THE COMPLETE 16 PERCENT: Break Down The Barriers

The full rundown from our December 10, 2020 newsletter.

Chanikarn Thongsupa

LBJ Library

Brendan Smialowski, Agence France-Presse

The Blog
The Blog

THE COMPLETE 16 PERCENT: Break Down The Barriers

Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA-44)

Give Him the Gavel

Nanette voiced her strong support to Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) in the contest to lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee against Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-New York). In her statement through a spokesperson, Nanette references Castro’s leadership on a foreign affairs panel, presence on the intelligence committee, and commitment to take climate into account when assessing foreign policy. In addition to Castro’s progressive support, many also cite his generational advantage – Castro, who is 46 (compared to Meeks’ 67), could usher in a new era of leadership on one of the House’s most important committees. This contest is worth keeping an eye on as it could have larger implications for other leadership positions to come.

Jason Crow (D; CO-4)

Finding the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Support for small businesses of all kinds are front and center at the moment. Jason and a bipartisan group of Representatives and Senators have introduced the Next Generation of Entrepreneur Corps Act aimed at encouraging small businesses in typically underserved communities as we rebuild from the pandemic. This bill calls for funding to spur new business and job creation by starting a competitive fellowship for young entrepreneurs. The fellows would be chosen by a committee and will receive healthcare, living expenses, student loan support, and a stipend for living and startup expenses, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Do you think a program like this could act as a key piece of our national recovery in low-income areas?

Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)

The Holiday Spirit

For many young people, big city life has often been the draw post-college. Antonio and his colleague, fellow Political Playlist leader, Abby Finkenauer, want to change that. They have introduced the Rural Revitalization Now Act to provide $50,000 in student loan relief for people who commit to live and work in rural communities for at least eight years. “Upstate New York is home to some of the best colleges in the world, but our towns and villages continue to see students move to metropolitan areas after graduation,” Antonio said in a statement. To be eligible, a borrower must meet a set of criteria, but Antonio is confident that young people will be encouraged to “settle down, find employment, and raise a family here in upstate.” Would you?

Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)

BOLD Moves

The first in his family to go to college, Ruben is now the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC – it’s campaign arm. The previous Chair, Tony Cardenas (D-California) is vacating the position in order to run for the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. BOLD PAC has seen record fundraising over the last three election cycles, though Ruben now takes charge of it as Democrats look to reverse the losses they suffered with Hispanic voters up and down the ballot this November. As Ruben continues to rise in the ranks of the Democratic Caucus, he has an opportunity to shape how the party approaches Hispanic voters for years to come.

Josh Harder (D; CA-10)

Pay Up, Uncle Sam

The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act has been finalized and Josh is proud that it includes his measure to approve benefits for Vietnam War veterans suffering from illnesses linked to exposure to Agent Orange. The provision lowers the amount of proof veterans would need to provide in order to receive benefits. “This is an incredible day for veterans who have waited decades to get the care they deserve… thanks to our bipartisan efforts we’re putting our money where our mouth is,” he said. Though the Act is final, Trump is still threatening to veto it due to its legal protections for social media companies (which both Republicans and Democrats have objected to). We’ll see what happens to the bill, but nice to know that Josh and his colleagues are looking after these veterans decades after their service.

Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)

Let’s Get Digital, Baby

Speaking to a 100,000 person online audience at the international Web Summit, Ro joined thought leaders, politicians, members of the business community and more to discuss the future of technology in our world. His main call to action? To develop a bill of digital rights which would include, among other things, an opt-in consent for data collection. He believes that if people have to consent before giving access to their data, it would be harder to violate privacy and for social media companies to target users. This, ostensibly, would lead to a decrease in the spread of disinformation. Ro represents the Silicon Valley area, yet implored that social media platforms are held more accountable and are subject to more regulation claiming they’re “they’ve realized they’re in over their heads”. In addition to floating this new proposal at the Web Summit, Ro also appeared on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, which led to both progressive and far-right backlash, though the host and the member of Congress defended the interview as productive… who woulda thought??

Mike Levin (D; CA-49)

Our Common Enemy

Unless you’re an avid viewer of C-SPAN it’s unlikely you hear many members of Congress speak on a daily basis, though they are… all the time. Last week, Mike stood up and gave remarks urging both parties to come together and provide COVID relief immediately. While his sentiments are echoed by many in both his own party and in the GOP (though they still can’t seem to agree on how to proceed), one poignant phrase stood out – “The enemy is not our neighbors or our political opponents, the enemy is this virus.” It’s simple, but seems to embody the frustrating difficulties our nation is having in addressing what should be viewed as, above all, an overarching threat.

Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)

It’s Not Their Fault!

If you’ve filed for unemployment in the last (checks calendar) 8 months, you’ve probably become familiar with how complicated and at times unreliable the system can be. Stephanie and her colleague, fellow Political Playlist leader, Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Washington) are trying to include a measure in the most recent COVID relief package that would take the fault off individuals who are mistakenly overpaid unemployment benefits. Stephanie stresses the importance of this measure because currently, states like Florida seek repayment from potentially struggling workers who did not know they were overpaid. Her bottom line? When the government messes up, citizens should not pay the price (literally).

