THE COMPLETE 14 PERCENT: Tic-TECH-Toe
Colin Allred (D; TX-32)
Back to the Biz
The past year has shone a light on black-owned businesses and Colin is making sure they don’t fall by the wayside ever again. He and fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus had a town hall with the National Retail Federation to discuss the challenges that black-owned businesses face. One of the main takeaways was the struggle that black entrepreneurs face when it comes to raising capital – that they are not taken seriously and end up lacking resources. Gaining this info is surely going to motivate Colin and his fellow CBC members to continue on their mission because, as he said, “When black-owned businesses succeed, our economy overall succeeds.”
Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)
Loud and Proud
Did you dream of having a children’s book written about you when you were a kid? Well, Sharice has made that dream a reality for herself with the recent release of her new children’s book, Sharice’s Big Voice, about a “loud” Native kid who rises to become a congresswoman. The book, Sharice says, is meant to encourage children to celebrate their voice and demonstrate the different paths they can take to achieve their goals. One of her favorite lines? “Use your big voice and fight for your beliefs, and always remember, YOU deserve to be seen and heard”. To that we say, right on!
Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)
Bust it Up
Among moderates like Conor the debate about whether or not to eliminate the filibuster is hot and heavy. He used to oppose the elimination, but he has since reversed his opinion. In a recent interview, Conor dived into his evolution on the topic, discussing the mere fact that if there cannot be bipartisanship on how to let people vote or how to peacefully hold an election, then a supposed compromise-supportive tool like the filibuster is all but moot. He sees the future of this old Senate tradition as something perhaps a little different, “… we might be able to come to some understanding at some point of how we’re going to protect and promote the minority in debate. And maybe that becomes something that’s not called a filibuster”.
Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)
Aiding the Allies
It takes about 800 days to process a special visa for Afghan allies who have been instrumental to U.S. operations throughout the war in Afghanistan. These are men and women who are surely going to be targeted by the Taliban once American troops are fully withdrawn at the end of the summer. Seth and a group of bipartisan colleagues, including several under-45ers, sent a letter to Biden insisting that this process be expedited for the safety of the allies still remaining in the country. Ending this war is complex beyond belief, but we can all agree that the Afghans who risked their lives to help our military efforts deserve better.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)
Go Big or Go Home
AOC’s determination to relieve Americans of student debt is no secret. There is now more student debt in the U.S. than credit card debt – a soaring $1.7 trillion. During his campaign, Biden promised to forgive $10,000 of student debt per person, per year, but has yet to act on this promise. He’s insisting that Congress must draw up a bill to address student debt, rather than use executive action to do so. Alexandria calls B.S., noting that there is no way a bill addressing the cancellation of student debt will make it through the tightly held Senate. She did what she does best and took to Twitter… “Dems are burning precious time & impact negotiating w/ GOP… McConnell’s plan is to run out the clock… We need to move now.”
Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)
Manufacturing Our Future
Vaccine rollout in our country has been largely available due to strong pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities. Abigail wants to make sure that this critical part of our medical supply chain doesn’t get lost in the fray and has introduced a bipartisan bill, along with fellow PP leaders Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Peter Meijer (R-MI), that would allow the National Science Foundation to award grants for research into pharmaceutical manufacturing. Expanding this field, she says, will create more cutting-edge jobs for Americans – some of which she’s already seen introduced in her district. New American jobs are going to come in all shapes and sizes thanks to lawmakers like Abigail!
Rashida Tlaib (D; MI-13)
To Censure or Not to Censure
As the conflict between Israel and Palestine was raging on, Rashia and her fellow Squad members did what they did best and voiced their opinion. Now, they’ve come under fire from GOP lawmakers (led by PP leader Jim Banks (R-IN) who are calling for the four women (Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and AOC) to be censured – basically publicly condemned by Congress. The specific grief is from comments that Ilhan Omar (D-MN) made that seemed to equate U.S. actions with those of Hamas, a recognized terrorist group. Rashida stood up for her friend and fellow Squad member saying that Ilhan “has the courage to call our human rights abuses no matter who is responsible.” Do you think this move to censure Rashida is valid or overblown?
Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)
YOU Get a Job, and YOU Get a Job!
With many businesses having trouble hiring workers as the pandemic begins to wane away (in the US, at least), Mike is trying to find a smart way to turn things around. He’s introduced a bill that would take federal unemployment benefits and convert them into signing bonuses. We need to “switch from government support to economic resurgence”, he says. While the White House is insisting that the hiring difficulties are to be expected and will turn around, Mike is calling BS and taking concrete steps to incentivize people to join and stay in the workforce. Have you heard of anyone having trouble finding employees? Maybe run Mike’s idea by them!
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)
You Got a Search Warrant?
It’s no secret that the government lags far, far behind technology – especially these days. Sometimes, that lag is just the punchline of a joke, but sometimes it has serious implications – like privacy. Jaime has introduced a bill that would require agencies to obtain a search warrant to access geolocation data on an individual. The current law, she says, violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizures. This bipartisan bill is one of the latest proposals to help us keep up with the speed of technology!
Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)
L for Loser
Adam unleashed a rather savage reply to fellow PP leader, Elise Stefanik (R-NY), after she enthusiastically tweeted about a fundraiser former President Trump was hosting for her at his golf club in New Jersey. “Trump lost. Doesn’t seem like a loser is the best choice for the future,” he wrote, not holding back in his cemented role as one of Trump’s harshest Republican critics. As for his own future? Adam is insistent on running for Congress again (despite the many pro-Trump primary challengers he’ll face), but hasn’t totally ruled out a state run if the stars align.
Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)
Home Healthcare Protest
The American Jobs plan, Biden’s new infrastructure proposal, has been pretty unilaterally opposed by Republicans and Guy is no exception. That led to a protest outside one of his local field offices by an organized group of home healthcare workers who are demanding that he support wage raises for workers like them, which is included in the bill. Guy’s office director took notes from the protestors and also disputed claims that he had given up on the bill, insisting that he was still in talks to find agreement on a variety of issues. Home healthcare is not typically seen as infrastructure, but as we recover from Covid it’s included in Biden’s version of the bill. Do you think Guy is right to hold off on full fledged support or do these important healthcare workers have a shot?
Greg Steube (R; FL-17)
Break the Chain
Chain migration is a term often thrown around, but rarely pinned down. Greg has re-introduced the Break the Chain Act which would reform and effectively end chain migration. The bill would remove the ability for immigrants to be granted a visa if they are related to an American citizen. It would, however, implement a renewable nonimmigrant visa for parents of U.S. citizens if the citizens can pay for their parents’ healthcare. Though the bill has not garnered much support yet, with the crisis unfolding at the border perhaps Greg can rally some fellow immigration hardliners on this one.
Tom Cotton (R; AK)
Yes or No
In a heated line of questioning last week, Tom questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (who is black) about whether or not the military is a racist organization. The question came up in discussion of the Pentagon’s efforts to bolster diversity, equity and inclusion in the military. Sec. Austin replied that the question deserved more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and tried to elaborate on the Pentagon’s decision to pursue this mission of diversity, but Tom jumped back in, insisting a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Sec. Austin held his ground, but Tom’s line of questioning made one thing clear – the military is now under scrutiny from Republicans as the latest arm of our government promoting liberal ideas.
Ritchie Torres (D; NY-15)
Few members of Congress are more involved in the fight for affordable housing than Ritchie, and for good reason. Ritchie grew up in NYC public housing and is now introducing a bill that will make it more efficient for cities to build housing projects. His proposal involves switching to a ‘design and build’ model in which the same contractor is used for both the design and construction of a housing project. In New York, the housing authority predicted that this method would take at least a year off building time and would save 7.5% of a project’s cost on average. The bill is in the works so we’ll keep you updated, but let this serve as a reminder that diversity of experience in our government is important for reasons like this!
Jamaal Bowman (D; NY-16)
Big Apple Drama
For NYC representatives, the Big Apple mayor’s race is a chance to solidify their platforms on a local level. Jamaal is supporting progressive candidate Maya Wiley and has recently embroiled himself in some Twitter drama surrounding one of her opponents, Eric Adams. Adams, it seems, claimed that with new technologies teachers could teach 300-400 kids at once. Jamaal, a former educator, slammed Adams for his “dangerous” comment. Another familiar mayoral candidate, Andrew Yang, was the one who’s team tweeted out the controversial quote in the first place. Yang, a more moderate Democrat, has a different vision from Maya Wiley and Jamaal, but on this, they couldn’t be more aligned.
Cori Bush (D; MO-1)
War on Drugs No More
50 years ago this week, President Nixon declared the war on drugs and sent law enforcement on a path that has landed countless Americans in prison for drug possession and use. Now, Cori has introduced legislation to end criminal penalties for drug possession at the federal level. The bill would expunge existing records and provide re-sentencing opportunities for those already convicted. Essentially, the federal authority over controlled substances would shift from the Dept. of Justice to the Dept. of Health and Human Services. While we seem to be on a road to federal legalization of marijuana, Cori’s bill takes decriminalization one step further to include all substances – “As a nurse, I’ve watched Black families criminalized for heroin use while white families are treated for opioid use.”
David Valadao (R; CA-21)
Fields of Glory
California is one of the major food producers in America and this year’s drought has been a tough one for farmers. David represents part of the central valley, an important food-growing area that we all rely on in some way or another. He took to the floor to condemn Democrats for not considering his bill that would address the effects of the drought on farmers in the future. Communities in the central valley rely on a federally managed allocation project, but many of them are set to receive zero percent of the water in their contracts with that project, “effectively signing a death sentence for their fields,” David said. Next time you grab a strawberry from the fruit bowl, think about what went into growing it!
Kat Cammack (R; FL-3)
One of the recent mantles taken up by Republicans is the concern that universities are disseminating biased, liberal-leaning information to students. Kat has joined high-ranking Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (OH) to co-chair the Campus Free Speech Caucus in the House which will work with Young America’s Foundation to call out bias at universities and colleges (“indoctrination camps” as Kat calls them) around the country. In an interview, Kat recalled her own experience of feeling ostracized for her conservative beliefs in college. She was also careful to note that the caucus will not protect just free speech rights of conservatives, but also of those she doesn’t agree with. Stay tuned for how this will all play out!
Byron Donalds (R;FL-19)
Let Me In
The Congressional Black Caucus is one of the most powerful groups in Congress and in its history has included only two black Republicans (Sen. Tim Scott when he was a representative and former Rep. Mia Love). Byron, a newly elected black Republican has been outspoken about his interest to join the CBC, but has received no response from them. The snub is most likely due to his vote to not certify the election in Joe Biden’s favor – many Democrats have iced out Republicans who did so. Why would Bryon want to join this Democratic stronghold anyway? He wants to change the organization’s liberal dominance. Do you think they should let him in?
