THE COMPLETE 14 PERCENT: Mace in the Hole

The full rundown from our December 3, 2021 newsletter.

Chanikarn Thongsupa

LBJ Library

Brendan Smialowski, Agence France-Presse

The Blog
The Blog

THE COMPLETE 14 PERCENT: Mace in the Hole

Colin Allred (D; TX-32)

All In On Taiwan

Though Taiwan is technically an independent nation, China still considers it to be part of its territory. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the U.S. and China aren’t buddy-buddy these days, so Colin’s visit, along with a bipartisan delegation that included other PP leaders Sara Jacbos (D-CA) and Nancy Mace (R-SC), to Taiwan on their Thanksgiving Asia trip was significant. Colin reaffirmed America’s commitment to Taiwan’s self-determination and that “The U.S. must stand firm and gather the world in defense of a rules-based international order where human rights, the right to self-determination and freedom of expression and commerce are protected.”

Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)

Not So Ulterior Motives

We are in the midst of some heavy gerrymandering debates taking place around the country as state legislatures and independent committees redistrict U.S. Congressional maps. And Sharice, the only Democratic representative from Kansas, had a thing or two to say about it. “There are leaders in the Kansas Legislature who have explicitly stated their motivation to gerrymander maps to their party’s political advantage,” she said after Kansas Republicans expressed desire to shift the district maps to purposely undermine Sharice’s re-election. Do you think we should have a federal redistricting law?

Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)

Senate Shake Up

The crowded race for the soon-to-be-open Senate seat in Pennsylvania is heating up in some twisty turny ways. Though Conor and other Dems vying for the seat have thus far created very little drama, the same cannot be said for their potential opponents. Last week, Sean Parnell, the Trump-endorsed candidate, dropped out of the race after it came to light that he had lost custody of his kids (yikes). THEN this week, TV personality Dr. Oz announced his candidacy for the Republican seat. The seat will be pivotal to determine which party could control the Senate so keep an eye out for more drama!

Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)

A Fine Line

“We should all be able to agree that the world would be safer if we get rid of nuclear weapons,” Seth wrote in a recent article he published in The Hill. As Biden heads into a meeting on nuclear policy this month, Seth wanted to make his position clear – that the U.S. should push for diplomatic agreements with other nuclear weapons holders like China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran, but it should NOT declare a ‘no first use’ doctrine. A ‘no first use’ doctrine would be a pledge from America to only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack – not as the aggressor. But, Seth argues (perhaps in conflict with many in his party) that doing so weakens the U.S. position worldwide. Do you agree with him?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)

KKKevin

After her fellow member of the Squad and Congressional bestie Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was attacked by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), AOC sprung into action. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was notably inactive on the issue, not acting to hold Boebert accountable for her words and actions. And, doing what she does best, AOC was able to craft the perfectly inflammatory tweet saying that “Kevin McCarthy is so desperate to be speaker that he is working with his Ku Klux Klan caucus to look aside & allow violent targeting of woc members of Congress.”

Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)

Hello Mr. President

After the Democrats’ lost the governorship of Virginia, Abigail went on the offensive, saying that America did not elect President Biden to be FDR. Those remarks went public and sparked a lot of controversy in the party, but what wasn’t known until recently was that right after she said it, the President called her. After they both acknowledged the others “good sense of humor”, Abigail was sure to publicly clarify what she meant – that though many Americans will like Biden’s policies, the complete upheaval he is pushing is not the stabilizing force that most Democrats, Independents, and Republicans who voted for him want. “That bit of normalcy, that stopping of the chaos, I think, is, you know, when it comes down to it, a major motivator for so many people who voted for him,” she said.

Rashida Tlaib (D; MI-13)

Give Me a BOOST

“Nearly half of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency expense,” Rashida said in announcing the reintroduction of the BOOST Act which would give families up to $6,000 through a refundable tax credit that can be paid monthly. The act, she says, would lift more than 3 million children and 9 million families out of poverty and builds on the work of the American Rescue Plan and Build Back Better Act. The bill has 13 Democratic co-sponsors and though it’s not clear yet how it would be paid for, we’re sure Republicans will have something to say about that.

Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)

Leading the Charge

It’s no surprise that Republicans are not pleased with Biden’s vaccine mandates, specifically the one regarding private businesses of more than 100 people. Mike is leading the charge in this fight by introducing the Congressional Review Act to formally nullify the mandate on private businesses. The mandate will affect more than 80 million Americans and impose $14,000 fines on companies or persons who don’t comply. “Presidential authorities are not limitless,” Mike said.

Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)

They Might be Cute But…

It’s undeniable that sea lions are pretty darn cute, but legislation that Jaime introduced back in 2017 put that aside and focuses on the fish they eat instead. Her sea lion removal legislation, which she got positive updates on this past week, is helping to restore native fish numbers in and around her southwest Washington district. This was all done with the fishing industry and preservation of various species in mind, but we won’t go too deep into what ‘removal’ means… eek.

Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)

It’s Gonna Be Me

Adam’s national profile, let’s just say, shot up in the past year as he openly criticized former President Trump, launched his own PAC, and bowed out of his House reelection race. We knew he wouldn’t stay out of the game for long, though, and has hinted that he’s looking at a run for either Illinois governor or Senator next year. Recognizing how difficult the primary portion of the race will be for an anti-Trump candidate, his confidence doesn’t seem to have taken a hit. “If I ran for governor, I think I’m the only candidate that could win, at least that’s out there now,” he said.

Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)

Testing Time

Immigration is sure to be one of the hottest campaign issues for Republicans come next year (which is… right around the corner?? Omg). But, what do you get when you cross immigration with Covid – an even greater crisis! Guy joined 50 of his GOP colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden demanding a plan on how the Dept. of Homeland Security will test every migrant at the southern border. Letting these migrants go untested is, the letter says, hypocritical to the rest of the administration’s Covid standards and requirements. Do you think we can make headway in this double doozy of a crisis?

Greg Steube (R; FL-17)

bOILing Over

We’ve all experienced the pain of filling our car with gas recently (unless you’re rocking a plug-in these days) and in an interview recently on Fox Business, Greg emphasized the looming energy crisis ahead of us. After criticizing Energy Sec. Granholm for not knowing how many barrels of oil a day the U.S. uses (he says it’s 18 million) he chastised the Biden administration for only looking for a temporary fix with a small increase in oil production. Greg is joining the Republican chorus that is on the offensive about how the shutdown of domestic oil production and closure of pipelines is contributing to the high prices we’re seeing on a daily basis. What do you think is at the root of the issues?

Tom Cotton (R; AK)

Bulls in a China Shop

Tom is one of the staunchest China hawks out there – it seems every week comes with a new piece of legislation or messaging from him against the Chinese government. And this week is no different! He joined a small group of Republican senators in writing to Commerce Sec. Raimondo urging the department to blacklist Chinese AI companies that help arm the People’s Liberation Army. This would mean identifying and stopping the flow of American technologies, exports, and investments to Chinese AI companies. Both Democrats and Republicans are concerned about our national security as it relates to China, but can we make progress here?

Ritchie Torres (D; NY-15)

I Scream You Scream

Well, we never thought we’d be talking about ice cream and Middle East politics in the same sentence, but here we are. Ritchie and a bipartisan group of colleagues, including fellow PP leader Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) have written to the SEC regarding Ben & Jerry’s recent decision to stop selling ice cream in parts of Israel after the Israel-Palestinian conflict escalated earlier this year. The letter addresses the fact that Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerrys, needs to amend its regulatory filing to reflect the risks to its shareholders in the aftermath of the decision. Who knew ice cream would get so technical…

Jamaal Bowman (D; NY-16)

He CARES

We have to throw some respect to Jamaal who put his own spin on Thanksgiving week and conducted a “Week of Healing” in his district. As part of it, he took time to highlight the CARES program, which is a program available for 14-19-year-olds who need mental health and substance abuse resources. “If we give young people the tools to care about themselves and others more, we can change the trajectory of their lives and our world,” he said in an effort to collaborate with local leaders on how to best use community resources. We love seeing members of Congress taking time to really focus on local needs!

Cori Bush (D; MO-1)

F**k the Fearmongering

Imagine if you received a panic-inducing letter from your heating utility threatening to shut off your heat for financial reasons just as we head into the winter season… and you live in St. Louis. Well, this is exactly what Spire Inc., a heating utility did, causing panic among many customers who might be struggling to keep up with bills. Cori sprung into action and demanded answers from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who labeled Spire’s communications as “highly inappropriate” and assured Cori’s constituents that “not one single household loses services this winter”. Lesson here – if you think you’re being wronged by a company in your community, call your congressperson and demand their help.

David Valadao (R; CA-21)

Losing Patience at the Port

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a major backup at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach. David, who represents the agriculture-rich central valley, did an interview to outline how that logjam is impacting farmers and food exports from his region. The farmers, he says, are sending trucks to the port and the trucks are being turned away. The backups raise prices for farmers which, in turn, raise prices for consumers. All in all, David is calling on the state and federal government to implement regulations at the port and encouraging politicians to communicate more effectively with port managers. At this point, anything that can be done should be done!

Kat Cammack (R; FL-3)

Not Quite a Wedding Registry

Kat, like most Republicans, always has the second amendment top of mind and joined a group of 51 colleagues in opposition to a proposed rule that would give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) more information about American’s guns. Though nothing has come to fruition yet, the group is concerned that as the ATF gathers more gun records it is setting the stage for a national gun registry. The letter pointed out that Congress previously passed an act that would prohibit the ATF from creating any sort of federal database with its funding. Do you think the ATF is up to something sneaky or is Kat jumping the *gun* on this one?

Byron Donalds (R;FL-19)

Something We Can All Agree On?

While Byron has been sure to make his opposition to the Build Back Better Act known in recent days, he also took time to discuss some Florida-related issues that should be pretty bipartisan. In an interview, he touted the importance of water quality to FL communities and noted that recent projects are laying the groundwork for more progress in the area. He also talked about the importance of supporting small business and the need for better housing strategy. Specifically, he says, local zoning needs to be better understood to plan for better low-income housing projects. All in all, we like how he’s keeping it local and trying to find practical, community-focused solutions!

Ashley Hinson (R; IA-1)

Feeling Fueled

The price of gas is top of mind for many Americans right now, but Ashley is also addressing another element at the gas pump – the regulations around the gas itself. She and a group of bipartisan colleagues introduced the Defend the Blend Act which would prohibit the EPA from retroactively regulating biofuel blending requirements (what’s in the gas). This issue is particularly important to Iowans as Iowa produces much of the biofuel and ethanol that’s added to our gas. Their goal is to establish certainty in the industry and not allow the EPA to get all wishy washy on local producers. Something to keep in mind next time you’re at the pump!

