THE COMPLETE 14 PERCENT: War of the Interwebs
Nanette Diaz Barragan (D; CA- 44)
In Better Hands
Nanette, who is the chairwoman of the Homeland Border Security Subcommittee visited the Long Beach Convention Center last week where HHS is temporarily housing hundreds of unaccompanied children who crossed the southern border. She, the mayor of Long Beach, and an LA County Supervisor toured the facilities and spoke with the children who, Nanette said, “are hopeful they will soon be reunited with their families and get to start their new lives in the U.S.” She stressed the important work of moving children out of Border Patrol custody and into the hands of HHS as quickly as possible due to the higher standard of care that HHS can provide. Nanette also insisted that the children be given access to the country’s asylum process as soon as possible. Do you agree?
Jason Crow (D; CO-4)
Elijah McClain is just one of the unarmed black men who has died after being detained by police. Jason, who represents the district where Elijah lived and died, has introduced the Use of Force Accountability Act of 2021 that would require states that receive federal grant money for policing to codify investigation panels that would probe police who use lethal or injurious force. The bill is designed to make sure that thorough, independent investigations of these incidents are conducted and reported properly up the legal chain. McClain’s mother issued a statement, through her lawyer, in support of Jason’s bill and that he has “always been attentive to her positions on reducing police violence.” Any states that don’t comply with the investigation requirements will lose federal funding.
Antonio Delgado (D; NY-19)
Healthcare in the Boonies
Rural hospitals around the country are struggling for a variety of reasons, but at the heart of 16 hospitals’ hardship in New York is the complex reimbursement program from Medicare. These hospitals now owe $15 – $20 million to Medicare contractors. Antonio and a group of Republican NY reps, including fellow PP leader Elise Stefanik, embraced a bill to aid rural hospitals that have faced complicated changes in the Medicare system. “Due to arbitrary federal changes, many small rural hospitals in upstate New York… are facing a threat to keeping their doors open,” Antonio said. This complication, at its heart, calls on lawmakers to think far and wide about the effects of large, sweeping changes in Washington.
Ruben Gallego (D; AZ-7)
Down with Downplaying
You may have caught comments from a handful of GOP lawmakers about the insurrection on January 6th, downplaying what happened and calling it ‘largely peaceful’. In an interview last week, Ruben was asked if he’s going to join Democratic efforts to censure the Republicans who have come out with these comments. While he said he still needs to look at the resolution to be sure, he did harshly condemn the comments and even called Republicans’ bluff, saying, “I saw Republicans extreme scared that day, I saw Republicans that were crying on the House floor so don’t tell me… that there wasn’t an insurrection.”
Josh Harder (D; CA-10)
Bringing Home the Bacon
The idea of committee assignments in Congress might seem a little abstract, but a recent example of Josh’s use of his appointment to the House Appropriations Committee sums it up pretty well. By being on the committee (the first Democrat from central CA in nearly 50 years), he’s in a unique position to request federal funds for initiatives in his district. One of the most important that he just submitted is an over $300k request for First Behavioral Health, a nonprofit that gives more people access to mental health treatment. One notable area that is often overlooked is bilingual providers to serve the many Hispanics in central CA. The logistical workings of Congress might seem far and away, but Josh is showing that the ins and outs hit home.
Ro Khanna (D; CA-17)
All Health is Global
This is the mantra of a recent article penned by Ro in Foreign Affairs. He outlines the interconnectedness of our global health and, specifically, how we must ramp up our efforts as a nation to help the Covid crisis unfolding in India. First, we must send greater amounts of medical equipment like oxygen and PPE and second, we must remove the IP of our vaccines to allow India and other low-income countries access to larger quantities of vaccines. 82% of shots worldwide have been administered in high and upper income countries. Only .3% (yes, you read that right) of doses have been administered in low income countries who, at this pace, will not have widespread vaccinations until 2025. The article also lays out the repercussions of not aiding countries like India and ultimately slowing the global recovery from the pandemic. AND, Ro writes, the money countries like the US could spend to “vaccinate the world” would pay for itself by ending the pandemic earlier. If you want a deep-dive on how we’re all connected, Ro’s your man.
Mike Levin (D; CA-49)
This is Not a Drill
Mike is one of the biggest champions for the environment in Congress, representing part of Southern California’s coastline. He’s just added to his quiver a newly introduced bill that would ban any new leasing for exploration or development of oil or natural gas along the coast. In Mike’s view, the environmental consequences outweigh any economic advantages of drilling, and he has a point. If you look at the numbers, San Diego and Orange County contribute about $7.7 billion in economic activity and provide more than 140,000 jobs in tourism and recreation, which could be hurt by more drilling. The bill is headed to committee where its fate will be determined – do you have a good feeling about this one?
Stephanie Murphy (D; FL-7)
Stephanie will be challenging Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his Senate seat in the 2022 midterm elections. Rumors have been swirling about her possible run and now the decision seems to be pretty much sealed. In a comment this week, Stephanie said, “I think he needs to retire or to be retired.” She’ll be picking apart Rubio’s support of both the NRA and Trump, but she won’t be alone in this challenge. Rep. Val Demmings (D-FL), once on a short list for a possible VP pick, is also going to be running for the Democratic nomination. While some Democratic groups think Demmings has the best chance to win, Stephanie remains confident in her messaging as a proud immigrant and capitalist. Let the games begin!
Ilhan Omar (D; MN-5)
Ilhan, one of the Muslim members of Congress, took to the House floor this week to give a speech about the conflict in Israel/Palestine. She reflected on her own time living through a civil war. However, she noted – “This is not a… civil war. It is a conflict where one country, funded and supported by the U.S. government, continues an illegal military occupation over another group of people”. Ilhan gave background on the 1948 event that displaced Palestinians from their home and the 5.6 million Palestinians who have been displaced since. She also did not mince words when calling out Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu as an “ethno-nationalist leader”. What was perhaps most interesting was her question about why Congress hasn’t held specific hearings about this – we wonder that as well!
