THE COMPLETE 14 PERCENT: 20 Years in the Making
Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)
Renters Gather Round the Table
One of the results of the extension of the eviction moratorium being extended was the realization that a ton of federal funds meant to help renters had yet to be distributed. Pete is getting to the root of the issue and hosted a roundtable with local officials, nonprofits, and housing experts to make sure that residents of his district in the Inland Empire know how to access the funds. Eventually the moratorium will be lifted and renters will once again be on the hook, so will this distribution of information and money come quick enough?
Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)
E is for Everyone
Covid has shone a new spotlight on our healthcare system in America and Brendan and Democratic colleagues are using the opportunity to introduce the Choose Medicare Act, which would establish a new Medicare program (Medicare Part E) that any individual not already qualified for Medicare or business can opt into. It would be self-sustaining, paid for by premiums and offered on all state and federal exchanges. “Plain and simple,” Brendan said, “no American should be without health coverage.” The road to universal coverage is a long one with a slim Democratic majority, but Brendan’s pushing for the first steps!
Jared Golden (D; ME-2)
Long Live Lobster (Fishing)
Jared joined the rest of the Maine delegation in asking Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo to reject a petition from the Pew Charitable Trust that requested imposing closures on parts of the state’s lobster fishery. The proposal is framed as aiming to protect whale populations, but Jared and the others say that the protections are minimal and would have significant economic cost on one of the state’s most important industries. Just another look at the micro battles between environmental protections and economic prosperity!
Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)
Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing issues of our present and future but unfortunately it’s one that is difficult to grasp and even more difficult to combat. Andy recently hosted a town hall to help residents of his district understand how they can protect themselves from identity theft and other scams and he highlighted bills he’s co-sponsored that aim to help people, in particular senior citizens and owners of small businesses, in reporting fraud. We can only hope that this kind education will become more widely available as the threat of cyber crimes is only sure to increase!
Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)
If you’ve driven around the American west recently, it’s hard to miss thousands of acres of forests that are burned to a crisp. Joe, being a representative from Colorado, is on the case. He just passed an amendment through the House that would increase federal funding for wildfire management by $2 million. As the chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands making firefighters more prepared and funding more research to prevent future fires is top of mind.
Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)
Ride the Momentum
Chris came out in full support of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that just passed the House. He noted the number of jobs it will bring to the state of New Hampshire and, most notably, applauded the vote which means final passage of the bill could happen in September. Congress is moving quickly on this one, but will it actually make it through? Chris, for his state’s sake, certainly hopes so!
Darren Soto (D; FL-9)
They Make the Florida Go ‘Round
In a recent call with Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and GOP state Rep. Rene Plasencia, Darren made the case for including immigration reform in the next budget reconciliation process that’s set to begin early next month. Not only do 40% of immigrants in Florida work in agriculture, ensuring food on people’s tables across the country, but, as Darren pointed out, there are still 3.1 million unfilled jobs in Florida. Most of these are in hospitality and food services – roles that immigrants typically fill. The hope is that Congress can pass pathways to permanent residence and citizenship among other protections. Do you think immigrants deserve more attention as we make our way through the lasting impact of Covid?
Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)
A Line of Hope
Eric’s office set up a help desk to answer questions about how to get family members out of Afghanistan and to the U.S. It turned out to be a glimmer of hope for some. One woman, who got in line at 6am – three hours before the desk opened – said she hadn’t heard from her parents or brother because the internet is down where they live. Another man’s brother worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan and they’re all afraid for their lives. Although all Eric’s office can do right now is help check on and file Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), many of the people who stopped by said even getting to speak to someone working in the government offered a bit of optimism.
Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)
Second Leading Cause of Death…
Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24 (let that sink in…). From 2007-2017, the CDC reported that suicide rates among young Americans increased 56% – horrific. Now, Lauren is introducing legislation to help health care providers identify warning signs and help young people desperately in need. As a former nurse and a staunch healthcare advocate, Lauren is going to the source, looking to bolster healthcare workers’ role in this saddening trend, saying, “Since the start of the pandemic… I’ve heard so many tragic stories of young people struggling with new or worsening mental health challenges—even suicidal thoughts. And no matter who I’m talking to—whether it’s a farmer, parent, or a teacher —they have all told me about the need for action to keep our kids safe.”
Jim Banks (R; IN-3)
Is That a Threat?
Jim is on the defensive after a controversial comment from Nancy Pelosi went public. She rejected Jim’s appointment to the Select Committee on Jan 6th and now has come out and said that he and fellow GOP Rep. Jim Jordan were “participants in the Big Lie” (regarding the narrative that Trump won the presidential election). She continued, saying, “we’ll see what the [January 6] committee finds out about them.” Well, Jim has called a spade a spade and claimed that Pelosi “threatened to investigate her political opponents without pretext” and accused her of abuse of power. Do you think Speaker Pelosi is issuing a threat to Jim x 2?
Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)
America First in Iowa
Though Matt is not from Iowa, he recently spoke at an “America First” rally in Des Moines with none other than his fellow controversial GOP colleague Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). The event was littered with talk about vaccine skepticism and the globalist agenda. It’s clear that nothing – not even a sex trafficking investigation – is going to stop Matt on his push as a true right-wing star. In fact, he eloped with his fiancé and some are speculating the move was to draw attention away from the investigation and keep that train moving. Is Matt a master of his own narrative? It appears possible…
Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)
Kabul to Taipei
The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has had rippling effects throughout the world, spanning a variety of humanitarian and policy issues. Lance, for his part, has been focused on what this means for U.S. relations to its allies – namely, a commitment to Taiwan. He previously co-sponsored legislation which was signed into law under Trump requiring the U.S. to support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations (that don’t require official statehood) and provide weapons to the country to mitigate any Chinese military threat. Are we about to see a new era of allyship from the U.S. that’s more Asia-, rather than Middle East-focused?
Dusty Johnson (R; SD)
Farmers Love Me
Along with many members of both parties, Dusty issued a statement criticizing Biden’s strategy (or lack-there-of) when withdrawing from Afghanistan. However, things are going a bit more swimmingly at home, as Dusty was awarded the Outstanding New Member of Congress Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation and South Dakota Farm Bureau. Representing a rural state, Dusty was recognized for his commitment to farmers and ranchers in both forward-thinking ideas and Covid-19 recovery. “Congressman Johnson was the first member of the House of Representatives to request that agriculture and food processing workers be considered essential workers during the pandemic,” said the AFBF president. Well done, Dusty!
Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)
When Markwayne was elected to Congress, there was a $68 million backlog of maintenance on a critical river system that runs through Oklahoma. Now, he says, that number has swelled to $300 million, meaning that at any moment, the river system could crumble and affect a huge trading route through the center of the country. “From Oklahoma up, all our northern states, they rely on us to get ag products in and out of their state,” he said. He also insists that Democrats in Congress aren’t doing enough to address this, despite his push. The question here is whether money from a new infrastructure bill (that continues to make its way through Congress) would address an issue like this.
Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)
As the government decides what to do with the tens of thousands of Afghans who are fleeing their country and being evacuated, it appears that many of them will end up in Bryan’s backyard – Fort McCoy to be exact. The Pentagon said that up to 22,000 Afghans who are still trying to complete their special immigrant visa (SIV) paperwork will be housed at Fort McCoy. Bryan, criticizing the administration’s withdrawal like so many others, is clear that “what we can’t allow is anybody to grab onto an airplane and come into the U.S. without vetting.” Undoubtedly, many Afghans with incomplete paperwork are going to end up in these situations, but is there any other option?
Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)
The Balancing Act
Lee, full steam ahead with his run for governor of NY, is putting on a bit of a balancing act as he keeps focus on criticizing Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal while also making sure New Yorkers know he’s got their back. He called for Biden to declare a state of emergency as Hurricane Henri made its way through New York earlier this week to keep people safe. But also, in some more gossip-y news, it was reported that Chris Cuomo’s (brother of that other Cuomo guy) in-laws attended a fundraiser for Lee’s gubernatorial campaign. Broadway isn’t the only place in New York for some drama!
Kyrsten Sinema (D; AZ)
Not So Fast, Joe
The House just passed the $3.5 trillion spending package that addresses key Democrat priorities like free community college, climate change initiatives, Medicare expansion and more. However, Joe and Nancy shouldn’t be cheering yet because as the bill heads to the Senate, Kyrsten has declared her unwavering opposition to it. “While I support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion,” she said. It appears there’s going to be some long cost negotiations in the Senate’s future which will have lasting effects at home while the administration struggles with a crisis overseas. Kyrsten knows how to stir things up!
Jake Auchincloss (D; MA-4)
Jake commanded infantry troops in Afghanistan in 2012, making the events of the past week acutely painful to watch. “It’s painful to think of the Afghan interpreters with whom I worked, the villagers through whose villages I patrolled, and think about what their life is like right now,” he said. However, he does agree with President Biden that staying in the country for a ‘forever war’ would have been a mistake and noted that fighting our way into victory would have never been an option. Unfortunately, the military infrastructure that he and so many others worked to create didn’t uphold. If there’s a veteran in your life – check in with them and see how they’re doing.
Sara Jacobs (D; CA-53)
In shocking news, Sara’s colleagues and fellow PP leaders Peter Meijer (R-MI) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) – both veterans – went ‘rogue’ and flew into Afghanistan. Sara, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is a former State Department official, issued some of the first criticism of her colleagues, saying “Whether it is Haiti or Afghanistan, taking up space in a disaster zone for your own ego helps no one.” Do you agree?
