THE COMPLETE 14 PERCENT: Welcome to the Psychedelic Rehab
Colin Allred (D; TX-32)
For the average citizen, it’s impossible to understand the experience that military veterans go through when returning to home. Our most recent guest on Political Playlist Happy Hour, veteran Jon Lubecky described precisely how hard and mentally taxing this transition can be. Colin, who serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee is introducing bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would expand the peer specialist support program to all VA medical centers around the country, matching veterans struggling with mental health and other issues with fellow veterans. The expansion would be focused on rural areas and hiring peer specialists that reflect the demographics of the veteran population. Check out our convo with Jon about his mental health journey!
Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)
Betting on Baby
Two of Sharice’s constituents were shocked to receive a medical bill for over $270k after the birth of their daughter, despite having planned for the newborn to be covered under the mother’s insurance. It turns out that expecting parents with separate health insurance policies can be subject to an often undisclosed ‘birthday rule’ that allows insurers to assign which policy will cover a newborn. And parents, like those just mentioned, are often uninformed. Sharice went to work to fix this and has introduced the Empowering Parents’ Healthcare Choices Act which would give parents 60 days after the child’s birth to choose the insurance policy. Do you know anyone who’s fallen victim to the birthday rule?
Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)
Pennsylvania is a major energy center in the U.S. and Conor recently hosted Sec. of Energy Granholm and senior energy officials to discuss the state’s potential with regional stakeholders. “With the right investment this team can lead the world in low-carbon steel.” Granholm noted that the Biden administration is committed to bolstering American manufacturing and decarbonizing the industrial sector to secure global competitiveness. This is important news for Conor and his constituents, who are at the heart of not only potentially millions of jobs but also combating climate change. Do you think this agenda can succeed in a partisan climate? Pun intended.
Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)
Just before the Allies Act passed the House, which will ensure the processing of Afghan translators and other allies’ special visas, Seth took to the House floor to express his support for the bill. He noted that, typically, it takes 800 days for a special visa to be processed, though we withdraw from Afghanistan in less than 50 days. The math doesn’t lie, he said, “we’re out of time.” As a military veteran, like many other young members of Congress, he fought in the Middle East and knows the playing field there. Additionally, Seth reminded us that if we don’t get this measure passed and help these individuals who helped us, we will lose our ability to find allies in future conflicts. In last week’s newsletter and podcast episode, we posed the question if having more young veterans in Congress will change things – what do you think?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)
A recent study projected that 80% of households struggling with rental debt were in counties experiencing a surge in Covid cases. It is precisely for reasons like this that Alexandria is calling on the Biden administration to extend the current moratorium on evictions, which is set to expire on July 31st. She insists that “rental assistance funds have not gone out fast enough to protect people”. Other than obvious financial reasons, the fellow who conducted the study mentioned above seems to agree with AOC from a public health standpoint. “Letting county courts kick people onto the street next week is probably the worst Delta variant strategy I can think of.”
Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)
Listen to the People
Though it may seem like politicians in DC are sometimes living on a different planet, it’s important to recognize when they do, in fact, return to this one and chat directly with their constituents. Abigail hosted a telephone town hall with more than 8,800 central Virginians to discuss issues facing the region. The discussion focused on ideas that citizens had for improving the district and gave Abigail a chance to address the new Child Tax Credit payments, the opioid epidemic, rising drug costs and more. If you had a chance to speak directly to your member of Congress, what would you want to talk about?
Rashida Tlaib (D; MI-13)
As the only Palestinian member of Congress, Rashida makes sure to keep her home team in mind. Her most recent criticism is leveraged on the tax exemptions for organizations that operate in the disputed Israeli settlements. She claims that this is a violation of international law and U.S. federal tax law and calls on Treasury Sec. Yellen to end the tax exempt status. When her comments drew the inevitable Twitter criticism, she backed them up by pointing out that the American taxpayers are essentially paying for these organizations to be operational under the current tax-exempt status. Do you think that Rashida’s right to fight this issue or is this beyond her purview as a member of Congress?
Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)
Defend the Defendable
Mike co-chairs the Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force with fellow PP leader Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and recently released their final report, findings, and recommendations to address the weakened U.S. supply chain which, they note, poses a risk to economic and national security. The report focused on defense supply chains and, among other issues, how to enhance them so that adversaries like China don’t weaponize their vulnerabilities. In other security news, Mike testified before the Senate on how to address a different kind of vulnerability – the cyber kind – in our physical infrastructure. Dare we say Mike’s earning somewhat of a superhero cape with all this defending going on!
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)
Putting Out Fires
As fire season approaches, many in the American West are crossing their fingers and toes and preparing for the worst. Jaime’s doing her part, too, by introducing the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act which aims to curb the threat of wildfires by speeding up forest management programs, ending frivolous legislation, accelerating hazard reviews and giving the Forest Service increased tools to improve wildlife habitats. “The lack of active management on the part of the federal government has resulted in abundant brush and decaying and dead trees that act as overgrown kindling.” Do you live in a fire-prone area – cross those fingers and toes for more legislation like this to get things under control in the coming years.
Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)
Despite his ‘R’ label, Adam is surely a friend of Democrats on many things these days. Beyond his distaste (to put it lightly) for the former president, he has been vocally concerned about getting to the bottom of what happened on Jan. 6. Now, Speaker Pelosi has asked him to join the House Select committee to Investigate January 6th and he’s accepted. This comes after she rejected two of the five Republicans that Leader McCarthy appointed to the committee, causing a lot of Republican backlash and catapulting the committee into even more controversy. Do you think this committee can be seen as truly bipartisan with moderate members like Adam serving on it or is it giving the Democrats too much oversight?
Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)
If you’ve ever driven across the midwest and northeast, you’re familiar with the barrage of tolls you might face on interstate highways and bridges. Guy wants to make sure that the future of these roads is not more tolls and prepared to fight with the big stick. He’s proposing that federal funds be withheld from any highways or bridges that PennDOT goes ahead with tolling. While we all loathe tolls, most Democrats and some Republicans think that this goes too far. Guy, on the other hand, notes that PA has $10 billion in surplus and the need for tolling isn’t reasonable. Next time you drive through Pennsylvania, keep an eye on the road. $$$
Greg Steube (R; FL-17)
Lake O Do-Over
With toxic runoff plaguing Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, the Army Corps of Engineers has sent in their regulation plan to address the problem. While environmentalists and many politicians (including PP leader Brian Mast (R-FL)) are praising the plan, Greg is leading a letter from Republican Florida representatives, including Kat Cammack and Byron Donalds, which raises concerns about the plans. Namely, they’re concerned that there aren’t enough provisions in the plan to address water supply from the lake to local communities. The dispute over Lake Okeechobee is, interestingly, becoming one of the divisive issues between Florida Republicans. Will this have any effect on national policy?
Tom Cotton (R; AK)
Re-Fund the Police
As one of the biggest debates of the last year, the future of policing in America is not one that Tom was going to sit out. He introduced the Fund the Police Act which would reallocate $50 billion in unspent funding from the American Rescue Act and establish a fund at the Justice Dept. and support two grant programs to help hire, train, and equip police. The bill will undoubtedly get plenty of Republican support, but will it succeed in the Senate?
Ritchie Torres (D; NY-15)
Section 8 Living
In American cities, the homeless crisis is raging and the wrath of Covid didn’t make it any better. Ritchie, who grew up in public housing, is convinced that more support for public housing could be the key to fixing it. He has introduced legislation that aims to grow the government’s housing voucher program for low-income tenants, also known as Section 8. Ritchie’s hope is that this sweeping proposition will help to shape the upcoming reconciliation bill and lead to housing as a human right. Analysis from the NY Housing Conference found that the bill would help more than 400,000 new households across the state receive federal rental assistance by 2026.
Jamaal Bowman (D; NY-16)
Green for the Kids
Though the Green New Deal might not be the most popular among Republicans or even moderate Democrats, Progressives like Jamaal are putting all of his eggs in the green basket – especially when it comes to education. As a former educator, Jamaal insists on the importance of investing money – $1.43 trillion – in green retrofits for the highest-need schools through grant funding and no- to low-interest loans, to fund staffing increases, expand social service programs and develop curriculum at high-need schools. This price tag might not penetrate the walls of the oval office, as Biden has said he is not pro-Green New Deal, but it’s gaining support among other Democrats so is certain to push the needle.
Cori Bush (D; MO-1)
It’s no secret that Cori speaks her mind. But what many Americans miss is the unfortunate result of that sometimes. Cori recently shared a string of death threats she’s received since taking office, many of them with racial undertones. One insisted she was going to get herself “murdered”. Another said that she was a traitor and “should be dealt with the punishment of being a traitor. Hung or shot by a firing squad.” High level Republicans and Democrats agree that this is, of course, patently wrong, but the larger question is how we as a country can counteract comments like this. As one Republican pundit put it – “there are sick and twisted people out there.”
David Valadao (R; CA-21)
Dry and Droughted
David is a crusader when it comes to the water crisis in California, which is currently in one of the worst droughts in modern history. He recently Tweeted to let us know that he joined two other Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Sec. Haaland (Interior) and Sec. Vilsack (Agriculture) requesting a briefing on what the administration has done thus far to address the drought. He insists that “we need more action” and if you live in the western U.S., you probably agree.
Kat Cammack (R; FL-3)
The Big Haul
Campaign season is well underway and freshmen stars like Kat are going full steam ahead. Her Twitter is peppered with well-designed images touting her tentpole issues like border security and supporting first responders. And it’s working. She just reported $505,000 in her second-quarter fundraising haul – an impressive number. But that’s not to say she’s got it in the bag. She has a primary challenger who works in juvenile law defending children supervised by the state. Will Kat’s half a million and counting get her over the finish line?