Elissa Slotkin (D; MI-8)
A Different Kind of Exercise
After the recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline Company (notice gas hikes in your area?), Elissa has whipped out what she knows best – cyber and national security. She introduced the CISA Cyber Exercise Ace which would establish an exercise program to test the readiness of the U.S. cyber systems. The program could be used by state and local governments or private sector businesses to ensure security. Elissa noted that even if the objective of these attacks is just to hold data ransom, “the consequences can be enormous for our national and economic security”. You know what’s great about this? Modernization of government – we love to see it!
Haley Stevens (D; MI-11)
Haley recently welcomed President Biden to Michigan, where he was visiting a Ford manufacturing plant. She lauded his “inspiring but realistic message” about the future of the American workforce and the American Jobs Plan. What was perhaps most interesting about her impression of his visit, was the focus on technology and modernization. She spoke about her ‘Manufacturing Mondays’ where she visits small and mid-size manufacturing operations in her district and sees how all of them are on the forefront of new technologies, specifically pertaining to the environment. What all this means, she said in an interview, is that business is coming back to Michigan. There’s a huge demand for workers, which is creating an influx in skill training and education. All of these elements combined is now leading to recognition from not just Democrats, but also Republicans, that modernizing manufacturing with a focus on the environment is going to be good for the country.
Kelly Armstrong (R; ND)
Not Soft, but Smart
Kelly worked as a criminal defense attorney and his grandmother was a leading mental health advocate in North Dakota. He knows a thing or two when it comes to those in our criminal justice system which, sadly, is not an equal playing field. As the limitations of Covid slowly begin to be lifted (crossing fingers, toes, everything), many federal prisoners who were released due to health concerns may be sent back to prison. Kelly, along with a group of Democrats, doesn’t want that to be the case. The letter he joined insists that these prisoners are now, for the most part, living productive lives and contributing to society. “We don’t have to be soft on crime,” Kelly said, “We just have to be smarter about how we deal with this.”
Dan Crenshaw (R; TX-2)
Recently, Dan was asked on ‘Meet the Press’ about the infighting in the Republican party – specifically claims of election fraud and Liz Cheney’s ousting. Dan insisted that Cheney wasn’t ousted just for her vote to impeach Trump, but because she wanted other members to apologize for their support of him. Growing quite frustrated, Dan followed up by saying that this is not the thing voters really care about, instead listing a whole host of issues that he gets asked about on a daily basis. He used the time to do what he does best and distance himself from the drama, accusing the media of keeping the spotlight on Trump. Chuck Todd, the interviewer, rebutted, insisting that it’s Trump who’s keeping that spotlight on himself. Are you with drama-free Dan on this one?
Anthony Gonzalez (R; OH-16)
A Contact Sport You Say?
Politics is a contact sport and thankfully for Anthony he knows a thing or two about that. As a former football player at Ohio State and professional player in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts he’s accustomed to the hits. Last week, Political Playlist had the opportunity to speak with Anthony about issues related to his new NCAA student athlete bill, the Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act, his stance on how the US can compete with China and what he’s doing to help fight the climate crisis. If you have not yet listened to the conversation yet, make sure you do, and find out how his prior experience prepared him for political life.
Trey Hollingsworth (R; IN-9)
It’s not just fun to say, but the acronym for Yes In My Backyard is now the namesake of Trey’s most recent bipartisan bill to increase housing supply and affordability. The goal of the act is to incentivize the removal of barriers and restrictive land-use policies to help American access housing. Local governments applying for federal housing development funds would be required to disclose if they enacted policies to reduce regulations that would affect affordability. The bill is endorsed by hundreds of housing organizations as it hits the House for consideration. Will YIMBY be the way of the future?
Brian Mast (R; FL-18)
In addition to leading a GOP revolt against wearing masks on the House floor, Brian has been up to his usual environmental work down in Florida. He’s now calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to pay a visit to the communities that will be affected by the harmful algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee. In a letter to the Corps, Mast said that the lake “recently tested more than 100 times too toxic for human contact” and did not mince words in reprimanding them for not putting people’s lives first. The Corps, in response, said that the weather conditions in the next several weeks will determine the environmental impact and that they, as Brian requested, plan to visit the area. Algae drama!
Elise Stefanik (R; NY-21)
Trouble in MAGA Paradise
Elise is now the number 3 Republican in the House – cue the celebratory horns. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. She is having trouble winning over one VERY key demographic – grassroots and hardcore MAGA-ers. Although Republican leadership, several Trump-loyal lawmakers, and Trump himself endorsed her, Elise is having an uphill battle with popular pro-Trump Twitter accounts and notable far-righters like author and commentator Ann Coulter and former Trump legal counsel Jenna Ellis. They all point to Elise’s backing the former president’s position only 78% of the time, her career-beginning work in the W. Bush White House, and more moderate stances on hot issues like immigration and the war in Afghanistan. Welcome to the big leagues, Elise!
William Timmons (R; SC-4)
Dame Mas Gasolina
The cyber attack on the Colonial gas pipeline wreaked havoc in the Southeast, causing shortages at the pump left and right. William took to the House floor to discuss the specific impacts on his district and the larger implications for the nation. 78% of the gas stations in his district were out of gas (yikes) and constituents were calling into his office asking for help. On the national scale, William, who is one of the leads in the Congressional Modernization Committee, emphasized the need for the country to address our weak cyber security. “We must take steps… to protect our country from future attacks.” One of the benefits of having young people in Congress? They can keep up with the speed of technological advancements and hopefully do something about it!