Madison Cawthorn (R; NC-11)
Madison joined his Republican colleagues in criticizing Biden’s withdrawal of Afghanistan and attacking the idea of mask mandates in schools but there were problems in his own backyard that weren’t getting the same attention. Last week, much of his district was flooded, resulting in deaths and displacement. In a not-so-great look, Madison tweeted a photo of himself smoking a cigar while the flooding was underway. After a flurry of criticism, Madison did immediately begin sending out links to resources and eventually went to tour the flooded areas and meet local officials. However, this brings up the important balance that lawmakers have to strike in pushing party messaging while also being attentive to issues at home. Do you think he was rightly criticized?
Peter Meijer (R; MI-3)
Peter is an Afghanistan veteran so the events of the past week are understandably personal. However, he took his frustration to the next level and joined fellow PP leader Seth Moulton (D-MA) in flying into Kabul airport to witness the scene for himself. The two veterans say that they are there to “provide oversight on the executive branch”, but officials ended up having to send resources and security to the lawmakers (which isn’t a great look when there’s so many Afghans and Americans in need). Pelosi, Biden and many others were quick to criticize the move, but do you think the congressmen had a right to fly into the fire?
Jake LaTurner (R; KS-2)
Keepin’ in Local
While foreign affairs have taken over the news cycles in the last couple weeks, much of Jake’s attention has remained at home in his district. He hosted a job fair to help encourage Kansans to return to the workforce by meeting local businesses and exploring available jobs. Big businesses like Chick-Fil-A and Pepsico participated and there were over 3,000 jobs available for attendees to explore. Jake, like many of his GOP colleagues, blames the extended unemployment benefits for so many unfilled jobs. Do you think unemployment collections are to blame?
Nancy Mace (R; SC-1)
Nancy joined the chorus of Republicans criticizing Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Perhaps most poignantly, she tweeted, “Oh sh*t is not a contingency plan”. In a string of tweets, Nancy pointed to the sacrifice of the U.S. military in the Middle East and posed a question that many of us are probably thinking – “What was all this for?” On a more fun note, she posted a throwback picture of her at the Citadel, where she was the first female graduate of the prestigious military academy and rocked a badass haircut to match.
Nicole Malliotakis (R; NY-11)
With all that is unfolding in Afghanistan, it can be hard to comprehend the human toll of the crisis – the individuals who are affected and what their fates may be. Nicole recently announced that she was, along with the State Dept., able to evacuate a mother and her three children who are residents in her district from Kabul. The woman’s husband is in America and worked alongside the military in Afghanistan. With everything still quite a mess, it’s heartening to hear these stories of at-risk Afghans making their way out of the country.
Jon Ossoff (D; GA)
Falling in Line
Though there have been many Democrats critical of Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Jon is not coming out as one of them. Instead, he is choosing to focus on the humanitarian crisis and getting Americans and at-risk Afghans out of the country. He voiced his confidence that refugees will be resettled (exactly where is still up in the air) and has been careful to avoid any inflammatory remarks about the operation itself. Do you think Democrats will be able to salvage the situation?
Colin Allred (D; TX-32)
We know this won’t be the last voting rights bill that is introduced to this Congress, but Colin’s recent bill would establish greater safeguards against potential election subversion efforts and ensure elections and vote counting are performed fairly, transparently and without partisan influence…can it be done? This bill, the Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act, comes on the heels of the SB1 voting bill in Texas that empowers partisan poll watchers. The bill would not only expand protections for election administrators, but also strengthen protections for Federal election records and election infrastructure and provide judicial review for election records. Get ready for lots more news on voting rights to come…
Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)
If the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes, Kansas is set to receive ~$3.8+ billion over the next 5 years. Sharice wrote an op-ed talking about some of the benefits, but also outlining that the “bill isn’t absolutely perfect, but it is absolutely necessary.” Where does it fall short? It does not address climate change as much as it should be. Regardless, Sharice doesn’t think we should waste any time getting it done. Do you agree with her?
Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)
If you have been following Conor you know that he is in full Senate run, but he joined a challenging Democratic field. Who is it you ask? His major competition is John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, who has a high media profile; Philadelphia state House Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who made history as the first openly gay Black man to be elected to the state General Assembly; and anesthesiologist Val Arkoosh, a woman who chairs the board of commissioners in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia, the state’s third-most populous county. So, what do you think about Conor’s chances?
Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)
Damn Seth…but also valid. Seth responded to President Biden’s claim that Afghans didn’t want to leave was “utter BS.” Seth referenced the massive backlog of Special Immigrant Visa applications that have been there for over a decade and have swelled to over 18,000 now. Not only that, but Seth pointed to the videos of people literally clinging to planes to get out of the country. Seth took matters into his own hands and flew to Kabul in a secret mission with fellow PP leader Peter Meijer (MI). This threw the State Department, Defense Department and White House into a hissy fit, but once again, DAMN Seth! Do you think this move was badass or dangerous?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)
Wow that’s a big number, but AOC is calling for the Biden administration to issue the absolute minimum number of visas to be 200,000. She said, “I would say the rock bottom is 200,000, but I think it should be whatever is necessary, and that needs to be expedited as soon as possible.” AOC voted for legislation to increase the number of visas, which received overwhelming support (only 16 Republicans voted against). All we can say is, AOC is no stranger to large numbers!
Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)
As the world watched and saw terrifying images surface from the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Abigail jumped into action. First, she is calling for hearings on Capitol Hill and she said Virginia is also prepared to accept more Afghan allies. So far more than 2,000 Afghan allies have found safe harbor at Virginia’s Fort Lee Army Base. On average these allies are staying for 5-7 days on the base and ~10% of them will stay in the state. How do you feel about this?
Rashida Tlaib (D; MI-13)
Rashida joined a growing number of Progressives who are calling for former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to be disqualified from being considered as the ambassador to Japan. Why? Under Rahm’s administration, Chicago lawyers fought to hide police dashboard camera video of Laquan McDonald, a black teen, who had been shot 16 times in the back by an officer as McDonald posed no clear danger. She took to Twitter to say this alone should “disqualify him from ANY public position.” Other Progressives on Political Playlist like Jamaal Bowman (NY), Cori Bush (MO), and Mondaire Jones (NY) are saying the same. Do you agree with them?
Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)
Mike is pissed, as most of the country and his colleagues are. He is frustrated with President Biden’s failure to secure the evacuation of Americans as well as Afghan allies. “This is an absolute fiasco” he said. There are now 5,200 U.S. troops at the airport and since August 14th there have been 7,000 civilians taken out of the country. But the big issue that Mike is concerned about is “we are depending upon the generosity and the goodwill of the Taliban to guarantee the safe passage of our people.” Mike does have a point.
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)
Jobs Fairs Numbers Are In!
In 2011, Jaime started hosting annual job fairs to maintain recovery momentum from the 2008 recession. The most recent one showcased over 100 employers and drew approximately 750 people, almost double the size of last year. The lineup of local companies represented a wide range of industries including construction, travel and leisure, finance, entertainment, retail, and manufacturing. Jaime’s other colleagues should take notice and do the same!
Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)
“I think the execution has been extremely disastrous.” You can probably guess this has to do with the withdrawal of Afghanistan. While Adam has been critical of President Biden, he also was quick to point to the slow process of the Special Immigrant Visas which he said goes back to the Trump and Obama administration. Adam didn’t stop there though. He also ripped into the Trump administration for their deal with the Taliban saying it set the stage for the current failure in Afghanistan. According to Adam there is a lot of blame to go around.
Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)
Guy tweeted saying he agreed with fellow PP leader Jason Crow (D-CO) when it comes to Afghanistan. Jason said “If we aren’t willing to use the U.S. military to protect U.S. citizens and our partners and our friends, then what will we use our military for?” Jason also alluded to the fact that there is no way we will be able to evacuate everyone by the August 31st deadline. It is nice to see these young politicians come together and support each other on this topic. The most important thing is finding a way to get everyone out safely.
Greg Steube (R; FL-17)
We have seen various politicians leap into action after watching the images come out of Afghanistan. Greg introduced a bipartisan bill to prioritize evacuations of U.S. Citizens in Afghanistan, called the Prioritize Evacuation of U.S. Citizens in Afghanistan Act. This bill would direct the Secretary of Defense and State to submit a plan to Congress regarding the evacuation of U.S. citizens who are trapped in Afghanistan. Greg said there are still an estimated 10,000-15,000 American citizens trapped in the country. While this sounds like a worthy proposal, but will the snail pace of bureaucracy get in the way?
Tom Cotton (R; AK)
Search and Rescue
Tom is calling for a military rescue to save trapped Americans in Afghanistan. As you can imagine, Tom is outraged by the withdrawal of Afghanistan and he said his office has received “numerous reports of American citizens and Afghan allies being harassed, beaten, and abused by Taliban thugs.” Tom wants President Biden to authorize the military to expand the airport perimeter and get Americans out ASAP. Tom believes this withdrawal will have long-lasting ramifications…do you agree and if so what types of ramifications?