Byron Donalds (R;FL-19)
Byron jumped into the lion’s den when he went on Chris Cuomo’s primetime show on CNN. The two sparred over Bryon’s decision to not get vaccinated. He defended his choice, and the choice of the rest of his family to remain unvaccinated, by noting that they all had contracted Covid and were in good health. When pushed, he did say that if any Americans are concerned about contracting the virus and being hospitalized, they should get the vaccine. Do you think Byron is doing the right thing by making his personal choice, or should members of Congress be held to a different expectation?
Ashley Hinson (R; IA-1)
The 2022 midterms are heating up and as much as we try to stay out of the drama and get to the substance here at Political Playlist, Ashley’s race is heating up to be a doozy that we just can’t stay away from. She will be facing her former news anchor co-worker state Sen. Liz Mathis. Reportedly, Mathis has been approached many times to run, but it’s never been quite right – until now. She says that her priority if elected will be healthcare and restoring Iowans’ faith in our government, which she says many agree has become too partisan. As for Ashley, she’s already drummed up a line of defense against Liz and come up with a catchy dig – Liberal Liz.
Victoria Spartz (R; IN-5)
Victoria immigrated to the U.S. from the Ukraine, fleeing a communist and totalitarian government, so it’s no surprise that she’s been chosen to join the Republican Advisory Team on Cuba. In joining this team, she’s hoping that her personal experience can inform how our government approaches its support for Cuban citizens. “I think we need to bring more visibility and talk about it a little bit more because it’s important. We’re the beacon of freedom for the rest of the world,” she said. Beyond looking at possible policies to help the people of Cuba, Victoria is also insistent that the Biden administration show more support. While that support won’t involve any physical intervention, there could be other options. For our take on the Cuba of it all, check out this recent episode of our podcast!
Tony Gonzales (R; TX-23)
It’s Not Over
While the news cycle may have moved on for now, Tony is making sure that we don’t forget what’s happening at the southern border – and for good reason. He represents over 40% of the border and said in a press conference last week that “this crisis is continuing to spiral out of control… and it starts with the President of the United States.” Tony criticized Democrats for passing a $1 billion decrease in funding for border patrol agents, just as he says the flow of people is not slowing down and that fentanyl is making its way across. Usually, he noted, during the hot summer months immigration slows down “but that has not happened.”
Blake Moore (R; UT-1)
Tech in the Trees
One of the reasons we love covering politicians is because of the ingenuity that can arise out of their specific generational experience. And Blake is a perfect example of that. He has introduced a bipartisan proposal that would use cutting-edge technology to identify the highest risk firesheds across the country and incentivize partnerships to expedite forest management projects. His proposal would allow the Sec. of the Interior to designate specific areas for management projects, which would then use technology and hazard models to prioritize where and how to reduce threats. In 2020 more than 50,000 wildfires burned almost 10 million acres across the country – a 25% increase over the 10-year average.
August Pfluger (R; TX-11)
August represents a heavily agricultural district and the well being of farmers and ranchers has always been at the forefront of his legislation. While trying to counteract the Endangered Species Act might seem like a delicate bone to pick, August insists that there are ways to continue protecting endangered species without overregulating farmers and has introduced the Listing Reform Act to do so. In addition to providing “common sense protections” and decreasing regulation, the act would also require the federal government to analyze the actual costs of Endangered Species Act listings on communities and industries. While we’re at an environmental crossroads, do you think August is onto something with this reform?
Melanie Stansbury (D, NM,1)
Civilian Corps for the Climate Era
Melanie and her fellow New Mexico Democrats have joined a letter of over 80 congressional Democrats urging Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi to include the Civilian Climate Corps in the forthcoming final budget reconciliation deal. The idea behind these climate corps is to provide young Americans with a new and important way to serve the country. The letter includes a list of roles the Climate Corps should play, including prioritizing clean energy solutions, addressing environmental justice, and funding for federal programs that will mitigate climate impacts. If this became a reality, would you join the Climate Corps?
Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA- 44)
Choo Choo Securely
Nanette’s district has major transportation hubs and she has been a champion to improve their security. Her bill, The Strengthening Local Transportation Security Capabilities Act, just passed the House and is heading to the Senate. The bill will improve information sharing by putting more federal intelligence analysts and resources near high-risk surface transportation assets, including public transportation rail and bus systems. As well, it will provide new terrorism focused training and improve cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement partners. Now let us hope the law enforcement partners can work together!
Jason Crow (D; CO-4)
Jason has been one of the most vocal politicians in expediting visa programs for our Afghan allies. The House passed Jason’s bill, the Adverting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting Special Immigrant Visas (ALLIES) act, which increases the number of American visas for Afghan interpreters and other Afghan partners. The Act increases the current allotment to an additional 8,000 more visas which will cover all the potentially eligible applicants. The Allies act has wide support, even from the Biden administration, and as it heads to the Senate, there is now a time crunch to get it done before U.S. troops have fully withdrawn from Afghanistan.
Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)
Doing It Yourself
Self-employed business owners are paying too much in taxes and Antonio plans to alleviate some of that stress as it relates to health insurance premiums. The Tax Fairness for the Self-Employed Act is bipartisan legislation that would level the playing field for self-employed small business owners by making sure that self-employed individuals can access the same tax deductions as corporations when it comes to health insurance premiums. Over 1.7 million self-employed individuals in New York would be able to deduct their health care premiums as a business deduction, saving self-employed individuals an average of $750/year. In other cool news, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked Antonio as the 8th most bipartisan member in the 116th House of Representatives putting him in the top 2% of members. You go Antonio!
Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)
Ruben was a former Marine Corps combat veteran who served in Iraq and he has been working with other PP leaders like Jason Crow (D-CO) to introduce the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act, a bill designed to expedite the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process as the U.S withdraws from Afghanistan. The House recently passed this bill, and it will now head to the Senate. The bill increased the SIV cap by 8,000 visas and widened the range of Afghans who can apply ensuring that no Afghan ally is left behind.
Josh Harder (D; CA-10)
Hell No, H2O
As a representative from the Central Valley of California, water is always top of mind. Recently the Environmental Working Group said that over 200 million Americans are drinking contaminated water – yikes. Josh put his support behind the PFAS (dangerous chemicals) Action Act of 2021, which would establish a national drinking water standard for select PFAS substances that currently impact water systems in Modesto, Lathrop, Sacramento, Stockton, and other cities. We can all agree that you should have access to clean drinkable water so let’s not have another Flint, Michigan on our hands.
Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)
Who Needs a Job?!
Ro wants everyone to have access to great jobs in their hometown. This is why he reintroduced the 21st Century Jobs Act which would allocate $900 billion in R&D funding for emerging technologies like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. This bill would create 3 million new jobs annually administered by the newly created Federal Institute of Technology (FIT). Ro says this massive technology investment will spread digital opportunities across the country to create regional centers for job creation in industries of the future. Sign us up!
Mike Levin (D; CA-49)
One of the main issues with veteran resources is many veterans are not utilizing their earned benefits because of lack of information or ability to complete necessary paperwork. Mike and a group of bipartisan colleagues reintroduced the Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach Act, a bipartisan bill to authorize federal funding for county veterans service officers (CVSOs) who are often the best resource to help veterans and their families understand resources at their disposal, file benefit claims, and represent veterans in VA hearings. This bill was also reintroduced in the Senate with bipartisan support. There are a lot of great veteran benefits, but the hard part is making sure veterans are using them.
Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)
Get That Bacon
Stephanie’s constituents have something to celebrate. The House Appropriations committee approved nine projects to enhance life in her district. If the House votes to pass these various government funding bills she will be bringing back ~$5 million in funding for projects related to public safety, education, housing, public health, and the environment. Her projects include restoring the Little Wekiva River, bolstering opioid addiction programs, purchasing body cameras for police officers, as well as access to affordable housing and various educational opportunities. Now that better include a nice welcome home!
Ilhan Omar (D; MN-5)
Sadly, it is no surprise to hear that there is a rise in attacks against the Muslim community. Ilhan and 23 House members sent a letter to the Secretary of State to create a special envoy to combat Islamophobia. This year alone there have been over 500 incidents of hate against the Muslim community in the U.S. and those are just the ones that were reported. The letter calls for a comprehensive strategy for establishing U.S. leadership in combating Islamophobia worldwide. The lawmakers are also asking to include state-sponsored Islamophobic violence and impunity for Islamophobic violence in next year’s annual human rights reports. Have you been a victim or know someone who has?
Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)
Contamination in Our Water
Since Elissa came into office, she has been a strong advocate for clean water and PFAS (dangerous chemicals) contamination clean up. Three amendments Elissa introduced were adopted in the PFAS Action Act, a bipartisan bill to help clean up PFAS contamination and regulate “forever chemicals.” The three amendments include updating a website with guidance on how households can test PFAS contamination, increasing grant funding up to $500 million/year for local communities to cover the cost of PFAS treatment and incorporating a “safe-labeling” program for certain products. No matter what we can all agree that we should have access to clean and safe water!
Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)
The manufacturing industry, which is right up Haley’s alleyway, is among the top 5 U.S. employers. Haley and PP leader Peter Meijer (R-MI) teamed up to introduce legislation that will make major investments in Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Programs. The MEP is a network of public-private partnerships in every state that gives small and mid-sized manufacturers the services and resources they need to create well-paying manufacturing jobs. This new expansion program will allow these manufacturers to choose how best to use federal funds and not be tied to any bureaucratic red tape. Last year, MEP Centers interacted with 27,574 manufacturers, leading to $13.0 billion in sales, $2.7 billion in cost savings, $4.9 billion in new client investments, and helped create or retain 105,748 jobs.
