Bipartisanship

After serving more than three decades in the Senate, President Biden understands the necessity of bipartisanship. While some have criticized his call for bipartisanship, the reality is bipartisanship is essential to passing meaningful legislation, especially with the filibuster (which requires 60 votes in favor to overcome opposition on all but a few bills a year), a 50-50 Senate and 220-210 Democratic-led House. Despite the highly partisan environment, the Biden-Harris Administration and the Democratic Congressional majority managed to pass over 150 bills with bipartisan support, including 11 historic pieces of legislation:

  • Safer Communities Act (2022)
  • PACT Act (2022)
  • CHIPS and Science Act (2022)
  • Postal Service Reform Act (2022)
  • Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act (2022)
  • Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization (2022)
  • COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (2021)
  • Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harrassment Act (2022)
  • Juneteenth National Independence Day Act (2021)
  • Victims of Crime Act (2021)
  • Omnibus Reconciliation Bill (2022)

Safer Communities Act (SCA) (June 2022)

In response to the Uvalde mass shooting, Democrats were finally able to overcome the Republicans’ and the NRA’s 30 year block on gun control legislation. Though more needs to be done (and can be done with more Dem senators and reps), the SCA makes our communities safer by enforcing common sense gun laws, investing in community violence intervention, programs, expanding mental health support services for young people, hiring more social workers and crisis responders, funding community policing, and improving accountability for police officers.

 

Key Points:

    • The first gun control law signed into law in 30 years!
    • Requires background checks for buyers under 21.
    • Disarms domestic abusers by closing the “boyfriend loophole.”
    • Supports state red flag laws which allow removal of firearms if a person is a threat to themselves or others.
    • Provides historic funding to address the youth mental health crisis.
    • Funds anti-violence prevention and community violence intervention programs.
    • Cracks down on gun trafficking by passing the first ever federal laws against interstate gun trafficking and straw purchasing.
    • Funds school violence prevention efforts, training, and safety measures.
    • Provides funding for accountability programs for police, and training and hiring police. (Note: Republicans have voted 2x against funding for police.)
    • Increase public safety and reduce mass incarceration by establishing the Accelerating Justice System Reform program.

Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) (November 2021)

Biden and Congress passed the largest infrastructure investment in history – something Trump promised to do and never did. IIJA will rebuild our roads, bridges and rails; reduce carbon emissions; expand access to clean drinking water; provide high-speed internet access for all Americans; lower energy bill costs for Americans; address the climate crisis and environmental justice; invest in communities that have too often been left behind; and create good paying union and clean energy jobs. It will also help ease inflation and strengthen supply chains by making long overdue improvements to our nation’s ports, airports, rail, and roads.

 

Key Points:

    • Creates good paying union and manufacturing jobs in the clean energy sector.
    • Provides more highway lanes to reduce traffic and better roads with fewer potholes to reduce car repairs and car accidents.
    • Improves water systems and replaces lead pipes for cleaner tap water.
    • Improves public transportation and adds bike lanes to keep cyclists safe.
    • Invests in high-speed internet for home and work for all Americans.
    • Lowers high-speed internet cost for 40% of American households.
    • Dismantles the legacy of racial discrimination in city planning.
    • Builds a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers.
    • Upgrades our power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy.
    • Makes our infrastructure resilient against the impacts of climate change, cyber-attacks, and extreme weather events.
    • Increases US manufacturing.
    • Cleans up Superfund and brownfield pollution sites.

PACT Act (August 2022)

PACT Act will provide a massive expansion of benefits for 5M veterans, granting full VA disability and healthcare benefits for veterans who suffer from illnesses due to toxic exposure and burn pits while serving in the military. This bill was especially close to Biden’s heart given that his son Beau died of brain cancer which was attributed to his burn pit exposure when he served in Iraq. (Side note: In an act of political gamesmanship using veterans as the pawn, Senate Republicans voted against the PACT Act after it passed in the House. However, after a week of terrible press and a second vote, it passed in the Senate though 11 senators did not vote for it – including Romney, Lankford, Crapo, Lee, Toomey, Tillis and 6 others.

 

Key Points:

    • Provides healthcare benefits to more than 5M vets with diseases caused by toxic exposures while in the military.
    • Provides death benefits for survivors of veterans.
    • Expands health screenings for veterans.
    • Extends enrollment periods for VA healthcare from 5 years to 10 years post-discharge for post-9/11 vets and 1 year for all others.
    • Establishes the VA’s newer, easier evaluation process for getting care.
    • Funds health research for toxic exposure.
    • Invests in upgrades to veteran hospitals.