Victoria Spartz (R; IN-5)

A Bit More Time

As citizens and politicians alike try to keep up with combating the opioid crisis, the introduction of seemingly common sense legislation is always heartening. Victoria joined a group of colleagues to introduce the IMPACT Act which would extend the time a physician may hold long-acting injectable buprenorphine (medication for opioid use disorder) from 14 days to 60 days. Simple logistics make the 14-day time limit a barrier for treatment. With this legislation, their hope is that the physician can administer improved continuity of care and treatment of opioid users. Perhaps a small battle to be won in a much larger war.

Tony Gonzales (R; TX-23)

Not on Your Christmas List

A new pair of shoes, an iPhone, perhaps tickets to a concert – these are all things that might end up on your holiday gift list. But we’re going to bed that ransomware attacks are not making the cut. However, the federal government is warning companies and organizations to be extra diligent this holiday season after multiple attacks during previous holiday seasons. Tony is not having it, tweeting that our cybersecurity needs an update! We couldn’t agree more on this overwhelmingly bipartisan issue and are excited to see what some of our young politicians have in store for this fight in 2022 after they get that new pair of shoes…

Blake Moore (R; UT-1)

Oiling Up

Blake joins a chorus of Republicans pointing a finger at Biden’s policies for high gas policies. He recently went on a local radio show to discuss why he thinks the administration is mishandling this inflation crisis so poorly. After Biden announced he would tap 50 million barrels from our emergency oil reserve, Blake said that “the only emergency here is President Biden’s approval rating.” Along with that burn, Blake pointed to the more substantial and perhaps hypocritical issue – that the Biden administration has set the goal of energy independence while also shutting down pipelines and now, tapping into the emergency reserve. Do you think Republicans are overreacting or is Biden really trying to have it both ways?

August Pfluger (R; TX-11)

Loosen His Grip

As the energy crisis heats up (no pun intended) around the world, August is criticizing the Biden administration for failing to follow through on commitments from the Trump administration to bolster private sector investment in the region. By allowing more private investment, he says, the U.S. will be able to loosen Putin’s grip on the region and empower American energy producers and our allies. Are you concerned about Russia’s energy capabilities?

Melanie Stansbury (D, NM,1)

Un-Miss the Missing

One of Melanie’s big campaign focuses was around the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women around the country, and specifically in New Mexico. In a recent interview, she laid out the progress the federal government is making in addressing this historically overlooked issue. There’s an appropriations bill and an initiative from Interior Sec. Deb Haaland that would give even more resources to the fight. Additionally, Melanie emphasized the importance of the Senate passing the Violence Against Women Act which includes important language on the issue. New Mexico has the highest rate of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives in the country so we’re sure Melanie isn’t going to drop the ball on this one.

Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)

Corporation Commission

You may have forgotten that Pete is one of the seven Democrats on the January 6th Committee, but that is why we are here. This week made some big news because Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows is “cooperating” with them. Pete said that Meadows might have a “minor claim” to executive privilege over some conversations but emphasized the committee has questions for him that “have nothing to do with the conversations he had directly with the President.” Do you agree with Pete?

Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)

Got Debt?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, except Congress has a December 15th government shutdown deadline. What? Again? In October Democrats passed a short-term extension, but now it’s knocking on the door. Fun Fact, since WWII, Congress has passed nearly 100 debt limit modifications. Brendan was one of the few to try and change the process by introducing a measure that would abolish the debt limit and transfer authority to the Treasury Secretary, though Congress would still be able to override the decision. He might have a point if we have done this 100 times in the last 50 years.

Jared Golden (D; ME-2)

15 Minutes of Fame

Who was the most talked about Democrat last week? Well, it was Jared of course after he was the only Democrat to vote against the Build Back Better act. As you can imagine there was some praise, but also a lot of hate. Jared’s reasoning was that he felt Democrats can “do better” than what was already included in the social spending package, but he did not rule out voting for it after the Senate votes on it. Jared is known as a “Centrist Democrat”, and this isn’t the first time he has not voted in line with his party. Will Jared become the new Kyrsten Sinema? We are waiting in anticipation. 😊

Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)

Open the Afghanistan Books

Did I hear bipartisan? That is right? Andy is teaming up with PP leader Peter Meijer (R-MI) to introduce the Afghanistan War Commission Act to create a non-partisan, independent commission that would conduct a comprehensive examination of the war on Afghanistan. The commission will examine all aspects of the war, including combat operations, intelligence actions, diplomatic activities, and interagency coordination and would span all U.S. government agencies, such as the Department of Defense, State, Intelligence Community and NATO allies. Seems pretty legit…do you think all of these agencies will cooperate?

Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)

Next Available Appointment in 6 Months

Has anyone recently had an issue getting an appointment with the doctor? Well sadly many who are suffering from mental health issues are having a hard time. Approximately one third of Coloradans with mental health issues said they had an issue getting an appointment. This is why Joe introduced bipartisan legislation to expand interstates access to mental health resources. The Compacts, Access and Responsible Expansion (CARE) for Mental Health Professionals Act would establish a grant program to incentivize interstate mental health providers networks, thereby expanding mental health professional networks and availability in rural communities. Thanks Joe, we think everyone can use a dose of mental health help!

Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)

Abortion 180

On December 1, the Supreme Court began oral arguments on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in what some say is the most influential abortion case in the last 50 years. A decision could pave the way for states to criminalize abortions. The case centers around the 2018 Mississippi state law that banned abortion operations after 15 weeks of pregnancy. If the Court overturns Roe v. Wade, eighteen states will immediately ban abortions in their state. Chris and some of his Democratic colleagues hosted a virtual press conference to discuss the ramifications of these laws, as some women have traveled all the way from Texas to New Hampshire to have an abortion.

Darren Soto (D; FL-9)

Squiggly Redistricting Lines

Florida unveiled their redistricting proposals this week and yep you guessed it, Republicans will boost their chances of claiming more Florida seats. Unfortunately, this is how the system works andis why many feel there should be a federal mandate, so we do not have these changes every Census cycle. Three Democrat seats will now be combined into two which are currently held by Darren, Stephanie Murphy, and Val Demings. Demings is running for Senate, but the redistricting really knocks out PP Leader Stephanie’s seat, who some might say is the strongest Democrat out of the three.

Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)

What’s Your Crypto Wallet?

Are you invested in crypto? Eric joined his Republican colleagues to make sure that there is legislation to provide clarity around digital asset reporting provisions. The Keep Innovation in America Act will fix the digital asset reporting provisions in the Infrastructure Investment Act and provide clarity for technology innovators and entrepreneurs. Eric and other PP leaders like Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) are supporters. Hopefully this legislation helps the U.S. stay ahead of the blockchain game.

Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)

Celebrate MOMnibus!

This week was the first bill signing ceremony for Lauren and it was extra special because it was one of the bills that she introduced. The bipartisan Protecting Moms Who Serve Act is one of 12 bills in the Momnibus package to address the maternal health crisis in America. The act ensures that veterans receive high quality maternal health care and support. This is step one of 12 so we expect to see more of these signed into law. Check out her announcement on her Instagram where she expresses her genuine excitement for the day!

Jim Banks (R; IN-3)

Euros, Yuan, and Riyal…Oh My!

Tracing foreign funds back to political sources is a hot topic right now. Jim is proposing a new rule that would require any person appearing before Congress disclose whether they have received any foreign funding before providing any testimony. A study was released that showed between 2014-2018 there was ~$174 million that funded various Washington D.C. think tanks. It seems like Jim should take this a step further and be asking if they have received any foreign funding in the last 10 years.

Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)

Uncle Matt Wants You

As many of us watched the Rittenhouse verdict be read, some thought that it would be the end of the book. But none other than our Surpriser in Chief, Matt Gaetz, said he believes that Rittenhouse is innocent and would consider hiring him as a congressional intern. But it looks like Matt has some competition with other PP Republican leaders Lauren Boebert (CO) and Madison Cawthorn (NC) who both offered a Congressional intern to him. Well, Mr. Rittenhouse, are you going to be working on the Hill?

Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)

Taking On the Big Guys

Under current law, U.S. pharmaceutical companies are immune from liability if a recipient of their vaccine experiences medical complications. Lance wants to change that and introduced legislation to hold Big PhRMA accountable if someone experiences negative side effects. Lance said “I believe every American should be able to hold a company accountable if they are harmed by their product, but especially if they are mandated to take that product to keep their job.” But in reality could someone financially fight Big PhRMA?

Dusty Johnson (R; SD)

That Extra Dough

A cool 100 co-sponsors have signed on to Dusty’s infrastructure bill, the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act. Say that name five times over. Dusty’s bill would make various infrastructure investments eligible for payment with unspent COVID-19 relief funds. With the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and potentially this bill, we might see more money flow into infrastructure. We must applaud Dusty, since starting Political Playlist, he has been consistent in introducing bills that are common sense and good for the American people.

Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)

Measure My Methane

Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry employs ~400,000 workers across the state…that is a big number. Mark and his Oklahoma colleagues sent a letter to the head of the EPA asking them to extend the public comment by 60-days for the EPA’s proposed rule to directly regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. Markwayne’s issue is that this new rule will have a large effect on the industry and hurt the small business owners and workers. The current deadline is January 14, 2022…do you think they will find a mutual solution?

Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)

Slow Down, Brother

A lot of money just got approved for infrastructure and potential spending bills. The question is, will this money be issued and used appropriately? Many watchdogs groups are calling on there to be more transparency from the government. Bryan agrees that way too much is trying to be done and instead there needs to be “stop this spending bill.” He believes this spending will move us in the wrong direction…do you agree with him?

Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)

Book Your Flights!

Pack your bags, we’re going to the U.S. Lee, along with his bipartisan colleagues and PP leader Brian Mast (R-NY) wrote a letter to the Secretary of State and Homeland Security to encourage them to add Israel into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If added, it allows citizens and nationals from various countries to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. Other countries who are part of this program are Australia, South Korea, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Singapore, Taiwan, France, and Greece to name a few. There are over 400,000 Israelis who travel to the U.S. each year accounting for $1.2 billion in spending. Do you have any relatives in Israel?

Kyrsten Sinema (D; AZ)

On Her Way Up?

We might not know until election time, but Kyrsten has reason to celebrate after the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package. Afterwards she was interviewed (which she rarely does) and said “Keep telling me what you think. I appreciate it.” Like a good politician state farm is there… but in all seriousness she focused on turning her attention to making sure the implementation is carried out correctly. She led a roundtable discussion with Transportation Secretary Buttigieg and AZ Senator Mark Kelly saying, “Our historic legislation strengthens Arizona’s—and America’s—competitiveness by making significant investments to modernize and bolster our infrastructure, helping fix our supply chain challenges and create jobs across Arizona.” Two gold stars for Kyrsten.