Kelly Armstrong (R; ND)
The Iron Grip
Kelly was one of six Republicans to be nominated to the January 6 commission. However, after Speaker Pelosi rejected Jim Banks (IN) and Jim Jordan (OH), all 6 Republicans pulled out of the committee. Kelly released a statement speaking to Speaker Pelosi’s abuse of power and said, “This isn’t about the truth. It is not even about the last election or the next one. This is about her maintaining an iron grip on her conference and the People’s House. When we win the majority back in 2022, she will not be around to witness the consequences of her draconian actions.” How did you feel about Speaker Pelosi’s decision to reject these two politicians?
Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)
Don’t Make Me Mask
Dan is one of the more active members of Congress on Twitter and in recent weeks the majority of his comments have surrounded the mask mandate that the CDC is suggesting. While various cities around the country are now asking residents to wear masks again, Dan pointed out that the CDC is referring to a study from India that they are basing it from. How do you feel about the mask mandate?
Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)
Three Basic Questions
The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. Recently, Anthony and a Republican colleague spoke at a luncheon and the hot topic of discussion was CHINA. Anthony said when approaching the issue of China, you need to ask yourself three questions, “Who are they? What do they want? And how are they playing the game?” We won’t spoil his answers, but the interview is worth the watch.
Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)
No New NEWS
At Political Playlist we are not shy to call out these politicians, and it is exactly why we started this platform. Unfortunately, while there was a lot of news on other politicians there was only old news on Trey’s social media, Twitter and website, other than his son turning 4, which we do recognize is a very important occasion! But that begs the question, where is your comms person Trey? We want to see what you are up to and it doesn’t look good that we have to write ‘no news’.
Brian Mast (R; FL-18)
Time to send in your infrastructure numbers. Brian offered an amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill that will increase funding for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration to $725 million for 2022. Currently, the bill includes a much lower amount at $350 million. The Florida Congressional delegation and the Governor are calling on President Biden to support this massive investment in Florida, but some of us wonder due to partisan divide if Florida will get the attention its leaders say it deserves.
Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)
The House overwhelmingly voted 407-16 to pass the Allies Act that ensures Afghan interpreters and other allies who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan are not left behind. Elise was a cosponsor of this bill and praised the many Afghans who were critical to the U.S. mission, but Elise did not shy away from saying that she was not supportive of the troop withdrawal which “not only jeopardizes our counter terrorist mission against terrorist groups, but also risks a complete takeover of Afghanistan by a resurgent Taliban.” At Political Playlist we did a poll on if people thought the withdrawal was a good or bad idea and 54% thought it was a bad idea. How did you vote?
William Timmons (R; SC-4)
China has been aggressive in constructing not only their 5G networks, but also other countries’ networks. William and PP leader Bryan Steil (R-WI) see this as a major problem and introduced the Promoting Secure 5G Act of 2021, which will establish a U.S. policy at international financial institutions (IFI’s) that the U.S. will only support 5G technologies if they include appropriate security measures. This legislation would also require U.S. support for related infrastructure and policy reforms, and it would encourage cooperation with U.S. allies to strengthen support for secure wireless technologies. IFIs include the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and regional development banks. We need to protect our networks!
Josh Hawley (R; MO)
Josh and two other Republican Senators are asking the Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Josh has been vocal about his view on abortions and said that he would not support Supreme Court nominees if they support the 1973 decision. The Senators wrote a brief that centers around Mississippi’s decision to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In Josh’s eyes, the decision on Roe v. Wade should be overturned and “the question of abortion legalization should be left up to the states.” How do you feel about Josh’s stance?
Mondaire Jones (D; NY-17)
That’ll Be a No For Me, Dawg
It came as a surprise when PP leader Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) said that she will not support the $3.5 trillion spending package that President Biden and other Democrats support. To pass the budget resolution and the subsequent $3.5 trillion bill, all 50 Senate Democrats will need to support the measures. Mondaire came out and said if the Democrat only bill falls short he won’t support the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. And likewise, Speaker Pelosi said she will not take up the bill until the Senate Democrats have passed the bill. Do you agree with this no or is this just a political game?
Nikema Williams (D; GA-5)
Forever Chemical Romance
‘Forever chemicals’ sounds frightening and that is why so many members this week voted in favor of the PFAS Action Act of 2021. The Act will make important progress toward cleaning up our communities and holding contaminating companies accountable for their pollution. A new study showed that ~30,000 industrial sites are known or suspected of using toxins and more than 400 military sites are known to have PFAS contamination. As Nikema put it, there is nothing more important than keeping her community safe.
Lauren Boebert (R; CO-3)
Leave Our Office Alone
99 percent of the 245 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are in the Western United States. Lauren, along with Colorado politicians and PP leader Joe Neguse (D-CO), welcomed Interior Secretary Haaland to Grand Junction, the new office located for BLM. Many of the Colorado politicians want the office to stay (and not go back to D.C.) as it has already saved significant money for taxpayers, but unfortunately this move caused many of the BLM employees to retire when the office moved from D.C. and it has been very difficult to fill the vacant positions. Haaland did not say either way if the office will stay or go back to D.C., but it seems like she will leave that up to the future director of the BLM, Tracy Stone-Manning, who is awaiting senate confirmation.
