THE COMPLETE 16 PERCENT: Pardon our Holiday Interruption
Colin Allred (D; TX-32)
Before Colin was a congressman, he was a football player for Baylor University and then for the Tennessee Titans. He has now been honored by his alma mater as a ‘BU Football Legend’. Colin was the team captain and defensive MVP in 2005 while also earning All-Academic in the Big-12 Conference for consecutive years. Colin deferred his acceptance to law school at UC Berkeley to play for the NFL before sustaining a career-ending neck injury. Colin commented, saying, “Football gave me so many opportunities and really taught me how to work together toward a common goal, something we need more of in our politics.” How do you think Congress would fare with more ex-athletes?
Anthony Brindisi (D; NY-22)
Sticky Notes? Really?
If you thought the Presidential race was a s**tshow, wait til you hear this. Anthony and his GOP challenger, Claudia Tenney, are in what might be the tightest race of the nation and the call has now come down to… sticky notes. Though Tenney currently leads by somewhere between 100-300 votes (which is also uncertain because a couple of counties haven’t even made their final ballot counts public), a handful of absentee ballots had been processed and sorted using sticky notes, which have now gone missing. The notes explained how the ballots were handled and whether or not they were counted. Yeesh. Now, these sticky note-less ballots have made their way to the state Supreme Court. If this isn’t a clusterf**k, we don’t know what is.
Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)
Native to the Interior
As president-elect Biden eyes individuals for his cabinet, Sharice has thrown her support behind fellow congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) for the position. In 2018, Sharice (of the Ho-Chunk Nation) and Haaland (of the Pueblo of Laguna) were the first two Native American women ever elected to Congress. “Rep. Deb Haaland has been a warrior for Native peoples for decades and profoundly understands the consequences of federal administration on tribal communities,” Davids said in her press release. She also pointed to Haaland’s ability to manage the Department during a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Native communities. Does Native leadership in a cabinet position ring important to you?
Lizzie Fletcher (D; TX-7)
The Good Ol’ Days
Lizzie’s alma mater, Kenyon College, published a congratulatory article on her re-election to Congress this year. In it, they highlighted Lizzie’s accomplishments in her undergrad education including serving as the sophomore class president, being a member of her senior class committee, and the chair of the Food Service subcommittee. She graduated summa cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She was also a nominee for the E. Malcolm Anderson Cup, an award given to a student who faculty, staff, and students feel has made the most impact on the university. Not that we believe in destiny or anything, but it’s pretty clear that Lizzie’s devotion to serving her community has been there from the start…
Josh Gottheimer (D; NJ-5)
Come Together, Right Now
Josh recently penned an Op-Ed imploring Democrats and Republicans to come together not just to address the need for another Covid stimulus bill, but to govern effectively in the years to come. He criticizes members of both his own party and on the Republican side for “retreating into their respective corners”. Josh is a notoriously bipartisan member of Congress, chairing the Problem Solvers Caucus – a group of 25 members from each party who come together to find issues they can solve together. “If we just take a collective breath, we would remember that we are Americans and, as our history shows, there is nothing we can’t accomplish when we work together,” he writes. If you agree, this op-ed is worth a read.
Joseph Kennedy (D; MA-4)
A Different Direction for the Dynasty
If you live, breathe, and sleep in America you know the Kennedy political dynasty. However, Joe (grandson of Bobby, grandnephew of JFK) has put a little kink in that legacy when he gave up his seat in the House to run for the Senate and lost in the primary to the more progressive Ed Markey. Now, as Joe plans his departure from Congress, rumors about a position for him in the Biden administration are swirling. Ambassador to Ireland? Health and Human Services Secretary? Despite endorsing Elizabeth Warren for president, anything seems possible. We’ll just have to wait and see which direction Joe takes his family legacy in next.
Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)
Focusing on the Future
In a recent interview, Conor spoke about his vision and predictions for the future of Congress and, more specifically his own Democratic Caucus. Beyond touching on his concern that Trump is ‘selling false hope to his followers’ regarding the presidential election, Conor spoke about the so-called ‘divisions’ in the Democratic party not being between two defined groups, but between a small set of members. His remedy? To focus on policy instead of personality. He also stressed the importance for PA politicians to focus on the economy and infrastructure before ducking a question about running for Senate or Governor. “My first child is due in three weeks. When I come up for air, we’ll talk about it.” Fiiiiiine.
Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)
In The Name of Defense
Seth, an Iraq war veteran who served a total of four tours, has been named, for the second time, to the committee that will negotiate the final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021. The committee is made up from members of both parties, from both chambers of Congress, and sets spending and policy for the 2021 fiscal year. Seth, who helped write the House verison of the bill, has his specific list of priorities – increasing military pay, funding cleanup for contaminated drinking water on bases, improvement to sexual assault prevention and response, a pandemic prepareness fund, paid parental leave for civilian employees, and combatting the climate crisis. How much did you know about this incredibly important, incredibly costly bill that Seth and others are about to negotiate?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)
The New Blue Deal
By now, the Green New Deal – spearheaded by Alexandria and her fellow ‘Squad’ members – has become synonymous with the far left wing of the Democratic party. Despite their enthusiastic support of Joe Biden in the presidential race, they’re not letting him off the hook when it comes to climate and plan to hold him accountable to the promise he personally made for his version of the Deal – a $2 trillion climate plan. Alexandria and her supporters (both in and out of government) plan to use their voices to push their initiatives forward. Plus, there are a couple new prospective members of the Squad coming in January – Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, and Mondaire Jones, who will all be featured on the Political Playlist platform!
Max Rose (D; NY-11)
Max for Mayor?
It’s just a rumor, but we’ll indulge for now… Apparently word on the street is that Max, after losing his congressional seat to his Republican opponent, is eyeing a run for NYC Mayor when Bill de Blasio’s term is over next year. A moderate Democrat, Max gained a little status with progressive-leaning Democrats by marching in the Staten Island Black Lives Matter protests in June (which some say contributed to his congressional defeat). Additionally, because his race became so high-profile and drew millions of dollars, Max was able to run TV ads in other boroughs of New York City, upping his name recognition. Will New Yorkers remember Max if this rumor turns into reality?
Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)
A Different Kind of Apprentice
The House just passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Abigail that focuses on strengthening apprenticeship programs. Her initiatives included in the bill help create a new apprenticeship agreement between the Department of Labor and the Department of Education to strengthen funding for partnerships between community colleges and local businesses. This isn’t Abigail’s first rodeo in apprenticeship-related legislation – she’s been fighting for it ever since she took office two years ago. As we make our way through the pandemic and millions of Americans remain unemployed, do you think this forward-looking piece of legislation offers a glimmer of hope for the future of work in our country?
Rashida Tlaib (D; MI-13)
Rashida and other progressive members of Congress (namely her fellow ‘Squad’ members) have drawn criticism from moderate Democrats for pushing slogans like ‘defund the police’ and measures like the Green New Deal which, the centrists say, gave ammo to Republican challengers. Rashida, though, is not going back on her word and, more importantly, not stepping away from the policy measures she and her aligned colleagues have been pushing. What does this mean for the Biden administration? Rashida expects the administration to do right by the progressives who aligned behind him as their nominee. Only time will tell how the Democrats will proceed…
Justin Amash (I; MI-3)
Justin, who did not run for re-election, finds himself in the admirable position for any politician – to say whatever the hell he wants. Recently, Justin’s homestate, Michigan, has been center stage in Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election. The President has called on the Michigan House Speaker, Lee Chatfield, to meet with him and discuss the results of Michigan’s electoral count. Justin did not mince words in addressing his fellow Michigan politician’s visit, insisting that while it might be an honor to meet with the president of the United States, “… there are exceptions. One exception is when the president is peddling absurd conspiracy theories about the election and you are being used as a prop in his production.” Justin, out.
Michael Cloud (R; TX-27)
Yes, Mr. President
Michael has found himself in the same position as many of his Republican colleagues who are closely aligned with President Trump – continuing to boost the president’s thus-far baseless claims of voter fraud. Michael delivered a speech at a Veteran’s Day ceremony, taking time to address the apparent anomalies in the 2020 election process. He also went on a radio show to voice his frustration that certain states wouldn’t allow poll watchers into the vote counting centers. While this specific claim was quickly debunked by the Texas Tribune, only time will tell if any of Cloud’s other concerns that support the president come to fruition, or if he and his GOP colleagues will let their voices fade away until January.
Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)
Sorry, Mr. Krebs
One of the more newsworthy moves of President Trump’s over the last couple weeks was his firing of Chris Krebs, the cybersecurity chief within the Department of Homeland Security. The firing came after Krebs claimed the 2020 election was ‘the most secure in American history’. Trump’s move was unpopular, even within his own party and members of the GOP like Mike didn’t let him off the hook. Mike came to Krebs’ defense after having worked on several cybersecurity bills. “The country is safer and our elections more secure from foreign interference because of (Krebs’) leadership,” Mike said. With or without Krebs, one thing is sure – members of Congress like Mike who are focused on cybersecurity will continue to have their hands full for the years to come.