Josh Hawley (R; MO)
Just Call Him Hemingway
Josh’s controversial book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, has sold 20,900 print books in its first week and landed on the New York Times bestseller list – all after his original publisher dropped the deal following the attack on Jan. 6th. Josh has definitely stuck it to ‘the man’, with just one small caveat. Many of the sales are happening through Amazon – one of the companies that Josh eviscerates in the big tech-phobic book. After posting the Amazon link to the book on his Twitter, Josh defended himself saying that Amazon is a “monopoly platform”. There have also been some questions about ‘bulk buying’ of the book by Republican groups to potentially bolster sales, though the publisher says that any bulk buys wouldn’t affect the bestseller status. Either way, Josh, despite his many controversies, seems to be on a roll.
Mondaire Jones (D; NY-17)
Make it Stick
“I’ve been in Congress for 5 months and I’m already tired of having to vote to reauthorize things that we know should be permanent,” Mondaire said during remarks last week about the child tax credit. The American Rescue plan expanded the child tax credit, which issues money to lower income families with children – but it’s only temporary. Mondaire, and many other Democrats, are arguing that the expansion should be permanent. The reality, he points out, is that nearly 15% of children (and 25% of black children) live below the poverty line and deserve to be looked out for. Of course, this all requires the government shelling up the money. That larger point here that we should all note, is this idea that there are all of these initiatives that must constantly be reauthorized. Does that process seem efficient? Necessary? Wasteful?
Nikema Williams (D; GA-5)
Nikema is celebrating the recent House passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which she cosponsored. The bill establishes a pregnant worker’s right to workplace accommodations as long as they don’t overburden the employer. Surprisingly (or maybe not) there is no federal law that guarantees pregnant workers these basic workplace rights like water breaks and relief from heavy lifting. “Women are constantly treated as second-class workers,” Nikema said in a statement, assuring that her role in Congress is to be a “force for justice”. The bill has broad support from workers advocates and business groups, the Chamber of Congress, AND 81% of Republicans and 96% of Democrats. Hell yeah, *baby*!
Lauren Boebert (R; CO-3)
No Land Grabbin, Joe!
Biden recently issued an executive order to ensure that 30% of all U.S. lands and waters are marked for preservation by 2030. This, Lauren notes, does not include private land! She has now introduced the 30 x 30 Termination Act which would nullify the EO and prohibit federal funds from being used to carry out the conservation efforts. This plan, she says, is “a dream killer for future generations and local economies.” 22 other Republican members have signed onto the bill and, notably, fellow PP leader Tracey Mann (R-KS) has a different bill addressing this exact same executive order. The push and pull between public and private continues!
Tracey Mann (R; KS-1)
Zero Dark Thirty
In Biden’s first week, he issued a slew of executive orders. One of them directed various cabinet members to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30% of lands and waters by 2030. Tracey and two other Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to push back against the 30 x 30 proposal, claiming it’s a government land grab. The order, he says, has the potential to “strip away Kansans’ private property rights to meet an arbitrary climate goal”. According to Tracey, 98% of Kansas land is privately owned so demanding any permanent conversation would require expanding federal control over land. He also points out that there are already several voluntary conservation initiatives underway across rural America.
Andrew Garbarino (R; NY-2)
With the recent ransomware attack on the Colonial pipeline and the previous attack on SolarWinds last year, cybersecurity is the talk of the town in Washington. Andrew sits as the ranking member of the cybersecurity subcommittee and has now joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce a bill that would create a grant program for state and local governments to beef up their cyber security. Towns, school districts, etc often can’t afford to take security measures, so they don’t. Covid also left them particularly vulnerable. This grant program would fill those vulnerabilities to prevent attacks, but also to prevent the economic and global consequences of them. “If they come up with a plan,” Andrew said, “we will fund that plan.”
Julia Letlow (R; LA-5)
There is A LOT happening so you probably didn’t hear about the Seacor Power vessel that capsized in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in six deaths and seven missing persons. Julia has joined the rest of the Louisiana delegation in calling on Congress to hold a hearing as to what happened and, more specifically, to find out why the Coast Guard’s search and rescue procedures were so poorly communicated to the families of those onboard. The letter the delegation sent asks that a hearing be conducted to improve marine safety overall and analyze Coast Guard protocols in this type of situation. It’s a disaster that flew below the radar, but for the families of those who lost their lives, it’s anything but insignificant.
Pete Aguilar (D; CA-31)
All Aboard the Benjamins
The money keeps rolling in. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, Pete announced $159+ million in emergency funding for colleges, universities, and students in his district. The funding will allow these institutions to offset losses from COVID. In even better news, half of the funding will be used for emergency financial assistance to students who are facing hunger, homelessness, and other hardship. The American Rescue plan provided $36 billion to ~3,500 public and private institutions, nonprofit colleges, and universities nationwide. Most importantly, as everyone recovers from COVID, we must make sure our education system does not fail.
Brendan Boyle (D; PA-2)
After listening to constituents, Brendan introduced bipartisan legislation to protect drinking water from PFAS (ie: chemicals). Most recently, the communities surrounding the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Pennsylvania are experiencing water contamination. Do we have another Flint Michigan situation on our hands? Brendan’s legislation, the Protecting Drinking Water from PFAS Act of 2021 will require the EPA to set enforceable, nationwide drinking water standards for PFAS containments. Currently, the EPA is only subject to voluntary advisory guidelines. Think twice before you take that next sip of water.
Jared Golden (D; ME-2)
SBA Rural Help
Unfortunately, bureaucratic restrictions from the Small Business Association (SBA) have delayed or completely stopped federal disaster relief from going to small businesses in rural areas. In Maine for example, there are 14,000 small businesses which employ 125,000 people. Jared introduced bipartisan and bicameral (introduced in the Senate at the same time) legislation with Jim Hagedorn (R-MI) to ensure small businesses in rural parts of the country can easily access relief from the SBA. The legislation would waive burdensome restrictions that keep businesses in rural areas with low population densities from applying for federal disaster relief. Congratulations are also in order as Jared and his wife welcomed their first child, a baby girl! One thing is for sure, Jared is about to have some sleepless nights.