Tracey Mann (R; KS-1)
Peer-to-Peer Veteran Counseling
Peer-to-peer relationships and counseling play a vital role in combatting risks of veteran suicide and treating mental health conditions. Veterans are supported by fellow peers by helping them gain access to health services and navigate the VA health care system. Tracey joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in the House and Senate to introduce the Veteran Peer Specialist Act, which would expand the highly successful peer specialist support program to all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers over the next five years, prioritizing expansion to rural areas and the hiring of specialists that reflect the racial and ethinic demographics of the veteran population. Our most recent episode of Political Playlist Happy Hour features an interview with veteran Jon Lubecky about veterans’ mental health – check it out!
Andrew Garbarino (R; NY-2)
Small Business Security
Ransomware and cyberattacks will unfortunately be a common theme in our future lives. Andrew, who is a member of the House Small Business Committee and Ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, knows this is a major concern and introduced the Small Business Cyber Security Training Act. The act would help Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) become better trained to assist small businesses with cyber security and strategy needs. SBDC’s operate within the Small Business Association and they have locations in every state. This would be one small step to ensure small businesses have a resource to go to when attacks do happen.
Julia Letlow (R; LA-5)
As Louisiana hospitalizations rise to their highest levels in months, Julia made a passionate emotional plea for people to get vaccinated. Julia’s husband, Luke, died from COVID-19 shortly before he was supposed to take his seat in the House. Julia said, “It’s horrific to watch the person who you love the most gasp for breath and suffocate. My prayer is that not one more person would have to lose a life.” Please get VACCINATED!
Rep. Pete Aguilar
Training Like You Play
Any athlete will tell you the importance of years-long training in order to reach peak performance. So it’s only natural that the medical community would require that same sort of rigor. Now, thanks to Pete, medical residents training in the Inland Empire have greater means to advance their skills through federal funding. Thirty two medical residents will receive financial aid to the tune of $320,000 as part of the American Rescue Plan’s disbursement of funds. Pete says that this funding will allow “more members of our community [to] access care” particularly those in local underserved communities. This is surely welcome news to the hard working medical professionals of the Inland Empire and those they care for.
Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)
Idiot-Proofing The House
Brendan introduced a bill this week that you might not have thought Congress needed, unless of course you got our newsletter two weeks ago. Brendan’s new bill would establish a prerequisite for becoming Speaker of the House: that you actually have to be a member of the House of Representatives in the first place! The MEMBERS Act would codify into law the universally followed but as of yet unwritten tradition that the Speaker of the House also be a member of the house. This comes in response to growing speculation that Republicans might nominate Donald Trump to the position, should they take back control of the House in 2022. Does this seem like a smart GOP tactic or is this setting themselves up for defeat at the polls?
Jared Golden (D; ME-2)
A Windfall for Loggers
During the pandemic, a sharp drop in the demand for paper put a strain on Maine’s family logging businesses, one of the core industries in the northeast state. Now thanks to Jared, $200 million in relief funding is now available to loggers and log haulers. Jared co-authored the bipartisan, bicameral Loggers Relief Act, and pressured the Department of Agriculture to act, and act fast. His efforts were successful in expediting the funding and now many Maine businesses can get back to hauling. No word yet on whether this aid will help with the ongoing lumber shortage.
Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)
Taking Opioids Seriously
After a 30% increase in opioid deaths from 2019 to 2020, leaders can no longer overlook the toll these drugs are taking. This week, Andy introduced the Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act, which would kick off a public education campaign about the dangers of these drugs and the treatments available for those suffering from addiction. Given the federal government’s track record on dealing with drug crises, however, it’s difficult to have faith in a public awareness campaign alone. D.A.R.E.-style education has proven ineffective, and at this point a focus on harm reduction is necessary.
Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)
WATER Gets Bipartisan Support
In a rare moment of unity, the Water and Agriculture Tax Reform (WATER) Act passed unanimously in the house. The bill would provide mutual irrigation, reservoir, and water companies with the ability to make important infrastructure advances without raising prices or losing tax-exempt status. With particular focus on rural communities, the WATER Act would especially help those suffering from the effects of prolonged drought. “This legislation will cut red tape and is a commonsense measure to support Colorado ranchers and farmers,” said Joe, who introduced the bipartisan bill. The WATER Act: a bipartisan oasis in a polarized desert.
Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)
Getting’ the Cold Shoulder, Eh
Representing a northern border state, Chris knows the vital role Canada plays on his local economy through business and tourism, all of which has taken a hit during border closures due to the pandemic. Just recently, Canada has announced that it will reopen its border to vaccinated Americans on Aug. 9 however the Biden administration says not so fast. They have just extended the U.S. border closures into August, leaving many families separated for nearly a year and a half. Chris is now urging President Biden to reopen the U.S.-Canada border to vaccinated Canadians in a letter this week, highlighting how vital it is for their local economies to get back up and running. Chris is just one of many members of congress in both parties to push for a border reopening. So what are we waiting for?
