THE COMPLETE 17 PERCENT: Talkin’ Bout My G-G-Generation

The full rundown from our January 28, 2021 newsletter.

Chanikarn Thongsupa

LBJ Library

Brendan Smialowski, Agence France-Presse

The Blog
The Blog

THE COMPLETE 17 PERCENT: Talkin’ Bout My G-G-Generation

Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA- 44)

Precious Cargo

The Port of Los Angeles is the largest port complex in America – without it running smoothly there’s no measure for how many industries and consumers would be affected. As reports of Covid at the Port of LA have soared among dockworkers (12 have died), Nanette co-wrote a letter urging state and local officials to make the vaccine available for them. While there is some dispute about the exact number of California dock workers sidelined from work due to Covid, this is just another example of the complications officials are facing when it comes to vaccine rollout. So, you know, buckle up.

Jason Crow (D; CO-4)

Fighting Words

After making a name for himself and his heroic efforts to help his colleagues on January 6th, Jason joined fellow Democrats in calling for and eventually voting for Trump’s impeachment. During the House impeachment trial, he did not hold back in evoking a specific tweet by freshman member and QAnon supporter, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). The tweet in question, which insisted that Democrats’ be held responsible for the “political violence inspired by their rhetoric” (referring to the breach of the Capito)l. Jason had it up to HERE, calling her “depraved” and “dangerous”. How the sizable far-right faction of the Republican party will reconcile with the rest of Congress remains to be seen.

Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)

No Community Too Small

The troubles of the vaccine rollout are no surprise, but one element that might be overlooked is smaller, more remote, and more rural communities who are trying to keep their people safe. Antonio’s district, land-wise, is massive and he’s taking steps to ensure that local health departments are equipped to provide essential services and deliver vaccines. In order to do this, he says, they will need federal help. Last year, he introduced the bipartisan Direct Support to Communities Act, which was included in two rounds of Covid relief in 2020. The bill ensures that all communities, regardless of size, receive direct federal assistance. He’s now reintroduced the bill, insisting it must be included in whatever Covid relief package comes next (because remember how well that process went last time?).

Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)

Government to Government

Last year, Ruben had three bills signed into law that took into account the needs of 2 important and underserved communities – Native Americans and Veterans. The laws address unconstitutional healthcare payments for Native Veterans, funding for Native health providers, and affordable care in Native communities. Now, he’s praising the Biden administration’s quick effort to make federal agencies chart out their plans to incorporate Native American needs into their decision-making. The memo urges more effective communication between the federal and native governments to ensure Tribal Nations are getting the resources they need. Ruben does not let up on his commitment to Native communities, working across the aisle to help tribes.

Josh Harder (D; CA-10)

Dear EDD

Josh has some beef with the California Employment Development Department. Beef 1: they are, he says, taking far too long to distinguish between which unemployment claims are legitimate and which are fraudulent, resulting in mass suspension of accounts which prevents tens of thousands of people from getting the benefits they need. Beef 2: California residents are having their identity stolen to acquire unemployment benefits, but are unaware until they receive a tax bill and it is far too late. In this case, the EDD is not flagging potential identity fraud. To address these related issues, Josh wrote a letter to the EDD and asked the IRS to intervene. Add identity theft to the even growing list of *sighs*.

Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)

Fed Up

As a leading progressive voice who also sits on the House Budget Committee, Ro has a lot of ideas about how we can better manage federal lending in this country. First up – he insists that the Fed (the central bank of the country) needs to reexamine its lending. Right now, at a time when small businesses are most in need, Ro notes that the Fed has been lending primarily to financial institutions (big banks) and corporations. He suggests that the solution lies in the Fed developing stronger partnerships with communities and nonprofit/small dollar lenders. As wealth disparity in our country is more obvious than ever, Ro notes that “the concentration of capital is part of what has left communities behind.”

Mike Levin (D; CA-49)

Services for Service Members

Right before the breach of the Capitol, an important veterans’ benefits bill that Mike introduced was signed into law by then-President Trump. The bill widens the range of services provided to benefits and authorizes officials to collaborate with outside groups to operate shelters for homeless veterans among several other points dealing with housing insecurity and veteran health benefits. It also helps reduce barriers to women who are seeking access to Veterans Administration services. While this news was overshadowed by the wild week that followed, it’s important to be reminded that things worked once and a while too.

Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)

QA-No

Flags bearing the infamous letter ‘Q’ were proudly on display during the breach of the Capitol three weeks ago. Stephanie, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and is a former national security specialist at the Dept. of Defense is addressing QAnon’s impact on our government. She’s introduced legislation to bar QAnon conspiracy theory adherents from obtaining or holding onto federal security clearances. Basically, this would mean that if someone is a member of the QAnon movement, they’d have to disclose that fact when applying to obtain a federal security clearance, like part of a background check. As the movement continues its hold on citizens and even some members of the government, Stephanie insisted that QAnon sympathizers or participants “have no business being entrusted with our nation’s secrets”.

Illhan Omar (D; MN-5)

Auto-Payment, On

You may have noticed a friendly $600 added to your bank account recently from the Covid relief package that Congress passed (after much belaboring) last month. One of the biggest disagreements of that package came over the exact amount that should go into American’s pockets. Members from both parties called for $2,000 checks, but did not win out. Now, though Biden is planning to supplement that $600 with an additional $1,400 (you do the math), Progressive Democrats are calling on him to go one step further. Ilhan is leading the charge in asking the Biden administration to send recurring monthly checks to Americans until the pandemic is over and the economy is recovered. Keep an eye on how much steam this gains, as prominent Republicans like Political Playlist leader Josh Hawley (R-MO) were in favor of larger direct payments. The one question looming over this proposal is… what exactly does ‘over’ look like?

Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)

Ask and You Shall Receive

‘Buy American’ is a fun slogan that has gained steam and popularity over the last few years, and rightly so. However, Elissa pointed out, in a recent letter to the Biden administration, that the federal government’s ‘requirement’ to buy American made goods isn’t quite as noble as it might seem. She called on the administration to close loopholes that make it easier for agencies to get the current requirements waived and then what happened? They actually did it! Biden signed an executive order on Monday beginning his ‘buy American’ plan that he spoke of on the campaign trail. While there’s some conservative opposition to this initiative, Democrats, including Elissa, will be looking to garner bipartisan support for future related legislation.

Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)

For the Children

Caseloads of child abuse and neglect have skyrocketed during Covid, straining already overburdened agencies attempting to help children across the country. Haley has joined a group of bipartisan members of the House in introducing the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which provides more funding and establishes new tools to combat child mistreatment. The bill, if it becomes law, would help states and municipalities build cost-effective services, expand the capacity of child protective services, and improve data sharing to understand the scope of the problem. With almost every element of our lives turned upside down over the last year, it’s easy to forget others, not as public repercussions of the virus. If this issue is important to you – call your members of Congress and tell them to vote for this bill!

Kelly Armstrong (R; ND)

Whodunit?

You may have seen images circulating of more than 25,000 National Guard soldiers sleeping on the floor of a DC parking garage. The troops had been stationed at the Capitol in case of any unrest surrounding Biden’s inauguration, but were then vacated from the premises without proper accommodations. Kelly has now called for an official investigation into who ordered the soldiers to stay in the garage (where temperatures were hovering around 40 degrees) and, furthermore, to ensure that in the future there is a plan in place for how to handle large deployments of soldiers like the ones we just witnessed. While it’s still not clear who is to blame for this, Kelly is making sure the leaders of both chambers know that he and many other colleagues won’t rest until some facts turn up.

Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)

Not So Common Ground

After unleashing on some of his colleagues and swiftly denouncing the riots on the Capitol (though he did not go all the way and vote to impeach Trump), Dan has emerged in this new session of Congress with a commitment to bipartisanship. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has been historically bipartisan, so there may be some room for him to work with. However, he came out of the gates with definitive criticism of one of Biden’s first executive orders. Dan believes that Biden’s decision to stop work on the Keystone pipeline is not a step in the right direction. Citing a loss of jobs (which is either legitimate or overinflated, depending who you ask) and the safety of transporting oil and gas through the potential pipeline, Dan insists the project is necessary and good. Do you agree?

Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)

Stock and Trade

You may recall investigations into some questionable trades made by then-Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) that related to industries affected by Covid. This seems to have started a trend where members of Congress who are making large trades in industries that they legislate are under scrutiny. The most recent member of Congress in question? Nancy Pelosi. And Anthony wants her investigated. Citing that Leoffler and other Republicans were “rightly investigated”, Anthony suggests that Speaker Pelosi’s purchase of Tesla stock should also fall on the chopping block. While one might argue (and we’re almost certain Pelosi will) that Tesla is an incredibly popular stock to buy, this new debate raises a larger question that hopefully concerned members like Anthony are contemplating – why are members of Congress allowed to make any such trades if they’re constantly privy to inside information?

Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)

Self-Imposed Limits

In January 2017, at the beginning of this first term in Congress, Trey introduced legislation that would amend the constitution and impose term limits for members of the House. While this has not passed, and lingers somewhere on the sidelines for the moment, he’s hoping to reinvigorate it as he enters his third term (the legislation limits members to four terms). Expressing hope at working across the aisle with House Democrats and the Biden administration (he’s known as one of the more bipartisan members of Congress), Trey might be able to find some partners in his mission to limit the amount of time members can stay in office. While there’s bound to be plenty of pushback, as we see Congress growing older and older, Trey might have some stats on his side.

Brian Mast (R; FL-18)

Cut Them Off at the Source

Brian is revitalizing a bill he introduced back in March 2019 to impose sanctions on the Palestinian nationalist organization Hamas, which has been labeled as a terrorist oranization. His office cites that they are “responsible for the death of more than 400 Israelis and at least 25 U.S. citizens”. Interestingly, after cleaning the House in the summer of 2019, it did not get enough support in the Senate to pass. Now, he’s bringing it back, baby, with fellow Political Playlist leader Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and recently aged-out Political Playlist leader, Josh Gotteheimer (D-NJ). The bill had large bipartisan support last time, so we’ll see if he can muster the same support this time not just in his own chamber, but over in the Senate as well.

Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)

Punching Bag

When Elise entered Congress she was the youngest woman ever elected and was lauded for her efforts towards bipartisanship. Then her support of Trump grew and she became synonymous with his inner circle. Now, after voting to object to the election results, Elise’s drift towards the right has only intensified. She berated Harvard for dropping her from her advisory committee post at the university. And now, she’s responding to attack ads from the Anti-Trump, Republican-led Lincoln Project, known for their social media-savvy approach to calling out allied Republicans. The ad takes aim at Elise’s objection to the election, though in November she handily won her election, so it remains to be seen how much the Lincoln Project or others can sway that next time around.

William Timmons (R; SC-4)

Fundraising Woes

After the attack on the Capitol, many members of Congress, like William, who voted to object to the results of the election are facing backlash. Though personal attacks can sting, nothing stings a politician quite like campaign money being taken away. Several large corporations including Comcast, Amazon, Citigroup, Walmart and more have rescinded their contributions to William’s reelection campaign. Though the total amount lost only accounted for a small percentage of his overall fundraising, this gesture placed on him and some other Republican members has a symbolic impact on how candidates will be funded in the future.

Josh Hawley (R; MO)

On Defense

Whether he likes it or not (honestly, either could be true), Josh Hawley has now become a household political name. Great for notoriety, but potentially not so great for popularity. This week, he found himself on the defensive as seven Democratic Senators called for an investigation into Josh and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who led efforts in the Senate to challenge the election of President Biden. Josh’s response was equally as direct, insisting that “I have considered whether I should call for you to resign,” referring to the seven Democrats. He goes on, though, to cite their First Amendment rights to express even malicious speech. This spat over Josh’s place in the Senate may continue, though the career effects of his political calculations earlier this month remain to be seen.