Another quick update on Stephanie, last newsletter we informed you of a bill she and another Political Playlist leader, Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), introduced to get a medal of honor awarded to fallen Army veteran Alwyn Cashe. We’re happy to announce that President Trump has signed the bill to law and while there are still some technical steps to move through, it seems that Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe will get his medal.

Ilhan Omar (D; MN-5)

Pressure’s On, Joe

While there has been consistent communication between the Biden-Harris transition team and the progressive wing of the Democratic party, Ilhan and fellow Squad (and Political Playlist) members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (MI) have signed a petition explicitly against Biden appointing his former chief of staff, Bruce Reed, to a position in the administration. In opposing Reed, they cite his past support to cuts to Social Security and Medicare during the Obama administration. The left wing of the party has been happy with some of Biden’s cabinet appointments, but is feeling a little sour about there not being more progressives announced up front. Notably, the petition has also been signed by incoming Reps (and soon-to-be Political Playlist leaders) Cori Bush (D-MO) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) so keep an eye on his coming appointments to see if these young leaders will be satisfied.

Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)

C.I.Heyyyy

We’ll keep this one short. Elissa is on the incoming Biden administration’s short list to head the CIA. After serving three tours in Iraq as a CIA officer she went on to work in the office of the Director of National Intelligence and for the National Security Council. Notably, she was the only Iraq adviser held over from the Bush administration when Obama took office. This would be, um… pretty cool!

Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)

Reduce, Reuse…

How many times have you thrown a plastic bottle in the recycling bin and wondered if you were actually doing something helpful? Haley wants to take that wonder out of the equation which is why she started the bipartisan Plastics Solution Task Force, composed of lawmakers, manufacturers, and consumer groups. In a recent interview (her piece starts at minute 27), Haley stressed the importance of standardizing our recycling programs and taking advantage of the robust supply chain systems we have in our country to be more efficient – we currently recycle only about 10% of what we should be! Haley sees this not only as an environmental win, but an economic one too – if we streamline these processes it creates opportunities for investors and will stimulate job creation, all while making us less dependent on foreign markets like China to do the work for us. Sounds like a slam dunk and we’re excited to see where Haley takes this mission.

Xochitl Torres Small (D; NM-2)

Home Improvement

While we’re all getting pretty familiar with our homes these days, Xochitl and the two Democratic senators from her state are making sure some residents in New Mexico can find comfort in their own abodes. They just secured $318,694 from the Dept. of Agriculture in rural development grants for home construction, rehabilitation, and repair for families in need. By using this money to improve home health and safety standards – subsidizing things like accessibility access, heating and cooling, and plumbing – many low-income individuals and families will feel more secure in these already destabilizing times. Despite losing her election, it’s reassuring to see Xochitl using her last months in office to make a difference in her communities.

Kelly Armstrong (D; ND)

They’re Watching You

Back in July, Kelly administered a harsh questioning of Google CEO Sundar Pichai regarding the company’s disclosure of information for ‘geofence warrants’ issued by law enforcement. These warrants request information from the tech company about individual devices in a certain region as it would pertain to a criminal investigation. Though Google releases transparency reports every six months of government requests for information, it doesn’t break down what types of requests they are. This wasn’t good enough of an explanation for Kelly and it turns out lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and various civil rights groups agree. A letter was sent this week to Pichai requesting that the company start providing data on how many geofence warrants it receives. While this is a step in the direction of increased regulation on Big Tech, we’re sure Kelly and his like-minded colleagues will continue to push for more transparency – time will tell if they can keep up with Google and its counterparts’ speed of advancement…

Dan Crenshaw (D; TX-2)

Lights, Camera, Georgia

As one of the more recognizable young members of Congress, Dan is not shy to use that to his party’s advantage. In addition to campaigning heavily in Georgia for the upcoming Senate runoff elections, he also released an actual trailer for his soon to be released political movie entitled, “Georgia Reloaded”, in which he copters to the state on a new mission to help Sens. Leoffler and Purdue win reelection.The trailer itself is Statham meets Schwarzenegger, so we can only imagine the drama of the film itself. We’ll see if Dan’s venture into action movie-inspired campaign ads takes hold and, more importantly, if he can complete his mission come January.

Another quick update on Dan, last newsletter we informed you of a bill he and another Political Playlist leader, Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida), introduced to get a medal of honor awarded to fallen Army veteran Alwyn Cashe. We’re happy to announce that President Trump has signed the bill to law and while there are still some technical steps to move through, it seems that Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe will get his medal.

Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)

Time to Act

Anthony, one of the 27 Congressional Republicans who has acknowledged Joe Biden as the president-elect, joined House and Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle last week to introduce a bipartisan COVID relief bill. The package allocates $908 billion in total aid, including new funding and the reallocation of previously appropriated CARES Act funding. Introduced by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which several Political Playlist leaders are a part of, this bill might serve as a framework for Congressional Democrats and Republicans to get behind (hasn’t happened yet, but we’ll see). Anthony stressed the importance of moving forward, stating, “This sensible, bipartisan, bicameral proposal will provide those most in need with the bridge necessary to see us through this crisis. The time to act is now”.

Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)

Planet Before Party

While we have to administer a slap on the wrist to Trey for mostly radio silence in the news and on social media over the last few weeks, we thought we’d highlight a bipartisan bill he introduced in October to address climate change. Statistically, climate change is a bipartisan issue among young voters and young politicians. In fact, the College Republicans of Indiana University (in Trey’s district) have been lobbying to change the GOP’s position on climate change. The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020 (first introduced in the Senate), while potentially too far-reaching or not far-reaching enough, depending which side you fall on, could act as a starting point for the next generation of political leaders to address a once-polarizing issue.

Colin Allred (D; TX-32)

A Working Relationship

Newsmakers and other viewers were surprised to see Colin and Republican Congressman Van Taylor poke friendly jokes at each other on the political show, Lone Star Politics. “The thing I always appreciated about Van is that we have mostly the same end goal, even though we might not agree on every single thing about how to get there,” Allred said. Van followed up saying that Colin was the first person he called when he won his election, because Colin and his constituents are important to him and his district. Both Colin and Van ran campaigns on bipartisan messages and accomplishments that they achieved working together. Could it be? A fairy tale ending to a political story?

Anthony Brindisi (D; NY-22)

The Never-Ending Race

Ever thought your vote didn’t matter? Take a look at Anthony’s race and think again. Over 318,000 people voted for the congressional seat and now the race will be decided based on 809 disputed ballots. Anthony’s Republican opponent, Claudia Tenney, is winning by 12 votes! The focus is now placed on these 809 absentee and affidavit ballots, but a judge has also asked to see 1,600 additional ballots for inspection. On Monday December 7th, the judge did not declare a winner, although Tenney’s lawyers asked him to. Instead he is ordering a recount of more votes. Every vote matters! Everyone buckle up, looks like we’re in for a long one here.

Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)

Adding Vice-Chair to my Resume

Sharice was elected to be the Vice-Chair of the New Democrat Coalition. The NDC was founded in 1997, composed of over 100 House Democrats (or “centrist Democrats”) who are committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies. It is the largest ideological caucus for the Democratic Party and the second largest ideological caucus overall (after the Republican Study Committee – see Political Playlist leader Jim Banks who was just elected RSC leader). In her acceptance speech she said, “Our Coalition represents an important voice in our Caucus, and we will play an even greater role in guiding our national agenda in the next Congress.” Coming off her win, she has been vocal about keeping Congress in session until there is a deal on the coronavirus bipartisan relief package.

Lizzie Fletcher (D; TX-7)

Dangerous Waters No More

Many of us remember the frightening images of flooding in Houston after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. This is why Lizzie was adamant about securing $4 million in flood mitigation for Jersey Village from FEMA. Lizzie was instrumental in stepping up and pushing FEMA to approve the grant instead of delaying funding for this critical flood project. Her assistance has helped to cut through red tape and move this large flood mitigation product forward. While hurricane season may have passed for 2020, at least they will be prepared for 2021.

Josh Gottheimer (D; NJ-5)

U.S. Mint – Welcome to 2021

While Josh and his Republican Co-Chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, Tom Reed, are working tirelessly to get the next COVID relief package passed, he got some other legislation passed in the meantime. The Coin Metal Modification Authorization & Cost Savings Act is bipartisan legislation that could potentially save taxpayers millions of dollars each year by allowing the U.S. Mint to begin producing coins at a more cost-effective rate. This act allows the U.S. Mint to use new technologies and methods to mint new coins. At Political Playlist, we wonder why issues like this, related to technology in bureaucracy, take so long to pass through our government.

Joseph Kennedy (D; MA-4)

Ode to Joe

Although Joe will be leaving Congress, he is still introducing new legislation – the Holyoke Veterans Act, with colleague Richard Neal (D-MA), would require skilled oversight of soldiers’ group homes, requiring them to have a similar medical licensure as is required for skilled nursing facility administrators. Sadly, this bill comes in response to 76 veterans’ deaths earlier this year from a COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. As well, Joe gave his farewell speech on the House floor. ”This job has been an honor.” This will be the first time since 1946 that a member of the Kennedy family will not be in Congress.

Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)

Thank You for the Weed, But…

You may have heard that the House passed legislation legalizing marijuana at the federal level last Friday. Fun Fact: this is the first time either chamber of Congress has voted on the matter. The bill, the MORE Act, passed mostly along party lines, but is unlikely to pass the Senate. It would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge some marijuana-related criminal records. While important, Conor called out the elephant in the room regarding COVID, “we should be working every minute to get a deal done and get money to people who need it. Instead the House is voting on a piecemeal marijuana bill that won’t become a law.” Does this seem like a valid use of Representatives’ time to you?

Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)

988 The New Lifesaver… Soon

About a month ago we let you know the bill that Seth co-sponsored was signed into law by the President. For a long time the National Suicide Hotline number was 10 digits long, but the law designates that 9-8-8 will be the new, easy to remember number to call in a moment of crisis. Here is the bad news. They say it is going to take up to a year to put into effect. Unfortunately, they have to build the infrastructure so that every state can deal with these calls since it is the states responsibility now. Some states are further ahead in infrastructure than others. The bottom line is this new law will help save lives so at least we are moving forward, but the frustrating lag of bureaucracy and dated systems have reared their ugly head.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)

A Fashion Statement

AOC is no stranger to calling out the billionaires and the rich. Even more, she is selling $60 sweatshirts on her site that say, “Tax the Rich.” Which has caused a lot of talk. AOC believes it is “wrong” for billionaires to exist when extreme poverty also exists – when “in parts of Alabama…people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health.” Most recently Eric Schmidt, former CEO/Chairman of Google (net worth $17 billion), came out saying in response to AOC, “We would probably all be better off spending more time understanding the contributions made by specific individuals and not making generalizations about anyone.” How do you feel about this system clash? And be honest, did you buy the sweatshirt?

Max Rose (D; NY-11)

Don’t Back Down

Max lost his race this season and unfortunately for him it was not very close. Some say his defeat was impacted by him marching in a Black Lives Matter protest or the false claims that he wanted to defund the police. In Max’s farewell address, the main message to the Democrats was “Don’t back down.” “In light of recent electoral results, some have begun to wonder if Democrats should soft-pedal the fight for equal justice, if they should take a step back from fighting for economic security, or even just give up,” Rose said. “I’m here to say, ‘Absolutely not.’ This cannot wait. Justice cannot wait. If you aren’t willing to risk everything to build a better country, then you do not belong here in the first place,” Rose said. Looks like Max will continue to be talking and…marching.

Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)

Hometown Buffet

Abigail is still riled up from her phone call with House Democrats on which she voiced concern over the messages of socialism, etc. being targeted against the entire Democratic party. Over the last few weeks Abigail has been more than vocal on a variety of issues, pushing aggressively on the new COVID relief package, aid for Virginian music venues hit hard by COVID, extending deadlines on funds for Virginia state and local governments, healthcare providers, small businesses…the list goes on. On top of this she introduced legislation to prioritize funding for high-speed broadband internet infrastructure projects in Central Virginia and across the country and reject proposed cuts. All we can say is, THIS GIRL IS ON FIIIRRRRE!

Rashida Talib (D; MI-13)

Knock Knock Mr. Bezos?

Let’s face it, with various state and local COVID restrictions, it has become much easier for people to order deliveries on Amazon. Yet, we are all aware (or should be) that this hurts the brick and mortar stores who have been with us for years. Rashida accused Amazon of profiting during the pandemic while neglecting workers and called out their absurdly low tax bills and dated climate change policies. In other news, Rashida introduced legislation, the Stablecoin Tethering and Bank Licensing Enforcement (STABLE) Act, which would protect consumers from the risks posed by emerging digital payment instruments – such as Facebook’s Libra and others Stablecoins in the market – by regulating their issuance and related commercial activities. Facebook, Amazon…sounds like a David and Goliath fight. But wait, there is more, Rashida got into some hot water regarding her anti-Israel comments when she tweeted a well-known phrase that calls for Israel’s elimination.

Justin Amash (I; MI-3)

You Tweeted What?

President Trump’s tweet that threatened to veto a major defense spending bill had many Republicans up in arms. Trump wants lawmakers to end a provision in federal law that provides a legal shield for technology companies so they can’t be sued over content posted by users, or over the decisions the companies make about content they remove or leave online. Justin, a former Republican and now Libertarian, flagged Trump’s tweet as “false” and said Section 230 promotes freedom of speech. “In fact, it became law before most social media existed. It promotes the freedom of speech by ensuring you’re not liable for things *other* people say.” Is it crazy how one tweet can cause an avalanche of controversy? Not anymore…

Michael Cloud (R; TX-27)

Can You Hear Me, Mr. Barr?

Michael and a majority of Texas Republican lawmakers are leading the charge to pressure the Department of Justice to investigate the President’s allegations of voter fraud. Michael initiated the letter signed by 36 other House Republicans to Attorney General Barr expressing their concern over the lack of action by the DOJ. AG Barr already publicly came out saying there was no evidence of voter fraud. Michael has been one of the President’s most avid supporters, but at what point do you move on? The safety and security of elections is one thing all lawmakers hopefully will be able to work on together and we hope to see future legislation from Michael addressing the matter.

Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)

Cyber Rules

You may have heard about President Trump’s threat via Twitter to veto the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act unless the social media shield is repealed even though both sides of the aisle are pushing to get this bill signed. Beyond the now controversial social media measure, Mike’s committee, the Cyberspace Solarium, was responsible for 26 recommendations that were included in the act, which represents the most comprehensive and forward-looking piece of national cybersecurity in the nation’s history. One of the biggest achievements will be the inclusion of a National Cyber Director to serve within the Executive Office of the President. A future spot for Mike, perhaps?

Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)

C’mon Buddy, I’m Unemployed

Jamie worked with her Democrat counterpart and fellow Political Playlist leader, Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), to introduce legislation to issue hardship waivers for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) overpayments by state unemployment agencies. Everyone is going through a tough time right now and sadly recent reports have detailed that unemployed and furloughed workers are finding themselves in debt because of errors made by state unemployment agencies. The Relief for Working Families Act would extend hardship waivers to states to waive PUA overpayments when the individual receiving the jobless benefits is not at fault. Lets face it, people need all the help they can get right now – if the state overpays them, should they be held responsible?

Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)

Post-Trump GOP

“Let’s get back to our roots and explain what conservatism is, so we can actually win the generation we’re gonna need to stay relevant.” Adam is one of the most vocal Republicans in terms of moving forward in a post-Trump world, calling out the spread of disinformation and even telling the President to delete his Twitter account! As a former Air Force veteran and having served in Congress for a decade, he does not mind speaking his mind and even signaling he is not afraid of the blow back from the Republican party for not staying in line with President Trump. His interview was a clear picture to the type of politician he is and plans on being. It will be interesting to see how a moderate Republican fares in future elections.

Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)

A Strategic Relationship, You Say?

Guy wasted no time in calling for the immediate removal of fellow Political Playlist leader, Rashida Tlaib, from all Congressional committees for her anti-Israel comments. She tweeted a well-known phrase that calls for Israel’s elimination. It read: “From the river [Jordan] to the sea [Mediterranean], Palestine will be free.” However, Guy has managed to work across the aisle with fellow Political Playlist leader, Colin Allred (D-TX), on a bipartisan resolution recognizing the importance of the U.S.-Iraq strategic relationship. The bill calls on the U.S. to continue cooperation between the U.S. and Iraq and highlights the importance of the security and economic aspects of the relationship. As a veteran in the Iraq war, this is close to home for him. It’s been a little out of sight out of mind for most Americans, but have you put any thought into our ongoing relationship with Iraq?

Greg Steube (R; FL-17)

DMV Fraud?

Greg has been a strong supporter of the President’s message about voter fraud and he and a few other Republicans just introduced a bill to repeal ‘motor voter’ law over fears of illegitimacy. You might recall standing at the DMV counter and being asked if you wanted to “opt in” for voter registration. The 1993 National Voter Registration Act required states to allow voters to register when applying for a driver’s license or at some public assistance offices. Under the law, each license application must serve also as a voter registration application. It also updates any prior registration. The Republicans believe this registration is too lax. Do you agree with Greg or think this is taking things too far?

Tom Cotton (R; AK)

Looking to the Future

Many are speculating that Tom will be a 2024 Republican Presidential candidate, so it makes sense that he has already criticized the Biden Administration and his cabinet picks. Tom has come out against Biden’s pick for the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Homeland Security calling it “the return of the Obama administration foreign policy that had disastrous consequences for our nation.” Regardless of the attacks on Biden, Tom has been introducing various resolutions. Most notably, the Senate approved the ALS Disability Insurance Act, bipartisan legislation introduced with fellow Political Playlist leader, Seth Moulton (D-MA) to eliminate the five-month waiting period before ALS patients can receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. For Tom, loud criticism comes with a side of working together.

Brian Mast (R; FL-18)

No Contamination Station

The House just approved its 2020 biennial water bill that prioritizes federal water projects, which is expected to be signed into law after passage through the Senate and the White House. In that bill, Brian got an important measure for his district included which requires the Army Corps of Engineers to minimize harmful discharges from a local lake into nearby rivers. The discharges have led to water tests that are 60 times more toxic than the EPA considers safe for human contact. Brain has been at the forefront of fighting for cleaning up the water systems in his district and state during his time in the House and, while he notes that the fight is far from over, having his measure included in the larger bill is a major win. In other ‘earthy’ news, Brain was also one of the only Republicans to vote for the recent marajuana decriminalization bill that passed the House.

Elise Stefanik (D; NY-21)

There’s the Local and then… the Federal

Elise has become a star in the Republican party and takes her role there seriously. She has dutifully traveled to Georgia to campaign for the GOP Senate candidates there. She has also towed the party line in supporting President Trump’s legal challenges to the election results. However, despite her focus on the larger picture of the Republican party, she also proudly found time to announce new funding for her district from the Dept. of Health and Human Services. The funds will mostly be used to assist with COVID-related expenditures at community health centers as well as supporting Head Start school programs. One thing is for sure, whether its national or local news – Elise is always working on something.

William Timmons (D; SC-4)

Let’s Modernize this S**t

One of the benefits of having fresh, young faces in Congress is a new perspective on the typical way things are done. While tradition has its place, when it comes to work efficiency, no idea should be too bold. William is a member of the Modernization Committee, which is dedicated to making Congress work more efficiently and with the ‘times’. He recommended a variety of changes to the Congressional Calendar to make sure that congress spends more time actually doing their job and less time on airplanes shuttling back and forth between DC and their districts. His changes will give members two consecutive weeks of voting before heading home. Simple, innovative changes and can go a long way towards our government working better for us so, thanks William!

Josh Hawley (R; MO)

We Want Our Checks!