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)
Her Own Woman
Jaime won re-election by 13 percentage points over her Democratic challenger (basically a landslide), but President Trump carried her district by 1 measly percentage point. Why the disparity? It seems like Jaime has done a commendable job of not isolating herself from her own party, but being seen as a real independent voice for her constituents. In 2016 she announced that she didn’t vote for Trump (she wrote in then-Speaker Paul Ryan), though this year the president earned her vote. However… Jaime has voted with the president’s agenda 81.6% of the time – only 14 Republicans in the House have a lower score. Jaime heads into her sixth term with what seems to be a winning recipe – do you admire Jaime’s ability to walk this fine line?
Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)
Prevent the Preventable
Any act of violence is one too many and Adam’s bill to address just that has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate floor for a vote. The Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act provides federal grants to hospitals that want to expand or create programs for patients recovering from injuries as a result of a violent crime. It’s goal is to close the revolving door of violent crime by implementing more hospital-based solutions that address the mental health of victims among other things. In this crazy time where it’s easy to feel a little helpless, it’s refreshing to know that Adam and his Democratic co-sponsor, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (WHAT. A. NAME.) are still pushing admirable measures like this forward.
Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)
Leave No Stone Unturned
Guy has emerged as one of the loudest voices in the House, defending Trump’s desire to contest the results in several states that he lost in the election. Though Guy has acknowledged that there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of fraud yet, he insists that the investigation should continue. While many of his claims may lack substance, it’s interesting to note his approach to this as a lawyer and former judge – this process, he insists, is not out of the realm of the constitutional framework. This reasoning does beg the question – at what point do we weigh an apparently legal, constitutional process against the norms and traditions we have grown accustomed to from our leaders?
Greg Steube (R; FL-17)
Not Rolling Out the Welcome Mat
Greg joins several of his Republican colleagues in pushing hard for more restrictions when it comes to the U.S. relationship with China. He has recently introduced a bill that would require certain visa applicants to disclose if they receive funds from the Chinese government or the Chinese Communist Party. His main rationale? TikTok. That may be a little deductive, but Greg is essentially concerned that apps like TikTok and other entities bankrolled by the Chinese Communist Party pose a threat to our intellectual property and national security. So what do you think? Will regulating the ‘Tok and imposing these visa restrictions make you feel a little less in the hands of the Chinese government or is this an overreach?
Tom Cotton (R; AK)
To Thank or Not to Thank
We knew it was coming… and now it’s here. The expected political battle over the meaning and legitimacy of Thanksgiving. Tom has brought this discussion center stage by writing an op-ed that criticized a New York Times article which referred to the first Thanksgiving as a ‘myth’. The traditional tale of the pilgrims and the Native Americans eating peacefully together has never been confirmed and historians agree the actual story is likely far more violent, but Tom has doubled down on the familiar narrative, fearing that “the Pilgrims have fallen out of fashion in elite circles”. Tom links the Mayflower’s arrival to the ideals that built our country which makes us wonder – can acknowledging the trauma of one group of people negate the accomplishments of another?
Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)
You Can Call Me Vice Chairman
The House Democrats elected Pete to serve as vice chairman of the 117th Congress, considered to be the number 6 leadership spot in Congress. Not only is this a huge achievement, but he is also the highest-ranking Latino on the leadership team. As we saw in this last election, the Democrats did not secure as much of the Latino vote as they expected and Pete said “We really have to understand — and what the Hispanic Caucus has been saying for years — is the Latino community does not vote as a monolith.” This is a big step for Pete, and we look forward to seeing him what he brings to this new Congress as a top leader.
Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)
Justice for Sparky!
How many dog hotels have you seen popping up in your neighborhood? At this point, animals are basically humans, right? Brendan introduced bipartisan legislation called Alternatives to Animals for Regulatory Fairness (AARF) Act to modernize the drug approval process. The act ensures that pharmaceutical companies are allowed to use high-tech and humane alternatives to outdated testing on dogs and other animals to fulfill Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory requirements. Thanks to Brendan, the days of turning a blind eye to some of these harsh but mandated experiences could be numbered.