Mondaire Jones (D; NY-17)

Stateless

It’s no question that our immigration system is… less than perfect? But sometimes it takes an individual story to really expose the rusty nuts and bolts. Mondaire and his staff jumped into action when they found out that Paul Pierrilus, a constituent, was going to be deported to Haiti – a country he had never been to. Pierrilus was born in the French territory of St. Martin to Haitian parents and immigrated to the US when he was 5. He now works as a financial consultant, but since St. Martin doesn’t have policy for birthright citizenship and he doesn’t have Haitian citizenship, he is essentially stateless. Pierrilus’s sister contacted a cousin who went to high school with Mondaire to ask for his help, and help he did. Pierrilus got ICE’s attention due to drug offenses, but Mondaire was able to save him from deportation since he didn’t have proper papers to arrive in Haiti. The larger question Mondaire left folks with was – “How many others were deported this way?”

Nikema Williams (D; GA-5)

Do Not Cross

Like most other Democrats, Nikema squarely places the blame for the attacks on the Capitol on Donald Trump. Citing that the then-president’s words were absolutely a directive to his agitated supporters, Nikema does not plan to let the president get away unscathed. While the impeachment trial goes on in the Senate, she has introduced legislation in the House that would ban Trump from entering the U.S. Capitol. The bill, if it becomes law (which is possible, but not probable given Democrats very slim majorities), would direct the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms to prohibit the President from entering the building. It’s a lofty goal, and one without any precedence, but as Nikema puts it – “he cannot go unchecked”.

Lauren Boebert (R; CO-3)

Reporting for Duty

The committee assigning process in Congress isn’t well known. Basically, a Steering Committee in each party assigns members to the various committees. Lauren announced that she was assigned to the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on The Budget. In dual statements, she voiced her enthusiasm to help legislate for the large amount of federal land in her district and her commitment to reducing the national debt (currently hovering around $28 trillion). While she settles into her new roles in the House, there are at least 6 Democrats in her district who are already waging a potential run against her in 2022.

Tracey Mann (R; KS-1)

Farms First

Tracey is a self-proclaimed ‘farm kid’, growing up on his family farm in Kansas. He was pushing for a place on the House Agriculture Committee and was granted a spot this week, where he intends to push legislation that helps farmers like the ones in his district prosper. Fun fact: 88% of the land in Kansas is farmland, so he and many other Kansas representatives have an important perspective here. In a statement on his assignment, he noted that “the distance from farm to fork has never been greater”. Tracey plans to push back on some new Biden administration regulations and wants to focus on free trade and crop insurance. Indeed, rural and urban America have never seemed further apart and while agriculture legislation might not be the ‘sexiest’ out there, its impact is potentially huge.

Andrew Garbarino (R; NY-2)

Olive Branch

After the theme of unity was ever-present at Biden’s inauguration, a group of 16 freshman Republican members of Congress have signed a letter committing to working with the administration… if it commits to working with them. “Fighting and just throwing little jib-jabs there on social media, it doesn’t work. It just breaks down communication,” Andrew said. The letter notes that the partisan divide doesn’t help anyone. Andrew believes he can find common ground with Democrats, especially on fighting Covid and supporting NY infrastructure projects. Talk of unity is a nice thought, but do we actually think there’s a practical implication here? One can hope…

August Pfluger (R; TX-11)

Mr. Assistant

There are a lot of roles in Congress that no one knows exist. How about ‘Assistant Whip’? Well, each party has a ‘whip’, which essentially helps secure votes for the party’s legislative efforts. The Republican Whip, Steve Scalise (R-LA) selected August to serve as his assistant in this process over the next two years. Citing August’s commitment to conservative principles and his past experience in national security and military service, Scalise sees him as an important leader in the freshman class. August was also notably named as the freshman representative to the Republican Steering Committee, which assigns members to various committees in the House. Assistant might not carry much weight in the normal world, but it’s a big get for Mr. Pfluger.

Colin Allred (D; TX-32)

Work-Study on the Hill

Thankfully, there was some bipartisan legislation to celebrate after the Capitol riots. Colin along with a group of bipartisan lawmakers passed legislation to let the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) work-study students work in congressional offices. The work study program is a federally funded program in the United States that assists students with the costs of post-secondary education. However, in 2009, the VA legal department determined that the work-study program should not extend to congressional offices. Now, thanks to Colin and other determined colleagues, veterans can have valuable government experience while getting their education.

Anthony Brindisi (D; NY-22)

Going into Extra Innings

More than 70 days after the election, Anthony’s race has yet to be called. A state supreme court judge just ordered to review more than 1,000 ballots that were previously rejected. Anthony is not wasting any time and he has already submitted his papers to run AGAIN in 2022. The race is essentially in a dead heat with his opponent, Caludia Tenney, ahead by 29 votes of the 311,695 cast. When you think your vote doesn’t count, remember to look back at this race.

Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)

A Parking Lot??

You may have seen photos of the National Guard soldiers camping out in a DC parking lot. Sharice, for one, wouldn’t have it. She took to Twitter when she heard the Capitol Police kicked National Guard members out of the Capitol building to go sleep in nearby parking structures. Approximately 25,000 guard members from across the country had come to the Capitol to protect the presidential inauguration from potential violence which, thankfully, never came to fruition. Kansas, Sharice’s homestate, had sent over 300 National Guardsmen. Sharice was quick to condemn the situation, but was also happy to announce that no guards from Kansas were impacted. Several lawmakers are calling for an investigation into how this happened to our troops…

Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)

Locked and Loaded

Talk about a nice start to the year in securing $22 million to begin construction work on the Montgomery Locks and Dam, located on the Ohio River. Part of a larger $1.8 billion construction project known as the Upper Ohio Navigation Project, Conor helped secure this grant money from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Montgomery locks are some of the oldest locks on the Ohio River system at over 70 years old and are at risk of failure. If there IS a major failure it will close the Port of Pittsburgh. Though this project, which will take 7 years to complete, should safeguard that. One thing we can be sure of is there will be many infrastructure spending bills coming from this Democratic controlled Congress.

Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)

The Need for Speed

Seth is renewing his push to create a high-rail network as a long-term solution to our aging and crumbling infrastructure. The price tag: $205 billion over the next 5 years which Seth says will create 2.6 million new jobs and fix infrastructure issues by modernizing the nation’s transportation system. While this price tag sounds high, Seth argued it is less than what the government spends on highways under the FAST act, which he believes is backwards. Seth was recently appointed to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure so we can guarantee this will not be the last time we hear about it.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)

When S**t Gets Real

One of the Capitol rioters allegedly wrote “Assassinate AOC” on his Twitter, according to the Feds. Whenever AOC speaks, she is immediately hit with polarized praise and criticism, but after the Capitol riots, she took to social media and talked about how at one point she thought she was going to die. Some told her she was exaggerating, but it is becoming clear that things could have been much worse. Despite dealing with the aftermath of a terrifying day, AOC was happy to announce that FEMA will reimburse up to $2.0 billion in cost for coronavirus funerals. “We finally got it done,” she said, getting back to work despite what we imagine is some lingering fear for her life.

Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)

Faded

Foreign governments continue to exploit existing vulnerabilities in U.S. national security, including by influencing Americans directly and infiltrating U.S. public discourse. Abigail introduced bipartisan legislation with John Katko (R-NY), The Foreign Agent Disclaimer Enhancement (FADE) Act, would increase transparency by requiring disclaimers on political content on social media sites. The FADE Act would require DOJ to notify online platforms if a foreign agent does not meet disclaimer requirements for posts on their platforms. Foreign adversaries — such as Russia, China, and Iran — are among the most active and increasingly assertive in their efforts. Also, if you want a riveting listen, check out Abigail, a former CIA officer, on the podcast Intelligence Matters, where she discusses her account of the Capitol riots.

Rashida Talib (D; MI-13)

Un-Surveillance State

Rashida is leading the call for national security powers to NOT be expanded in light of the Capitol attacks because such measures normally lead to the erosion of American civil liberties. Nine other democratic colleagues have signed onto this measure, mostly the SQUAD members, because they believe that the national security and surveillance powers of the U.S. government are already too broad, undefined, and unaccountable to the people. There have been reports that Republican lawmakers are seeing this as an opportunity to introduce anti-protest legislation to criminalize left-wing dissent. It looks like we’re in for a wild ride with this one.

Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)

In the Pipeline

In President Biden’s first day in office, he signed many executive orders, and one was to stop the construction of the much-contested Keystone XL Pipeline. Mike is calling on the President to reconsider his stance. While the pipeline does not run through Wisconsin, it is tied to billions of dollars in economic activity. The pipeline was intended to transport tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. There are ~11,000 jobs at stake and 2,000 of those are from Wisconsin. Two Wisconsin companies also have jobs tied to the pipeline. The pipeline has been very controversial due to environmental concerns. While Biden’s made a decision for now, the debate over the pipeline is sure to rage on for a while.

Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)

A Defining Vote

Jaime was one of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump for the second time. While she, along with others, have been praised for their “courage,” Jaime is facing a lot of backlash from Republican voters in her home state. Local Republican Party organizations are vowing to run a primary challenger. This feud has caused a division in the Republican party between those who have demanded loyalty to Trump and others who want to see him go away. This will be an opportunity for other politicians to take note and see how Jaime’s future either progresses or reverses because of her vote.

Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)

Trump Republican or Republican?

Adam was one of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump for the second time. While he is receiving backlash from some of his constituents and others in his party, Adam believes less, and less people will consider themselves Trump Republicans once the emotions wear off. More importantly, he said the party is in a battle and they must decide when it comes to policy – “are we aspirational or are we a party that feeds on fear and division?” Adam has been in the media a lot since this vote, but he has also been hard at work, most recently reintroducing bipartisan legislation with Robin Kelly (D-IL), Reducing the Demand for Human Trafficking Act, to encourage a more victim-centered approach to combat human trafficking.

Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)

Influential Committee Update

Last week Guy was selected to service on the influential House Committee on Rules and House Committee on Appropriations. The Committee on Rules, one of the oldest and most powerful standing committees in the House, sets the terms and conditions for debate on measures considered on the House floor. The equally powerful House Appropriations Committee is responsible for funding federal activities and programs. Guy celebrated in his statement by saying “I will fight for the right of all Americans to be heard, promote open and free debate, and defend against House Democrats’ recent abuses of power in this institution.” Committee assignments like these are a big accomplishment for young members.

Greg Steube (R; FL-17)

Equal Playing Field?

As transgender rights continue to have a bigger presence in our culture and one of the areas of contention is in women’s sports. President Biden signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination against transgender students in school, but many feel that transgender girls should not be participating with other female classmates in competitive sports. Greg reintroduced a bill to protect women and girls in competitive sports. The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act ensures that women and girls are allowed a fair playing field in competitive sports by ensuring that school athletics comply with the Title IX recognition of a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth. This essentially would ensure that transgender girls could not play on women’s sport teams. Where do you stand on this complex issue?

Tom Cotton (R; AK)

To Ranger or Not to Ranger

3…2…1…FIGHT! Political Playlist leader Jason Crow is calling out Tom Cotton for embellishing the truth about being an Army Ranger. Crow served in the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment during tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tom, on the other hand, claimed he did. Although Tom did in fact serve in the Army for eight years and was discharged as a Captain with two commendation medals, a Bronze star, and a Ranger tab, he was never a part of the 75th Ranger Regiment. Tom, who recently came out criticizing the Biden administration’s extension of the U.S./Russia Arms deal, may have been fudging his military accomplishments, but he’s still one of the leading young voices in the Republican party, so this hiccup might not knock him too far off course.