Jake Auchincloss (D; MA-4)

Scared of SCOTUS

The SCOTUS opening arguments related to the Mississippi abortion laws is major news. We have seen many of our young leaders out on the steps campaigning for both sides. Jake took to his twitter to record a video about the importance of upholding Roe v. Wade and even more importantly putting pressure on the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would give equal access to abortion care. Do you agree with Jake and do you think this act will pass the Senate if SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade?

Sara Jacobs (D; CA-53)

Taiwan or China? Pick Now

Nothing like a trip to bond some of our young members of Congress. Sara, along with 5 of her colleagues including PP leaders Elissa Slotkin (MI), Nancy Mace (SC) and Colin Allred (TX) traveled to East Asia. First, they went to Japan and South Korea where they served Thanksgiving dinner and then to Taiwan to meet with the island’s defense ministry. China has stepped up its military presence in the region causing Taiwan to be the center of discussion. But what many don’t realize is the U.S. like most countries has no official ties with Taiwan, but much to China’s dismay, the U.S. is their strongest and most supportive international backer and arms supplier. Taiwan is only officially recognized as the Republic of China by 15 countries. Wow.

Madison Cawthorn (R; NC-11)

Flying High

Sadly, public flight schools would charge exorbitant amounts of money to veterans and taxpayers for flight school. Madison teamed up with PP Leader Lauren Underwood (D-IL) to introduce the Fly Vets Act to end this loophole in the G.I. Bill. Madison and Lauren are working to make sure our vets and taxpayers are no longer exploited. And in other news, Madison offered an internship to Kyle Rittenhouse, as did other PP Republicans Lauren Boebert (CO) and Matt Gaetz (FL). What do you think?

Peter Meijer (R; MI-3)

Man About the Capitol

Great to see Peter working across the aisle so much in his freshman year. First, Peter is teaming up with PP leader Andy Kim (D-NJ) to introduce a bill to create a nonpartisan Afghanistan War Commission Act of 2021 that would conduct a comprehensive examination of the War in Afghanistan. We will be talking bets on how many pages you think this might be. As well, Peter joined PP leader Ro Khanna (D-CA) to introduce legislation to protect Americans against warrantless searches of their data generated and stored in their vehicles. The Closing Warrantless Digital Car Search Loophole Act would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant to search automobile data. We are loving both pieces of legislation.

Jake LaTurner (R; KS-2)

Awkkkkward

We keep hearing that gerrymandering word! Kansas is creating a new congressional map and Republican state leaders have openly expressed they will draw that map to their party’s advantage. Unfortunately that means someone like PP leader Sharice Davids (D) could get booted out, but even Republican leaders like Jake could find themselves in an awkward spot. While Jake will probably be safe due to being a Republican, his district might now include various parts of other districts. All of this makes us wonder, should there be a federal law that takes into account gerrymandering?

Nancy Mace (R; SC-1)

Cockadoodledo

Many politicians are calling on the U.S. Postal Service to crack down on illegal animal-fighting shipments. You heard that right. Investigations showed that thousands of fighting roosters are shipped annually throughout the U.S. and in the last four years over 10,000 birds have been shipped to Guam. Nancy led a letter to the United States Postal Inspection Service calling out these issues. Since 2002, the U.S. has prohibited any interstate or foreign transport of animals for fighting purposes. Felony-level penalties for those crimes were established by Congress in 2007, including a provision that specifically prohibits any person from using the US Postal Service to promote or further any animal fighting venture. Seems hard to miss a rooster in transit, but hopefully Nancy can move the needle for these cockadoodle-dudes.

Nicole Malliotakis (R; NY-11)

School Referees

Calling on all parents! Nicole teamed up with PP leader Julia Letlow (R-LA) and nearly 80 Republicans to introduce the Parents Bill of Rights Act that would put practices in place to facilitate dialogue between families and schools, allowing parents to have more input throughout the learning process, and establish more transparency and accountability. As we have seen many videos from school board meetings with angry parents, the U.S. Justice Department issued a memo to the FBI likening concerned parents to domestic terrorists! You can imagine this act revolves around what is being taught in some schools or proposed in others (like critical race theory). Do you think schools will welcome this intermediary dialogue?

Jon Ossoff (D; GA)

Train the Future

Love to hear about more JOBS. Jon teamed up with Republican Senator Tim Scott to prepare HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) students for job opportunities in the national security field. The bipartisan HBCU National Security Innovation Act will connect HBCU students with national security programs in the defense industry and private sector to prepare them for competitive jobs. Jon has been a champion for HBCU’s and delivered $250+ million to Georgia’s HBCU’s. On top of this, Jon is also working to pass his bipartisan Cybersecurity Opportunity act which would expand cybersecurity training programs at HCBU’s. Love to see this support for HBCU students.

Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA-44)

A Cleaner Future

When Nanette joined the Political Playlist team for a podcast discussion on issues her district faces, one of them was environmental inequality. She elaborated on this, describing a growing disparity in air quality and clean drinking water between wealthy communities and more low-income communities, much of which her district qualifies. But one of the precise goals of the Biden Infrastructure bill is to target districts like Nanette’s and help flatten that curve of environmental inequality, starting with lead pipe replacement. Nanette took to twitter highlighting the 5.3 million lead service lines in her district alone that will be replaced by this new bill, and that’s just the start. Let the digging begin!