Abby Finkenauer (D; IA-1)
My Job is Not Done Here
Despite Abby not being re-elected she introduced two pieces of legislation in the past week. The first was the Building Back American Manufacturing Act, to expand ‘Buy America’ policies to improve America’s ability to manufacture critical supplies during times of emergency and reduce reliance on foreign countries in critical supply chains. The second was Child Care is Economic Development Act of 2020, which ensures plans to increase access to affordable, quality childcare. Both bills are aimed at helping families struggling with the effects of COVID. It is nice to see Abby continue working for the American people even though she will not be serving in the 117th Congress.
Jared Golden (D; ME-2)
Bring Home Our Troops
Jared broke ranks with many Democrats and Republicans in supporting President Trump in bringing home U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Jared served in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2002 to 2006. Jared believes that we can continue to counter terrorism operations without prolonging the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. There have been 2,200 U.S. service members who have died in Afghanistan and more than 20,000 have been wounded. Do you think the U.S. can still be effective in its counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan without a military presence in the country?
Kendra Horn (D; OK-5)
I Will Go to Space
Ok, well Kendra is not actually signing up to go to space, but she did say she is interested in taking a position in the incoming Biden administration, potentially at NASA. Unfortunately, Kendra lost her seat in the last race, but she currently chairs the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee. Kendra could be well-positioned for this job because she also worked for the Space Foundation and introduced the NASA authorization bill that was critical in developing human lunar landers. If you had to be trapped on the moon with someone, Kendra would be a pretty good option..
Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)
The Apprentice is Back!
Will the Apprentice puns ever end?? Probably not… Andy introduced the Fast Track Advanced Apprenticeships Now Act, that would cut bureaucratic red tape to allow apprenticeship programs for emerging occupations to be approved faster. Many Americans started their career through apprenticeship programs and this bill helps reduce red tape so small and medium sized employers can start these apprenticeship programs. Bills like this help create a strong middle class and a clear path to a good-paying job, which will be even more important as the U.S. comes out of the COVID economy. Where do we sign up?!
Grace Meng (D; NY-6)
We Will, We Will, Feed You
Grace helped secure funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for another round of food relief for her constituents in New York. Many people across the country are facing food insecurity amid COVID and the last thing anyone should be worrying about is how to get their next meal, alas, here we are. This relief confirms the fourth round of funding to supply food assistance organizations in all counties in New York and accept proposals for both mixed and dairy/produce/meat-only boxes. As the holidays approach we can all agree that every family should have food on their table.
Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)
Movin’ On Up!
Considered the 8th leadership position in Congress, Joe was elected as the Co-Chair of the Caucus’ messaging arm – the Democratic Policy and Communication Committee. At Political Playlist, we love to see our young politicians elected to these leadership positions in their party. This isn’t Joe’s first rodeo; he was previously the Co-Representative for the Freshman Class of the 116th Congress. His new position will give him the opportunity to craft messaging and policy formulation… something most Democrats can agree they could be a little better at.
Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)
All About the Data
Chris is coming in big after his election win and had two of his provisions passed with the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020. The act will invest more than $3.5 billion over the next 5 years in expanding opportunities and access to Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships to help create nearly 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities. Chris’ provisions created a centralized information technology infrastructure to support data sharing and reporting so that all relevant stakeholders are able to access information on apprenticeship opportunities that best meet their needs. Furthermore, it strengthens the connections between the Department of Education and the Department of Labor to support the creation and expansion of youth apprenticeships and data sharing. Like we said, Chris is off to the races.
Darren Soto (D; FL-9)
You Get a Vaccine, You Get a Vaccine!
While the world is anticipating the COVID vaccine to return us to normal (what is normal, anymore?), Darren wants to make sure that U.S. citizens do not bear the cost. He introduced the Helping Adults Protect Immunity Act (HAPI) Act to ensure more Americans can receive necessary vaccines, including any future COVID-19 vaccine, at no out-of-pocket cost. This would create vaccine coverage between traditional Medicaid and Medicaid expansion programs. Those currently enrolled in Medicaid face varying out of pocket expenses. The vaccine is coming and if the government can figure out a way that allows all Americans to participate with no costs, we’d all be better off.
Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)
After winning her reelection by only a few thousand votes, Lauren was appointed the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity subcommittee. Her plan in her second term is to focus on election security and combating ongoing ransomware attacks on critical sectors, especially in state and local governments. Wasting no time, she introduced legislation with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (Oregon), the Federal Cybersecurity Oversight Act of 2020, that would improve the oversight of federal agencies’ cybersecurity posture. With one election behind us, attention turns to the next!