Ritchie Torres (D; NY-15)

A Voice for the Voiceless

The largest slumlord in the United States is the federal government, according to Ritchie, who grew up in public housing. Ritchie will be a voice for the housing system as there are not many in Congress who have his real-life experience. In addition to those in public housing, the citizens of Puerto Rico are also on Ritchie’s mind. He and fellow Political Playlist leader Darren Soto are calling on Biden to expedite his promise for a rapid disbursement of funds pledged to Puerto Rico to mitigate long-standing damages caused by Hurricane Maria and subsequent neglect. AND he just threw his support behind Andrew Yang for New York City mayor. Busy couple of weeks for Ritchie, now a proud member of the Yang Gang!

Jamaal Bowman (D; NY-16)

Squad is Going Up

Being the only man in “The Squad” does not make Jamaal nervous – he grew up with four sisters and was raised by a single mom. He recently joined fellow Political Playlist leader and Squad sister, Rashida Talib, in calling out Israel for not vaccinating Palestinians in the West Bank – Israel was vaccinating its own Arab citizens and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem first. He also took to social media to label student loan debt, the electoral college and the filibuster as being products of white supremacy. With the power of social media behind them, and a growing list of progressive policies to spread, the Squad is getting more powerful and more vocal.

Cori Bush (D; MO-1)

Commute Them All

Cori and 35 other members of Congress have asked President Biden to commute the sentences of everyone on federal death row. To give you a little perspective of why this is important – the Obama administration halted federal executions in 2015. The Trump administration, in 2019, lifted the moratorium, and moved forward with the first federal executions in 17 years. The federal execution of Dustin Higgs, on January 14, was the 13th and final one under President Donald Trump. Few were performed before his administration — only three since 1963, all in the early 2000s. Within her first few weeks in Congress, Cori has been extremely vocal on many issues such as domestic abuse, racial equality, and the 2020 election results, but this call to reassess the country’s stance on the death penalty is definitely gaining momentum.

David Valadeo (R; CA-21)

Water Consciousness

David was one of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump for a second time, though he’s not dwelling on the consequential vote. Getting back to business, he was recently appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which funds the government and impacts how federal departments operate. After regaining his seat that he lost last term, his top priority is agriculture, which is no surprise being from the Central Valley in California. He issued a press release about attending the inauguration and used the time to talk about the opportunity to secure more water for California communities and farmers.

Kat Cammack (R; FL-3)

It Takes Two

Kat has been nominated to sit on two committees, the House Agriculture Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. She will be the only Florida representative to be on the Agriculture Committee, on which she hopes to improve and expand access to rural broadband for her constituents. Kat reflected on how her background in national defense and military strategy from the United States Naval War College will be useful in her position on the Homeland Security committee. Her position is most important because this committee oversees F.E.M.A. and part of her job will deal with hurricane season in Florida and elsewhere. She hopes to increase border security, improve emergency preparedness in Florida, and protect Americans amid threats from China and Russia.

Byron Donalds (R;FL-19)

Too Fast, Mr. President

Recently Byron spoke in an interview to discuss his thoughts on President Biden’s executive orders in which he criticized his undoing of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which created thousands of jobs for Americans. He felt that these executive orders were too soon considering there was no consultation with Republicans. In his statement about the executive orders, he described the Republican Party of today as “young, bold, energetic, conservative and unapologetic about it.” Byron was recently assigned to the powerful House Budget Committee, the Oversight and Reform Committee and the Small Business Committee – plenty of opportunity to inject some of that young energy into his legislation and party decision-making.

Ashley Hinson (R; IO-1)

The Rural Redline

Like many Republicans, Ashley has been quick to criticize President Biden’s executive orders. More specifically Ashely pointed out an “partisan approach to immigration” and that Biden’s plans for energy and climate change are “far-left policy ideas.” She also believes $15 minimum wage will decimate the rural economy because many small businesses will not be able to take the hit. Ashley was also just assigned to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which is a big deal for her district, considering the committee controls the purse strings that fund the federal government. She is the first representative from her district to be appointed to this committee and will help with infrastructure improvement in rural areas and biofuel investment.

Victoria Spartz (R; IN-5)

Let the FORCE Be With You

Four incoming GOP members realized they shared a special connection: All had first or second-hand experience living in communist or socialist countries. They took to Twitter to share the name of their counterrevolution (in response to the Democratic ‘Squad’) – the Republican “Force” was born. Victoria and fellow Political Playlist leader Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) discussed how they look forward to pushing back on anyone who tries to bring a socialist agenda to America. In an interview, Victoria mentioned how “Americans are sick and tired of politicians not doing their job.” We agree, it’s time to get to work, but with two competing ideologies – represented perfectly by the ‘Squad’ and the ‘Force’ – the question remains if any policy will sneak through.

Tony Gonzales (R; TX-23)

Forward Thinking

Looking for the country to move forward, Tony believes that impeaching President Trump does nothing to heal the country. He emphasized wanting to be part of the solution and is one of the newly elected members to the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats that looks to find bipartisan solutions to high-level issues. He was also recently appointed to the House Appropriations Committee (which controls federal funding) and joined the Republican Study Committee (which crafts a conservative platform of issues for the Republican Caucus). With his forward-looking sentiment, it will be interesting to see how Tony walks the line of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee.

Blake Moore (R; UT-1)

Extended Committee Seat

Blake was appointed to the House Armed Services Committee, which is a big win for him and his constituents. His position will help protect Hill Air Force Base, which is in his district and is among Utah’s largest employers with ~10,000-15,000 employees. He followed in the footsteps of his previous two predecessors who also served on the committee. A representative from their district has been on the committee for 34 years since 1987. He was also appointed to the House Natural Resources Committee. Blake joined other Utah politicians in criticizing President Biden on his action to halt energy leases on federal lands mentioning that it will hurt small Utah businesses. Both of these appointments hit close to home – Blake has his work cut out for him.