Andy Kim (D; NJ-3)
Ransomware attacks are beginning to be the new norm and we must be prepared to deal with them quickly. Andy, along with Joe Wilson (SC-R), introduced bipartisan legislation, the National Guard Cybersecurity Support Act which would give state governors the power to deploy their National Guard to respond to cybersecurity threats against critical government programs and information systems. This legislation comes after various districts and counties were victims of ransomware and unfortunately due to bureaucratic red tape, governors could not deploy their National Guard. Normally, they must go through the Department of Defense which we can all imagine takes a hot sec. Cut the red tape!
Joe Neguse (D; CO-2)
Smokey the Bear Needs Help
People might forget that 2020 suffered various forest fires across the U.S. Joe, along with bipartisan colleagues, introduced the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act which would help better support forest and grassland restoration projects across public and private lands. Joe was joined by other PP leaders Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) to introduce legislation that would formally establish this program with the United States Department of Agriculture and double its funding! Smokey the Bear salutes these politicians. As well, Joe was just appointed to the powerful House Rules Committee by Speaker Pelosi which determines how bills are brought to the House floor.
Chris Pappas (D; NH-1)
Many people have been hurt by COVID-19 and unfortunately, many of our veterans have been left behind. Chris was the original co-sponsor of a bill that recently passed in the House, the bipartisan VA Transparency & Trust Act of 2021. It would require the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to report to Congress on the much-needed emergency funding given to the Department to respond to COVID-19. There are billions of dollars going to various federal and state programs and hopefully the money is being used to support as many people as possible.
Darren Soto (D; FL-9)
Feeling the PULSE
In June 2016, many of us watched in horror as we saw the news when a gunman attacked Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. It was a terrible attack on the LGBT community. Five years later, the House has now passed legislation introduced by Darren and PP Leader, Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) to designate Pulse nightclub as a National Memorial Site. After the tragedy, Pulse nightclub owner, Barbara Poma, established the onePULSE Foundation which plans to build the National Pulse Memorial and Museum to open in 2022. It’s impossible to bring the victims back, but in a time of so much collective stress, it’s heartening to see lawmakers making sure their memory is honored!
Eric Swalwell (D; CA-15)
Seems like something out of a reality TV show, but there was a heated exchange between Eric and an aid of Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) regarding Eric’s wearing a face mask. After Eric was told to take off his mask by the aid, Eric told him to basically F*&K off. The exact reaction that Majorie Taylor Greene wanted as she has continued to harass other Democratic members of Congress. But why are Congressional members still wearing a mask on the House floor? Because only 95 of the 212 Republican House members have been vaccinated, while all 219 Democrats have been vaccinated. Makes a little more sense now why Speaker Pelosi still mandates mask wearing on the House floor, though you can be sure this is about to be a heavily partisan fight.
Lauren Underwood (D; IL-14)
A Fairy-Tale ending
Lauren won her election by 5,374 votes and since then her Republican opponent, Jim Oberweis, has challenged the results of the race. The House recently threw out his bid to overturn. Yesterday, Lauren made a speech on the House floor calling out Jim for “joining the former President in making baseless allegations of fraud and conspiracy.” Still, Jim has yet to concede the race and he attended freshman orientation since House rules allow politicians to attend orientation during contested elections. We have said this many times… every vote counts.
Jim Banks (R; IN-3)
All the Way to the Banks
We spoke about this in our last Happy Hour – Jim Banks was hoping to angle for Liz Cheney’s spot, but unfortunately for him it went to PP Leader Elise Stefanik. The story behind how Jim was perhaps the next young Republican for the job is based on his ability to run the Republican Study Committee, which is the largest GOP caucus and promotes conservative policies in the House. Since becoming chair, Jim has become a “rival messaging machine” crafting memos, coordinating media opportunities for other members and compiling talking points, which is primarily what Liz Cheney’s former job did, communication and member services. Well despite not becoming the current GOP Chairman, Jim definitely has his eyes on something bigger!
Matt Gaetz (R; FL-1)
Ay Caramba! The news goes from bad to worse for Matt. Matts former friend, Joel Greenberg, agreed to plead guilty to six federal charges that he knowingly solicited and paid a minor for sex with the Department of Justice. Now, to be clear, Matt denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged with anything, but more stories and photos have started to pour out in the media. Earlier this week it was reported that Matt and other influential Florida Republicans partied and engaged in various drug consumption and sexual acts after Republican functions. Wowzers. The stories are definitely a doozy! Do we hear a Netflix special in the mix?
Lance Gooden (R; TX-5)
Lance was not a Liz Cheney fan and even before she was kicked out of the GOP leadership position, Lance tweeted that he predicted it would happen a few weeks earlier in a tweet. He continued the various tweets by “applauding some of my colleagues for having the COURAGE to stand up to the Swamp & call for REMOVAL of Liz Cheney.” Furthermore, he said “Trump is still the LEADER of the GOP, Liz.” And one last thing just to be clear he said, “Wyoming will ensure she never gets anywhere near Congress again.” Are you out of breath…we are? Mic drop or not. That felt heated.
Dusty Johnson (R; SD)
The Future of Masks
Everyone has a lot of extra masks lying around…in your car, bags or maybe it was even left in a jean pocket. Well Dusty and his team released a video of him giving advice on what to do with masks when they are no longer needed. Dusty used an old mask as a cleaning cloth, a pocket square, and our favorite, a drink cuzzi. The video went viral – it could have been from Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” playing in the background. Regardless, Dusty is trying to make light of the situation and we can all appreciate that. In political news, many were surprised when Dusty mentioned he did not vote to remove Liz Cheney! Dusty is not known to be a party follower and he was even one of the few Republicans who publicly encouraged wearing a mask.