Jim Banks (R; IN-3)
Jim in the Driver’s Seat
Another leadership position for a Political Playlist member – Jim was just elected to the next Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus on the Hill. Over 75% of the house Republicans are members of the Study Committee that promotes conservative values in Congress. As one of President Trump’s strongest supporters, Jim has been talking about life after Trump. He believes that Republicans should carry the Trump message for the next two years saying, “The Trump agenda was what was popular — not Trump the man.” Do you think those ~74 million votes were won for the man or for the ideas?
Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)
The War is Unwinnable
Matt supports President Trump in his withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. He believes the war is unwinnable and that we should not only reduce our troops to 2,500, but to zero. While Matt agrees with the President, other Republicans have expressed concerns with his current order. In other news, Matt clashed with Democrats who have been calling for President Trump to go to jail, calling it “Disgusting.” But a quick history lesson reminds us that President Trump started these chants at his rallies against Hillary Clinton and President Obama… so which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)
The election may be over, but the two words “election fraud” will be part of our life for the next 4 years. Lance is a strong supporter of President Trump and even more convinced that election fraud happened in his state of Texas, although the President won there. Lance and others have offered up to $1.0 million to any individual who provides verifiable evidence of fraud. Hopefully, Lance channels this energy into streamlining election standards and security for 2022.
Dusty Johnson (R; SD)
The Aid that Matters Most
Dusty introduced the bill with his democratic colleague, Joe Courtney (Connecticut), known as the Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act, which ensures that Federal Impact Aid for public school districts with high concentrations of children of U.S. servicemembers and tribal land will not be adversely affected by COVID-19. The bill was just passed by both the House and Senate! The Impact Aid Program is critical for schools located on federal property. These public schools collect less in local property taxes to fund their schools and without the program would be underfunded. As well, Dusty has started a campaign to end Daylight Savings Time… at first glance, we’re all for it, but it has some interesting opposition voices in teachers and healthcare workers.
Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)
Native American Health
A record number of Native Americans were elected to Congress in the most recent election. Markwayne is one of 6 Native Americans in our newest Congress (there are 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats). Markwayne is a member of the Cherokee Nation and continues to support Native Americans with his most recent legislation that ensures timely and accessible care for Native American veterans. This would enable the Veterans Health Administration to reimburse Indian Health Services and Tribally run health clinics who treat Native American veterans. On a slightly more divisive note, Markwayne is also one of President Trump’s biggest supporters and has been outspoken about election fraud and claims he has evidence…
Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)
You Have Been Tariffed
Many Wisconsin businesses and manufacturers that have been affected by the trade war with China have not had to pay certain tariffs under Section 301 with the U.S. Trade Representative. Unfortunately, this exclusion was not extended and many Wisconsin businesses were denied another year extension. Bryan, along with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative asking for an explanation. During these times, we are all so focused on COVID implications that many have forgotten that the trade war with China continues. Hopefully Bryan can help find a resolution for these struggling businesses in his home state.
Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)
Under the Sea
Lee’s first district in New York is almost completely surrounded by water which is why he has been one of the strongest supporters of the National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2020. That is quite a long name, but the act would authorize ~$513 million over 5 years for the National Sea Grant College Program. The program works with local shellfish farmers, fisherman, watermen and other businesses in the coastal economy to grow and sustain their business models and navigate the state and federal coastal zone management. This seems like a step in the right direction to protect our beaches and support marine science research.
Kyrsten Sinema (D; AZ)
A Helping Hand
All aboard the bipartisan resolution to recognize November 2020 as “National Homeless Children and Youth Awareness Month.” Krysten has been a champion in combating homelessness and has introduced 4 legislation pieces that provide funding to families experiencing homelessness to help pay rent, utility bills, and other assistance. What many may not know is that Kyrsten herself experienced homelessness and food insecurity as a child and this is why it has become a main issue for her. Nearly 10,000 Arizonans experience homelessness on a given night; 600 of them are unaccompanied children. With Covid raging and the holidays upon us, hats off the Kyrsten for pushing these initiatives!
Joe Cunningham (D; SC-1)
Say It Ain’t So, Joe
Joe occupied one of the most vulnerable House seats, especially since he had flipped the seat from Red to Blue in the last election. But what happened in 2020? The Democrats came up short in 2020 in extending their majority in the House and we are seeing large numbers of conservatives who dominate rural parts of their districts voting in higher numbers. This unexpected strength helped eliminate 10 Democratic incumbents. Joe is now focused on setting a peaceful transition with his challenger, Nancy Mace and has also called on the President to follow that example and concede the election so the country can move forward. What a guy, Joe, what a guy!
Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)
The Future Forum
Eric has another reason to celebrate, despite winning his third term. He was nominated by Speaker Pelosi to serve as co-chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the caucus’ policy agenda and nominates Democratic Members for committee assignments. Eric’s familiar with the post, having previously served on this committee as a vice-chair. In 2015, Eric founded Future Forum – a group of young Democratic Members focused upon listening to and engaging with millennials on the issues most important to that generation. If Eric can link his work with the Future Forum to his link on the Steering and Policy Committee, young people, and especially young Democrats, might begin to see a platform they can believe in.
Nanette Diaz Barragán (D; CA-44)
Let’s Level This Health Field, Shall We?
Nanette has cause to celebrate this week as her bipartisan bill passed the house, moving us closer to ending the disparities in public health between minority communities and other Americans. The measure she authored, along with Republican Congressman ‘Buddy’ Carter from Georgia, calls for increasing investments into schools and universities conducting critical research on this subject. This research had slowed in recent years due to funding shortfalls, but the need to understand why people in minority communities are more likely to get certain illnesses has never been greater. If the bill passes, hopefully we can turn learned knowledge into tangible practice to prevent these discrepancies.
Jason Crow (D; CO-4)
The $64 Billion Dollar Question
At a recent congressional hearing on troop withdrawals in Afghanistan, Jason reminded the folks at home he knows a thing or two, because he’s seen a thing or two. “I went to war after 9/11 three times, twice in Afghanistan” the former Army Ranger reminded his colleagues. He continued to say that while there’s a right way to bring the troops home, this is not that way. He even joined Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney earlier this year to introduce legislation mandating greater congressional oversight with regards to timing of troop withdrawals. The great unknown question is precisely how many troops should remain to prevent the Taliban from overthrowing the Afghan government. Jason believes the President’s drawdown to 2,500 is simply not enough.
Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)
The 19th District Sure Likes Over-Achievers!
Antonio is doing everything but rest on his laurels since handedly winning reelection this month. In addition to helping secure a $112,000 sports grant from the VA for his local SUNY Cobleskill’s therapeutic horsemanship program, Antonio also voted to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at improving access to apprenticeship programs in his area. The National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 cleared the house and now heads to the Senate. The measure looks to create job training and partnerships for developing new jobs necessary for a sustainable and green economy of the future. Oh, and he also tweeted out a survey link for his constituents to tell him exactly what he should do for them this term. I want to move to his district.
Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)
Looking Out for Our Own
Ruben is the chairman of the House Subcommittee for Indigenous People and they sure seem to have a strong leader in him. The house just passed Ruben’s bill that he co-authored with fellow under-45er Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) which ensures faster and more accessible health care to Native American Veterans. Ruben, a veteran himself, saw an issue particularly with VA reimbursements to Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribally-run health facilities for purchased and referred care (PCR). Faster reimbursements mean faster care that Native American Veterans can now receive. It ain’t exactly science. It’s more like leadership.
Josh Harder (D; CA-10)
Throwing Bombs on the House Floor
That is precisely what Josh did in the way of words, as he took to the House floor last week to ask “what the hell is happening in Washington?!?!” He threw down some more sobering truth by reminding the Speaker that every minute he stands there talking, another American dies from Covid, and more slip into poverty still. He says we desperately need another stimulus check and extended unemployment. But his pleas for pulverizing the latest political grid-lock were not just hollow rhetoric. Josh sits on the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which earlier this year agreed on a compromise plan to provide a second round of stimulus. So I think we can all join Josh in bluntly asking what the hell is happening in Washington?
Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)
No Worries, We’ll Come to You!
Just prior to overwhelmingly winning reelection, Ro introduced a $900 billion bill to expand jobs in science and technology. But what does that actually mean? First, you spread that money out over 10 years to research and develop emerging technologies, such as climate science, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing. Then you create 30 technology centers in rural places otherwise technologically underdeveloped, because the data indicates many Americans are less inclined to leave their rural communities to pursue careers in science and technology. This bill invests in building out the infrastructure well beyond Silicon Valley. It even got the endorsement of Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to President Elect Joe Biden. So this might actually have some legs.