Ritchie Torres (D; NY-15)
Cuts for Kids
Many families across America are seeing their bank accounts increase due to the expanded Child Tax Credit which was part of the American Rescue Plan. As a kid who grew up poor and in public housing, Ritchie wants to make this a permanent program. The first payments of the child tax credit went out in July and are projected to cut child poverty by 50%. In New York, there were about $800 million in child tax credits. Do you think the tax credit is a step in the right direction or is it too progressive?
Jamaal Bowman (D; NY-16)
Not a Fan
Jamaal took to Twitter to voice his opposition for President Biden’s nomination for former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan. Why? Under Rahm’s administration, Chicago lawyers fought to hide police dashboard camera video of Laquan McDonald, a black teen, who had been shot 16 times in the back by an officer as McDonald posed no clear danger. Jamaal was joined by other PP Progressives who are calling for Rahm to be disqualified like Cori Bush (MO), Mondaire Jones (NY) and Rashida Tlaib. What are your views on Rahm?
Cori Bush (D; MO-1)
Not Backing Down
Cori is the champion of the “Defund the Police” movement. However, her hometown of St. Louis is dealing with a 50-year high in murders and many other cities are seeing an increase in violence. Her reasoning for starting this movement is because people of color keep dying at the hands of police and the only way to stop it is to “attack it.” Her plan isn’t to zero out law enforcement budgets, but to move some funds to social services programs that supporters argue would do more to help poor communities reduce crime than having more officers or tactical equipment. And in other news, Cori just landed herself a book deal, planned to be titled “The Cori Chronicles” which is worth up to $100,000. Will you be reading?
David Valadao (R; CA-21)
That Tax Bracket
David has something positive to tell his constituents. Supposedly, his district constituents are ones to benefit most from President Biden’s tax plan. Biden has vowed not to increase taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000 annually while providing breaks to people with lower incomes. An analysis found that the average taxpayer could say ~$1,754 of their gross adjusted income. While that might not sound like much, it is definitely something!
Kat Cammack (R; FL-3)
187 people from Kat’s district are stuck in Afghanistan. We have seen all politicians flooded with calls from people trying to get their loved ones out of Afghanistan. Kat does not think we will be able to get all the Americans out of Afghanistan by the August 31st deadline, but President Biden is pushing forward with the date. In positive news, Kat’s office was successful at getting a family of five out of Afghanistan. Do you think the date should be extended?
Byron Donalds (R;FL-19)
A Sign to Resign
Time to go Biden…or at least that is what Byron thinks. Byron has called on President Biden’s resignation after the chaos that erupted from the Afghanistan withdrawal. Byron said, “It has become clear that President Biden has lost complete and total confidence of the American people through his haphazard decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.” He is not the first Republican to call on his resignation and some have asked Congress to remove Biden through the 25th amendment. Should President Biden stay, or should he go?
Ashley Hinson (R; IA-1)
Ashley had previously called on Speaker Pelosi to focus on the chaos in Afghanistan and getting Americans safely home rather than working on the $3.5 trillion budget resolution. The budget was passed this week along party lines and Ashley was NOT happy. “Iowa taxpayers will be footing the bill for policies they don’t believe in. With $17 trillion in new debt added, the next generation, and the generation after that, will be paying a hefty price.” Do you agree with Ashley that this budget is way out of line? The House passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution along party lines which Ashley says is far too much. She warned of the danger of generational debt facing future generations of Americans with such a hefty price tag.
Victoria Spartz (R; IN-5)
Budget? Ever Heard of It?
Victoria thinks the spending is out of control and she’s shouting it from the rooftops. With the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion budget resolution these calls are not surprising. But has Congress ever really understood the word “budget?” Victoria believes these bills are way beyond what the U.S. can even afford, let alone promise to implement correctly and efficiently. Do you agree with Victoria?
Tony Gonzales (R; TX-23)
For the Country Please
Last week in our One Bit Smarter section of Political Playlist Happy Hour we talked about the For the County Caucus, a bipartisan group of 25 veterans in Congress. As they work together to pass a bill to authorize the construction of a memorial for veterans who fought against terrorism, Tony joined his colleagues at a press conference to urge President Biden to keep U.S. troops on the ground until all Americans and allies are evacuated from Afghanistan. “Time is literally running out, and we have to use every single moment to make sure that we bring every American home safely.”
Blake Moore (R; UT-1)
Time to Talk
After the various videos and photos showing the chaos in Afghanistan many politicians jumped into action. Blake introduced the Afghanistan Accountability Act to help identify the breakdown between the intelligence community, Department of Defense and administration officials that facilitated the withdrawal in Afghanistan. People want answers, but most importantly, we need to make sure Americans are out safely. Expect Blake to be on the forefront of making these hearings in Congress a reality.
