THE COMPLETE 17 PERCENT: Divided and Conquered?

A full rundown from our April 8, 2021 newsletter.

Chanikarn Thongsupa

LBJ Library

Brendan Smialowski, Agence France-Presse

The Blog
The Blog

THE COMPLETE 17 PERCENT: Divided and Conquered?

Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA- 44)

Cleaning the Pipes

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been in the public eye ever since a slew of protesters traveled to rally against its construction. Now, Nanette is leading a group of 28 Democratic Representatives and Senators to shut down the pipeline during its court-ordered environmental review. The review was sparked by a court ruling that the Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement for the pipeline to cross a federal reservoir, which could potentially affect the drinking water, and hunting and fishing rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. One thing is for sure – the push and pull between environmental and indigenous concerns and fossil fuel jobs ain’t goin away.

Jason Crow (D; CO-4)

The Competitive Spirit

With so many businesses still hurting a year after the start of the pandemic, Jason and a group of bipartisan lawmakers have a creative solution – competition. They have introduced the Next Generation Entrepreneurship Corps Act, which calls for a nationwide competitive fellowship that would choose 320 entrepreneurs every year for the next 6 years to help get their businesses up and running by pairing them with mentors to hone their business plan and pitch to investors. The program is meant to help Americans who have had difficulty gaining access to capital and mentorship – namely young people and non-white communities. With more new businesses come more new jobs so we’re rooting for ya on this one, Jason!

Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)

A Moment for the Mrs.

There are plenty of impressive partners of lawmakers out there, but Antonio’s wife, Lacey Schawrtz Delgado, has caught our attention this week and deserves a shout out. The filmmaker and producers recently premiered her latest documentary, How It Feels To Be Free (which she made with Alicia Keys), which honors Black female performers and activists before, during and after the Civil Rights movement. With the conversation of race at the forefront of our society and a newly-inaugurated black female Vice President, the film feels nothing if not timely. Politicians are undoubtedly influenced, for better or worse, by their families, so we’re excited to see Antonio’s making a statement!

Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)

Rescuing Vets

Ruben, a veteran himself, has been a staunch defender of veterans’ rights and assistance. He recently questioned Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough about how the American Rescue Plan will specifically address the homelessness crisis among America’s veterans. McDonough outlined how the Rescue Plan will help vets get emergency support in the form of rental assistance, a moratorium on evictions, utility support and medical/mental health care. He indicated to Ruben that, in total, there will be about $600-700 billion in EXTRA funding to help these men and women who risked their lives for our country. Moments like this conversation between Secretary McDonough and Ruben don’t get seen very often, but they provide important insight into how exactly the government is helping Americans.

Josh Harder (D; CA-10)

Orange is Forever

Last week, a press conference in Josh’s district was held to thank him for sponsoring a federal law, passed in December, that provides disability benefits for a handful of diseases tied to the Vietnam-era herbicide, Agent Orange. The chemical, which was sprayed by U.S. forces to reduce jungle coverage for the enemy, has been linked to bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson-like symptoms. Josh said that an estimated 34,000 veterans could qualify under the new bill, which he worked on with a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers. Moments like these fly under the radar, but are an important reminder of the minutiae our elected officials pay attention to on a daily basis.

Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)

Energizer Bunny

As the White House lays out its economic vision, Ro has an even bolder push to make – a $10 trillion dollar investment plan over 10 years to re-industrialize the country. He references the fact that America isn’t producing its own batteries or electric vehicles or a slew of other necessary industrial goods that leave us at the mercy of other countries (namely, duh, China). To pay for the plan, he calls on former Treasury Secretary (under Clinton) Larry Summers’ proposal that there are people and corporations who aren’t being held accountable for tax that they owe. If that tax was collected, Summers says, we could collect up to $1.2 trillion over 10 years. This, Ro says, is the starting point. “Don’t we want to be producing critical manufacturing supplies?” he said, “I mean, in WWII, we armed our entire military.”

Mike Levin (D; CA-49)

A Different Kind of Constellation

From dreams of settling on Mars to potential celestial wars, it’s no secret that the future is playing out in space. Mike recently appealed to the acting FCC chair asking for better regulation of constellations of hundreds of thousands of small satellites and to study the impact they could have on the environment. The FCC must, Mike says, address the increasing orbital debris that has potential to damage spacecraft and pollute the Earth’s environment. “When we talk about global sustainability,” he insists, “our efforts cannot stop at our geographic border, or even at the limits of our atmosphere.”

Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)

Make it Snappy

Like many Floridians, Stephanie is an avid fisher(wo)man and she’s just secured the Great Red Snapper Count of the South Atlantic. Sounds pretty grand? It is! She and Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) have gotten clearance from the federal government to use $3.3 million to fund an independent 30-month study that will assess the true count of snapper in the South Atlantic. A recent count in the Gulf of Mexico recently showed that there are three times as many snapper in the Gulf as were estimated, so Stephanie is hopeful that an increased count of snapper in the South Atlantic will “bring longer seasons and more opportunities for anglers to fish for red snapper”. Looks like Stephanie’s catching dinner!

Ilhan Omar (D; MN-5)

Take Her Out to the Ball Game

As Ilhan keeps a close eye on the trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, which is putting her community “on edge”, she’s also turning her eyes to Georgia. The MLB has recently announced it will move the All Star game out of Georgia due to the new voting law that Republicans passed. Ilhan has come out in support of the move, though she clashes with another well-known Democrat – Stacey Abrams. Both women commend the decision and recognize the efficacy of boycotts, but Abrams pushes back on the potential economic effects for jobs and families in the state. Ilhan, however, doubled down on the need to put voting rights above all because “when you restrict people’s ability to vote, you create a democracy that isn’t fully functioning for all of us”.

Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)

Home Grown

In a recent interview with a local news station, Elissa declared that domestic terrorism is “the greatest threat to our national security”. As a former CIA analyst and the new chairwoman of the U.S. House Intelligence and Counterterrorism Subcommittee (see last week’s newsletter), Elissa not only has the experience to back up her claim, but holds some of the reins on how Congress will approach it. She noted that the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6th “ended the post-9/11 era, those 20 years where the threats came from abroad”. Additionally, she refuted many GOP claims that Antifa is as dangerous as other right-wing groups like the Proud Boys. In her mission to keep Americans safe, Elissa is sure to encounter many partisan fights, but she’s made it clear where her focus will be.

Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)

Manufacture THAT

With American manufacturing and supply chains facing immeasurable obstacles due to covid, the need for revitalization is at an all-time high. Manufacturing is a known priority of the Biden administration, but Haley and a group of bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers are pushing that commitment even further. They’re proposing the creation of an Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy (OMII) to advise the president. It would coordinate existing programs and resources for manufacturers and provide analysis to the president. The proposition also includes the establishment of a council of federal leaders to identify vulnerabilities in American supply chains and workforce skills. With over a dozen associations endorsing the proposal and manufacturing at the forefront of Americans’ minds, we’re eager to see where Haley’s proposal goes!

Kelly Armstrong (R; ND)

Civility, Young Grasshopper

Members of Congress engaging with their young constituents is, well, one of our favorite things! Kelly recently paid a visit to a North Dakota high school to talk about the growing partisan divide in our country and left the students with an important message – the generation that came before them failed when it came to maintaining civil political discourse, but they don’t have to. He stressed the importance of thinking before posting on social media (“If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it with a post.”). He also addressed the issue of climate change, which is important to young voters of both parties, and implored young people to figure out how to utilize technology for good, not for division. It’s a lofty ask, but we couldn’t be more pleased with Kelly’s messaging to these soon-to-be voters!

Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)

Housing Questions Answered

Everyone has a podcast these days, and Dan is no exception. He hosts a range of mainly conservative voices on his pod, Hold These Truths. This week, he interviewed Howard Husock, who is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, to discuss housing in America. Husock’s work focuses on local government, civil society, and urban housing policy. They run through Husock’s take on urban housing crises, covid-era eviction moratoriums, the effect of millennials being stuck in their parents’ homes, and more. Many kinks in the American system have been exposed during Covid and housing is perhaps one of the most relevant to every citizen so gaining some perspectives on what the future looks like is key!

Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)

How About That Endorsement?

Remember former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)? He held the post from 2011 to 2015, was a thorn in Obama’s side, and has since become a vocal critic of Trump’s. That final point is perhaps why he has now thrown his weight behind Anthony’s re-election campaign, which has drawn multiple challengers ever since he voted to impeach Trump back in January. Boehner represents an ‘old guard’ of Republican politicians who still hold quite a bit of sway in their ever-fracturing party. Will his attendance at a recent fundraiser for Anthony be an effective boost or will the Trump train win out?

Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)

Age is Just a Number

Unemployment for workers age 55 and older more than doubled between February 2020 and now, according to the AARP and age discrimination in work and hiring processes is no secret. There is now a bipartisan and bicameral bill in Congress, sponsored by Trey, to combat just that and strengthen federal protections for older workers. The legislation was initially introduced over a decade ago when a Supreme Court decision made it more difficult for older workers to prove claims of illegal bias based on age. Trey and his colleagues are working to restore protections under the longstanding Age Discrimination Employment Act. At Political Playlist, we’re gung ho about the new generation of leaders and voters, but major props to those who came before us as well!

Brian Mast (R; FL-18)

Everglades Forever

Last year, various restoration projects were authorized to protect the Everglades. Now, Brian and fellow PP leader Darren Soto (D-FL) led a delegation of Florida representatives in asking the Biden administration to fully fund these projects as part of the administration’s infrastructure proposal. He stressed that funding the projects would “create more than 65,000 jobs, protect the environment, and improve public health”. The letter sent to Biden also noted that one of the programs was meant to be a 50/50 funding split between the state of Florida and the federal government, though the federal government has only spent about one-quarter thus far compared to the state. With this new focus on infrastructure, the gators are waiting.

Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)

Farm to Jobs

Covid has exposed many cracks in the American system, specifically in the advancement of rural communities. Elise, along with fellow PP leader Josh Harder (D-CA), has introduced the Success for Rural Students and Communities Act to authorize $60 million in funding each year until 2027 to improve rural education, postsecondary enrollment, and career advancement efforts. The idea being that if rural students, who are often left behind, are given the right opportunities, they will be trained for high-demand local jobs and contribute to their local economies. The bipartisan bill also has support in the Senate and could be key to investment in our country’s rural communities. Do you live in or come from a rural area? If so, what was your education and job-training experience there?

William Timmons (R; SC-4)

Passing on Passports

Ever since the vaccine rollout began, the question of a ‘vaccine passport’ has made its way into personal and political discussion. Other countries, like Israel, are already implementing such a system to encourage safe travel, but William joins the chorus of Republicans calling the practice wholly un-American. He recently signed a letter in support of the South Carolina governor’s anti-vaccine passport stance. While the Biden administration is looking into what the practice could mean for international travel, it has come out publicly saying there will be no federal mandate for citizens to get a vaccine credential. What this will mean for domestic travel remains to be seen, but you can be sure where William stands on the issue.

