculture exporters from unfair trade practices while protecting American businesses and consumers from price gouging. As it now heads to the Senate, will it pass the Mitch Test???
Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)
Expand Part D
Hold on just a minute, you’re telling me that a Republican wants to expand Medicare? Next you’re going to tell me that Joe Biden is old and Donald Trump has an orange tan. Okay, so yes to all the above, specifically Markwayne, who’s introduced the Access to Rare Indications Act. This legislation would technically expand Medicare Part D by allowing patients suffering from rare diseases (and reliant on Medicare part D) to access greater coverage for potentially lifesaving, off-label treatments. Specifically, it ensures rare disease parity in accessing medically necessary care under Medicare and Medicaid through aligning the definition of “medically accepted use” for rare conditions. While some may pounce on this with a “socialism” label, this does sure seem like a worthy bill.
Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)
You may be disappointed to learn that is not the name of a new show coming to NBC this winter, but you may be interested to learn that is the beef that Bryan has with the IRS currently. Tucked within the Dems’ large spending packages is a proposed surveillance program through the IRS. The concept stems from a desire to go after billions in unpaid taxes but what many Republicans are classifying as a blatant infringement on civil liberties. Bryan has now sent a letter to Secretary Yellen requesting the IRS provide an updated revenue estimate for this cockamamie scheme. Rather, Bryan hasn’t necessarily called it that yet, but without any data provided, it’s hard to call it anything but.
Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)
Safe Drug Use?
It goes without saying that quitting addictive substances “cold turkey” is one of the hardest things to do and in many cases impossible. However, Lee doesn’t believe that means the city should set up places to DO drugs under the guise of safety. Except that’s precisely what outgoing Mayor De Blasio has done, labeling these “safe injection sites” which receive federal funding. The concept behind them is to wane of drug usage in a medically safe and controlled environment, something he says has shown to be effective in other cities. Yet Lee, along with under-45er Nicole Malliotakis are pushing back, saying this idea is ludicrous. He didn’t mince words saying that “encouraging even more drug abuse has to be the stupidest idea that has ever been proposed.” Do you think this is an effective way to combat addiction?
Nicole Malliotakis (R; NY-11)
Cold Turkey Or Bust
It goes without saying that quitting addictive substances “cold turkey” is one of the hardest things to do and in many cases impossible. However, Nicole doesn’t believe that means the city should set up places to DO drugs in under the guise of safety. Except that’s precisely what outgoing Mayor De Blasio has done, labeling these “safe injection sites” which receive federal funding. The concept behind them is to wane of drug usage in a medically safe and controlled environment, something he says has shown to be effective in other cities. Yet Nicole, along with under-45er Lee Zeldin are pushing back, saying this idea is ludicrous. She didn’t mince words saying “gifting money to heroin shooting galleries…is an egregious abuse of taxpayer dollars.” Do you think this is an effective way to combat addiction?
Kyrsten Sinema (D; AZ)
The Gentleman from West Virginia ain’t the only headline grabber in DC. Kyrsten made clear two things this week: she’s still very much against scrapping the filibuster, and she needs top moderate billing along with the guy on the houseboat. Democrats are now considering rushing a year-end vote on Voting Rights instead of the Build Back Better bill. Kyrsten made clear that she supports voting rights legislation, particularly the one drawn up by Manchin, but not at the expense of doing away with the filibuster. Moderate Dems are trying to court her on a similar strategy just implemented on the debt ceiling issue, whereby they keep the filibuster intact but require an in person filibuster for just this one piece of legislation. Like all things Kyrsten, we’ll just have to wait and see!
Jake Auchincloss (D; MA-4)
Fake News, Real Donations
It’s well known by now that vaccine misinformation is rampant and widespread but what isn’t widely known is the profiting that comes from it. Fortunately, Jake and his colleagues are keeping a keen eye on things and now calling on Pay Pal to step up and do their part. Various websites pushing false vaccine information also happen to accept donations—how convenient is that? Care to take a stab on the payment processing company that handles the majority of these transactions? You guessed it—it starts with a P and ends with a “ay Pal”. Jake has cosigned a letter to the CEO asking that the company put a full stop to supporting these transactions and use their giant platform to be part of the solution, not the problem.