August Pfluger (R; TX-11)
August is dealing with many phone calls from constituents asking for help in evacuating loved ones in Afghanistan. While Americans are being told to shelter in place until they are told to come to the airport, there are some people taking matters into their own hands. One of August’s constituents has a family member who is an Afghan pilot and he has fled to Uzbekistan in hopes of being evacuated from there. A definite clusterF*&k of a situation and we hope everyone can get back safely.
Melanie Stansbury (D, NM,1)
Game Changing Investment
Melanie was proud to vote to pass the $3.5 trillion budget resolution. It passed this week, along party lines, and Melanie believes this will be a transformative investment for generations to come. As she said, “This budget is a game-changer that will invest in universal childcare, paid family leave, affordable housing, and create a path to citizenship for essential workers. New Mexico families need this budget, and I am committed to doing everything I can to secure this vital funding for our communities.” What are your thoughts on the budget? Too much or not enough?
Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA- 44)
The Solution to Pollution
Ever seen an active oil pumpjack right next door to a Boys and Girls Club? Nanette visited one in her district recently, claiming no such thing would be tolerated in an affluent town like Malibu. But in Wilmington, CA, the people of Nanette’s district face some pretty severe environmental injustices. Some even report a metallic taste in their mouths! Nanette has had enough of poor and minority neighborhoods bearing the brunt of our environmental hazards. To fight back against the pollution problem, Nanette brought EPA Administrator Michael Regan along for the tour of her district and is working to expand the EPA’s Superfund program by $3.5 billion as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Let’s hope solutions like these can curb our pollution problems.
Jason Crow (D; CO-4)
A Plea for Afghan Allies
As accounts of the situation in Afghanistan worsened, Jason, a veteran himself, joined a handful of other lawmakers and penned a letter meant to put pressure on the President. He and his colleagues urged the administration to expedite the safe passage of vulnerable Afghans out of Taliban territory. The images and stories coming out of Kabul are heartbreaking, and Jason is asking the President to evacuate “not just those eligible for SIVs but as many other vulnerable Afghans as possible.” In a situation where many of us feel totally powerless, it’s nice to see lawmakers standing up for our allies abroad.
Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)
I Dream of Dairy
Even though some of us may have upped our ice cream consumption during the lockdowns, dairy farmers still struggled with difficult losses. Antonio led a team of lawmakers back in July to ask the President to step in on their behalf, and this week the USDA announced that it would oblige. Through the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program, $350 million will be whipped up for farmers impacted by the economic shutdown. “I am proud to lead the effort to deliver reimbursement to dairy farmers in upstate [NY] and across the United States,” Antonio said. So go on, treat yourself to another bowl of that mint chocolate chip.
Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)
Fight the Suppression, Man
Ruben is fighting back against voter suppression. A bill that he co-sponsored with Mondaire Jones (D-NY) has been added to the House’s John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. They were inspired by the Brnovich v. DNC decision earlier this year that further weakened the Voting Rights Act by upholding laws that disproportionately affect black and brown voters. As an Iraqi war veteran, Ruben personally fought for the rights of Americans to vote in a free and fair democracy, and he’s taking that warrior spirit to the House where he continues to champion voting rights. Way to fight the suppression, Ruben!
Josh Harder (D; CA-10)
Waiting 5 Months for Groceries
Good news! Josh’s months-long campaign to speed up federal unemployment aid has come to fruition. The Department of Labor announced that it would finally distribute the $2 billion it’s been sitting on since March(!). The funds are intended to cover the costs of much-needed reforms that allow states to prevent fraud, ensure access, and facilitate timely payments. Residents of some states had to wait a shocking five months for unemployment payments, leaving many forced to choose between food and electricity. This announcement by the DOL will help alleviate the financial burdens many families are still struggling with. And Josh isn’t moving on after this win. “This is a step in the right direction, but we’ve got a long walk ahead of us,” he said.
Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)
The Kids are Unvaccinated
The last week of July marked the largest weekly percentage increase in children testing positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic started. As schools across the country reopen and the Delta variant surges, children have been left unprotected by vaccines. That’s why Ro cosigned a letter this week asking the FDA to update Congress on the status of an Emergency Use Authorization that would allow children between the ages of 2-11 to receive Covid-19 vaccines, with school age children being especially vulnerable in classroom settings. Again and again in this pandemic, it seems the children are being overlooked. Will Ro be able to put enough pressure on the FDA to get America’s children protected against the virus?
Mike Levin (D; CA-49)
A Precarious Withdrawal
Mike has had enough humming and hawing when it comes to getting American allies out of Afghanistan. “Multiple presidential administrations, both Democratic and Republican, hold responsibility for the situation in Afghanistan today,” he said. Now that the U.S. is withdrawing and the Taliban has taken control of the government, getting Americans and our allies out safely is the top priority. He wants particular help for women and children who are at highest risk for violence by the Taliban, a notoriously patriarchal organization. “The time for bureaucratic visa processes has passed – we must get our most vulnerable allies out of the country immediately,” Mike said.
Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)
A Little River, a Lot of Love
The beloved Little Wekiva River has suffered plenty of damage over the past few years. Runoff of silt and debris have completely choked it off in some places, and pastimes like canoeing and kayaking are no longer possible. The river needs a lot of love, and that’s exactly what Stephanie aims to give it. She’s introducing the Little Wekiva River Protection Act, which would give the river a special designation that entitles it to federal funding and support. The goal is to restore Little Wekiva to its former glory for this generation and generations to come. So go dig out your kayaks and take to the water!
Ilhan Omar (D; MN-5)
Take the Tweets to the Streets
If the pandemic unemployment extension has been helping you through this utterly unprecedented time, you already know that benefits are set to expire in the first week of September. Ilhan took to Twitter to voice her opposition to the expiration, saying that “we’ve got to” renew the benefits. She linked to a report by the Peoples Policy Project that found a nearly $14,000 loss of income for people living in states that cut pandemic UI benefits in June of this year. $14,000! That’s a huge amount of money for most Americans, especially those living at or near the poverty line. Ilhan doesn’t want the same thing to happen to the 28 states where UI benefits are in their final weeks. But extending benefits could deepen a rising cultural sentiment that there should be some form of guaranteed income that lasts beyond the pandemic. Do you think now’s the time to start discussing a lasting universal basic income?
Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)
A Handshake that Means Something
If there’s one thing everyone in Congress seems to agree about right now, it’s that we’ve got to protect our allies in Afghanistan who risked their lives helping the American military. Elissa, who formerly worked at the CIA, signed a joint letter to the President last week asking him to expedite the safe passage of our Afghani allies. She wants to ensure the airport remains open so that any Afghani looking to flee Taliban rule can get out safely. “The world is watching us and… the American handshake has to mean something,” she said on NPR. What else can we be doing to help alleviate this crisis?
Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)
Business Leaders of Michigan, Unite!
Haley’s hosting a business roundtable with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce this week. The event is the perfect opportunity for Haley to convene with her constituents and hear from business leaders about their policy priorities. From Covid-19 relief to infrastructure investment, there’s a lot to discuss. Good on you, Haley, for getting your constituents together for an open dialogue!
Kelly Armstrong (R; ND)
A Well Deserved Memorial
Next time you go to Washington, you may just see a new memorial. Kelly joined a group of bipartisan lawmakers this week to support a bill that would authorize the construction of a memorial to the War on Terror. As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Kelly believes it’s time to honor the sacrifices made in America’s fight against global terror. The memorial would be placed alongside existing monuments in the National Mall in Washington, DC. Will you be stopping by the new memorial next time you’re in our nation’s capital?
Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)
American Troops = American Safety
Dan has a bone to pick with the American public. In an op-ed he published in the Wall Street Journal, he says we’ve misunderstood the purpose of American presence in Afghanistan. We’re not there to do “worldbuilding” or be the world’s police, as many claim. Instead, Dan says we’ve been there only in a limited counter-terrorism capacity, and that pulling out of Afghanistan completely is a mistake. “Most people don’t understand the situation in Afghanistan, and that causes distrust and anger,” he said. Dan believes that most people would be more willing to keep American troops there if we realized that doing so makes it safer for us at home. The issue in Kabul just keeps getting more and more complicated! What do you think, does keeping American troops in Afghanistan make sense as a way to fight global terrorism?
Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)
Cutting off Taliban Funds
The Taliban almost got its hands on a lot of money, but thanks to the efforts of Anthony and other lawmakers around the world, they’ve been cut off. The IMF was scheduled to distribute over $400 million worth of funding to Afghanistan. After the government was overthrown by the Taliban, lawmakers around the world pressured the IMF to halt the funding transfer, and they succeeded! The IMF says Afghanistan’s ongoing political instability makes them unable to distribute the funds, a move they’ve employed before in Myanmar and Venezuela. What else can the international community do to alleviate the situation in Afghanistan?
Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)
Don’t Insult the Constitution!
Trey talked about a bunch of things at a luncheon with business leaders in his district last week, but one thing got him especially riled up. He was asked about the Supreme Court decision not to hear a lawsuit against the Indiana State University vaccine mandate. Vaccine mandates have been in effect for decades, and most of us who attended a public school or a university had to show proof of certain vaccinations in order to enroll in classes. But Trey believes such mandates are “an insult to the constitution.” What’s your take?
Brian Mast (R; FL-18)
Where have All the Good Tanks Gone?