Josh Hawley (R; MO)

Freeze the Freeze

During Covid, the Trump administration froze temporary foreign worker entries and the visas administered to them. This namely applies to applicants for H1-B visas, which are for workers in specialized fields. Biden now plans to unfreeze those visa applications and Josh is not having it! He wrote a letter to the president imploring him to keep the freeze in place until the national unemployment numbers recover further, citing the need for Americans to find jobs before foreign workers come in and take advantage of new job opportunities. Josh is certainly touting his America First flag.

Mondaire Jones (D; NY-17)

Out of the Weeds

Over 50% of American adults have used cannabis, however 5 White House staffers were recently fired after disclosing that they’d gotten down with the bud. Mondaire and several other House Democrats have now written to the president, asking him to reverse that decision. The letter asked the president to consider the public statements he himself has made in support of cannabis legalization and destigmatization. While it seems like this policy was not specifically implemented by the Biden administration, it does beg a hypocrisy question. Do you think Mondaire and his colleagues are right to call out the president or is one toke one too many to work at the White House?

Nikema Williams (D; GA-5)

A Lie Don’t Care Who Tell it

Georgia’s new voting laws have deepened the partisan divide around how exactly elections should be conducted. Nikema had some harsh words (see title above) for Gov. Brian Kemp after he released a statement refuting Democrat claims that the laws are akin to those from the Jim Crow era. As a result, Nikema has doubled down on efforts to pass HR1, the Voting Rights Act, which was originally introduced by her late predecessor, John Lewis. While the Georgia law gives more powers state lawmakers’ influence over election processes, while HR1 leans more towards the federal powers. As the debate over the Georgia law is sure to make its way through court, you can expect Nikema there making her case for her state.

Lauren Boebert (R; CO-3)

Big Mountain Bucks

We’re 3 months into 2021 and Lauren and one of her 2022 Democratic challengers have already raised a combined $1.3 million. Though the race is (checks calendar) more than a little while away, the race for Colorado’s 3rd district seat is well underway and promises to be one of the more expensive House races in the country. This is no doubt driven, for better and worse, by Lauren’s constant pushback on Democrats with a larger than life personality and social media presence. For her supporters, the attitude is pure gold, for her Democratic opponent, Kerry Donovan, Lauren’s Twitter escapades are also raking in the cash. The district is heavily Republican, but with redistricting happening later this year, we’ll see how the chips fall…

Tracey Mann (R; KS-1)

The Man Behind the Mann

The position of chief of staff is often cloaked in stereotypes and ‘behind the curtain’ assumptions. Very rarely do you get a deep dive into who these people actually are, but Tracey’s chief of staff, Brandon Harder, recently did an interview with a local newspaper that gave an eye-opening look into one’s path towards power in the federal government. He, like Tracey, grew up on a farm in Kansas and never thought that a long-term education and especially not politics was in the cards for him. However, in community college, he changed his course and ended up working for a Kansas Senator and later used his expertise in agriculture and animal science to advise lawmakers. He and his wife do extensive non-profit and missionary work around the globe, though Kansas remains home – as he puts it “Kansas is the pilot light of the country.”

Andrew Garbarino (R; NY-2)

One Sock, Under God

Socks don’t necessarily scream symbolism, but Andrew and his Democratic colleague, Tom Suozzi (D-NY) have managed to tug at our heartstrings through a recent endeavor. They teamed with a local entrepreneur with Down Syndrome, John Cronin, who runs the company John’s Crazy Socks to create a ‘Unity sock’ that will be given to every member of Congress. It’s a small gesture, but, as Andrew put it, the socks offer an “opportunity to participate in the sharing of the important message of bipartisanship”. Both Andrew and Rep. Suozzi are members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which aims to find bipartisan solutions to important issues, so their enthusiasm about the American flag-adorned footwear isn’t surprising.

Julia Letlow (R; LA-5)

Don’t be a Prick About the Prick

We welcome Julia to the Political Playlist family! After recently winning the special election to fill her late husband’s seat after he passed from Covid last year. She joins Congress not only with her own agenda to work towards, but a legacy to fulfill. First up on the docket? Urging members of her party to ditch that vaccine hesitancy and get their shot. “Look at my family, use my story,” is her plea. Recent polling shows that 56% of white Republicans said they were wary of or would not get the vaccine, despite impressive rollout overall around the country. Will Julia’s story be enough to sway those in her camp?

Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)

Everyone Gets a Vaccine!

Pete serves as a member of the Appropriations Committee which is important because the committee is responsible for setting funding levels for federal agencies and programs. Even more important was his input in setting these funding levels with the American Rescue Plan distribution. Thankfully for his constituents he was able to secure $10.2 million in funding to San Bernardino County to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines. Three health centers and providers were the lucky recipients of the money: SAC Health System, Inland Behavioral and Health Systems and the County of San Bernardino. The time is now to go get that vaccine!

Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)

Senior Special No More

Currently, the federal government does not provide federal Medicaid funds to states for services at Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD). An IMD is classified as a hospital, nursing facility or other institution that has more than 16 beds and engages in some sort of mental treatment. Brendan reintroduced legislation to expand access to recovery for certain disorders at IMD’s. Right now you are only eligible for Medicaid coverage at IMD’s if you are 65 and over. With Brendans legislation, many more people will now have access. As well, Brendan shot down rumors that he was running for Pennsylvania Senate. Maybe next go around?

Jared Golden (D; ME-2)

Second Time’s Not a Charm

Yes, Jared voted against the President’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill the first time it was in the House. THEN he voted against it, again, before it was signed into law. Why is this notable? Well, Jared is a Democrat so it’s a little surprising that he would in the first place. His reasoning, though, is that the bill contains “untimely and unnecessary spending.” This reasoning was also the chorus sung by most Republicans. Jared noted that on many issues like education funding, rental assistance, and relief checks there was already funding that was not used or applications that had not even been open from the last COVID relief bill. This was just one vote, but Jared is positioning himself as a House Democrat to watch and a potential vote that Democrats will really need to work for if they want their agenda passed down the line.

Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)

Getting Personal

Many of us have seen videos of Asian hate crimes appear across our news channel or social media. It is shocking and terrible to watch and has ignited many others to share their stories of Asian discrimination in our country. Andy took to twitter to tell a story about the time he was discriminated against while serving in the State Department – he received a letter restricting him from working on anything related to the Korean Peninsula. While the State Department denies they discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age they sometimes put restrictions to prevent targeting or harassment from foreign intelligence services. Regardless, could you imagine being in Andy’s position and feeling like the country you’ve pledged to serve doesn’t have your back?

Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)

New Deal Round 2?

88 years ago, President Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps, a national service program that employed millions of Americans during the Great Depression to complete conservation projects across the country. Joe, along with PP leader Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) introduced the Civilian Climate Corps Act which would authorize the Biden administration to utilize existing national service programs to address our public lands maintenance backlog and restore our forests in the wake of devastating western wildfires. Thankfully for Joe and Abigail, President Biden included $10 billion in his American Jobs Plan to establish the Civilian Climate Corps. Now we will have to wait and see if the American Jobs Plan gets passed.

Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)

VA – One Stop Shop

This is your Congressman speaking. All veterans, caregivers and spouses are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the VA. Thanks to Chris and his new legislation that became a law, the VA New England Healthcare System’s (VISN 1), allows the VA to fully protect veterans by giving them the ability to vaccinate veterans and essential caregivers who are not currently eligible for or enrolled in the VA health care system. President Biden signed the legislation last month and since then the VA has been able to vaccinate many more people who were not enrolled in VA health care services. Get that shot!

Darren Soto (D; FL-9)

More Than a Dream

Almost all Americans can agree the immigration system is broken, but what is the solution? Darren took to an op-ed to discuss some solutions. In Florida, there are over 390,000 immigrant essential workers who are in industries such as agriculture, health care and food services. Among that number over 6,300 are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients. Many of these immigrant essential workers were heroes during COVID and he felt that our political system needed to step up for them. He voted to pass The Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workers Modernization Act. Darren believes both pieces of legislation are a real opportunity to begin fixing our broken immigration system. Do you agree with Darren?

Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)

What’s Next?

Over the last four year Eric was one of the more outspoken Democrats against President Trump, which helped him gain a following when he ran for President in 2020. Now, he is figuring out where to position his next move. Supposedly, his staff has an “informal rule against interacting with offices of any member who voted to overturn the election.” Eric is young, a 5-term Congressman who has led many youth organizations and been around the hall of Congress long enough to know how it works…so what’s next? While we would like everyone to get along we know that is not the case. So should Democratic leaders like Eric put in effort to rebuild those relations or screw it?

Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)

Listen Up People

After the American Rescue Act was passed many politicians, not all, hosted various meetings to discuss the outcome and available benefits for their constituents. Lauren hosted a virtual series with various health care groups and experts, which she turned into videos, so various constituents could access them and understand how the new law lowers health plan costs. Laurens legislation, the Health Care Affordability Act, was included in the American Rescue Plan, which will make marketplace health plan premiums lower for over 290,000 Illinoisans. 290,000 gold stars for Lauren!

Jim Banks (R; IN-3)

Christmas Came Early

A gift?!! For Me? Jim wrote a letter to House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy speaking of the “gift” the Republican party has received from former President Trump. Despite what other Republicans have said, Jim feels that the GOP must become the Party of the Working Class and embrace Trump’s populist rhetoric. Over the last 10 years, the GOP has dominated occupational groups like mechanics, truckers, and plumbers while donations for Democrats mainly come from teachers, lawyers, and engineers. The document is titled Cementing GOP as the Working-Class Party… which basically shows that the Republicans will most likely be doubling down on President Trump for the foreseeable future, at least if Jim has anything to say about it.

Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)

Rough Week… Full Moon Perhaps?

If you did not know his name before, well you do now. Matt Gaetz, our Surpriser in Chief. First, we heard news he might not see reelection and join Newsmax as a TV host. Shortly after that announcement, the media became aware of a DOJ investigation into Matt for allegations in a potential sex trafficking case. Matt, an outspoken Trump loyalist, denied having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paying for her travels with him. In an op-ed, Matt has denied all claims, called out a laundry list of people including many Democrats (we’re surprised he didn’t mention Hillary Clinton, though you bet your ass he mentioned Bill). Tucker Carlson said his interview with Matt was one of the strangest interviews he has ever done. If even Tucker thinks you’re circling the crazy bin, your days might be numbered!

Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)

Do I Smell Bacon?

Mhmmm BACON! Well, not the delicious bacon we enjoy in the morning, but the “bacon” that politicians are known for bringing home to their district. In 2011, Republicans eliminated earmarks which allowed politicians to commit federal funds to a specific project in their district through a massive spending bill. In the past, however, earmarks were used to buy and sell votes and reward favors. There were some ridiculous stories of a bridge to nowhere, specifically an Alaskan island that had 50 people, and other projects that ultimately led to some politicians being convicted of corruption charges. But could earmarks make a comeback? Lance is opposed and signed onto a letter that would prevent Congress from reinstating them, but there are some Republicans who support it. In the meantime, we’ll sit back and eat some real bacon.