Ashley Hinson (R; IA-1)
Not So Fast, Kamala
Like many Americans, Ashley is concerned about what’s happening at our southern border as migrants continue to flood in, many of them minors. She introduced the See the Crisis Act which was blocked on the House floor. The bill would hold the administration accountable by blocking VP Harris from using taxpayer dollars to fly internationally until she visits the border, which she has not done yet. Since the bill was blocked, it’s hard to say if Ashley will come up with a plan B, but one thing is clear – Republicans are going to keep pressuring Harris until they see things turn around.
Victoria Spartz (R; IN-5)
Federal oversight of childcare facilities can come with a lot of regulations and often, Victoria says, are “expensive and inefficient”. She has introduced a bill with fellow GOP Rep. Adrian Smith (NE) that would give more control to individual states in how to use available funds for child care facilities, especially in rural areas. Victoria links this need to the labor shortages seen in many states and, in turn, the lack of mothers in the workforce. Child care is an issue taken up by both Republicans and Democrats, but this bill illustrates how a more state-minded conservative approach to reform would play out.
Tony Gonzales (R; TX-23)
My Fellow Republicans
Tony gave this week’s Republican address which was focused on the immigration crisis playing out on the southern border. Tony’s district covers over 820 miles of the border and his constituency is 70% Hispanic. In the address, he condemned comments from VP Harris about not paying a visit to the border and other comments from the administration as “tragically out of touch.” He also blamed the surge on Democrats’ “open border rhetoric”. After talking about his own rise from homeless child to Congressman, Tony reminded viewers of the importance of the American dream and that the U.S, is “a nation of immigrants”, but also “a nation of laws.”
Blake Moore (R; UT-1)
The Long Haul
Long Covid, as it’s now known, is still very much a mystery to researchers and even more of a burden to those suffering from it. Blake has added his name to a bill that would fund continued research into the effects of long covid and provide education to providers. The bill has bipartisan support, but also a healthy price tag, making its fate a little up in the air after all the other spending that is being voted on at the moment. Blake’s co-sponsoring of this bill came directly from a constituent call to his office who explained her experience, serving as yet another reminder that calling your member of Congress CAN have a real effect.
August Pfluger (R; TX-11)
Bring Em Back
Two US Marines, Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan were arrested, detained, and charged in Russia on what August and many other colleagues on both sides of the aisle are calling bogus charges. As Biden gears up to meet with President Putin, August has penned a letter requesting that Biden call for the Marines’ release during the meeting. While the news chyrons will surely be focused on the important conversation between the two countries, this detail will most likely not make it into mainstream reports, but with two American lives at stake, we’re glad August is on the case.
Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA- 44)
(Still) a Crisis
No matter what news station you watch, the southern border seems to be a mess. From the beginning, Nanette has been fighting for unaccompanied children in federal custody. Her opening statement at the Homeland Security subcommittee mentioned that while it seems there are more migrants coming to the border from Mexico/Central America, the Customs Border Protection said there were about 40,000 more children and families in May 2019 under the Trump administration, than in May 2021. Despite efforts being made from all sides of the government, Nanette is still concerned with the delay of progress. Maybe the government is doing too little too late?
Jason Crow (D; CO-4)
Did you know that a common technique used by police officers when they arrest someone is to inject them with ketamine? There have been various stories of how paramedics have too often overdosed many of these people. Jason along with PP leaders Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Mondaire Jones (D-NY) introduced the Ketamine Restriction Act, which would ban the use of ketamine during an arrest or detention, other than in the hospital. According to Colorado state public health records, paramedics have sedated people more than 902 times with ketamine in 2.5 years. Wow, imagine what that number is across other states.
Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)
INVEST in America
Antonio has some reasons to celebrate after getting some crucial infrastructure bills passed by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. As did other PP leader Nikema Williams (D-GA), Antonio had 4 bills passed by committee that direct federal investment in roads, bridges, transit, and rail AND deliver clean water to rural communities/bolster broadband construction. These provisions are all part of the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act. Other than having the perfect acronym, these bills seem to be addressing a range of much needed improvements.
Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)
President Biden threw people into a craze when he proposed cutting nearly half the Pentagon’s budget for the leading U.S. Government’s program for preventing, detecting, and responding to global disease outbreaks. The program’s budget would be $124 million or 45% lower than the current level. Ruben, who is chairman of the Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee, which oversees the biological threats program called the budget proposal “deeply troubling.” How do you feel about this budget cut after coming out of a global pandemic?
Josh Harder (D; CA-10)
Disabled but Not Un-able
Despite 80% of Americans with disabilities wanting to work, only 18% are employed. Josh reintroduced the bipartisan Disability Employment Incentive Act to encourage businesses to hire and retain more workers with disabilities, including veterans. The bill would incentivize the employment of people with disabilities by doubling three existing tax credits for businesses that employ disabled workers. The doubled tax credits could save businesses who hire people with disabilities more than $10,000 per year. Also, ICYMI, check out our PP Conversation with two disability advocates addressing issues just like this!
Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)
Tech is the Future
Celebrations are in order for Ro after the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act that he sponsored and introduced in the 116th Congress. The bill still needs to pass the House, but it passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The bill will ensure that the U.S. will remain the world’s leader in science and technology in the 21st century. This bill will invest $250 billion in tech to compete directly with China. Ro, as the representative from Silicon Valley, has been a champion of science and technology from the beginning and this is a big step forward for him.
Mike Levin (D; CA-49)
Time for an Update
Mike and a group of bipartisan colleagues, along with PP Leader Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), introduced The Supporting Families of the Fallen Act to increase the maximum life insurance coverage for service members and veterans to $500,000 from $400,000. The proposal increase reflects inflation levels and is meant to update a previous policy coverage that has not changed since 2005. The legislation supports servicemembers’ and veterans’ families by giving them the option to increase their policy coverage to an amount that best fits their needs. It is important that our politicians continue to honor and create programs for those who fight for our country.
Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)
The Dreaded Five-Letter Word
Taxes, taxes, taxes. No one likes the word taxes. Stephanie and a group of bipartisan Florida representatives introduced legislation, the Fishing Equipment Tax Relief Act, to help reduce taxes on fishermen. The bill would lower taxes on already assembled bait containers from 10% to 3%, which is what is currently taxed for non-assembled bait containers. Fishing is a big part of life in Florida so this will be sure to be welcomed with open arms. In other news, unfortunately, Stephanie has decided to bow out of the Florida Senate race and instead focus on her Florida seat to help the Democrats solidify their majority in the House.
Ilhan Omar (D; MN-5)
In Hot Water… Again
Ilhan is one of the most closely watched Democrats as many of her Republican colleagues like to pick apart everything she says and does. Ilhan tweeted “we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” along with a video of her questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a House hearing. This tweet led to almost all Republicans and many Jewish House Democrats accusing her of equating the U.S. and Israel with the Taliban and Hamas. Ilhan came out saying there is no way she is “equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries.” Despite releasing a statement, Ilhan’s counterparts are trying to remove her from her House assignments. Yikes.
Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)
Time for an Update
Elissa and a group of bipartisan colleagues, along with PP Leader Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced legislation, The Supporting Families of the Fallen Act, to increase the maximum life insurance coverage for service members and veterans to $500,000 from $400,000. The proposal increase reflects inflation levels and is to update a previous policy coverage that has not changed since 2005. The legislation supports servicemembers’ and veterans’ families by giving them the option to increase their policy coverage to an amount that best fits their needs. It is important that our politicians continue to honor and create programs for those who fight for our country.
Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)
The Money People!
For all those accountants out there, you just got a generational investment boost. Haley, along with PP leader Victoria Spartz (R-IN) introduced bipartisan legislation to help establish the accounting profession as a valuable STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum) career pathway and encourage diversity in the accounting workforce. The accounting profession has seen a shortage of talent in recent years and the Accounting STEM Pursuit Act would help bring more awareness to the profession. Let’s hope this is a boost for the next generation of leaders and innovators.
Kelly Armstrong (R; ND)
Keystone’s Final Breathe
Many Republican lawmakers reacted when TC Energy announced they were terminating the Keystone Pipeline XL. One of President Biden’s first executive orders was to terminate the expansion of the pipeline and Kelly called it a win for the “environmental extremists and a loss for the American workers.” As the only representative from North Dakota, energy is a key issue for the state. A few weeks ago, Kelly introduced bipartisan legislation allocating $4.7 billion to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells across the country. At least we know Kelly is finding other ways to provide jobs for people in the oil and gas industry.
Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)
The Woke Ideology
Dan is finally back at the Capital after a couple months of recovery from his eye surgery and it was quite a busy week. Dan joined PP leader, Tom Cotton (R-AR) to launch a whistleblower webpage to obtain more specifics about the military teaching critical race theory, encouraging neutral pronoun use and promoting liberal activist books. The website was met with various criticisms (no surprise there) and had many people trolling it (also no surprise). And in other news, Dan is going to be throwing his first annual fourth of July party. Can we bet that the ‘woke ideology’ might be on the drink menu?
Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)
Supply Chain Crew
Building more resilient supply chains and manufacturing in the U.S. is a key issue for Anthony. He joined PP leader Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) in introducing bipartisan legislation, the Continuous Manufacturing Research Act, which would allow the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award grants for research in advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing. Currently, the NSF supports research in six key areas and this act would make “manufacturing research” a seventh area. One of the key reasons Anthony supports the act is it will “expand innovation in pharmaceutical manufacturing technology…and reducing our dependency on China.” Other PP leader Peter Meijer (MI-R) also joined the crew.
Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)
$28 Trillion and Counting
Trey took to an op-ed to discuss the growing national debt. One of the things he continually hears in his district is concerns over the national debt and what it will mean for their children and grandchildren. Trey was a businessman before becoming a Congressman and he said the most important thing to learn was fiscal discipline or face dire consequences. As of April 30th, the federal government surpassed $28.2 trillion in debt. Standing alone, without context, the magnitude of that figure can be hard to fully grasp. But, broken down, that equates to roughly $85,332 for every person living in the United States and $219,342 for every household. Ouch, those numbers hurt.
Brian Mast (R; FL-18)
Show Us Your Face
Brian, and many other Republicans, are celebrating because Speaker Pelosi finally said Members of Congress can go “mask-free” if they are fully vaccinated. A few weeks ago, Brian received a $500 fine for not wearing his mask on the House floor. Unvaccinated lawmakers and staff are still required to wear masks. If you remember, we spoke about this in our PP newsletter, noting that while all 217 Democrats are vaccinated, only 97 out of 211 Republicans have admitted to being vaccinated. What are your thoughts on this?
Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)
As many Democrats and even some far-right Republicans are skeptical of what direction Elise might go, she introduced bipartisan legislation with Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) to help small-scale, family forest owners access new economic opportunities and incentivize investment in climate-forward forestry practices. The Rural Forest Markets Act will establish a program that will offer guaranteed loans up to $150 million to create and sell forest credits for storing carbon. And congratulations are in order as she and her husband announced they are pregnant with their first child!
William Timmons (R; SC-4)
Are We Going to Break Up?
Activist investor, Elliot Investment Management, proposed to break up Duke Energy into three regional operations. The proposal has drawn wide criticism from many politicians and Duke Energy is also opposed saying it will increase costs and put pressure on utility rates. William, along with various bipartisan colleagues including PP Leader Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), said they are opposed to any proposal that would risk job losses, electricity rate increases, and diminished reliability across the Carolinas. Well at least Duke Energy has some supporters in its corner.
Josh Hawley (R; MO)
Letting China Off Easy
As one of the strongest critics on China, Josh voted against the Innovation and Competition Act that recently passed the Senate and now heads to the House. This bill was introduced in the previous Congressional session by PP leader Ro Khanna (D-CA). Josh voted against it, saying it cuts tariffs on China and did not put American workers first. More importantly, Josh was trying to put a 100% duty tax on any goods from the Xinjiang Autonomous region which has been known for “slave labor.” Should we be stricter on China?
Mondaire Jones (D; NY-17)
Bipartisan Voting? Pshhh
Mondaire has been called one of the most active members of the freshman class and his most recent fight is against Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) who has publicly said he wants a bipartisan voting rights and anti-corruption bill. In an op-ed, Mondaire pointed to the January 6 insurrection committee in which not one Republican Senator voted in favor of. As Mondaire puts it “if there aren’t 10 Republicans willing to investigate an insurrection that almost claimed their lives, there aren’t 10 Republicans willing to protect democracy.” Sounds harsh, but is there a bit of truth behind that statement?
Nikema Williams (D; GA-5)
Nikema has put her position on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to good work. This past week she secured $15 million for six transportation projects which were approved on a bipartisan basis by the committee. As well, part of the legislation she introduced called the Reconnecting Neighborhoods Program to help redesign and remove highway infrastructure built through communities of color was also passed. And finally, the Committee advanced the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act that improves the country’s wastewater infrastructure. Ok, Nikema deserves a round of applause.
Lauren Boebert (R; CO-3)
Is This Grass-fed?
It is not every day you see Lauren join colleagues from across the aisle, but she recently cosponsored the bipartisan PRIME (Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption) Act. The bill would permit intrastate distribution of custom-butchered meat to give farmers and ranchers the flexibility and freedom to sell their meat. This was in response to the COVID-19 crisis and a recent hack on the JBS processing plant that wiped out a quarter of the American beef. Current law exempts custom butchering from federal inspection regulations, but only for meat going to personal, household, or employee use. Time for a burger?
Tracey Mann (R; KS-1)
For the Farmers
Infrastructure will be the word we hear for the next couple months as our politicians try to pass a “generational bill.” Tracey pointed to the importance of farmers in this bill. “We’ve got to have good roads, bridges, and infrastructure to get our products out of the field to the elevator and eventually to the mouths that will consume it.” Unfortunately, Tracey said the Biden infrastructure proposed did not take farmers into account. Tracey was in support of a different bill that expanded rural broadband infrastructure so it will be interesting to see how and if this one moves forward.
Andrew Garbarino (R; NY-2)
News that went under the radar this week: the passage of the bipartisan Senate bill Protecting America’s First Responder Act (PAFRA). The bill was introduced in the House by Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) and Andrew was a sponsor of the bill, along with PP leader Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). The bill makes significant improvements to the Public Safety Officer Benefits program by providing first responders who die or are permanently disabled in the line of duty with a federal benefit of $370,000 and education assistance of $1,200/month to their children or spouse. The first responders are heroes and whatever we can do to help them and their family matters!
Julia Letlow (R; LA-5)
Keep It Up, Julia
Our heart goes out to Julia as we cannot imagine the difficult year it has been since her husband passed from COVID and her taking up the mantle to win his congressional seat. Julia earned a Ph.D. after writing a dissertation on coping with the sudden death of family members, dedicated to her younger brother, Jeremy, who died in an auto accident as a teenager. Sadly she had to deal with another sudden death of her husband. She is the first female Republican elected to Congress from Louisiana and has been sprinting to keep up with the busy schedule. She was finally able to open three offices in her district to assist her constituents with federal programs and other requests. Onwards!
Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)
The Kids Are Alright
Christmas came a little bit early for some of the kiddos in Pete’s district after he recently secured $6.6 million in Covid relief funds for Inland Empire Preschool Services. Pete has been a longtime advocate for early childhood education, and his role on the House Appropriations Committee allows him to put his money where his mouth is. The grant funding, allocated from the HHS Head Start Program, will enable the Preschool Services Department to operate an in-person summer school program aimed at helping prepare the incoming kindergarten class. And given all the lost academic time due to Covid, these resources seem even more critical than before. The kids might not be thrilled with you now Pete, but they will come college admissions season.
Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)
Sometimes when a Congressman introduces a bill, he knows it’s an uphill battle, and when it doesn’t pass the floor in one Congress, they often keep fighting well into the next. That’s precisely what Brendan did when he reintroduced Katherine’s Lung Cancer Early Detection and Survival Act. The bicameral legislation, named in honor of a fallen daughter of a Minnesotan Representative, would expand healthcare coverage for lung cancer screenings to help detect cancer in patients earlier. Specifically, it would require commercial health plans to cover lung screenings for high-risk patients at no cost to them, regardless of their smoking history. Lung cancer is sadly the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, so the takeaway here is simple: This could save lives.
Jared Golden (D; ME-2)
More Than A Photo-Op
The new Biden Administration promised that “Infrastructure Week” would be more than just a press conference, and while it may seem like we’ve yet to see results, the truth is many in Congress are hard at work on the nuts and bolts of the plan, and this includes Jared. As a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, Jared released a detailed bipartisan framework for Infrastructure that calls for $1.25 trillion in spending over eight years. As for how we pay for this, Jared said he supports an earlier proposal that includes increased IRS enforcement, which experts say would recoup billions every year. Working out the details is often the least sexy part of politics, but it’s this nitty-gritty that makes the passing-of-the-bill photo op all the sweeter.
Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)
And They Said We Can’t Get Along
Andy is proving there’s still such a thing as compromise in Washington after he introduced two bipartisan bills this week. The first is the Resilient Highways Act, which directs infrastructure spending to local communities to help weatherize their roadways against the risks of flooding and extreme weather—something we’ve seen all too frequently lately. The second is the BUILD Veteran’s Businesses Act, which he sponsored along with fellow under-45er Conor Lamb (D-PA). The bill creates a new program that helps Veteran-owned small businesses secure contracts for upcoming infrastructure projects. The takeaway here is that none of this is making headlines and all of it is actually important. And this is why Political Playlist is here.
Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)
Do Not Pass Go
There’s a new Monopoly Man in DC except he’s not lining his pockets, he’s looking out for the consumers. His name is Joe and he just introduced the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, which looks to ensure antitrust authorities have the proper resources they need to enforce laws that protect the consumers. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by fellow under-45er Victoria Spartz, is one of five bipartisan bills emerging from the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, on which Joe sits. The legislation is an update on an existing bill and it would lower the burden on small and medium-sized businesses by doing away with the existing flat-fee that all business mergers pay and transition to a scalable one. For any of the small business owners out there, would this help you?
Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)
Uber For Vets
The mainstream news media may say bipartisanship is a thing of the past, but among our fellow under-45ers, it is very much alive and well…ish. Chris introduced bipartisan legislation, along with newly-minted GOP #3 Elise Stefanik, that would permanently reauthorize the Highly Rural Veteran Transportation Program within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). What the heck is that, you ask? Well, the program enables organizations like State Veterans Service Agencies to provide no-cost transportation for Vets to VA health care facilities, specifically those in highly rural areas. Currently, the program must be reauthorized every two years by Congress but this bill would strike it from the annual Congressional To-Do list. And let’s face it, they’ve got plenty on their plates to keep them occupied.
Darren Soto (D; FL-9)
Memorials are bittersweet by definition because while they forever symbolize the lives of those we lost, they tragically can never bring them back. For Darren, this is particularly powerful as his district is home to the fatal shooting of 49 individuals at the Pulse Nightclub just five years ago. And the moment of deep honor for Darren came after President Biden announced that he planned to sign a bill into law that would designate the nightclub a national memorial. Darren thanked the Senate for their support by saying “though the 49 angels we lost that night are missed every day, we must continue working to honor their spirits and keep their legacies alive.”
Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)
The Spy Who Couldn’t Stop Me
Eric was alarmed to say the least after reading a recent report that found the Justice Department under President Trump had secretly targeted the private data of members of the House Intelligence Committee, including Eric himself. But Eric hasn’t let that slow him down as he just announced the inclusion of $20 million in the Infrastructure bill for the Valley Link Project in his district. Specifically, the funding would go towards connecting the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) with a similar commuter train in his area, all while implementing the Valley Link’s sustainability blueprint. This Northern California project would also serve as a national model of environmental sustainability through its reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the system’s planning, design, and operation.
Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)
The Elite Eight
Apologies sports fans, but we’re not referring to your favorite week in March here. We’re actually referring to the number of projects consistent Congressional superstar Lauren has managed to get included into the sweeping Infrastructure bill. That would be eight projects earmarked for her district, all dealing with different infrastructure needs. In total, we’re talking about $19.4 in funding for her windy city suburban district. The various projects include resurfacing of local main streets within business districts, improving traffic intersections and busy roundabouts, and there’s even a project in there to relocate an unsightly railway. People often wonder, “what can the Federal government really do for me?” The answer: This!
Jim Banks (R; IN-3)
The Great Pilgrimage To Jersey
Jim’s influence and stature within the GOP seem to be ever growing thanks to his role as the Republican Study Chair, and so it seems almost a prerequisite that he and a dozen colleagues made the trek to Bedminister for an evening sit-down with former President Trump. The two hour conversation focused on a variety of topics relating to both policy and election strategy for the upcoming 2022 midterms as well as the 2024 presidential. Jim stressed that he believes “we win back the majority if we focus on the Trump agenda.” The Republican Study Committee helps shape the forthcoming policy and legislative agenda goals, and whether or not the former President still has an iron grip on the party, his agenda remains precisely where they’re going.
Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)
Despite being still embroiled in a potentially criminal scandal, and having officially not been hired by Newsmax, Matt continues to squash out the naysayers by continuing to do what the voters sent him to Washington for: to legislate. Matt introduced the Digital Health Pass Prevention Act this week, along with fellow under-45er Lance Gooden (R-TX), that would ban federal support for vaccine passports. It effectively prevents the government from funding or enforcing any digital health pass program that isn’t a matter of official health care records. In his statement, Matt said “We will not allow the public health bureaucracy to be a new entity to drain our liberty.” Would you feel safer with a vaccine passport program or would this be a governmental step too far?
Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)
Capping Big Tech
One of the things Big Tech doesn’t always want you to know is when they acquire a successful competitor and fold it into their brand portfolio. In recent years, the likes of Apple, Facebook and Amazon have spent billions doing this, which in turn eliminates alternatives to their platforms and services. Lance is calling a flag on the play, which is why he’s introduced the Ending Platform Monopolies Act. The bipartisan legislation looks to effectively restore fairness to the digital marketplace and level the playing field by banning Big Tech mergers and acquisitions of companies with a $600 Billion market cap or higher. It also empowers DOJ and the FTC to further pursue antitrust enforcement. Big Tech bills don’t often share bipartisan support so this may be one to keep an eye on.
Dusty Johnson (R; SD)
Say No To WOTUS, POTUS
Alas, we cannot claim credit for this title, for it belongs to the creative mind of none other than Dusty himself! Indeed, that was the title he used in his weekly column in which he spoke about his continued engagement and advocacy on behalf of the agriculture industry. He spoke directly with the South Dakota Corn and Soybean Associations specifically about WOTUS (Water of the U.S.), an Obama-era rule designating any body of water in the US is subject to EPA regulation. This includes bodies of water on private land, which the Trump administration did away with, and now the Biden administration is considering its reinstatement. Dusty is advocating against it, calling it a rule full of problems, and argues that “it’s possible to be environmentally conscious without hurting producers.” But his real argument is the constant flip-flopping of agriculture rules is really what hurts farmers.
Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)
Markwayne continues to be a leading Congressional voice in the fight for equal rights among the Native American community. He reintroduced the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act, a bipartisan bill that would allow Tribal Health Services to have better access to public health data. In his statement, Markwayne noted that for years, Tribes have faced many challenges while trying to access their public health data. Upon the arrival of Covid, this challenge only grew harder, and the need for the data only became more vital. This bill passed the House last congress but was not voted on in the Senate. Markwayne is hoping that can change this year. And speaking of years, Markwayne celebrated 24 years of marriage to his wife Christie. We will raise a virtual glass during the next Political Playlist Happy Hour podcast!
Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)
Still In Financial Detention
Sanctions have always been a powerful financial tool for the US to hold foreign bad actors accountable, and Bryan is a big believer in the effectiveness of this method. This week, he wrote a forceful letter to Treasury Secretary Yellin criticizing a recent move that saw 14 individuals and companies gain sanctions relief from this administration. While he doesn’t specifically call for increased sanctions, he does demand to see the written evidence for why these entities received relief. He questions their viability for such easement, and warns of their well-documented connections to foreign regimes like the Asaad Regime in Syria as well as Iran. This looks to be a standard Congressional oversight maneuver though based on the letter, Bryan is certainly raising both questions and concerns about the actions.
Lee Zeldin (D; NY-1)
Making Gubernatorial Waves
It seems the minute a politician begins running for something, they begin taking every opportunity to get in front of a camera and weigh in on a given issue. That’s precisely what Lee has been up to lately, since announcing he’ll run for NY Governor. He’s been quite vocal about the need to supply India with enough Covid-19 Vaccines as well as the need for unmasking our kids at schools, but perhaps his best forum has been in recent Foreign Affairs Committee hearings. He recently took Secretary of State Blinken to task over a variety of issues, from the recent sanctions of former Albanian President (a close ally of both Presidents Bush) as well as questioning whether or not this current administration recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Not surprising were the lack of answers he received, but in politics, it tends to really be about the questions most of the time.
Kyrsten Sinema (D; AZ)
With an apparatus as large and complex as the US Military, there’s bound to be a litany of things we just don’t think about; case and point, daycare. After listening to the concerns of many service members in her state, Kyrsten has introduced the Childcare Expansion For Military Families Act. The bipartisan bill looks to improve and increase childcare services for military families by increasing the DOD’s access to funds for construction on bases. It turns out that much of the lack of childcare options stems from the logistical reality of simply not having enough space and facilities on military bases. So this bill would direct $15 million in spending on facility expansion across various bases. It sure does seem like the last thing our service men and women need to worry about is who’s going to watch their kids when they report for duty.
Jake Auchincloss (D; MA-3)
More Brick & Mortar For Mass
Jake had good reason to vote to pass the INVEST in America Act out of his Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week, as it means roughly $4.4 Billion in infrastructure funding for his state. But specifically for his district, it means greenlight for several key projects to the tune of several million in funding. We’re talking bridges, bike paths, and hiking trails, not to mention a few messy traffic intersections in need of some overhauling. Investing right here at home does so much for local economies in terms of job creation but also improves the everyday lives of our citizens right at their doorsteps. One might be forgiven if they mistook this initiative as part of the America First agenda but alas, it’s part of the Build Back Better plan.