Mike Levin (D; CA-49)
Sunny Days Ahead
Mike joined his Republican colleague Dave Schweikert of Arizona to introduce the Solar Jobs Preservation Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at strengthening jobs in the Solar Industry through the solar Investment Tax Credit. The ITC was created in 2006 and has helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs as well as billions in investment. But facing rising difficulties due to Covid, the ITC is wearing thin, so Mike’s bill looks to extend investment credit eligibility for any new projects breaking ground through 2021, thereby incentivizing new investments and thus creating more jobs when we sure do need them. Anyone living in the Southwest sure knows the power of solar, so let’s get this turbine spinnin’ shall we?
Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)
When in Doubt, Change the Rules!
Stephanie was joined by fellow under-45er Dan Crenshaw in an effort to muster the full weight of Congress behind a fallen hero to re-write the legislation in order to posthumously award him the Medal Of Honor. Yeah. On October 17, 2005, Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe rescued several soldiers from a truck explosion only to later succumb to burn wounds suffered in the process. But upon writing to the Secretary Of Defense advocating for his receipt of this award, the Secretary informed them that legislation dictates that a posthumous awarding of the military’s highest honor must occur within 5 years. However, he went on to say that if they were to change the legislation, SFC Cashe would have his full-throated endorsement. So that’s precisely what they did, and the decision is now in the hands of the President who will almost assuredly give the final salute to a true patriot.
Illhan Omar (D; MN-5)
Your Kid Won’t Go Hungry on My Watch
Illhan is no stranger to making “squad” headlines, but beyond the typical click-bait polarization, she knows how to get things done. This past March, Illhan co-sponsored a bipartisan bill called the MEALS Act, which ensured access to critical daily nutrition for over 430,000 students affected by pandemic-related school closures. While the measure passed, and indeed provided lunches for several kids in need, it was only a temporary authorization. So for the last several weeks and months, Illhan has been doggedly advocating and pursuing it’s extension, which Congress finally passed. It now extends the program through 2021 and guarantees the USDA can access as much funding as needed in order to provide these necessary meals.
Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)
Too Quick on the Draw
In this unorthodox era of policy-announcement-by-tweet, it only feels right that one also must embrace the retort-by-tweet, especially when it’s coming from a former CIA analyst on the matters of foreign policy. So in keeping with the times, Elissa took to Twitter to denounce the President’s rapid troop withdrawal announcement in a series of tweets methodically and practically laying out her reasons for why this is an ill-conceived policy. The core of her thesis—if such a thing exists in 140 characters—is basic timing and coordination with our bedrock NATO allies. She reminds us that America’s handshake must endure trust and reliance, not only as a matter of decency but also a matter of strategy. Her takeaway: preserve your friendships so you can fight another day.
Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)
Make Government Work Again
In our seemingly dizzying age of endless Government dysfunction, it’s fair to say a global pandemic was the last thing our operations departments needed. Haley joined 232 other colleagues in a bipartisan push to resume processing military personnel records. The National Personnel Records Center processes vital military personnel, health and medical records requests, but has been completely swamped in backlog gridlock due to Covid-related facility closures. And these record retrievals are time-sensitive because they’re needed in qualifying for a whole range of benefits. Haley and her colleagues are forcefully pushing the NPRC to implement new policies and procedures so as to keep this little-known, yet monumentally important government apparatus doing its job. You can’t help but wonder, how many other necessary processes like this are getting delayed?
Xochitl Torres Small (D; NM-2)
Play Hard ‘Til the Buzzer
Despite losing her seat in a narrow race, Xochitl continues to work tirelessly for her constituents. She and her New Mexico Senators announced that FEMA had awarded the state $15.5 million in Covid-19 emergency response reimbursements to the New Mexico Department of Health. In other words, these grants will be allocated for further purchasing of ventilators, increasing response staff hiring and temporary facility expansion to alleviate hospital crowding. Xochitl was also named as a FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act conferee, which means she’ll join 52 house colleagues in meeting with Senate counterparts to square away any minor discrepancies in the annual defense bill. Sounds like she’s earned a vacation come January.
Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)
Protect and Serve
Anthony has joined Democrat colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz in issuing a forceful letter urging congress to take action against a startling rise in cases of online child exploitation. Currently, of the $94.5 for Missing and Exploited Children’s Programs, $40 million is dedicated to the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. According to their data, cases have increased over the last two and only made exponentially worse during the pandemic. Anthony is urging Congress to maintain these specific funding levels during the potentially huge end-of-year omnibus spending bill that is likely to come. Amidst the pandemic and other crises, we forget about important issues like this, thanks Anthony (and Debbie) for reminding us.
Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)
Let’s Get Those Numbers Up
With a background in small business, Trey’s most recent bill proposal should come as no surprise. On Veteran’s day, Trey introduced the Investing in Veteran Entrepreneurial Talents (VETs) Act which aims to support service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Currently there’s a federal government contracting goal of 5% for women-owned small businesses and socially disadvantaged small businesses. That’s when Trey notices the percentage goal for disabled vets was well below that. So this bill looks to set that percentage goal at 5% in parity with other small business goals.
Brian Mast (R; FL-18)
Plug the Leak!
Brian issued a strong letter to the Army Corps of Engineers urging them to stop the Lake Okeechobee high-volume water discharge to the St. Lucie river in his district. He says it’s damaging their ecosystem. Lake Okeechobee is a huge freshwater lake, renowned for bass and crappie fishing in the middle of southern Florida. In order to prevent overflowing during the rainy season, the Army Corps of Engineers discharged over 35 million gallons just over the past month. But as the rainy season has come to a close, the discharge has continued, which Brian says is “akin to Lucy pulling the football out from underneath Charlie Brown.” First we had My Cousin Vinny, now Charlie Brown? If one thing’s clear, politicians should probably update their references.
Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)
Since winning reelection, Elise has seemingly helped usher in a torrent of bipartisan legislation, from securing $1.5 million for a local Head Start program, to passing a bill that directs the CDC to increase funding research for the FDA. One particularly noteworthy bill she cosponsored centers around restricting suspicious opioid shipments. Currently, drug manufacturers need to notify the DEA when they encounter suspicious shipments, but this goes further and requires them to actually halt the shipments. The ever-growing opioid crisis seems to have dropped out of sight and out of mind for many politicians, and perhaps voters too. But it is still a monumental problem and it’s positive to see some in Washington haven’t forgotten about it.
Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)
Gone but Not Forgotten
Admittedly, Dan made a lot of noise on twitter these past two weeks without seeming to do a lot of bill sponsoring or legislating to back it up. It wasn’t until discovering in a press release from Democrat Stephanie Murphy (FL) that Dan joined her in getting some significant rules changed so that they might award a fallen hero with the Medal Of Honor. On October 17, 2020, Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe died after rescuing several soldiers from a truck explosion. But upon recently writing to the Secretary Of Defense advocating for his receipt of this award, Dan and Stephanie learned that legislation dictates that a posthumous awarding of the military’s highest honor must occur within 5 years. So they successfully re-wrote the law and now the decision is in the hands of the President. It is unclear whether or not Dan intentionally sought to downplay his involvement here, but we noticed and we think it’s a job well done.
Josh Hawley (R, MO)
You Talkin’ to Me?
Josh is no fan of big tech and has long made it his mission to hold big tech companies responsible for what he believes are below-board practices. So when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was in front of Congress last week, Josh didn’t miss an opportunity to press for answers. Josh presented a whistleblower complaint from a former Facebook employee alleging the company coordinates with employees from Twitter and Google on certain content moderation decisions. Mark fought back saying the companies coordinate plenty on security matters, but denied that they coordinate their policies. Like many of these Senate hearings, the stew isn’t finished cooking yet but the stove did get a little hotter.
Will Timmons (R; SC-4)
It Takes Two to Tango
On a recent House subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance, Will railed against the nonsensical task of trying to plan for the next pandemic while still buried in the first one! He picked apart the illogical conflation of trying to use “terrorist insurance policies” as a template for “pandemic insurance policies.” Furthermore, he went on to chastise the government for shutting down again without following through on the more important step of small businesses stimulus aid. Small businesses all across the country are getting pummeled during this and chances are you know of more than one. In the meantime, Will wants us all to do our part and support local.
Kelly Armstrong (R; ND)
Less Chit-Chat, More Snap-To-It
As the nationwide certifications of the recent Presidential election roll in, the hope is that it turns our collective political temperatures down from a high boil to perhaps a mid-simmer. Though this doesn’t seem to be the case in North Dakota as Kelly held a rally (during a spiraling pandemic) along with the states two Senators, to offer a full-throated endorsement of the RNC forming legal teams in four states to challenge election results. Though, with each passing day, the evidence for voter fraud and irregularity dissipates. Furthermore, Kelly hasn’t made any sort of press releases about new legislation he’s authored, or a new bill he’s cosponsoring. So with the election now in our rearview, an election in which there seemed to be little to no irregularities, it seems like it’s time for Kelly to get back to Washington and get to work on behalf of the folks who sent him there.