Dusty Johnson (R; SD)

We Can Build Better Than This

Build Back Better… for a price tag of ~$3 billion? Transportation and infrastructure are on the minds of many who feel that America is long overdue. Dusty is all for authorizing funding for transportation and infrastructure, but not at such a high price tag. He said that this bill is 10 times more than the U.S. spent on the last highway bill. In a committee hearing, the new Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, said that China spends more on infrastructure every year than the U.S. and Europe combined. Many Republicans have already stated they will not support a bill that tackles other issues such as climate change or social justice issues. With these hot-button issues sure to be top-of-mind for Democrats, we wonder if there’s any hope of bipartisanship on this.

Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)

Leave Your Background Checks at the Door

Mark took to an op-ed to outline his opposition to the “bipartisan” Background Checks Act which he rejects as an unlawful and misguided bill that criminalizes lawful gun owners while doing nothing to prevent gun violence. The bill prohibits a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer/manufacturer/importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. If the background check is not done the person could suffer penalties of up to a year in prison or $100,000 in fines. Mark outlines various scenarios where this “transfer” could be considered… even in a hunting scenario. We have to wonder where a starting place for bipartisanship on this issue might be if background checks like those proposed can’t even get support?

Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)

Ransom Bills

Does anyone remember when Iran seized a South Korean ship in February of this year? It went largely unnoticed for a little, but many believe Iran seized the ship because ~$7 billion in Iranian money has been frozen in South Korean banks due to sanctions reimposed by President Trump. Bryan and PP leaders Greg Steube (R-FL) and Jim Banks (R-IN) sent a letter to the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, seeking answers to the U.S. facilitating a $1.0 billion ransom payment from South Korea to Iran. The suspicion here is the U.S. (AKA Biden Administration) authorized the payment and sent $1 billion to South Korea. If so, Bryan, Greg and Jim are going to be pissed. The truth shall set you free…sort of!

Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)

Defund or Refund

Defunding the police has been a chant many of us remember from 2020 that still continues today. Lee, rejecting the rallying cry, reintroduced legislation denouncing these calls to defund or disband/dismantle/abolish law enforcement and encourage states to establish rights for law enforcement officials. What has become a highly partisan issue over the last year has left various municipalities and states trying to figure out what to do. Lee hopes this “Bill of Rights” for law enforcement will not only protect the public, but also the rights of law enforcement personnel. Check out the full list of 10 rights in his statements. Do you think this is a smarter solution?

Kyrsten Sinema (D; AZ)

Tariff Negotiation

Kyrsten has been busy hosting various round tables with small business owners, health workers, and more to discuss the roll out of the American Rescue Plan. Meanwhile she reintroduced bipartisan legislation with Republican Senator Rob Portman (OH) to prevent unnecessary trade wars that hurt Arizona jobs. Remember the China tariffs? The Sinema/Portman Trade Security Act makes common sense reforms to ensure that any tariffs implemented in the interest of national security are justified by the Department of Defense (DoD) and overseen by Congress. More importantly, the bill requires the DoD to justify the national security basis for new tariffs levied by the president. Are tariffs the right way to negotiate with other countries or do they put American workers and consumers at risk?

Jake Auchincloss (D; MA-4)

The Roaring 20’s

Watch out! Jake is coming out swinging regarding President Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill. With various Republicans speaking out against it as wasteful spending, Jake came out and said Republicans can either get on board or they can watch the Democrats pass one of the most monumental pieces of legislation without them. Furthermore, Jake said “Millennials are on track to be the first generation in American history who are worse off than our parents, and the American Jobs Plan can be the turning point.” Reuters conducted a poll that showed 79% of Americans back a government overhaul of American roadways, railroads, bridges and ports. Are you in that camp?

Sara Jacobs (D; CA-53)

You Can Call Her an Ally

Sara is a proud sister of a trans brother and gender non-conforming siblings. On March 31, the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced a policy allowing trans members of the military to serve openly, a major reversal from the Trump-era policy. Sara is a member of the House Arms Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel and had a few encouraging words to say about this announcement. “With this updated policy, trans service members, like their cis-gender counterparts, can freely and authentically serve the country they love while receiving the care they need and deserve.” The move is still controversial and largely partisan, but we have a feeling Sara isn’t going to let this one slide.

Madison Cawthorn (R; NC-11)

Wedding Bells

Madison had a big week. For starters, he got married! He tied the knot with his long-time girlfriend, Cristina Bayardelle, over the weekend. The celebration marked the 7th anniversary since he was paralyzed in a car crash. As well, Madison introduced a bill that would terminate certain executive actions by the Biden administration regarding the border crisis. Some of these actions involved border wall construction being halted and President Biden’s decision to rescind the Department of Homeland Security ability to prioritize and specifically remove illegal immigrants who had been convicted of a crime. Lastly, Madison is pushing the GOP to join Twitch. Remember when AOC played the murder mystery game “Among Us” to an audience of over 400,000 users? Well, Madison sees the potential and he wants to be the one to lead it on the other side of the aisle.

Peter Meijer (R; MI-3)

We Need a Plan, Guys

Many of us are aware of the migrant caravans coming to cross in U.S. territory from Central and South America. Unfortunately, current and past administrations are usually too late in addressing the problem. Today, there are over 3,500 migrants on average per day coming toward U.S. borders which is the highest level the U.S. has experienced in 20 years. Peter has introduced the bipartisan bill, the Irregular Migration Surge Border Response Resilience Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a comprehensive plan to respond to irregular migration surges. The bill would establish a fund designated solely for implementation of the plan so the DHS can address the problem immediately without waiting months for appropriations from Congress. Thanks to Peter and others leading this bill, we might finally have some preparation in place for future border crises… what a concept!