Partisan gridlock as it pertains to the COVID relief bill is no secret. However, Josh has emerged as somewhat of a bridge between parties when it comes to one element – direct stimulus checks to citizens (remember your $1,200?). Initially this idea was included by House Democrats in versions of their second bill, but was phased out as negotiations went on. Josh has given it a resurgence, championing the individual payments amongst his Republican colleagues and, perhaps most importantly, with President Trump. Josh has reportedly spoken to the president multiple times and is confident that he’s on board with the individual payments. With most Democrats on board, and now Republicans joining the charge, could this mean we’re one step closer to the bill passing? We won’t hold our breath, but… progress!

Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)

More Jobs For A Cure

Much of the focus in congress is on a forthcoming Covid relief package, and rightfully so, but one of the skill requirements of our elected leaders is the ability to multitask. Pete, through his role on the House Appropriations Committee, helped secure $2.5 million for Alzheimer’s Therapy research. Karamedica, Inc. has been working with several Southern California universities to develop a microparticle gene delivery therapy to treat a form of this horrible disease, and with this new funding, they will be able to expand their operations by hiring more scientists and personnel. It’s likely that someone you know has been afflicted by Alzheimer’s so the fact that Pete has not only helped forward the search for the cure while also helping create jobs in a small pocket of his district seems like a good thing.

Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)

Where The Rubber Meets The Protest

After countless protests swept our country over the summer, we all became well-versed in the crowd-control tactics of law enforcement. Brendan believes that one of the go-to non-lethal tactics – the use of rubber bullets – is in fact rather lethal, which is why he introduced legislation to ban the use of non-lethal (rubber or plastic) bullets in crowd-control situations. According to a National Institute of Health study, of approximately 1,984 people shot between 1990 and 2017 with rubber bullets, 53 of them died from injuries, supporting Brendan’s that these bullets are anything but Non-lethal. Brendan believes that this police tactic sends a dangerously wrong, and sometimes fatal message to citizens exercising the first amendment rights.

Joe Cunningham (D; SC-1)

Mask Up, Governor

With Covid surging all across this country, Joe called out South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster for seemingly giving up on the virus, and called on him to issue a temporary statewide mask mandate through the rest of the year. Daily case rates in South Carolina have shattered previous records, and Joe is demanding leadership from the state’s top politician in charge, leadership in the form of tangible and effective steps like wearing a mask. Joe pleads with the Governor that common sense precautions like mask wearing will help minimize the carnage from recent spikes but warns that his further “do-nothing” policy will almost assuredly result in more business closures, more job loss and more preventable deaths. What small local measures have been taken in your community to curb the virus?

Abby Finkenauer (D; IA-1)

Play Hard Until The Buzzer

It’s true that Abby will be leaving your playlist come January, but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped working. This week, Abby’s bipartisan bill supporting Veteran’s families was signed into law by President Trump as part of the larger Veteran’s COMPACT Act of 2020. Her measure creates a pilot program providing education and peer support for families and caregivers of veterans who have received a mental health diagnosis. With better training and understanding of mental health, families and caregivers alike can hopefully better treat and cope with their loved-ones’ afflictions. And speaking of loved-ones, it’s sometimes easy to forget that our elected leaders, regardless of party, are, at the end of the day, American citizens with families of their own. So this optimistic tweet from one of Political Playlist’s most popular sure put us in the Holiday spirit.

Jared Golden (D; ME-2)

This Property Is Off Limits While Overseas

Jared recently wrote an op-ed in the Military Times that painted a terrible yet all-too-common scenario which he says many active military servicemen and women face: predatory lenders and property seizures while on active duty. In other words, predatory companies repossessing cars or turning bills over debt collectors while a family member is deployed. Jared says that many of these soldiers are duped into signing over their protections covered under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to these lenders, which is why he is fighting to add additional measures into the National Defense Act. The House has passed a bipartisan amendment that would ban forced arbitration for service members, which currently shares bipartisan support in the Senate as well. There’s been some controversy around the National Defense Act, but this measure to help service members is one reason to be optimistic.

Kendra Horn (D; OK-5)

The Good Kind of Over-Achiever

Kendra seems to embody the two things you want most in a member of Congress: effective AND accessible. This year, Kendra was named one of the top eight in effectiveness for constituent services, and for good reason. She secured and returned $3,580,530 to Oklahomans from federal agencies through 2789 constituent cases, which include obtaining benefits from Veteran’s Affairs, securing pandemic relief through the Small Business Administration, and navigating the convoluted Medicare and Medicaid systems. Furthermore, last year she was named the most accessible freshman in Congress, and this year she doubled-down by hosting 53 town halls. OK, Kendra, but unfortunately she lost her reelection (insert sad face).

Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)

Born To Serve

Andy recently served as a conferee to the bicameral conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act and the fruits of his labor will no doubt be enjoyed by his constituents and the folks of New Jersey. The bicameral conference committee is tasked with drafting the final language and legislative minutia of the defense spending bill for the upcoming year, and in it, Andy secured pay raises for servicemen and women stationed at the Joint Base in his district, helped secure funding and protections for a critical air mission run out of the base, and championed several other provisions for increased cyber-security funding, health benefits for Vietnam Veterans, and various other structural improvements. The bill will soon go to the Senate for approval, thanks to lots of heavy lifting by Andy.