Sara Jacobs (D; CA-53)
We Are The World
With a pedigree that includes stints at the United Nations, the State Department and UNICEF, it’s no surprise that Sara recognizes the power, and importance, of US international diplomacy. That’s precisely why she has introduced the Restoring US Leadership in International Organizations Act, which looks to do just that, by boosting America’s diplomatic presence at the US Mission to the UN, as well as encouraging diplomats to take on leadership positions within international organizations. Part of that includes removing the cap on the number of Foreign Service Officers who can receive housing allowances while serving at the UN in pricey NYC. Ultimately, this is all about reclaiming our center seat on the world stage, and restoring our global image.
Madison Cawthorn (R; NC-11)
Madison started the week ablaze when he announced that he joined the House Energy Action Team, otherwise known as HEAT. The influential group of GOP policymakers was first created some ten years ago by now-number 2 Steve Scalise, and is tasked with crafting the way forward for all matters Energy. Madison reflected how this new assignment was a fitting extension to his speech at the RNC last year, and provides him a new platform to advance many conservative policies to address rising energy prices as well as job creation, all while working to enhance America’s national security through energy independence. Madison has been a vocal critic of all things resembling the Green New Deal, and plans to use this new platform to provide a different path forward when it comes to environmental justice.
Peter Meijer (R; MI-8)
No Friend Left Behind
It may be politically convenient to brag about ending the war in Afghanistan, but with the departure of troops come real life-or-death concerns for the Afghan people. Chiefly among them are those who assist US Troops in myriad ways, and thanks to Peter, they’re not being forgotten. Peter and his colleagues on the bipartisan Keeping Our Promises Working Group wrote a letter to the Biden administration urging them to evacuate their Afghan partners for security and safety reasons. The letter details their grave risk of harm posed by the Taliban, ISIS and Al Qaeda now that the US Troop presence is leaving, and how we owe it to them to protect their families because of the enormous risks they took on behalf of the US. There are over 18,000 people who need Visas prior to our exit and Peter is helping to lead the charge for their protection.
Jake LaTurner (R; KS-2)
Do As You Say?
There’s certainly some reason for the folks in Jake’s district to celebrate, as he has secured roughly $20 million in funding for various earmarked projects in his district. This includes $3 million for replacing city buses, $2 million to replace a bridge, and several other roadway improvements. However, the notable thing about these earmarks is that just a month ago, Jake specifically said he was not going to request ANY earmarks for his district on account of ideological principle. And yet, he submitted over $21 million in requests. When asked, his spokesman did a bit of political ballet in justifying it all, and it’s certainly all beneficial to his district, but it really asks the larger question: why do politicians say one thing and then do another?
Nancy Mace (R; SC-2)
A Piece Of My Mind
Certified Congressional bad-ass Nancy is never afraid to speak her mind, and this week she did just that, taking the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats to task over China Policy and infrastructure spending. Appearing on Fox News, Nancy questioned the Administration over providing answers to what actual, practical steps they are taking when it comes to holding China accountable for misbehavior. She noted that the administration appears to be punting the thorough examination of the Covid-19 origins as it relates to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and claims they are just filling the airways with empty rhetoric. She then put out a statement slamming what she calls a “my way or the highway” approach the Democrats are taking on the proposed Infrastructure bill. She claims the Republicans are ready and willing to compromise and the ball’s now in the Dem’s court to do so.
Nicole Malliotakis (R; NY-11)
Show Me The Receipts
Ever wonder where the heck all this Government funding goes to? Well, you’re not alone because Nicole wants to know that too, and has now introduced legislation to make it so. She introduced the Where’s Our Money Going Act, which would require state and local governments who received Covid relief to disclose how every dollar was spent. Furthermore, it would require them to publish that information and make it publicly available to the public on their website. A failure to do that would result in not only that municipality’s loss of further relief funding but also would require them to return federal money to the Treasury Department. Nicole is aiming her tenacity at Government accountability so to that we say: Hope y’all saved your receipts!
Jon Ossoff (D; GA)
Raise The Roof
Jon continues the legislative honeymoon tour through Georgia with his fellow Democratic Senator as they jointly announce a major federal funding win for the state. The celebration comes on the heels of securing $18 million in housing vouchers for vulnerable families and individuals across the state. This funding helps local HUD officials assist those in unstable housing situations. By the numbers, this looks like securing approximately 1,300 homes for people in need. The funding comes via the American Rescue Plan and is geared towards helping not just those on hard times or experiencing homelessness but also those victims of abuse or sexual assault who may desperately need alternative housing options but who previously had no other options. Thanks to Jon’s hard work, they do now.
Melanie Stansbury (D, NM)
Welcome to the Club!
We have a new PP leader! Welcome to the club Melanie Stansbury. Melanie won a special election filling the vacated position of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. While some considered this a key race to watch how the midterms might be, Melanie won with 60% of the vote and President Biden carried the district by 23% so it was technically a “safe” Democratic seat. Previously, Melanie was a state House representative and the first woman elected in District 28. She also had previous experience working under the Obama administration in the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Some might call Melanie a Progressive Democrat and plans to fight for universal healthcare, cancelling student debt, tackling climate change and banning assault weapons.