Sara Jacobs (D; CA-53)
We Are The World
As Covid continues to disrupt the education and lives of children around the globe, Sara and her colleagues are trying to do something about it. She’s introduced a bipartisan resolution that calls on the US and international community to prioritize children in their covid 19 rebuilding efforts. It specifically calls on the work done by UNICEF to increase its support and leadership to address the health and educational needs of children. This includes calling for vaccine equity and programs in rural and remote international places as well as pledging to Giga, a global initiative to connect every school with internet. Indeed, we are all one planet and Sara takes every opportunity to make it one bit better.
Madison Cawthorn (R; NC-11)
Timid, He Is Not
Say what you will about one of the more polarizing folks in Congress, but it’s undeniable Madison harnesses his boldness for his own political effectiveness. In a video posted to twitter, Madison detailed some accomplishments from the recent vote on the Defense spending bill. He outlines how some of the key language provisions that he fought for have successfully been fulfilled, such as no red flag laws, no draft our daughters language (see last newsletter’s Josh Hawley summary), and no dishonorable discharge for military vaccine refusals. He reminds us how he laid his political future on the line, asking to not vote for him unless he delivered. Well, as he often likes to say: Promises made, promises kept. Also, some pretty nice production design in this video, we might add!
Peter Meijer (R; MI-3)
Wield The Power
That was basically the thesis of Peter’s recent letter to the President regarding the persisting supply chain issues and how we should solve them. Peter and a bipartisan group of colleagues called on Biden to harness the full power of the federal government to unclog the supply chain logjams. The letter focuses on four key areas: the chip shortage, disruptions in the port system, labor shortages in the trucking and warehouse industries, and rising prices of raw materials. Specifically, they should ramp up domestic chip manufacturing immediately, work to implement 24-hour a day workforces at ports nationwide, and provide a short-term tariff relief on imported raw materials. It all seems good and well on paper, but the question remains will the Administration agree?
Jake LaTurner (R: KS-2)
Health savings accounts have become an increasingly important issue for American workers, yet only 10% of folks are able to use these types of policies because of prohibitively high deductibles. Fortunately, Jake is on the case and has introduced new legislation to help simplify and expand these services. The Health Savings Act, which has bicameral support, would specifically increase the maximum contribution limit one can make to their account, as well allow individuals to use their HAS funds to pay for the cost of premiums. These types of accounts share much support from all sides of the aisle, so we’ll see if Jake’s bill can gain some steam in an otherwise divided house.
Nancy Mace (R: SC-1)
Back To Reality
So the saying goes, and applies to Nancy this week. Following our quasi-profile/celebration of her last newsletter, indeed the realities of politics settled in this week, in the form of a new Democratic challenger for her seat. Tim Lewis, a former Marine who has worked with several Fortune 100 banking companies, is the current chairman of the Dorchester County Democratic Party. His reasons for running are simple: “She’s neither here nor there. She’s hot and cold,” Tim said. In other words, too inconsistent in her policy. Case in point, she voted no on infrastructure thus angering Democrats, but has been critical of Trump thus angering Republicans. She’s no doubt going to be battling it from all sides this mid-term.
Jon Ossoff (D; GA)
Big Push For Pregnant Workers
No, not that kind of push; a different push towards safer and fairer working conditions for women who are carrying while in the workforce. Jon is helping to lead the charge to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which looks to protect pregnant workers from discrimination in the workplace, particularly around accommodations and conditions. The bipartisan bill would allow access to food and water where otherwise prohibited, the ability to sit while otherwise standing, and access to more breaks as needed. It’s hard to fathom that these things might actually be withheld from a pregnant worker in this Country, but alas, here we are debating its legislation. Thanks to Jon, hopefully we won’t have too much longer.
Colin Allred (D; TX-32)
The Democratic system is fragile, but in all honesty what isn’t fragile right now? Colin, a former voting rights attorney, saw firsthand in his district how fragile our election process was and the foreign attempts to influence the U.S. election. Colin voted for the Protecting Our Democracy act to help strengthen checks and balances and foster transparency against foreign election interference. The act would require that political committees report to the FBI and the Federal Elections Commission regarding certain foreign contacts. While those are just a few of the things it helps prevent, do you think we need more election transparency and security?
Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)
30 years ago, the largest foreign-flagged ocean carriers controlled ~15% of ocean traffic, today they control 75%. The result is high costs and longer timeframes. Sharice introduced the Ocean Shipping Reform Act to strengthen the overseas supply chain and bolster exports for American businesses. This bipartisan bill is the first major modernization to the ocean shipping industry since 1998! The act would a) prohibit ocean carriers from refusing to transport American cargo, b) combat unfair and disruptive business practices by shipping companies and c) bolster the Federal Maritime Commission so that it has the resources to hold shipping companies accountable. Sharice hopes this will help address supply chain issues and reduce dependence on goods and services produced outside the U.S.
Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)
A Continued Epidemic
The U.S. saw more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths between April 2020 and April 2021, 75,673 of which were from opioids. That is a 35% increase in opioid overdose deaths from the previous 12-month period. Recently, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to reduce opioid addiction, overdoses, and deaths. Conor and his Republican colleague are supporting the companion bill in the House. As of yet it is unclear when the House will take up this bill, but the opioid crisis continues to haunt the U.S. and is not going away.
Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)
Ukrainian Support System
Seth took a little weekend vacay to Ukraine to meet with local and U.S. officials to discuss a response to a possible invasion from Russia. Seth has a three step proposal for President Biden. First, finalizing a sanctions package before Russia potentially sends 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. Second, the U.S. should speed up the transfer of lethal weapons to Ukraine like anti-tank missile systems. Third, somehow reaching the Russian public with messages about the larger consequences to Russia if this were to happen. Have you been following this international issue?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)
We are seeing a lot of cannabis type legislation coming to Congress and it might be due to the House Cannabis Caucus. AOC introduced the bipartisan Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act to help states with expunging cannabis offenses. This would be achieved by reducing the financial and administrative burden of such efforts through a new federal grant program, the State Expungement Opportunity Grant Program. The program would last for 10 years and have $20 million of funding to make grants to states and local governments. While this might be a step in the right direction, is that enough money?
Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)
Any Interference is Bad Interference
We keep seeing various politicians introduce legislation that limits the involvement of foreign companies and/or foreign nationals. Abigail teamed up with PP leader Jim Banks (R-IN) to introduce bipartisan legislation that would make it unlawful for a foreign national to contribute money, either directly or indirectly, to a state or local ballot initiative or ballot referendum. The Protecting Ballot Measures from Foreign Influence Act would overturn a July decision from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which gave a green light to foreign nationals seeking to finance campaign efforts related to ballot initiatives, after ruling that a federal law banning foreign money in campaigns applies only to federal, state and local candidate elections. We are wondering why the FCC differentiated ballot measures from candidate elections.
Rashida Tlaib (D; MI-13)
We have heard several stories of immigrant families being torn apart and Rashida is pointing to the Supreme Court Case Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee which gave immigrant families due process. However, the issue is causing confusion in the lower courts and government agencies who are not adhering to the policies. No communication between government agencies? Never heard that before! Rashida introduced the Family Unity Act to protect immigrant families by ensuring due process in certain immigration removal proceedings. This is exactly why we need checks and balances.
Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)
An Era-Defining Disaster
Mike was quick to provide his disappointment after President Biden’s call with President Putin. Mike believes the U.S. is making a wrong decision by not putting sanctions on Russia for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and is uncertain about Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine. But even more so, Mike spoke at the Reagan National Defense Forum to talk about cybersecurity and the future of warfare in the digital age. Mike does not think we are showing enough urgency in this matter as it relates to Russia and China and he “fears we’re sleepwalking into a disaster that could define the course of the 21st century.” Do you agree with Mike?
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)
Jaime has a reason to celebrate this holiday season because her Stillbirth Health Improvement and Education (SHINE) for Autumn Act was passed by the House! Introduced in October with PP leader Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), the bill aims to lower the U.S. stillbirth rate by providing critical resources to state and federal health departments, improving data collection, and increasing education and awareness around the issue of stillbirth in the United States. Sadly, each year, stillbirth affects 1 out of every 160 births, and over 21,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. The U.S. ranked 183rd of 195 countries in the reduction in stillbirth rates from 2000 to 2019. Ouch!
Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)
Many politicians are trying to find a way to address the on-going supply chain issues. Adam thinks a possible solution is to incentivize companies to relocate their manufacturing to the United States and Western Hemisphere. In turn this will help prevent future disruptions and provide good paying jobs. Previous legislation that Adam introduced also called for a Manufacturing Security and Resilience Council which would oversee the various programs and bring these manufacturers back to U.S. soil. It sounds like a great idea, but these incentives will need to be pretty strong to get businesses to move back.
Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)
Guy was happy to throw his support in voting to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2022. Some of you might remember that some Democrats voted against this because they did not see a reason why to increase funding (a cool $25 billion increase). Guy advocated for many of the provisions related to prohibiting funding with China, protecting Taiwan, and fighting opioid addictions. Are you supportive of the NDAA or did you think funding should not have been increased?
Greg Steube (R; FL-17)
Steady! Hold Steady!
Greg joined fellow PP leader Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to introduce the Stand Your Ground bill. Florida already has a Stand Your Ground law which justifies a person using deadly force against someone when a person feels it is necessary to defend themselves or others against imminent death or great bodily harm. As well, PP leader Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) joined this bill which would abolish the “duty of retreat” when attacked rule, which basically means if a person is under attack they first must seek retreat as a preferred alternative for self-defense. With so many shootings and burglaries will a bill like this get support?
Tom Cotton (R; AK)
In 2016, during a trip to Israel, Taylor Force was killed by Palestinian terrorists. This pushed lawmakers like Tom and some of his Republican colleagues to introduce the Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act which would deter foreign banks from making “martyr payments”. Martyr payments is a term that began after Taylor Force was killed – the terrorist’s family who killed him started to receive payments from the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a reward for his actions. In 2018, a bipartisan bill was passed to restrict humanitarian aid to the PA until it stopped these payments, but recent reports show that they have not stopped.
Ritchie Torres (D; NY-15)
No Place Like Home
Ritchie’s district is quite unique in New York, it is home to Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Zoo, but sadly it is one of America’s poorest districts. Ritchie said that “more than half the residents in the South Bronx pay more than half their income toward their rent and that’s before you factor in the cost of food and transportation and utilities and prescription drugs.” As a product of the underfunded public housing projects in the Bronx, Ritchie knows these challenges first hand and that is why he is such a big supporter of the Build Back Better Act. Despite growing up in the projects, Ritchie said the most important thing was having a stable home.
Jamaal Bowman (D; NY-16)
“America is rooted in racism, and it is time our moral imperative to tell the truth.” Jamaal introduced the African American History Act with Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Cori Bush (D-MO) which would invest $10 million over 5 years in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History to create educational programs that tell the truth of African American History. Jamaal had a 20-year career as an educator, and he knows how important it is to have a collective understanding of our past. This bill is one step forward to come together “as a nation and become a strong multiracial democracy that ensures the rights of all in America.” Do you think this bill is enough?
Cori Bush (D; MO-1)
The Time for Clemency
Cori wants to end the era of mass criminalization. She introduced the FIX Clemency Act to transform our nation’s broken clemency system and address the growing mass incarceration crisis. This issue is close to home as Cori says that “Communities like my own in St. Louis have been devastated by mass incarceration and a failed war on drugs.” This bill would help establish an independent board to clear the backlog of 18,000 clemency petitions. Cori is calling on President Biden to use his clemency authority to reduce the federal prison population but hopes that her bill will help revamp an antiquated system. Do you agree with Cori?
David Valadao (R; CA-21)
Taking a Dump
Dumping occurs when a country or company exports a product at a price that is lower in the foreign importing market than the price in the exporter’s domestic market. In 2000, the Customs and Border Protections (CBP) were required to distribute to U.S. producers all anti-dumping duties. In 2014, it was revealed that distributions had not been made by the CBP. David introduced bipartisan legislation, the China Trade Cheating Restitution Act, to distribute delinquency interest collected on anti-dumping duties between 2000 to 2014 to domestic producers of goods subject to these duties. Hopefully the records show the right data and producers get paid!