Markwayne Mullin (R; OK-2)
An American Issue
In April 2020, Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old U.S. Army soldier, was murdered inside a Fort Hood, Texas, armory by another enlisted soldier. Vanessa was the victim of sexual harassment and assault by her platoon sergeant while she served in the military and sadly, her command sergeant was aware of the allegation and did nothing. Mark, along with his bipartisan colleagues and PP leader Jason Crow (D-CO) introduced the I am Vanessa Guillen Act that would revolutionize the military’s response to reports of sexual harassment/assault by making sexual harassment a standalone offense and moving prosecution decisions out of the chain of command. A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate at the same time. As Mark mentioned, this is not a Republican or a Democrat issue – it’s an American issue.
Bryan Steil (R; WI-1)
Get People Back to Work
A common problem across the U.S. is getting workers to come back to their old jobs. Due to the government subsidies, some people are making more money on unemployment than when they had a job. It has become a big issue in many states, but the Wisconsin delegation and Bryan, have urged the Governor to reverse course to get people back to work. Employers across Wisconsin are reducing business hours, cutting services, and shutting their doors because they are unable to find workers. The delegation is urging the Governor, a Democrat, to end the $300 per week federal unemployment bonus. What are your thoughts on this?
Lee Zeldin (R; NY-1)
Left, Middle, Right…Ok Middle
Lee is in full fundraising mode and looks like the clear front runner for the Republican nomination for Governor of New York. Over the last couple weeks Lee has made comments and votes that might show him moving more toward the middle than further right. Recently Lee acknowledged that he “won’t call Biden’s election illegitimate.” As well, he also voiced his support, through a statement, that he plans to vote in favor of COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which is to address the rise in crimes and violence against the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community. Get those votes Lee.
Kyrsten Sinema (D; AZ)
Stick Together? LOL
How are Democrats going to pass their signature ethics and election reform bill? This is the question that Kyrsten posed to Senate Majority leader Schumer during their committee hearing last week. Schumer responded by saying “we stick together.” Despite Kyrsten being a co-sponsor of the bill, it does not seem like a strong plan since the Democrats have a 50-member caucus, and Senator Manchin (VA), the most conservative Democrat, was not even at the meeting. Regardless of those issues, the bill lacks support from ANY Republican which makes it impossible to overcome the legislative filibuster. Looks like Kyrsten has her work cut out for her with her fellow moderate Dem.
Jake Auchincloss (D; MA-4)
Debt Collectors – We Hate You
Protecting consumers against mistreatment and harassment by debt collectors is more important than ever. In 1977, there was a law enacted to protect consumers from third parties, but since then much has changed in the way we communicate. Therefore, Jake introduced the Non-Judicial Foreclosure Debt Collection Clarification Act to restrict the way that collectors can contact debtors, as well as the time of day and number of times that contact can be made. Jake becomes one of the first freshman members to have a bill pass the House. Can I get a woot woot?
Sara Jacobs (D; CA-53)
Failing Child-Care Centers
There are 135 Military child development centers operating in “poor” or “failing” condition across the U.S and there are ~9,000 military children on a WAITLIST with immediate childcare needs. In the last 10 years, the Defense Department has only upgraded 8 facilities. Sara, along with bipartisan colleagues introduced the Military Child Care Expansion Act, which would equip the Pentagon with new tools to upgrade these failing facilities and eliminate the waitlists for these children. In California news, Sara announced that over $1 billion in funding for state and local government and higher education is coming to her district from the American Rescue Plan. Yes, that B for billion in case you missed it!
Madison Cawthorn (R; NC-11)
PEACE Be with You
“The radical left wants to save Iran from trouble and teach our next generation to hate America at home.” Madison introduced the PEACE Act (Protect Equality and Civics Education) which will prevent the Department of Education from using taxpayer dollars to fund its critical race theory priorities. As Madison says, “critical race theory is dangerous because it’s a lie and it must be dismantled and that American children are taught true American history not false anarchical hysteria.” Madison and some of his Republican colleagues believe this is an attack from the left-wing, racist ideology. What are your thoughts?
Peter Meijer (R; MI-3)
While the American Rescue Plan is sending billions of dollars to education facilities the bigger issue is we have teacher shortages across the country. Peter introduced bipartisan legislation with fellow PP Leader Jason Crow (D-CO), the Teacher, Principal, and Leader Residency Access Act, which would allow federal work-study funds to pay for costs associated with participating in teacher and principal residency programs. Studies show that these residency programs have been effective in improving teacher demand, quality, and retention. Often when the world is dealing with many issues, we forget important workers, like our teachers, who are educating the future generation. And they need as much support as we can give them.
Jake LaTurner (R; KS-2)
Return to Work
Many Republican representatives are asking their Governor to opt out of the federal pandemic unemployment program. Just recently a group of Republican representatives, including PP leader Bryan Steil, from Wisconsin asked their Governor to do the same. But they, like Jake’s home state, have a Democratic Governor. Jake, along with PP Leader Tracey Mann (R-KS) is urging the Governor to open businesses and schools, take off masks and help their small businesses get back on their feet. There are 19 states that are dropping the $300/week unemployment benefits and there are even some states offering a cash incentive to return to work!
Nancy Mace (R; SC-1)
Civil Rights Injustice
Do you know the name Jamal Sutherland? Sadly, he was tased by police officers nine times in his jail cell before becoming unresponsive and then dying. Jamal suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and video footage released stirred outraged when people saw how he was treated by police officers. Nancy has been a harsh critic of the situation and the Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano called it one of “the greatest civil rights injustices of our time.” Nancy issued a statement and had a series of tweets explaining how she was misled by the county sheriff. No doubt about it the video reveals many issues especially surrounding the training and procedures of officers when dealing with those who are experiencing mental illness.