Jon Ossoff (D; GA)

The Bare Minimum

After a heated race, a surprising victory, and a tumultuous first week, Jon is oss-OFF (sorry) to the races as the youngest member of the Senate. Other than confirming Joe Biden’s cabinet picks, he has joined several other Democratic senators in calling for the federal minimum wage to be raised to $15/hour. The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 in five steps over the next four years. The act would also make sure that teenagers and workers with disabilities receive the full $15 minimum (currently employers can pay a subminimum wage for certain workers). With his new and notable platform, Jon isn’t wasting a moment to begin the fight he promised along the campaign trail.

Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)

Home Sweet Home

Pete has been tireless in his fight for Dreamers, otherwise known as DACA recipients, and he is finally seeing some long-overdue progress with the new Biden Administration, particularly with regard to Dreamers’ eligibility for Federal Housing Administration backed Mortgages. During the Trump administration’s hardline anti-immigration policies, HUD Secretary Ben Carson issued a policy that denied Dreamers from being eligible to receive FHA loans in order to purchase homes. Pete led several efforts, along with his colleague Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA), in fighting for a reversal of this policy but was met with impenetrable resistance every step of the way. Finally, Pete and the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers have reason to celebrate as HUD has now reversed the previous policy, allowing Dreamers to once again pursue home ownership.

Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)

Impeach, Convict, and… Criminally Prosecute

Being an Irishman from Philly, Brendan ain’t one to mince words, which is why he was among the first to label the events at the Capitol an insurrection. He immediately called for Trump to be impeached, which he later voted for, has said the Senate must convict him, and now he has introduced a resolution in the House calling for a criminal investigation and possible prosecution of the former President. Brendan believes there is already sufficient public evidence to indict, arrest and put Trump on trial, “and if convicted, he should go to prison.” And speaking of Irishmen from Philly, Brendan had some poignant praise for President Biden, putting in perspective his family origins to where his clan now resides: The White House.

Jared Golden (D; ME-2)

Retired But Still Valued

One of Jared’s core issues in his congressional work is to expand on the Affordable Care Act, and he recently did just that for many Maine retirees. Jared has long advocated for the benefits of the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) which allows many in his state, specifically retired mill workers, to afford health coverage by providing a credit of up to 70% of the premium’s cost. This credit is specifically designed for workers who have either lost their jobs due to outsourcing or have had their pension plans taken over by a third party due to a company’s insolvency. This has been an issue that has heavily affected Jared’s district, which is why he secured it’s initial renewal back in 2019 and now successfully oversaw its extension through 2021.

Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)

Vouching From Experience

A lot of politicians talk the talk, but Andy is that rare someone who actually walks the walk and we got a tremendously moving glimpse of that from the now infamous photo of Andy literally cleaning up debris in the Capitol Rotunda. But Andy also has an enormous national security background, from serving at the Pentagon, to the State Department, to the White House National Security Council. So when Andy was among the first to publicly endorse then Defense Secretary-designee Lloyd Austin and call on the House to approve a special waiver for his confirmation, it stands to reason his colleagues ought to listen to him. “I’ve seen Secretary-Designee Austin in the Situation Room…and he is incredibly qualified.” The House followed Andy’s lead in granting that waiver after which General Austin was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate.

Joe Neguse (D: CO-2)

Second Time’s The Charm

With Democrats now controlling all Congress and the White House, perhaps it was the perfect time for Joe to re-introduce his bill called “Ally’s Act” increasing access to specialized hearing care. Inspired by an 11-year-old from his district named Ally, this bipartisan, bicameral bill (which means it has support in both the House and Senate) would require private insurance companies to cover osseointegrated hearing devices (OIDs) including bone anchored hearing aids and cochlear implants, exactly like the one Ally’s insurance company denied her receiving due to high cost. Ally’s mother wrote to Joe, who took to the charge like a bolt of lightning, and now must shepherd its passage into law. Also noteworthy is that Joe, a former litigator, was named by Speaker Pelosi as one of nine impeachment managers who will argue the case in front of the Senate.

Chris Pappas (D: NH-1)

Taking Care of Uncle Sam

Since taking office, Chris has been a fierce champion for American manufacturing and ‘Buy American’ provisions to both strengthen the economy as well as create jobs. So it comes as no surprise that Chris applauded the Biden Administration on the recent Executive Order directing government agencies to strengthen their requirements for purchasing American Made goods and services, particularly with regard to combating Covid-19. Chris has taken it further though and helped to draft legislation that looks to codify the EO into Law. He introduced a resolution requiring major government agencies to buy PPE supplies from American suppliers, and successfully passed a provision enabling the Commerce Department to financially assist manufacturing companies whose supply chains have been disrupted due to the pandemic. To these efforts on the home-turf, we say Bravo!

Darren Soto (D; FL-9)

Is My Water Crystal Yet?

Darren joined fellow Floridian under-45er Brian Mast (R-FL), as well as Senator Marco Rudio (R-FL), in re-issuing a bipartisan bill requiring a federal plan to combat the harmful algal blooms escalating in the greater Everglades region of Florida. The problem with out of control algal blooms is that they not only contaminate clean water sources, but they also disrupt natural ecosystems which have economic implications in terms of fishing and food sourcing. Darren, along with his colleagues, have been long-time advocates for advancing clean water initiatives in Florida, and this bill looks to build upon a previously passed legislation, creating the first-ever federal assessment and action plan to keep these southern waters crystal clear.

Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)

Settling Old Scores

Despite the recently recycled story of his ensnarement by an alleged Chinese Spy, Eric has continued to grow his leadership roles within the House, being reappointed to the Homeland Security Committee. He currently sits on the Intelligence Committee, the Judiciary Committee and co-chairs the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. In addition to all that, Eric readies himself as one of the nine impeachment managers named by Speaker Pelosi. In a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, he was once again asked to clarify the extent of his contact with an alleged Chinese Spy. He noted that not only was there no wrong-doing, but that in fact several of his Republican colleagues were briefed on this back in 2015. Eric insists “this is simply retaliation.”

Lauren underwood (D; IL-14)

No Job? Here, Grab This Syringe!

When President Biden announced his American Rescue Plan calling on the federal government to expand its public health workforce to 100,000 workers, Lauren spotted an opportunity to introduce legislation—Health Force for short—alongside fellow under-45er Jason Crow (D-CO). Essentially, the policy draws on a similar Depression-era plan, whereby the federal government would recruit, train, and employ hundreds of thousands of already out-of-work people to aid in the vaccine rollout and distribution. Lauren noted the two-pronged crisis created by Covid: “We must create jobs to bring back our economy, and we must protect the health of our communities.” This seems to help address both of those things – would you trust yourself with a needle in hand?

Jim Banks (R; IN-3)

At Least We’re All In Sync On This One

Jim chairs the Republican Study Committee which is the largest group of conservatives within the House, thereby making him what many consider to be an unofficial member of the GOP leadership team. As such, Jim authored a forceful letter to House and Senate leadership stating that his caucus would oppose any legislation that repeals the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old policy prohibiting federal programs from paying for abortions. More than 200 GOP leaders have signed onto the letter, making this the first major policy issue on which the otherwise fractured GOP caucus is in lock-step together. The Amendment has received bipartisan support in years part, having been renewed by Democratic Presidents and at one time, was supported by President Biden. However, that Democratic support has recently been called into question, which is likely why Jim and his colleagues have taken action towards supporting their pro-life position, an ideological cornerstone for many conservatives.

Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)

New Leadership NOW!

Matt has certainly turned up the dial on his megaphone in calling out Liz Cheney, one of the highest-ranking Republican leaders, to step down. But while we sometimes focus on the age element regarding many of our senior leaders, Matt’s reasoning for a change is quite different: She broke from the president. After voting to impeach President Trump, Cheney has drawn ire from several GOP lawmakers, most notably Matt, who says that the old Republican party failed under two terms of Obama, and Republicans need to now go all in on the “America First” agenda…because it works. Matt is traveling to Wyoming this weekend, where he is expecting to rally support—or rather, anti-support—for Cheney. Seems like he’s heading into the Lion’s den, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s probably our man from Hollywood…Florida

Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)

Who’s The Dictator Now?

In the modern era of Presidenting—is that a thing?—governing by Executive Order has not only become seemingly ubiquitous but also has become political ammunition. Lance took President Biden to task, calling him out for signing over 30 Executive Orders in only his first week on the job, significantly more than his previous 4 predecessors signed. Lance goes further and reminds Democrats of their past disdain for EOs during the Trump administration, while now seeming to embrace them. However, past executive order numbers are pretty steady across party lines – according the Federal Register, George W. Bush signed 291 Executive Orders, Obama signed 276, Bill Clinton signed 254, and Donald Trump signed 220. So it remains to be seen where Biden will fall on this tally, but it certainly seems like he’s off to a sprint.

Dusty Johnson (R; SD)

Supreme Ping-Pong

Packing the Supreme Court is a terrible idea! At least so says Dusty about this once-front and center issue during the presidential campaign that now has seemed to all but disappear into the ether. But Dusty is proposing a constitutional amendment to limit the court to 9 justices in perpetuity. In an interview with Newsmax, Dusty explains why it would be a mistake for the size of the court to “ping-pong up and down on the basis of the most recent Senate election.” His argument is a pretty good one: for the last 100 years, the court has had only 9 justices which is the right size for the court. “It’s small enough for them to be able to deliberate and talk through the cases.” While the size of our Supreme Court has remained the same size, it certainly has ping-ponged in its polarity over the last few administrations.

Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)

Turning Up The HEAT

It’s no secret the Biden Administration plans to make climate a major policy focus across a multitude of government sectors, and this is drawing ire from several, including Markwayne, who sees it as a continued assault on American Energy Production. Markwayne is the co-chair of the House Energy Action Team (HEAT), and after the recent Executive Orders banning new oil and gas leases on federal land, HEAT was not pleased. Markwayne says this action only makes us further dependent on foreign oil, which will inevitably drive the price up for American consumers. He goes on to say that the EO is also eliminating good-paying jobs during the middle of a pandemic. Fellow Republican under-45ers Armstrong (ND), Reschenthaler (PA), Pfluger (TX), and Timmons (SC) agree.

Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)

With The Snap of a Finger

One of the great powers of the presidency is the ability to issue executive orders, a political hot-button issue that’s only getting hotter. As Biden unleashes a torrent of Executive Orders, Bryan went to visit those directly impacted. He met with workers in his district who work for Wisconsin-based companies who had been awarded the Keystone XL pipeline construction contract—now halted thanks to one Executive Order. “With the stroke of a pen, Biden killed good-paying jobs,” Bryan told the crowd. He went on to say this was the most divisive way he could have foresaw Biden beginning his term in office, and vowed to the crowd of supporters to keep fighting for Wisconsin workers and their families.

Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)

A Slap On The Wrist

Lee has been one of former President Trump’s most ardent supporters, right up through the siege on the Capitol and the electoral certification vote that followed, ultimately casting his vote against certification. While that isn’t different from many of his Republican colleagues, what is different however is that 22 New York Lawyers have filed an ethics complaint against Lee for “participating in frivolous litigation, making false statements regarding the presidential election and committing, arguably, a criminal act that reflects on his trustworthiness.” Effectively, they’re asking the New York Courts to consider sanctions up to and including revoking his Bar license. A spokeswoman for Lee dismissed the filing as a mere partisan attack.

Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

I’m Talkin’ To You, Filibuster!