You may have heard that military equipment was abandoned amid the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. If the thought of American made and funded military weapons in the hands of the Taliban scares you, you’re not alone. Brian called on the Department of Defense this week to provide an inventory of all military equipment that has been abandoned to the insurgent forces. He was disturbed by images of American Humvees on Taliban social media channels, and isn’t ready to let them commandeer the weapons and supplies that were left for the Afghani military. Seeing an abandoned American tank on the Taliban’s tiktok page has to be at least as bad as catching a glimpse of your ex’s new bae.
Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)
After the botched withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, Elise wants answers. She’s putting together a 9/11 style commision to investigate the “twenty years, trillions of dollars spent, and thousands of American lives lost.” Everyone seems to have something to say about the end of America’s involvement in Afghanistan, but Elise’s bill to establish this commission has the potential to create a structured forum for investigation and debate. Of course, this is Congress, so let’s not assume it’ll happen quite so idyllically.
William Timmons (R; SC-4)
Covid Just Won’t End
William hosted a business brunch this week where he voiced frustration that the pandemic continues to rage. He did encourage constituents to get vaccinated, but noted that he believes the decision is a personal choice. “We are just in a really bad spot,” he said. William also made a point to encourage vaccinated folks living on unemployment benefits to get back to work. As Delta surges around the country and especially in William’s state, what can be done to get more people vaccinated?
Josh Hawley (R; MO)
Cold, Hard ICE
Josh and a group of other Republican Senators wrote a letter to the DHS Secretary last week. They argued that Biden’s new border policies make it difficult for ICE officers to make arrests in the field, leading to a sharp drop in the number of apprehensions and arrests. It seems there’s always a crisis at the southern border these days, and Josh wants ICE to have the teeth to stop “criminal aliens” that cross illegally. As the immigration debate perpetually rages, ICE is once again at the center of the controversy.
Mondaire Jones (D; NY-17)
Channeling John Lewis
Mondaire managed to get his voting rights bill with fellow PP leader Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) incorporated into the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, not a small accomplishment. Voter suppression is on the rise thanks to disproven concerns from the right that the 2020 election was stolen. The Voting Rights Act of 1964 has been slowly eroded over the years, and as a result black and brown voters no longer have the same protections that they used to. Luckily, a number of lawmakers in the House are trying to push back, and Mondaire is personally involved in the fight. After all, to channel John Lewis, you can’t take anything lying down.
Nikema Williams (D; GA-5)
Voting Rights FTW!
Nikema proudly cosponsored the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act that was introduced last week. Like many lawmakers on the Hill, Nikema is worried about the growing wave of voter suppression that’s currently sweeping state and local governments. The bill would reinstate federal oversight of states with a history of voting rights violations, something lost after the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court Decision. “There are not two sides to this issue. You are either on the side of our democracy or you aren’t,” she said. And she’s right, it is hard to argue with voting rights.
Lauren Boebert (R; CO-3)
Reminder: Venmo Transactions are Public Information
Lauren’s campaign is under scrutiny this week after suspicious payments were made to her personal Venmo account from her campaign. She maintains that the payments were sent in error and have been reimbursed, but the FEC warned that if she could not provide prompt proof, she could face legal action. Uh-oh! It seems like the Venmo transactions of our political leaders keep raising questions, so perhaps it’s time for a little reminder: Venmo isn’t encrypted, people. Transactions there are practically public knowledge. Now let’s just hope Lauren didn’t use any of that funding for “school tuition” *cough cough* Matt Gaetz.
Tracey Mann (R; KS-1)
Biden Gets the Blame
Like many lawmakers this week, Tracey shared his thoughts about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He came down hard on Biden, arguing that the president was neglectful and near-sighted. “The world became less safe this week,” he said. As lawmakers in Washington scramble during the wake of the American withdrawal, it seems everyone has something to be upset about.
Andrew Garbarino (R; NY-2)
Cuomo No Mo’
Andrew joined other Long Island lawmakers and commented this week on Governor Cuomo’s recent resignation. Cuomo stepped down after an investigation found that he sexually assaulted or harassed a number of women while in office. Andrew said that Cuomo’s “actions made him unfit to lead” and that his resignation “is the best thing for the people of New York.” It seems the #MeToo movement hasn’t faded away; sexual predators are still being weeded out of positions of public leadership, and for that we can be grateful!
Julia Letlow (R; LA-5)
In Defense of Windfalls
If you’re younger than retirement age, you might not know about the Windfall Elimination Provision. It’s an obscure program that can reduce the size of Social Security or disability benefits for retirees who receive a pension from a job in which they did not pay Social Security taxes. Wonky, we know. But Julia took to Twitter recently to speak out against the WEP. “Many hard-working Americans & Louisianans dedicated their lives to public service. Yet, the federal government penalizes them under the … WEP,” she Tweeted. What’s your take, should the provision be eliminated?