Jake LaTurner (R; KS-2)

If It Happens, I Want…

While President Biden’s transportation and infrastructure plan might have a large price tag of $2.3 billion, many Republicans want to make sure they get their share if it passes. To be clear, most Republicans are against this bill because the price tag is very high, but with Dem control in Congress, they’re preparing to get a piece of the pie. Jake and other PP leaders Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Tracey Mann (R-KS) sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the importance of rail service in Kansas. Amtrak released new plans that call for 30 new routes expanding to 160 new communities, which includes, you guessed it, Wichita, and Oklahoma City. We know Jake is technically against the spending, but seems like squeezing something out of it for his state might not be too shabby.

Nancy Mace (R; SC-1)

Cyber Vets

You know that heart-racing feeling you get when you receive the notification…” your account was logged into a new device”? Cyber attacks are the risks of the future, but Nancy has introduced legislation to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create an outreach program to educate veterans on cyber risks, including disinformation campaigns, identity theft, and fraud. The Veterans’ Cyber Risk Awareness Act is here to protect our veterans who have given so much to our country. Oh, and Nancy just formed the Single Parents Caucus which would be the first caucus of its kind in Congress. Making history Nancy… we like it!

Nicole Malliotakis (R; NY-11)

FHA – NO WAY!

Ugggggh more fees?! New York City plans to charge drivers for using the city’s busiest streets. As if there weren’t already enough toll fees and expensive food items in New York, now the Federal Highway Administration wants to join the club. First, they will need to complete an Environmental Assessment to move forward with congestion pricing. While there are perceived benefits, Nicole released a statement saying, “Considering this will be the first Congestion Pricing Program in the nation… I’m greatly disappointed in the Federal Highway Administration’s decision to not require the MTA to conduct a thorough and full-scale review.” Let’s face it, no one likes another fee and for the record we wouldn’t want to get on Nicole’s bad side either.

Jon Ossoff (D; GA)

UGH, Georgia

Jon and many across the country let out a collective WTF when the Georgia state legislature voted to limit ballot access. In the wake of narrowing losses by Georgian Republicans, Jon says that the new laws will make absentee voting more restrictive, potentially confuse voters and give more power to Republican lawmakers. The backlash has been significant with various media companies refusing to film in the state and even the MLB pulling their All-Star game out of the state. Jon got to the point in his statement – “The leadership of Georgia’s Republican Party is out of control and Georgia is hemorrhaging business and jobs because of their disastrous new Jim Crow voting law.”

Colin Allred D;TX-32

Papa’s On Paternity Leave

It’s not every day you see your congressman notifying his constituents of his upcoming paternity leave, but that’s just what Colin did this week in announcing the birth of his second child—Cameron. Colin said he would be taking a few short weeks of leave, as he did back in 2019 with the birth of his first child, and used this moment to remind folks of the importance of family and supporting your partner, regardless of gender. “Men taking paternity leave promotes equality for working moms” and that’s precisely why he made clear his continued commitment to seeing that all parents have this same opportunity in their workplace.

Sharice Davids (D;KS-3)

Planes, Trains, and…Books!

Sharice has been busy in her role as Vice Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, from IG Lives with Secretary Buttigieg, to securing over $90 million for public transit projects in the greater Kansas City area. But what really caught our eye was the fact that she’s now a published author! Sharice published a children’s book called “Sharice’s Big Voice” which chronicle’s her journey from young Native American girl to becoming the first LGBT Congressperson to represent Kansas. Only 1% of children’s books published in the U.S. feature Native American or indigenous characters, and that’s precisely the script Sharice wants to flip.

Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)

Allies Come In All Shapes And Sizes

Democrats like Conor, who won in heavy Trump districts, might as well walk around town with giant bullseyes on their backs, particularly when it comes to issues like energy. Conor has long been seen as an ally to the fracking industry but is now emerging as an unlikely ally to environmentalists with his calls to reduce methane leaks from fracking. He introduced a resolution in Congress to overturn a Trump rule that weakened restrictions on harmful methane gas leaks and emissions. He also hopes the Biden Infrastructure Plan will be a chance to rebuild much of Western PA’s old and outdated infrastructure. So far, he is threading a very delicate political needle with a key emphasis on moderate balance.

Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)

This Is Our Opportunity To Invest

If ever there was a time for Seth to feel like Ted Williams about to swing at the perfect political pitch, it would be on the heels of Biden’s Infrastructure plan. Seth, a self-proclaimed infrastructure guru who sits on the Transportation Committee, recently summed up the key takeaways of the $2 Trillion proposal by saying “this is exactly what we need.” He also took the opportunity to push his transcontinental high speed rail idea, reminding folks we’re the only major developed nation without one. Seth envisions a transportation future that is safe, more efficient, and less impactful on the environment, and he’s going to play a key role in making it all happen.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-

All Bark And No Bite?

Somebody, somewhere may have just picked a fight with AOC upon releasing a study from the nonpartisan Center For Effective Lawmaking, which found her to be among the least effective members of the last Congress. Of the 21 Bills she introduced, they received no action in committees, no floor votes, and sadly none became law. In fact, compared to her fellow “squad” members, she was well behind in rankings. Political experts seem to attribute her polarizing style and policy positions as interfering with the relationship building necessary in lawmaking on the Hill. Perhaps, but is there a study that ranks the size of messaging audiences? Because maybe more Congresspeople need to start utilizing her for that.

Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)

Reigniting The Legislative Fires

Abigail reintroduced a bipartisan bill aimed at fixing a deficiency in VA health coverage for military firefighters battling certain fatal illnesses gained on the job. Currently, the VA only covers service-connected illnesses for up to a year after being discharged. So in the case of Mike Lecik, for whom the bill is named, the VA would not cover the costs to treat his cancer—myeloma—because he was well outside that timeframe. Sadly, Mike succumbed to the disease and now Abigail is leading the charge to make sure others like Mike are no longer neglected by the very outfit they so bravely served.