Jason Crow (D; CO-4)

The Law Must Stand

The Supreme Court this week heard oral arguments in what is perhaps the most direct challenge to the law of Roe v. Wade since its passage. The issue at hand concerns a newly enacted law in Mississippi which bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Jason weighed in on the issue, saying that “Roe v. Wade must stand.” He went on to say that this case is about protecting healthcare and upholding established law. Unsurprisingly, this remains perhaps the most divisive issue among our political leaders, ergo our country writ large. Where does this issue rank among your political priorities?

Antonio Delgado (D: NY-19)

Santa Responded To My Letter!

Well, not exactly, but in the world of politics, when the President of the United States responds to your letter, it kind of is like Santa writing back. In Antonio’s case, he and several colleagues wrote to President Biden urging him to tap our oil reserves in order to help curb escalating gas and home heating costs due to the rising spike in inflation. Whether by listening or by chance, the President decided to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which many say will immediately stabilize the market. However, it should be noted that those same experts caution against this as a long-term strategy, but that’s for another day. For today, the takeaway is simple: Ask and ye shall receive!

Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)

Do You have iWater?

That would actually be smart water, legislatively speaking, and it’s potentially coming to a faucet near you thanks to Ruben and his new Water Infrastructure Modernization Act. The bipartisan bill looks to provide grant funding to invest in smart water technologies, which monitor water loss and collect critical data surrounding water resiliency. Essentially, this is all a fancy way of saying that water remains one of our most critical resources and it only makes sense that we synergize the latest technologies to maximize it. Anyone who lives in a state plagued by droughts—ahem, Cali fresh over here—knows just how precious our custodianship on this matter truly is.

Josh Harder (D; CA-10)

He’s Still In The Job?

That would be Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who last year courted perhaps the most controversy ever by a postmaster general. Nevertheless, the pattern continues and now Josh is calling him out by way of a letter demanding that DeJoy reverse the USPS service delays and price hikes he recently implemented. Just last month, the DeJoy raised prices on domestic parcels by up to 5 bucks, whilst slowing First Class male from a three day delivery window to a five day window. With Christmas and other holidays right around the corner, this is not exactly terrific news. Gifts aside, this is even worse news for folks who depend on the post office to receive prescription medications. But the real question in all of this is: How the F%#$ does this DeJoy guy still have a job? Let’s get Kevin Costner instead, pretty sure he did a movie about delivering mail.

Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)

We Got Beef

Here’s a statistic to chew on as you much away on thanksgiving leftovers: roughly 59,000 meatpacking workers at the major food supply companies have contracted Covid-19 during this pandemic. That is to say that our food supply systems are badly damaged and the treatment and protections of its workers even worse. Ro has stepped in with a new bill that looks to provide stronger workplace protections for meat and poultry processing workers. Furthermore, it would look to make systemic reforms such as creating a fair market that allows independent farmers and ranchers equal competition opportunities against the big food giants. There’s plenty of minutia to sift through on a closer read but generally speaking, it seems like we want the people handling our food to be handled well too.

Mike Levin (D; CA-49)

Military Unpreparedness?

That’s about the last thing anyone from the Pentagon wants to admit, but apparently there’s a senior Pentagon official who feels otherwise. Mike took to twitter to amplify the official’s warning saying that the US Military is “not ready” to handle climate change and all the threats it poses to our military. Yikes. The report which Mike referred to says that the Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks believes the biggest discrepancy is in the production of lithium-ion batteries, used to make electric vehicles. She says China now dominates that supply chain and the fear is that dominance may be irreversible. Mike tied it all back to the need for the Build Back Better Act to pass, arguing that its investments in climate-focused national security areas is fundamental to us remaining prepared for the future.

Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)

Watch Your Backs, Swingers!

Not sure if “swingers” can be used when referring to elected officials in swing districts, but dammit we’re going to use it, and we’ll use it proudly. The “swinger” in question here is Stephanie, a moderate Dem as you hopefully know by now, and the aggressor is the organization Americans for Prosperity. They are targeting Stephanie after her recent vote for the Build Back Better bill, and she’s not their only target. They’re going after 14 other congressional reps in districts like Stephanie’s with heavily critical ads. In a tweet, Stephanie put it succinctly by saying “I’m never one to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.” Let’s now take a moment to enjoy this rarely-seen pragmatism from Washington.

Ilhan Omar (D; MN-5)

Oh Me, Omar, Oh My!

Frankly, we all know that Ilhan has a knack for finding her way to the center of controversies, but this one seems to serve as Exhibit A vis a vis our last newsletter calling for a Congressional Code Of Conduct. It all began after fellow under-45er Lauren Boebert made a viral video that contained some anti-Muslim remarks—remarks that she has repeatedly used with regard to Ilhan at fundraisers. There was then the attempt at reconciliation in the way of a phone call that ended in Ilhan hanging up—though both sides dispute how it all went down. Suffice it to say that these blatantly bigoted remarks drew criticism from many lawmakers on all sides of the aisle but the real question is, at what point will people say enough is enough?

Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)

Angry Voicemails

Nobody likes an angry voicemail, but it might be kind of fun to get one from the Chinese Embassy, am I right? Kidding aside, that’s precisely what Elissa’s office received upon news breaking about her quick stop-off in Taiwan. She was partaking in a larger overseas trip, which included spending Thanksgiving with U.S. Troops in South Korea. The stop in Taiwan was to meet with Government officials which naturally rankled Chinese officials. While tensions in the region continue to grow, the meet-and-greet was billed under the veil of the auto industry. In tweeting out all of this “gossip dejour” as PP’s Co-founder Anna likes to say, Elissa remarked that the auto industry’s largest supplier of microchips is here. And since Elissa hails from Michigan, this seems like a worthwhile visit, irrespective of whatever other issues the former CIA officer may have discussed.

Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)

Ohhh Caaann__naaddda!

Please, please, please start talking to them, President Biden!—or so was the jist of Haley’s letter to number 46. She and a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers are making the case to begin talks with the Canadian government that is radioactive, to say the least. There is a proposal for a permanent repository for radioactive waste near Lake Huron. This is potentially bad for all the obvious reasons and Haley is pressing Biden to urge opposition during his meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau. Incidentally, there’s some precedent here too. Back in 1980, the US was exploring potential storage sites in what they term the “shared water basin” but Canada blocked it. Now Haley is urging the US to do the same. Seems logical to us!

Kelly Armstrong (R; ND)

Incomplete Sentences

The need for criminal justice reform is something that both parties agree on—though the how tends to be a touch more elusive. Nevertheless, something they do agree on is the need for sentencing reform and that begins with the bipartisan US Sentencing Commission. Except here’s the problem: not only has it not had a quorum since January 2019, but it also currently has six vacant seats out of its allotted seven! Kelly has formed a bipartisan coalition to urge President Biden to fill these vacancies immediately so the commission can get back to work. That work includes reducing sentencing disparities and reviewing various guidelines and proportionality, all in the name of transparency.
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Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)

Ride On The Merch Train

Admittedly, having fun on twitter sounds like an oxymoron but alas there’s a glimmer of hope that some fun can still be had on this Dorsey amoeba. Dan tweeted out about some merch he’s selling, specifically a hilarious t-shirt (in UT Austin Orange) that reads: Only Socialists Skip Leg Day. This of course being a reference to workout routines in the gym—and politics aside, one should never skip leg day, ever. Fellow Republican under-45er Brian Mast replied to the tweet asking Dan “who you calling a socialist?” It was all tongue in cheek because, if you don’t already know, Brian is a combat vet who lost both of his legs in the line of duty, for which he received a Purple Heart. Brian went on to encourage folks to pick up a T, and Dan tweeted back a few fire emojis. This all reminds us that POLITICAL PLAYLIST need to get on this merch train of our own.

Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)

Protect The Assets

Lately, the escalating tensions between the US and China feels like watching a car crash in slow motion, and one of the drivers is the issue of Taiwan sovereignty. China claims it as their own yet the US has had a longstanding policy to acknowledge the tiny island’s independence. Now, Anthony has introduced a bill that would require the US to seek Taiwan’s membership in the International Monetary Fund (IMF). What does this mean exactly? Well, the IMF effectively works to legitimize and stabilize global economies while promoting sustainable economic growth. If Taiwan were to join, it would further legitimize their claim, and by extension the US’s claim, that they are a sovereign nation, further irking China. The strategic goal here is to bolster the US-Taiwan relationship in an effort to protect against threats from China.

Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)

Challenge Accepted

This is about that time of year when the snow flurries of the changing seasons also bring with them a flurry of congressional challengers vying for the incumbent’s seat. Such is the case for Trey, who’s currently serving in his third term and faces reelection this coming November. The latest name to attempt a dethrone is democrat Matt Fyfe, a local math teacher and father of three. He’s running on all the Democratic platforms you’d expect, but this doesn’t seem to phase Trey. He’s focused on making sure we have an economy where “people’s wages are rising faster than prices.” That doesn’t exactly square up with Trey’s No Vote on the infrastructure bill, which will see a torrent of investment hit his district but what is clear is that Trey has a pretty good record for his fellow Hoosiers and he’ll be a hard one to beat.

Brian Mast (R; FL-18)

No Vaccination Nation

Oh, vaccine mandates. How they can foil the best of us. However, Brian is not going quietly into this night’s fight, having just introduced legislation to protect employee health privacy and fight vaccine mandates. Effectively the bill would prohibit employers from inquiring about an employee’s vaccine status. He’s even doubling down and calling this a new form of discrimination: “prejudice against the unvaccinated.” While everyone is entitled to make their own vaccine choices, the fact is science is science and the data suggests that Brian is regrettably on the wrong side of it. Vaccines have been saving lives and if you are anyone you know is wrestling with the choice to get vaccinated, our only suggestion would be that you seek out and follow the very best, credited medical science on the issue.

Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)

Protect The O.R.

Elise knows the financial challenges many rural hospitals face particularly when it comes to prescription drug affordability. That’s why she’s introduced bipartisan legislation which looks to protect hospitals from losing eligibility for the 340B drug pricing program. This program requires pharmaceutical companies to provide drugs at discounted prices to certain designated hospitals—often ones in rural areas facing financial hardships. Covid has only magnified this problem, and by extending and protecting their eligibility, they can continue to carry on the lifesaving work that they do—literally!