Nicole Malliotakis (R; NY-11)
Did you know that Turkey has been illegally occupying Cyprus for more than 50 years? We did not either. Nicole is leading a group of bipartisan colleagues, including PP leader Chris Pappas (D-NH), to call on the Biden Administration to condemn Turkey for its illegal occupation of Cyprus and encourage the administration to make it a top foreign policy priority. In 1974, the Turkish government ordered its military to invade the Republic of Cyprus. When President Biden was a U.S. senator, he strongly supported solving the Cyprus problem. Since Cyprus is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, European Union, and a close reliable strategic partner of the United States it is surprising that there has not been much movement on it.
Jon Ossoff (D; GA)
Jon led a group of 29 Senators calling for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further escalation between Israel and Palestine. While almost all the Senators were Democrats there were two independents who signed on Sanders (VT) and King (ME), and the number 2 Democrat in Senate leadership, Dick Durbin (IL), signed on as well. But what was most interesting was that Senate Majority Leader Schumer (NY) did not sign on. Schumer has remained firm along with President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) in their assertion that Israel’s military is carrying out defensive military action to which it is entitled. It seems like the old Democrats are split with some of the young Democrats on where their alliance lies. Does age play into this at all?
Colin Allred (D; TX-32)
You often hear a chorus of complaints about Congressmen loading up legislation with all sorts of extra earmarked dollars for their district, unless of course, you live in that district…in which case woohoo! And that’s just what the folks in Colin’s district are going to be cheering. A recent report showed that Colin ranks second highest among all of Congress for total requested earmarked dollars for the fiscal spending year 2022, to the tune of $241 million! Interestingly enough, topping that list is Republican Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne, whose district is, you guessed, right next to Colin’s! Much needed airport repairs at DFW, which falls in their districts, is what’s driving all this but it raises a complex question about congressional appropriations: should there be a limit?
Sharice Davids (D; KS-3)
Sharice recently compared her time thus far in Congress to that of her previous occupation: MMA fighter. That’s mixed martial arts, for those unfamiliar with the dojo lingo, and judging by the volatility in Washington, this seems to be a handy bullet point on her CV when it comes to the likely reelection challenges she faces. She’s the only Congressional Democrat in her GOP stronghold state and the upcoming redistricting is only going to make it harder for her to defeat her opponent. Her motto, whether in Congress or in the ring, is “to always focus on the fundamentals.” In her current job, that means doing constituent services really well, because ultimately they’re the ones who will send her back to the Octagon—err, Dome.
Conor Lamb (D; PA-17)
Paving His Way Forward
Conor suspects there’s a longer road ahead for the American Jobs Plan before it gets passed into law, so he’s taking matters into his own hands. He introduced the bipartisan PAVE Act, which looks to advance roughly $18 billion in funding to state’s transportation departments. Covid has halted many State’s long overdue highway and roadway projects as well as lost revenue from lack of toll traffic, and Pennsylvania is no exception. At the end of last year, the Trump administration passed a bill that doled out $10 billion of the State’s requested $28 billion, and this new bill would make up the difference, specifically giving Conor’s state an additional $720 million. Conor is making a big legislative effort for causes beyond his district which only seems to support the speculation that he’s turning his 2022 sights on the Senate.
Seth Moulton (D; MA-6)
Tell Your Friends The Truth
Plenty of leaders have been deafeningly silent on the escalating violence in Israel and Gaza however Seth didn’t shy away from addressing this hot-button issue. He began with his full-throated support of Israel as a trusted ally in the region, vocalizing their right to defend themselves against Hamas, which he unequivocally labeled a terrorist organization. However, Seth believes you must tell your friends the hard truths, saying to Israel that their “decision to relocate Palestinian families for settlements is morally wrong.” He is pleading for a ceasefire so that the US can help broker a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, which he believes offers the best pathway to peace in the region. But after years of this same pursuit, have the realities of achieving that goal changed any?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D; NY-14)
Headline Maker, Quiet Doer?
With Under-45er Gaetz quickly spiraling into the garbáge, Alexandria did a good job this week of reclaiming the mantle for headliner-in-chief. Between calling out Israel as an apartheid state to the hallway squabbles with Washington’s favorite loon, Marjorie Taylor Green, AOC made media waves, but she also did stuff that didn’t crack the front page: she quietly reintroduced bicameral police reform legislation. The Andrew Kearse Act, named after a young man who died of a heart attack while in police custody, looks to hold police officers criminally liable for denying medical care to people in custody. She also had an amendment on debt collection reform pass the house. Our takeaway from all this is simple: tune out the superfluous noise in order to follow the substantive actions.
Abigail Spanberger (D; VA-7)
Low Key Lady Boss
It’s fair to say that week in and week out, Abigail proves to be one of the unsung movers and shakers in the House, let alone her own caucus. Abigail’s To Do list this week included writing a letter to President Biden, sounding the cybersecurity alarm about the severity of the Colonial Pipeline hacking and its impact on her district. The disastrous security breach only magnifies our need for a stronger cybersecurity strategy and we can certainly expect her to be involved in whatever forthcoming legislation hits the floor. And speaking of which, Abigail
also reintroduced bipartisan legislation, which would make interest received on delayed tax refunds non-taxable income. So, people keep more of their money? Cool!
Rashida Tlaib (D; MI-13)
A Personal Meeting!
Rashida met with President Biden on the tarmac during his recent visit to Detroit and personally stressed her critical position towards the Israeli government. To Rashida, this is more than rhetoric. She is the only Palestinian-American serving in Congress, and her grandmother currently lives in the West Bank. She stressed to Biden her desire to see the Administration stop its billions in funding to Israel that enables them to commit what she says are crimes against the Palestinian people. While that was certainly the more controversial topic of discussion, she also thanked Biden for his pursuit of a green future for the auto industry. And later in the day, Biden remarked from the Ford factory that he is committed to doing everything he can to make sure Rashida’s family is safe. There’s no doubt plenty of “daylight” as they say in DC between these two politically, but it sure is refreshing to see them approach it with civility.