Rashida Tlaib (D;MI-13)

Mint-Chocolate-Trillions!

Rashida has introduced a rather progressive, and therefore highly polarizing bill that would give every person in America an immediate $2K check, followed by $1K per month for the rest of the pandemic, and beyond. Rashida argues that previously used stimulus methods like payroll tax cuts don’t actually put money into the hands of working people, who have been hit the hardest. So how does she plan to pay for this? Strictly through the Treasury, by minting two $1 Trillion coins, which basically means printing more money rather than taking on debt. What’s perhaps most intriguing about this is that it sounds less like covid relief and a lot more like a step towards universal basic income. But if it’s as popular as it polls, maybe it’s time to get minting.

Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)

Let’s Just Do Less

Mike is among the growing number of Republican lawmakers who are in favor of infrastructure spending but deem the President’s proposal as far too big. While most are only solely armed with rhetoric, Mike brings a little more firepower to the debate with his position on the House Transportation committee. One of Mike’s biggest gripes with the plan is how much is being spent on things he doesn’t think fall into traditional “infrastructure” categories. He sees the billions of dollars earmarked for schools, water systems and electric grids as unnecessary. The challenge seems to be to reconcile lower spending with categories like these that, while untraditional, could play a bigger part in our modern definition of infrastructure.

Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)

We Need More Roofs!

It’s no secret that Covid has exacerbated an already growing housing crisis in this country, so this week Jaime took action by introducing the Housing Supply and Affordability Act. The bipartisan, bicameral bill would create a competitive grant program to increase housing supply and affordability. With more than $300 Million allocated to the program, states and localities would be awarded based on their comprehensive plans to develop and implement new housing policies. The measure would also ease regulations surrounding new housing developments without displacing current residents. To that, we say, build on!

Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)

Nahh, I’m Here To Stay

Adam has become known as one of the most vocal congressional critics of former President Trump, and has paid the political price…or so some hoped. Despite public calls from Trump to get rid of him, Adam put it to his constituents and others around the country who align with his GOP vision, who instead decided to line his campaign bank account with more than $2.2 million in donations in just the past three months! All this, despite having been one of only ten R’s to vote for impeachment. While he has maintained all along that he is simply following his duty and ethical compass, what’s certain is that it’s going to take a lot more political ammo than just mean tweets to oust this Iraq war veteran from Congress.

Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)

Hey Uncle Sam—Lose the Vig!

For those of us gluttons-for-punishment who love spending our otherwise relaxing Fall Sundays making ludicrously stressful online sports bets, we’re well aware that the “vig” is the financial cut the “house” takes off the top, which come to think of it, sounds a lot like what the U.S. of A. does to our paychecks. But back to the sportsbook, where Guy has introduced bipartisan legislation that would repeal a .025% tax excise that is levied on all legal sports bets. And while that vig may seem like a nominal percentage, experts say it ends up punishing legal operators by inadvertently encouraging illegal bets instead. Guy says “Gaming has a $6.34 Billion economic impact on Pennsylvania” and that it’s time to do away with this outdated tax. Speaking of which, how do we like the Steelers offense this year, Guy?

Greg Steube (R; FL-17)

China U.

There has been a steady escalation in alarm-raising when it comes to China’s involvement in our higher education schools in this country. Greg has introduced a bill aimed at curbing the threats of what he sees as not only a national security issue, but one of domestic ideology as well, saying “It’s well documented that the Chinese Communist Party sees our higher education institutions as an opportunity for espionage and to spread their communist propaganda.” The bill specifically would prohibit colleges and their employees from accepting CCP money of any kind, otherwise they would lose any and all federal financial assistance. It remains to be seen China’s true intentions, but Greg sure doesn’t believe it’s to promote a Zen lifestyle.

Tom Cotton (R; AK)

Do Not Pass Go, Go Directly To Jail

Tom has been on a communications tear criticizing the situation at our southern border and taking China to task over their myriad hypocrisies when it comes to human rights and religious freedoms, but one particular recent tweet from Tom swiftly set the internet ablaze. In response to a CNN article highlighting the national rise in crime rates, Tom said “We have a major under-incarceration problem in America. And it’s only getting worse.” Hyperbole aside, the fact of the matter is that the US has the highest incarceration rate of any developed country, and it’s a widely held view we are in drastic need of criminal justice reform—legislation Tom has actively worked to block. It’s unclear whether or not he was actually serious, but the truth is that Tom has an enormous megaphone being a US Senator. Do you think this is the best use of that power?

Ritchie Torres (D; NY-15)

The Issue Is Internet

With nationwide vaccine rates on the rise, Ritchie finds his Bronx district lagging significantly behind due to what he calls a “digital divide”. Manhattan currently sits at about a 44% vaccination rate compared to the Bronx at only 31%. Ritchie says the low rate is less a result of vaccine hesitancy and more a result of vaccine access, specifically a result of no access to the internet. Typically we associate inadequate broadband access with rural towns and communities, but Ritchie’s district is proof positive that this is a serious issue that affects urban areas as well. This is one of the main reasons Ritchie fully supports Biden’s infrastructure plan which allots $100 billion towards closing the digital divide across the country.

Jamaal Bowman (D; NY-16)

Redefining Infrastructure

Jamaal wrote an op-ed this week making a strong case for why infrastructure isn’t just steel and concrete, but also the millions who rely on home and child care—and those employed in such capacities. Ever the prosecutor, he argued the need to rethink how we think about infrastructure with some statistics: Only 17% of people have paid family leave through their employer, coupled with the fact that childcare is often the most expensive household cost. By passing universal child care, along with Medicare For All, Jamaal sees this as a way to create jobs and boost the “care economy,” all while helping working families. Do you agree or does this seem like a stretch?