William Timmons (R; SC-4)

Churn And Burn

While the Congressional Marketing Department might not love it, the aforementioned title should probably be stamped on the brochure cover, because that describes the fatigue and turnover rate of most Congressional staffers. William sits on the Modernization Committee and after a recent study, the data surprised him. Staff averaged over 50 hour work weeks, which Will thought would balance out when their Congressperson was in the district, but that isn’t what the data showed. Furthermore, over half of the staffers are consistently looking for employment elsewhere. William has already lost 4 staffers to jobs that pay 50% to 100% more. It remains to be seen what his committee will offer up as a legislative combatant to his issue, but like so many of us, Congressional Staffers are def underpaid!

Mondaire Jones (D; NY-17)

Filibuster Breakup

Mondaire has had quite the eventful first year in Congress, as a recent local profile vividly portrayed. Among other things, Mondaire has been an ardent supporter of the Build Back Better bill, which he’s pushing harder than ever now following the passage of the infrastructure bill. But one thing stood out from the piece and that’s his newfound target: the filibuster. He didn’t mince words when he described it as an “anti-majoritarian Jim Crow relic…that blocks civil rights and economic legislation that’s in the best interest of the American people.” One of the notable recent victims of the filibuster has been the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which Mondaire has been a strong advocate for, and he says that many other meaningful pursuits will be doomed if the filibuster remains.

Josh Hawley (R; MO)

Low Key Sexist?

If you’re a male in the US, you have to register for the US Selective Service System—the Army draft—when you turn 18 years old. And this only included men until the recent Defense Spending Bill in September struck the word “male” from the stipulations and opened it up to all persons, male and female. Josh has now introduced an amendment to that bill that would NOT require women to sign up for the draft, rather allowing them the CHOICE to serve. He points to his sister, a Navy vet, who proudly served but at her own discretion. While plenty of women (and men) have zero interest in military service, this does present a larger question about equal rights. Is this furthering the cause of women or actually regressing back to an uneven playing field?

Nikema Williams (D; GA-5)

It Pays To Have Kids

Okay, maybe not always, like around the time they hand you a Christmas wish list longer than a CVS receipt. But in the case of parents in Nikema’s fifth district, this thanksgiving holiday was met with a few extra Benjamins, following proof-of-toddler. Thanks to Nikema’s hard work in advocating for the American Rescue Plan back in March, folks in her district saw a total of $32.4 million in tax credits put back in their pockets! Nikema announced that roughly 77,000 tax credits were sent out, covering nearly 125,000 children. Nationwide, the Treasury has disbursed roughly $16 billion for more than 61 million children. Hopefully all that extra gravy didn’t go to waste on black Friday and cyber Monday!

Lauren Boebert (R: CO-3)

Call It Like We See It

That’s exactly what we’re going to do here—we’re going to call out her recent conduct as flat out disgraceful. As many probably have seen by now, a video of Lauren went viral in which she made some anti-Muslimism comments directed at fellow under-45er Ilhan Omar. And while apologies could perhaps assuage a one-off, this has emerged as much more of a pattern. Several Republicans, including under-45er Nancy Mace vehemently condemned such rhetoric, thrusting her into her own twitter battle with none other than Marjorie Taylor Green. Under-45er Dan Crenshaw recently made clear in a tweet that there’s “a clear difference between freedom of speech and hate speech.” This isn’t intended to be criticism leveled at any of Lauren’s policies or positions. Simply, her conduct. And we feel it’s rather unbecoming of a Congresswoman many young voters look up to as a role model.

Tracey Mann (R; KS-1)

Let’s Caucus, Babey!

If you live in a major town or city, it’s often easy to overlook the vastness of the agriculture industry in our country. But thanks to Tracey, he’s looking out for the next generation of farm leaders by establishing a new bipartisan caucus in the House called the FFA Caucus. The role is simple: help foster the next generation of agriculture leaders and students pursuing agriculture, food and the related sciences. This caucus is born out of the National FFA which is a national youth organization with over 700,000 members. Now they’ll have a bit more clout in Congress, thanks to Tracey. This isn’t just a big win for Kansas’s ‘Big First’. It’s a win for future farmers across the map.

Andrew Garbarino (R; NY-2)

Today Isn’t That Rainy Day

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve—which many successfully lobbied President Biden to tap in the interest of curbing the soaring gas prices—is something of a last resort that many opposed, including Andrew. He led a letter to the President making the case that he should NOT tap this critical safety net but instead, reinvigorate domestic oil and gas production. The letter goes on to make the case that if we truly want lower prices at the pumps, then we must curtail our foreign energy reliance and return production to the homeland, most notably in the form of the Keystone XL pipeline. Many of Andrew’s fellow Republicans have been saying this for some time though it remains highly unlikely a Democratic administration will restart that endeavor. As for the letter, the President went ahead and tapped the SPR. We’ll see if our gas bills go down.

Julia Letlow (R; LA-5)

Necessary Overkill?

Just before Thanksgiving break, Julia introduced a bill that would enact a Parent’s Bill Of Rights. This comes following the nationwide tsunami of disagreement between parents and their children’s schoolboards…and with fellow parents. It’s masks one day, Critical Race Theory the next, but what it never seems to be is level-headed. Following the introduction of her bill, Julia now has 83 Republicans who have signed on as co-sponsors and this bill is surely not going anywhere, given the current climate. It’s hard to say whether or not this bill is absolutely necessary or complete overkill, but we’ll kick this to the parents out there. Do you feel you have enough say in your child’s education?