Kat Cammack (R; FL-3)
We continue to see various bipartisan support for Taiwan, especially from some of our younger politicians. Over Thanksgiving week, a few of our young politicians visited senior Taiwanese officials and this week Kat introduced bipartisan legislation, with PP leader Chris Pappas (D-NH), to express the importance of our relationship with Taiwan. The Taiwan Preclearance Act requires a report on establishing a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance facility at the Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE). The establishment of a preclearance facility will create a seamless experience for U.S.-bound passengers and further encourage growth in travel between Taiwan and the U.S. So, who is ready to go to Taiwan?
Byron Donalds (R;FL-19)
FinTech Helping Hand
There are ~32 million small businesses in the United States. Woah! Byron teamed up with PP leader Jason Crow (D-CO) to introduce the Expanding Access to Affordable Credit for Small Businesses Act. Quite often small businesses do not qualify for loans through traditional banking sources, so Byron introduced this act to allow fintech companies to provide loans to small businesses. While this act expands the opportunity to access money, sometimes these fintech companies have been known to take advantage of the small business owner. Hopefully this provides more opportunity though!
Ashley Hinson (R; IA-1)
Time for a Revamp
An ecologically unique region that spans across Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin has grabbed the attention of some bipartisan leaders who want to make sure it is conserved. Ashley along with her colleagues introduced the Driftless Area Landscape Conservation Initiative (DALCI) Act to give farmers the tools to implement conservation practices across the Driftless Area, with the goal of improving drinking water quality and reducing flood risk. Originally this program was launched in 2012 to help farmers fight erosion and restore cold water steam corridors but stopped in 2017. This 2.0 bill version would build on top of this and bring back much needed funds.
Victoria Spartz (R; IN-5)
The pandemic accelerated the need to have fast solutions and not be held up by political gridlock. Victoria and Democratic colleague Hakeem Jeffries (NY) introduced the Patents of Humanity Act which would codify into law an expedited process to obtain patents for innovators who use game-changing technologies to meet humanitarian challenges. This bill would be a push to incentivize creativity and innovation, but we also wonder what defines a “game-changing” technology?
Tony Gonzales (R; TX-23)
A Voice for Hispanic Voters
Tony was named Vice-Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Conference, an organization of Hispanic Republicans in the House. As a representative from Texas, Tony not only has many Hispanic constituents, but also has been a vocal leader to find solutions to our border crisis. The Conference’s leaders have traditionally been among the most vocal Republicans on an array of issues, including immigration. We will for sure be hearing more from Tony on these issues and see if this helps secure more Hispanic voters for the GOP.
Blake Moore (R; UT-1)
Phase ‘Em Out
Many of the U.S. defense electronics were sourced from countries like China. Last year, the House Armed Services Committee banned the sourcing of defense electronics from China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia. Blake joined PP leader Josh Hawley (R-MO) to introduce legislation to take it one step further by prohibiting Chinese-purchased printed circuit boards (PCBs) in military hardware, including cloud servers and networks. The Strengthening Protections Against Chinese Printed Circuit Boards Act would accelerate the phase out of Chinese PCBs in critical systems within 5 years. It is their hope that this act would also reduce further supply chains with the Chinese government. Do you think it will?
August Pfluger (R; TX-11)
Sheeps and Goats Are Pissed
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule allowing the importation of sheeps, goats and other similar animals. But what was interesting is they dropped a certain part of the rule that allows these animals to be imported even if they have fatal diseases like scrapie. Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats that is easily transferable. August introduced bipartisan legislation, along with PP leaders Nicole Mallotakis (R-NY), Dusty Johnson, (R-SD) and Tony Gonzales (R-TX) to delay the USDA rule implementation until further studies are done to see how this can impact American sheep producers.
Melanie Stansbury (D, NM,1)
Tribal Water Infrastructure
Melanie has built her political career around water and sustainability. Sadly, more and more communities are going through droughts and lack access to clean water, especially Native American communities. Melanie introduced the WaterSMART Access for Tribes Act with PP leaders Ruben Gallego (AZ) and Joe Neguse (CO) which would give the Secretary of the Interior the authority to waive or reduce cost-share requirements to implement drought and water projects for Tribal communities. There has been a substantial “underinvestment in tribal water infrastructure” and Melanie plans to change that.