Cori Bush (D; MO-1)

Lose The Dog Whistle, Tom

Cori is tenacious when it comes to the issue of criminal justice reform and as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, she gets to actually do something about it. So it’s no surprise that Cori called out Senator Tom Cotton this week for a tweet that has drawn much ire. He said we have a “major under-incarceration problem in America” to which Cori quickly responded with a few corrections, one being that we actually lead the world in incarceration rates. And she went further saying it’s “because of the overcriminalization of Black people.” Not one to mince words, Cori suggested that Tom stop hiding behind falsehoods, and just come out and say what he really means. She certainly does.

David Valadao (R; CA-21)

Another Paper Jam?!?

David joined 185 of his colleagues in writing to President Biden strongly urging him to take action on the dire National Personnel Records Center situation. The NPRC is a vital resource for Veteran’s needing to obtain files when seeking benefit services like medical care, Covid vaccines and loans. Except, there’s a BIT of a backlog, and by bit we mean it’s a F%$#-ing nightmare. Over 480,000 records are jammed up and this is after the NPRC received $15 million of emergency funds back in December. This needs sorting ASAP. And speaking of cutting checks, David just donated $4,000 worth of campaign donations he received from Matt Gaetz to a local charity that helps fight domestic abuse. Eeeek!

Kat Cammack (R; FL-3)

Show Me the Money!

Kat led a bipartisan letter encompassing the entire Florida delegation asking Secretary of Defense Austin to look out for the Florida National Guard come 2022 budget time. In other words, they want more funding and for good reason. Florida’s National Guard has been critical to the state’s pandemic response and vaccine rollout, helping over 5 million Floridians get at least their first dose to date. But with the population expected to increase, the letter details the proportional allotment of Guardsmen should hover around 21,000 compared to its current level of merely 12,000 Guardsmen. While this may not seem the most dire of circumstances facing the state—or country—the rare universal bipartisan nature of the letter suggests this may be a wise thing to get ahead of now.

Byron Donalds (R; FL-19)

Can You Not Read?

Byron has forcefully weighed in on the hot-button issue-de-jour that is the new Georgia voting laws, and frankly, he’s not having any of what the Dems are trying to sell. On a recent Fox News segment, Byron called out Democrats for their blatant race-baiting when it came to the President and others’ references to old Jim Crow laws. He defends Georgia’s new law, citing what’s actually written, which says you cannot contribute anything of “value” that might create undue influence to someone in line. This is where the “no water” talking point has come into play, which Byron says is simply not the case. It remains to be seen what this new law might set in motion nationwide, but for the time being, Byron is in full support of it.

Ashley Hinson (R; IA-1)

I’ll Take It From Here

Usually when you run for office, you try and differentiate yourself from your opponent in every way, exhaustively trying to prove why you’re the better fit for office. Ashley successfully did that last election, with her defeat of Abby Finkenauer, who was previously featured on this platform. However, she’s doing something curious now which is following through on a bill Abby first introduced! Ashley has joined Iowa Republican Senator Ernst to re-introduce companion bipartisan legislation called the ACCESS Act which increases federal funding for child care through a series of Commerce Department grants. Access to affordable child care is a growing issue in this country, particularly in rural areas and only compounded by a pandemic. Is this maybe proof that the two sides can work together after all? Would be cool.

Victoria Spartz (R; IN-5)

By The Numbers

After a recent tour of the southern border with fellow congressional delegates, Victoria held a press conference where she offered a barrage of stats intended to make her case for a surging border crisis. She claims that 40% of border patrol agents are stuck processing 2,400 immigrants daily rather than protecting the border, thus allowing 1,000 immigrants per day going un-detained as a result of lack of resources. She also alleges that drugs being smuggled have increased by 5400%. It’s hard to verify the veracity of these stats as there is no sourcing cited, but on the surface, they certainly paint a troubling picture that is in great need of action. Hopefully Victoria can help lead that charge by building off her rhetoric to create meaningful legislation and reform.

Tony Gonzalez (R; TX-23)

It’s Time To Solve This

Immigration and border security has been quite the political football for Republicans lately, but among all the hyperbole, Tony has taken a strikingly different tone—one of measured concern and unity. Tony has toured many of these detention facilities and familiarized himself with the realities facing our southern border. In a twitter video, he urges us to put party aside and come together to actually solve these pressing issues, which are only worsening. He also hasn’t simply called for one political fix, like “build a wall.” Rather, he’s argued we need a layered approach—one that enhances security as well as restructures the whole process. Here’s hoping his whole approach woes the other side into cooperation.

Blake Moore (R; UT-1)

Amen to That Brother!

No, that’s not necessarily a religious callout to Blake and his faith, but we just so devoutly believe in what he had to say in a recent interview. The takeaway was simple: “We need to help the next generation escape the divisive rhetoric and work to solve problems.” To put actions to words, he recently signed a bipartisan letter to the President asking to take a bipartisan approach to Infrastructure and invite Republicans in. So far, Blake’s leading by example and we’re rooting hard for him to keep blazing this trail for his colleagues to follow.

August Pfluger (R;TX)

This Is Illegal—Maybe!

August has been one of the most vocal critics of the new Biden Administration’s immigration policies or lack thereof, and he’s now turning up the legal dial. Along with 100 colleagues, August penned a letter to the Government Accountability Office calling on them to investigate the administration’s suspension of the border wall construction. The letter says that halting construction has compromised our southern border, contributing to what he calls a national security crisis, and ultimately is in violation of federal law and congressionally approved action. We’ll see if August and his colleagues can come up with an alternative plan, but in the meantime, the mantra seems to be: Mr. Biden, put up that wall!”