Mike Gallagher (R; WI-8)
Gee Whiz, Ya Teamed Up With HIM?
Mike introduced the Israeli Sovereignty Reassurance Act of 2021 and who did he choose as his legislative bedfellow in the bill? None other than Ted Cruz! While these two may seem like the Felix and Oscar of the GOP, they have found common ground in the bill which seeks to prohibit the State Department from reversing the U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. This comes at a deeply volatile time for the region and after the Biden Administration has expressed a willingness to reverse the decision, which Mike and company say could highly destabilize the region. Whether or not this actually gets passed into law, one thing is clear: Republicans are doing whatever it takes to make clear their support for Israel.
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R; WA-3)
Happy Belated Mother’s Day
Jaime made some headlines this week after publicly saying she intended to (and did) vote to keep Liz Cheney in the number three Republican seat, and naturally this has only courted more congressional challengers for her next election. But Jaime knows the way to hold on to her seat is by doing things for the voters, so this week she introduced the bipartisan Helping MOMS Act. The bill, which fellow under-45ers Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) are co-sponsors on, looks to extend Medicaid coverage for the first year after childbirth. Jaime remarked “70 percent of new moms encounter a health complication within the first year of giving birth.” Her bill would help ensure access to healthcare for mothers during this vulnerable time. Heyyyy mama.
Adam Kinzinger (R; IL-16)
Adam’s GOP, table for 1, seems to have grown this week with the ousting of Liz Cheney from leadership, now doubling the dissenting Republican Army to two alienated Congresspersons. Adam, like Liz, hasn’t backed down from his convictions that the GOP is headed in the absolute wrong direction. On Meet The Press, Adam remarked that, like many Republicans, he would like to move on from Trump, but since Leader McCarthy has “handed Trump his leadership card” that remains impossible. Despite the cold shoulder from much of his own party, Adam continues to find ways to work across the aisle, like with this bipartisan bill he sponsored with fellow under-45er Jason Crow (D-CO), which aims to strengthen national security and manufacturing by establishing a Council to steer its policy strategy. If a little ostracizing is what it takes to get bipartisanship, then maybe deserted political island ain’t so bad.
Guy Reschenthaler (R; PA-14)
There has been much ado in Washington over big tech and how to regulate (or not regulate) social media. Guy is making an interesting case for treating social media companies as public utilities just like we do the phone companies. Guys says that being regulated as public entities means that “AT&T cannot cancel my service just because I express conservative viewpoints on their phone lines.” Many Republicans, including Guy, feel that companies like Twitter and Facebook consistently suppress conservative viewpoints of its users, and there has been a growing push to implement strong government regulatory policies on these social media companies. While Guy hasn’t introduced legislation on this yet, you can likely be posting about it soon.
Greg Steube (R; FL-17)
Fines Before Likes
The Florida legislature recently passed a law that would fine social media companies $250,000 a day for banning politicians. Yet, Greg weighed in on this suggesting it doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. Greg has long led the charge to combat against conservative censorship that he says social media companies engage in, and he attributes the root cause to Section 230, a much talked about but little-known law. The law essentially shields social media companies from liability, which Greg argues makes them immune to first amendment lawsuits. Therefore, they can do as they please, which includes banning whom they chose from their platforms. There’s little legislative headway Republicans have been able to make on this issue, but if Republicans take back the house in 2022, this will surely be a policy priority for them.
Tom Cotton (R; AK)
AP Body Shields?
Tom has a keen ability to make headlines with his provocative soundbites, often generating an onslaught of backlash, and this past week was no different. Over the weekend, Israel launched a military strike at a building in Gaza which allegedly housed Hamas intelligence offices. However, it so happens that the Associated Press, as well as other news outlets had their bureau office in that very building. Tom questioned how these “intrepid reporters” didn’t know who their neighbors were, and went further asking if the AP “knowingly allowed themselves to be used as human shields against a terrorist organization?” While the outcry was swift, there do seem to be several unanswered questions here, which, apparently, was Tom’s point in the first place.
Ritchie Torres (D; NY-15)
Clash Of The Dems: Part Torres
In normal times, Ritchie and his fellow progressive under-45er Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) are usually aligned on a lot of issues, but these aren’t normal times and the two have clearly staked out their positions when it comes to Israel and Palestine. Ritchie took to an op-ed this week voicing his commitment to Israel’s safety and right to defend themselves against the terrorist attacks of Hamas. He calls out social media for their “Orwellian universe” that deceptively reframes the situation as Israel being the terrorist aggressor, which he unequivocally rejects. Ritchie firmly planted his support behind the Jewish State and was soon the recipient of much twitter backlash, to the point where Jamaal felt he needed to weigh in as well. Head over to Jamaal’s page to see what he had to say.
Jamaal Bowman (D; NY-16)
Clash Of The Dems: Part Bowman
Jamaal Bowman is usually aligned on a lot of issues with his fellow progressive under-45er Ritchie Torres, but when it comes to the escalating violence in the Middle East, these two have taken divergent paths. After an op-ed by Ritchie voicing his support for Israel despite the growing Twitter mob, Jamaal quickly took to twitter to debunk his position albeit in a very cordial and measured way. Jamaal wrote “this is about Palestinians deserving peace, land, and self-determination.” He went further highlighting how not only is Palestine an occupied and oppressed people but that America is in fact supporting the occupation. Ultimately, he isn’t litigating violence from Hamas or the Israeli military, but rather the violence against innocent Palestinian people and children. In the end, Jamaal, like so many around the world, just wants to see peace in the region.