Darren Soto (D; FL-9)
Medicaid for Puerto Rico
Unlike the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico is not automatically included in the Medicaid budget. As a result, Congress needs to regularly vote to approve its Medicaid funds. Currently, the island territory is funded only through October, which if not renewed, could leave many in serious limbo. Darren has now introduced the bipartisan Supporting Medicaid in the U.S. Territories Act, which would provide five additional years of funding to Puerto Rico and eight additional years to other U.S. Territories like Guam and American Samoa. The bill also calls for making several improvements to Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program, such as increased reporting on quality measures and ultimately better prices on care. Hopefully this can give the folks of PR a little peace of mind.
Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)
Immunity Against the Next Pandemic
Eric introduced two bills this week that aim to strengthen the national response to future pandemics. The National Security Council Modernization Act would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services a seat on the National Security Council, allowing the Secretary a direct line with top officials. It would also require that only Senate-confirmed officers can serve as full members, limiting the president’s ability to politicize the council. Additionally, the Biosecurity Information Optimization for Defense (BIO Defense) Act would direct the federal government to distribute the best-available public health information to the American people quickly and effectively in times of crisis. What else can we do to prepare for future pandemics?
Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)
All the Retired Ladies
Lauren introduced the Women’s Retirement Protection Act this week, which takes aim at the gender retirement gap. Women are more likely to work part-time, leaving fewer of them eligible for employee-sponsored retirement support than their male counterparts. And the lifelong earnings loss from the gender wage gap means women on average have to work a decade longer than men to have the same retirement savings. Lauren’s bill would ensure more part-time workers are offered retirement savings plans and would make it so that one spouse no longer has the power to make changes to shared retirement accounts without informing the other spouse. Golden girls deserve a happy retirement, too!
Jim Banks (R; IN-3)
Well, this was quite a week in Washington for partisan battles, with the Committee charged with investigating the Capitol Riots taking center stage. It all came to a boil after Speaker Pelosi removed Jim and another Republican from the committee, which then prompted GOP Leader McCarthy to join Jim in announcing their own GOP-led commission. That commission will look into what Jim says are the Democrat’s political motives for the riots, such as whether or not Pelosi was responsible for delaying the National Guard response. All this begs the question, can this Capitol Riots Commission be effective without any GOP members on it?
Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)
GOP Funded by Controversy
Controversy pays, or at least it does for our surpriser-in-chief, Matt Gaetz. By now, most are well aware that Matt is being investigated for allegations of federal sex trafficking, yet has managed to turn this seemingly career-ending controversy into a fundraising juggernaut. This past quarter, he raised over $1 million for the House GOP, making him one of the top fundraisers despite having relatively little power as a low-ranking congressman. It turns out, generating a lot of media coverage makes it easier to reach potential supporters. But the real question remains, is it healthy for our congresspeople to fundraise off of potentially illicit behavior?
Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)
TECHnically It’s Bipartisan
It’s not everyday you see a split within the Republican Party that forces some members of the GOP to team up with Democrats, but that’s exactly what went down this week. The “Freedom from Big Tech Caucus” was introduced, co-chaired by Lance. On the caucus’ agenda: passing a slate of bipartisan antitrust bills. But other GOP leaders are concerned the bills would put too much power in the hands of Biden-appointees, and have their own reforms in mind. Will this concern of the far-right push members like Lance who are genuinely concerned about Big Tech to work more across the aisle?
Dusty Johnson (R; SD)
Meatpackers will be happy to hear that the USDA recently announced that it will implement legislation Dusty sponsored as part of the American Rescue Plan. Nearly $500 million in funding will go to expand production capacity at meatpacking and poultry facilities, and $150 million will help small facilities weather the Covid-19 storm. Focusing on smaller facilities will allow them to meet the growing demand for more locally grown meat, which will ideally only strengthen communities and their food suppliers. Consider this your PSA to buy local!
Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)
Markwayne is looking past the doctor’s office and into the community with the founding of the new bipartisan Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus. “In order to improve health outcomes in the long run, we must look at the full picture of patients’ lives and address these social determinants of health,” said Markwayne. Social and environmental barriers to health include access to fresh food, stable housing, and reliable transportation. “On average, 80 percent of a person’s health outcomes are determined by what happens in their community, outside the clinical setting,” said the President and CEO of the YMCA in praise of the new caucus. Has being stuck at home made you more aware of how your environment affects your health?
Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)
More Jobs, That’s the Plan!
This week, Bryan warned against “the current path of big government, socialist policies” that he’s convinced are killing American jobs. In the spirit of promoting “pro-growth policies,” House leader Kevin McCarthy appointed Bryan to serve as the Ranking Member of the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth where he promises to prioritize job growth. Bryan believes that getting government out of the way will lead to more family-supporting jobs. Have you seen Uncle Sam help or hurt the jobs in your town or city?
Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)
Antisemitism on the Rise
After the conflict in the Middle East hit a boiling point earlier this summer, all eyes have been on how to continue stabilization efforts in the region, but also to make sure that Americans of all ethnic backgrounds are protected from hate. Lee spoke with members of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America this week and discussed potential consequences of the current U.S. negotiations with Iran, sharing concerns over growing antisemitism across the U.S. Lee is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus. What else can our leaders be doing to fight the spread of antisemitic violence?
Kyrsten Sinema (D; AZ)
Finally Makin’ Moves
Something good has passed in the Senate! The Growing Climate Solutions Act, sponsored by Krysten, marks a bipartisan effort to address climate change. The bill will “increase economic opportunities for Arizona farmers and ranchers while helping create clearer air and a cleaner environment,” said Krysten. The bill is cosponsored by 54 senators and has the support of over 70 environmental organizations. It’s not everyday you see something positive come out of the Senate, but we’ll see what happens in the House where there are many more progressive Democrats who might not think this bill goes far enough. Either way, nice job, Krysten!
Jake Auchincloss (D; MA-4)
Medical Robots FTW!
Jake announced this week that the NIH is awarding a $1.6 million grant to advance a robotics system that will help people recover from strokes and other neurological injuries. The funding will go to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s Burt® robotic system, which is designed to make rehabilitation fun by negating gravity and gamifying therapy with activities from air hockey to solitaire. After the trauma of a neurological injury, at least you might have an arcade waiting for you!
Sara Jacobs (D; CA-53)
We Helped the Kids, What About You?
In recognition of her 200th day in office, Sarah spoke on the House floor this week to talk about what Congress has accomplished, and what still needs to come. She paid special attention to the expanded Child Tax Credit, which passed as part of the American Rescue Plan. Experts say that the tax credit could slash child poverty in half, making it one of the most impactful pieces of legislation passed this term. For Sara and her Democratic colleagues who made it happen, it’s surely something worth celebrating!
Madison Cawthorn (R; NC-11)
The Failings of Fauci
Madison followed in Senator Rand Paul’s footsteps this week and accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of being a “pawn” for the Chinese Communist Party. Madison spoke on “Just the Truth,” a podcast hosted by a lawyer of former President Trump, where he pushed the idea that the virus was manufactured in a Wuhan lab with malicious intent at the behest of Dr. Fauci. Madison promised to “prosecute” Fauci if the GOP retakes the House majority in 2022. Though the government has vowed to look into the root of the virus, any malicious intent on Fauci’s part has yet to be proven so how should we be treating accusations like this?
Peter Meijer (R; MI-3)
Peter, a combat veteran, helped introduce the ALLIES Act that would honor promises made to Afghan allies who aided U.S. operations in Afghanistan which just passed the House. Many translators and other officials who worked alongside Americans were promised safe harbor in the U.S. for their sacrifices, but few have actually been relocated. This bill makes an additional 8,000 visas available and streamlines the current application process. “It is our moral obligation to honor the promises we made to our Afghan allies and ensure that those who risked their lives for the U.S. mission are safely relocated,” said Peter. After all the work these allies did to help us when we needed it, it’s time we repay the favor.
Jake LaTurner (R; KS-2)
Jake blasted President Biden on twitter this week for being soft on China. Biden announced he would not sanction China for recent cyberattacks, claiming they were only “protecting” the hackers. Jake calls Biden’s decision “unacceptable” and demands stronger action be taken against hackers operating out of China. Do you think President Biden should consider sanctions?
Nancy Mace (R; SC-1)
Fighting on All Fronts
Nancy introduced two important bills this week. First, the The Military Sexual Trauma Retirement Pay Equity Act would allow veterans who’ve been sexually assaulted to receive both their full retirement and disability compensation. “It is time to de-stigmatize sexual trauma and ensure our veterans are receiving the full benefits they have undoubtedly earned,” Nancy said when introducing the legislation. She also introduced the FREE Act to protect rights of those in conservatorships, after harrowing testimony from Britney Spears has called into question the ethical ramifications of conservatorships. Two very different but very worthy crusades from Nancy!
Nicole Malliotakis (R; NY-11)
Nicole was joined by other members of the Cuban-American community in New York to call on President Biden and other world leaders to liberate the island nation. Cuba saw its largest civil protests recently as a lack of food, medicine, and gasoline make life on the island nearly unbearable for many Cubans. “We want the United States, the United Nations (UN), and all democracies to join the Cuban people in their quest for freedom, democracy, and basic human rights,” Nicole said at a press briefing this week. With the ongoing pandemic roaring and no lasting economic allies, the communist regime is certainly prepared for continuing social turmoil as living conditions worsen, but the question remains – what does “liberating” Cuba look like in practice?
Jon Ossoff (D; GA)
Don’t Leave Them Hanging
The Senate is offering aid to victims of violent crimes this week in passing the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act which Jon helped introduce. VOCA would increase funding to victim and survivor services nationwide, as well as offer compensation to victims and families that would cover medical bills and funeral costs of those affected by sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, and child abuse. Violent crime is on the rise in the U.S., and it’s a small comfort to know those affected will be supported in their times of need, but what other measures still need to be taken for more crime prevention?