It’s no doubt the 60 vote legislative filibuster is one of the great inside-baseball obstruction tools of the Senate – everyone’s heard this term thrown around and no one quite knows what it means. So, to recap: in the Senate, you need 60 votes in order to pass a piece of legislation. Put another way, with a simple majority—or minority—you can block just about any legislation you want through endless debate, which needs 60 votes to squash. Enter Mitch McConnell, who has masterfully used this tactic to his ideological advantage and feared for its undoing by Democrats until Kyrsten (as well as Joe Manchin (D-WV)) supposedly gave him her personal guarantee that she would NOT vote to abolish it under any circumstances. Her reasoning seems to stem from the fact that with it, you’re more likely to reach across the aisle and find compromise, something she does exceedingly well. However, the fact remains that more often than not, the filibuster has led to complete legislative gridlock.

Jake Auchincloss (D; MA-4)

Be Gone, or Be Removed

Having served as a Marine in Afghanistan, Jake isn’t one to shy away from a confrontation, which is why he’s calling for Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign from her newly-elected congressional seat, and if that doesn’t work, he says Congress should expel her. So what’d she say? Well, it’s a lot, but the big one is that she said she thought Democratic leaders should literally be shot and killed. Jake had poignant words for her: “If you don’t understand that calling for the murder of political rivals is a threat to our democracy, you shouldn’t be allowed to represent one.” He and his colleagues plan to introduce legislation calling for her expulsion in the coming days. From her support of baseless QAnon conspiracy theories to viciously accosting Parkland School shooting survivors, it’s safe to say Congresswoman Greene is bringing much of this upon herself.

Sara Jacobs (D; CA-53)

Pay The Man His Money!

From dodging deadly rioters to receiving a slew of worthy committee appointments, Sara is off to the kind of freshman start you don’t forget. And with all that, Sara was an original co-sponsor of the Raise The Wage Act, a new bill introduced in both chambers intended to raise the minimum working wage. Currently at $7.25, the proposal aims to reach $15 by the year 2025, increasing by $2.25 there within. Not since 2007 has Congress address the ever-growing discrepancy between the federal minimum wage and the reality of present-day living costs. Sarah remarked that the minimum wage “should be a livable wage, and raising the federal minimum…will lift millions out of poverty.” In a time of a deadly pandemic with so many slipping into poverty, it seems Sara is certainly keeping her eye on the ball here.

Madison Cawthorn

Man With a Megaphone

With his hand fresh off the swearing-in bible, Madison has firmly established himself as one of the most vocal and must-follow new under-45 Republicans. Not only does he have one of the larger social media followings in Congress, but he has also seemingly begun to carve a unique path for himself—equal parts aligning with the Trump base while also not letting himself get defined by the “Trump-loyalist” moniker. This week, Madison announced follow-through on two campaign pledges. The first is his ardent support of pro-life policy, evident in his joining the GOP letter calling for a renewal of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funds like Medicaid to going towards abortion services. The second was a bill he cosponsored which prohibits the Biden Administration from tracking those who receive the Covid-19 vaccine, claiming such a move would be a violation of individual privacy.

Peter Meijer (R; MI-3)

No Fear

As the old Hollywood adage goes, if you want to be a star, you better make an entrance. Welp, Peter has done just that, as he broke with much of his party to vote for impeachment against former President Trump, and is now getting a crash course in crisis PR from many within his own party. But Peter has stuck to his word, having run on a Republican platform of agree-when-I-do, speak-out-when-I-don’t. However, that has drawn at least one announced-challenger for his 2022 re-election in Tom Norton, who ran against Meijer this time around and lost in the primary. But Peter doesn’t seem to be paying much attention as he says he’s eager to get back to policy issues. And he’ll have ample means to do that, as he was appointed to the Homeland Security Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and has joined the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. No doubt, Peter will be an important voice in what the future of the GOP might look like.

Jake LaTurner (R; KS-2)

Not Gonna Budge

Jake is busy getting to work in Congress, having just been named to the House Oversight Committee, the Homeland Security Committee and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Additionally, putting pen to paper on one of his most important issues, Jake joined 200 of his fellow GOP colleagues in signing a letter drafted by fellow Under-45er Jim Banks (R-IN) forcefully arguing for the renewal of the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old ban on funds from federal program like Medicaid going towards abortions. Jake went further in stating his pro-life stance, writing an op-ed in support of his continued quest to overturn Roe v. Wade. With such a seemingly divided Republican caucus at the moment, they have diligently rallied around this core ideological issue, and it remains to be seen if they can continue similar unification on upcoming party business.

Nancy Mace

Taking Care of Our Own

It’s usually a good sign (or a lot of pressure) when you’re a freshman in Congress and you get named to more than one super important committee. Nancy has been named to the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, the Oversight Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. And just this week, Nancy joined fellow under-45ers Jason Crow (D-CO) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in writing a bipartisan letter requesting additional resources to help the Capitol community cope with the January 6th attacks. The letter, addressed to the House Of Representatives’ Chief Administrative Officer, identifies the continued revelations of violence and endured stresses by staff members and acknowledges the realities of a support-staff stretched to its thinnest. As the letter points out, the Capitol is one community, from congresspeople to custodians, and we must make sure they are all properly looked after.

Nicole Malliotakis (R; NY-11)

If You Want Something Done, Get a New Yorker To Do It

Nicole quickly defined herself in the early weeks of her first term by her staunch alliance with former President Trump, including voting to oppose the election certification, even upon returning from the safe-room post-insurrection. Whether by merit or loyalty, GOP leadership has rewarded her with positions on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the coveted Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and was also named assistant Whip for the GOP. As a congresswomen from a district “surrounded by bridges, shipping ports, airports…and a Coast Guard Station” Nicole has a unique position to deliver meaningful legislation that will directly impact her constituents. And after all, it feels only logical to have that committee made up of folks who’s districts actually encompass it’s mission purview.