Cori Bush (D; MO-1)
Foreign Woes, Domestically
It’s notable how the violence in the Middle East, which likely has most Americans wondering how it even affects them, has divided our politicians domestically, both in choice of support as well as solution. Cori has been one of the more outspoken on the matter, forcefully calling on the US to do more to stop Israel’s air attacks on Gaza. She’s gone further, introducing a resolution with fellow progressive Democrats which seeks to block the $735 million sale of precision-guided weapons to Israel. The President had approved this sale earlier in the year and Congress currently has 15 days to approve it. And in case you’re wondering, the US sends about $3.8 billion in annual military aid to Israel. So you could say we have some skin in the game.
David Valadao (R; CA-21)
David has introduced a bill that looks to extend the current tax credit on biodiesel and alternative fuel producers for another five years. His agriculture-heavy district is also home to many fuel producers who are mixing renewable fuels with existing diesel, all in the interest of lowering our carbon-emissions within the transportation sector. The goal is to eventually phase out the tax credits, but currently David says they are critical for these producers to continue to sustain job growth as well as production. It often seems like the energy debate you hear in the media is either all gas or all green—but David is showing us that there’s clearly a middle ground that seems sensible while also being economically sustainable. Do you like his approach or is it all or nothin’, baby?
Kat Cammack (R; FL-3)
Welcome, You’ve Got Broadband!
The first step to solving any problem is usually first acknowledging you have one. That’s what Kat did this week when she introduced the Gigabit Opportunity Act. Currently, it’s estimated that over 19 million Americans still do not have access to any reliable form of broadband. This bill not only affirms the necessity of broadband in our 21st century lives, but also aims to create a tax incentive for private companies to invest in rural broadband infrastructure. Rural and low-income areas with service speeds below 25/3 mbps would be designated “Gigabit Opportunity” zones whereby companies would be eligible for tax incentives upon beefing up speeds and services. Bring on the Bridgerton binge-watching!
Byron Donalds (R; FL-19)
Turns Out, Problem Solved!
Byron is surely about to court some controversy with his recent statements during a panel on Race stating that institutional racism is no longer intentionally at play within government. This comes on the heels of recent comments he made saying that “while racism permeated the American justice system a century ago, it doesn’t persist today.” He acknowledged that prejudice on an individual level still affects some Black Americans, but maintained that we have moved beyond systematic racism in this country. He also affirmed that we are now finally talking about race, something we’ve professed to do in the past but never quite followed through on it. This conversation, he believes, is quite promising.
Ashley Hinson (R; IA-1)
See A Crisis, Save A Crisis
Republicans have quickly seized on the migration surge at the southern border and labeled it a nothing shy of a full-blown crisis. Ashley is going one step further in introducing the See The Crisis Act, a bill that would defund Vice President Harris’s international travel until she visits the southern border. Ashley points out that VP Harris was appointed to lead the border task force 57 days ago, yet still hasn’t gone down to the border to directly speak with law enforcement and others about what it’s like on the ground. And while those conversations may have happened via Zoom, Ashley insists her lack of presence at the border is what’s preventing the solution to the problem. What did not fail this week, however, were two Veteran’s Affairs bills surrounding Mental Health and Sexual Assault. Both were introduced by Ashley and both passed the house with bipartisan support.
Victoria Spartz (R; IN-5)
It’s always a promising sign when your bill passes through committee with a unanimous yes vote and that’s precisely what happened for Victoria this week. Her bipartisan legislation, the Elder Abuse Protection Act, unanimously passed in the House Judiciary Committee and now heads to the floor for a full vote. The bill makes permanent the Elder Justice Initiative within the DOJ’s criminal division, and would beef up enforcement of criminal abuse, neglect and fraud targeted at senior citizens. Established during the Trump administration, the initiative has charged over 1,000 defendants with fraud, totaling $2.2 billion. Victoria has picked up where they left off and is working to make sure the work continues. That’s often what leadership is all about.
Tony Gonzalez (R; TX-23)
In Memory Of…
Tony joined a group of bipartisan colleagues this week in introducing the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act. The bill, named after an Army soldier who was tragically murdered, hopes to honor her memory by improving the military’s response to handling sexual harassment and sexual assault cases. The story of Guillén’s death is complex and still a pending investigation but the root of it began with sexual assault claims about a superior. Tony’s bill would remove prosecutorial decisions from inside the chain of command and into the independent Office of the Chief Prosecutor within each military branch. It would also create a standalone military offense for sexual harassment, which rather shockingly doesn’t currently exist.
Blake Moore (R; UT-1)
Lost In The Woods?
Ever been hiking on a trail set on Federal Land and all of a sudden wondered, “how the heck do we get back to our car?” Well, fortunately for those outdoorsmen among us, Blake is answering that call by introducing the bipartisan Modernizing Access to our Public Lands Act. The bill, co-sponsored by fellow under-45er Joe Neguse (D-CO), would essentially digitize all federal land mapping so that access and navigation for hunters, anglers and millions of other users is both easier and more efficient. Furthermore, by increasing the digital mapping of federal lands, the public, in turn, will gain greater access to parts previously inaccessible. It usually only takes a short car ride out of the city to be reminded just how vastly rural this country is. So, Blake is making sure we have a map of it for the digital age.
August Pfluger (R; TX-11)
A Biden Blindside?
August may have coined a great new slogan in the “Biden Blindside” prevention department, but he also hopes he’s created a meaningful piece of legislation as well. The Migrant Facility Transparency Act requires HHS to coordinate with federal and local officials in establishing temporary influx facilities as well as give local officials a say in the final decision-making process for site selection. This comes on the heels of being blindsided by the Biden Administration when it erected temporary migrant intake facilities in August’s Midland district, seemingly overnight. He argues that the communication between local and federal authorities has been dismal at best, and that’s precisely what his bill looks to change.