Grace Meng (D; NY-6)

Stop It In Its Tracks

Perhaps just as important as running triage on this escalating virus is preventing another outbreak in the future. That’s why Grace joined colleague Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) to introduce the Global Wildlife Trade Biosecurity Act, aimed at combating future deadly outbreaks through a series of foreign policy programs. Included in the proposed legislation is the establishment of a Global Zoonotic Disease Task Force, as well as requiring USAID to develop a strategy for food security and biodiversity to reduce the demand on wildlife for human consumption. The idea is to ultimately help communities transition away from live and fresh wildlife trade, often a key nutrition source on which they rely, with the expressed purpose of significantly reducing the risk of spreading disease like the one we’re battling now.

Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)

I Ain’t No Rat—I’m A Whistleblower!

Whistleblower is a hot-button word these days and Joe has just passed legislation to further protect folks who step forward to report wrongdoing, often at their own peril. The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act is a bipartisan bill that extends whistleblower protections to private sector employees who report criminal antitrust violations. Antitrust violations often result in higher prices, less innovation, and less choice, therefore without accountability from the employees, price and wage fixing would go unreported. The measure passed the Senate last year thanks to Joe working with Senator Chuck Grassley (R), and now with the successful House vote, it heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)

He Works Hard For The Money… For The District

This is the time of year where congressmen and women scramble to make sure their state is looked after in the passage of the annual Defense spending bill, and Chris fought hard for some really important things his constituents will no doubt benefit from. The Portsmouth naval Shipyard plays a key role in our nation’s readiness and defense, and Chris helped secure $160 million dollars for special projects there, including the authorization of two Virginia-Class submarines. Other impacts that will readily be felt by Granite Staters thanks to Chris include preventing the closure of certain veteran’s health centers, as well as huge funding increases for clean-up and health treatment of harmful PFAS contamination in drinking water. News like this makes you wonder what military and veterans projects might be happening in your district that you’re unaware of…

Darren Soto (D; FL-9)

The Future Is Bright

Well if there was ever a headline tailor-made for our platform’s mission, it’s this one! Darren was elected to chair the Democrat’s Future Forum Caucus, succeeding fellow Floridian Under-45er Stephanie Murphy. The Caucus, founded by Congressman Eric Swalwell in 2015, is composed of young House Democrats who advocate for issues and opportunities important to millennials and Gen Z. With millennials now comprising the largest voting block, this caucus is more important now than ever. Interestingly enough, Darren was also elected to serve as the Hispanic Caucus whip, only further increasing the leadership status of this promising three-term congressman. We are excited to see what remains on the horizon, Darren, and plan to keep our eye on the priorities coming out of the Future Forum Caucus.

Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)

From Beijing With Love

There’s a rapidly developing story that has ensnared Eric, a prominent member of the intelligence committee and vocal critic of President Trump, for which he is now receiving a chorus of outrage from Republicans. It’s been reported that a female Chinese national, Christine Fang, now considered a Chinese spy, had successfully made inroads with several California politicians, most prominently Eric, vis-a-vis campaign fundraisers back in 2014. Naturally, the partisan hyperbole is flying around Washington like the food-fight in Animal House but here’s what we know: Fang was associated with the Swalwell campaign for a time; there is no record of any financial contributions made; The FBI become alarmed at Fang’s behavior and in 2015, alerted Swalwell; Swalwell immediately cut all ties with Fang, who since fled to China; Swalwell has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Not exactly the headlines we want our leaders to be making but staying factually informed is the name of our game, so we encourage you to read the larger, in-depth, nonpartisan reporting on this from Axios.

Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)

Follow The Leader

Over the last month, Lauren has been leading the charge, of 91 fellow congresspeople, to convince President Trump to extend critical student loan forgiveness that was part of the CARES Act. Those relief provisions were set to expire at the end of the year, but thanks to Lauren’s efforts, the Department of Education announced that it will be extending the suspension of loan payments, interest accrual, and involuntary collections of federal student loans through Jan. 31, 2021. While an extra month of forgiveness protections might not seem like a lot, it is looking likelier and likelier that Congress will pass another stimulus package very soon, so that extra month gives borrowers one less thing to worry about until receiving the next wave of help. If you or someone you know has student loans, be sure to bookmark and follow Lauren’s progress on this.

Jim Banks (R; IN-3)

Mask Police

Jim sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi calling for a ban in the House on wearing “stylized masks” because his colleagues wore face coverings on the House floor that were inappropriate and unbecoming. Okay, go on… First, he cited one congressman wearing a mask with his campaign logo on it as being in violation of the Ethics rules, since it was being broadcast on CSPAN thereby unethically promoting a particular political party. Then, when Oregon Representative Blumenauer presided over the MORE Act vote, he wore a marijuana mask, which he found highly offensive. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, the House has not passed a new stimulus package, has not yet averted a government shutdown, and furthermore, the two parties can’t even agree on a comprehensive mask policy! So Jim, respectfully, it seems like Congress has bigger fish to fry.

Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)

Smoke ‘Em, If You Got ‘Em

If you love Matt, it’s probably because he’s pretty fearless when it comes to speaking his mind or doing something that might rankle others—a trait that’s earned him plenty of friends and foes alike. Well, this week Matt did not disappoint as he was the lone republican sponsor on the MORE Act, the bill to nationally decriminalize marijuana that passed the House this week. The act would also expunge low-level federal offences and create a 5% tax that would go towards businesses and individuals impacted by the war on drugs. Gaetz said his reasoning was simple: Drugs have won. Gaetz went on to say that the war on drugs has disproportionately incarcerated black and brown youth that it never should have and that “the only thing more popular than ending the war on drugs, is ending the war in Afghanistan.” Hard to argue there.

Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)

I’m With Section 230!

It’s always fun when obscure legislation, with an unsexy name like Section 230, becomes a juggernaut in Washington politics. But alas, 2020 continues to throw out curveballs. Lance has made it clear that he is in lock step with the President, who has said he will veto the annual defense funding bill (NDAA) if Congress does not repeal a piece of internet legislation known as Section 230. Basically, the legislation states that if you publish something on your site that’s from a third party, you are not liable for its content. But Republicans feel that big tech companies like Twitter and Facebook have become overly biased against them and towards Democrats. So they want to strip Big Tech of this protection. There is plenty of legislating left to do surrounding the internet and social media, but do you think potentially holding up our defense spending is the place to start?

Dusty Johnson (R; SD)

Teamwork! It’s What We’re Not Known For

These days, getting R’s and D’s to work together seems like a bigger task than actually stopping this virus. But maybe there’s hope after all, thanks to Dusty and the Problem Solvers Caucus, who drafted a bipartisan, bicameral Covid emergency relief bill that seems to be quickly gaining traction, and it’s about damn time. Dusty and his colleagues worked through the Thanksgiving recess to draft the framework of this approximate $900 Billion package. Though supposedly approximately $560 Billion is repurposed funds from the CARES Act so all told, the additional spending only amounts to roughly $348 Billion. Only. But the fact of the matter is that Congress has finally come together to come up with a plan to get folks the help they need. Additionally, Dusty has joined a bipartisan effort to make sure Seniors with Medicare can obtain future Covid-19 vaccines with no out-of-pocket costs.

Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)

What Are We Doing?

If you follow Markwayne then you probably know that he typically eschews the boilerplate press release in favor of a more direct, personal touch via weekly twitter videos. So this week’s Wrap Up was part pep-talk, part Pelosi-shaming. Markwayne pointed out that everyone is back in Washington, yet the Speaker is preventing anything from getting done because she insists on micro-managing her clique-y “Squad” behind the closed door of her office, rather than bilaterally across the Capitol. He goes on to state that neither a Covid relief package nor a government spending bill to prevent the looming shutdown have been voted on, and the clock is running out. He concluded by saying we need to come together as a Congress and do something! Agreed. But is it possible given our politically charged climate?

Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)

Always Follow The Money

While Bryan has certainly been making news as a vocal supporter of the President’s “count every legal vote” campaign, another area where he’s made much less, but arguably more important noise was in introducing a bill that would increase enforcement of financial sanctions against Iran. Since Trump tore up the Iran Nuclear Deal, Iran has resumed its nuclear program, but the Preventing Illicit Finance Act would create a public-private group to limit use of the financial systems by bad actors who are heavily sanctioned. This would not just include Iran but also Russia and others too. Bryan says the crux of the bill continues to tighten sanctions on Iran while leveraging our allies in the region, like Israel, as well as the private sector to help combat illicit finance and sanction evasion.

Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)

Leave Only Footprints

As the old beach adage goes, clean beaches and waters are essential to sustaining our ecosystem, yet our environment seems to get more and more politicized with each passing year. Fortunately for Long Islanders, Lee is looking out for the preservation of The Sound and its beaches. That’s why he helped secure $3.8 million in federal grants for conservation projects in and around Long Island Sound. The grants, from the EPA and US Fish and Wildlife, will go towards treating stormwater, restoring wildlife habitats, and installing new green infrastructure. In noting the bipartisan led efforts, Lee also emphasized the educational component of how some of the grants will go towards local museum and school programs. They may not have the cultural allure of a Cali shoreline, but the beaches of the Northeast are a point of pride and Lee’s helping to keep it that way.

Kyrsten Sinema (D; AZ)

Welcome To Our Busy Office

Kyrsten threw her newly elected fellow Senator Mark Kelly a good welcome as they jointly announced that $13 Million in federal Covid relief funds are heading to Arizona thanks to her efforts. The funds are a reimbursement for state expenditures that include N95 masks, gowns and other PPE related gear. Arizona spent approximately $17 million on equipment during the months of May and June and are eligible for up to 75% reimbursement through FEMA. Kyrsten advocated that the President issue a Major Disaster Declaration for Arizona, which granted the state further access to safety resources. Additionally, Kyrsten’s veteran’s mental health support bill was signed into law this week, which will bring new resources to returning veterans as they transition back to civilian life.