CHIPS and Science Act (CHIPS) (August 2022)

Semiconductor chips are used in everything. During the pandemic, the US’ reliance on China for semiconductors caused supply chain issues and raised costs on cars, computers, cell phones and appliances. Chips are also critical for national security. The CHIPS and Science Act, which was widely supported by unions, the tech community and national security experts, will lower costs for consumer goods for Americans, rebuild US semiconductor chip manufacturing, boost manufacturing, create more jobs including over 100K+ good paying union jobs, strengthen national security and invest in scientific research and innovation.

 

Key Points:

    • Provides good-paying, union jobs.
    • Rebuilds US microchip industry.
    • Strengthens the supply chain.
    • Lowers cost on consumer goods.
    • Increases national security.
    • Invest in scientific advancement, and expand job and educational opportunities across the US.

Postal Service Reform Act (April 2022)

Americans rely on USPS for prescription medications, consumer products, business, and democracy (think mail in ballots). However, burdened by unreasonable financial mandates, unsupported by taxpayer dollars and undermined during the Trump administration, the USPS almost didn’t survive 2020. Thankfully, our votes in the 2020 election saved the USPS. The PSRA has ensured that USPS will have financial stability and longevity by adding much-needed transparency to the Postal Service, enacting prospective Medicare integration, ensuring six-days a week mail delivery, and repealing the unfair pre-funding mandate.

 

Key Points:

    • Ends the crippling retiree health benefit pre-funding mandate.
    • Ensures financial stability.
    • Increases services offered and revenues.
    • Improves efficiency and transparency. 
    • Strengthens six-days a week mail delivery requirement.
    • Integrates Medicare and reduces costs.

Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act (March 2022)

This landmark federal law made lynching a federal hate crime. It has taken 200 attempts since 1900 to get this passed!

 

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization (VAWA) (March 2022)

As a senator, President Biden wrote and championed the groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that first passed in 1994. In the nearly 30 years since, he has worked to pass legislation to renew and strengthen VAWA three times: in 2000, 2005, and 2013. However, in 2019, the GOP Senate majority would NOT reauthorize VAWA for the first time since 1994. Dems, however, passed it in 2022 by including it in the 2022 Omnibus Reconciliation Bill and were able to extend VAWA to 2027.

 

Key Points – the updated VAWA provisions:

    • Expanded special criminal jurisdiction of Tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators.
    • Increased services and support for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors in underserved communities (including LGBTQI+)
    • Established a federal civil cause of action for individuals whose intimate visual images are disclosed without their consent, allowing a victim to recover damages and legal fees.
    • Created a new National Resource Center on Cyber Crimes Against Individuals.
    • Implemented the Fairness for Rape Kit Backlog Survivors Act, which requires state victim compensation programs to allow sexual assault survivors to file for compensation without being unfairly penalized due to rape kit backlogs.
    • Supported rape prevention and sexual assault survivor programs.
    • Enacted the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denial Notification Act to help state law enforcement investigate and prosecute cases against individuals legally prohibited from purchasing firearms who try to do so.
    • Updated the SMART Prevention Program and the CHOOSE Youth Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to domestic violence, and engage men in preventing violence.
    • Improved the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including through enhanced training for sexual assault forensic examiners.
    • Improved the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence and sexual assault, including through enhanced training for sexual assault forensic examiners.

COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (May 2021)

Hate crimes against all Americans rose over 39% in 37 cities in 2021 over 2020. However, across 21 cities there was a 224% rise of hate crimes against victims of Asian descent during the same period, from 114 to 369. To counter rising hate crimes, Congress passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.

 

Key Points:

    • Promotes the reporting of hate crimes and civil rights violations. The Act is considered the single most significant piece of legislation to improve federal hate crime data since the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990.
    • Incentivizes hate crime training and reporting. To incentivize local and state law enforcement agencies to fight hate, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will provide funding to agencies that demonstrate a good faith effort to improve hate crime training and the collection and reporting of hate crime data. If these agencies do not comply, the DOJ may seek repayment of the grants.
    • Seeks to improve relationships between AAPI community and police. The Act also focuses on strengthening relationships between police and the AAPI community through cultural competency and language training and improved hate-crime data collection.
    • Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (March 2022)
    • The Federal Arbitration Act was amended and now gives individuals asserting sexual assault or sexual harassment claims under federal, state or tribal law the option to bring those claims in court even if they had agreed to arbitrate such disputes before the claims arose.

Juneteenth National Independence Day Act (June 2021)

After 25 years of lobbying by advocates like Opal Lee, President Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, creating a federal holiday to commemorate Juneteenth and only the 5th federal holiday. This is the first federal holiday approved since Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Victims of Crime Act (July 2021)

VCA expands the allocation of resources for the Crime Victims Fund and has resulted in an increase of hundreds of millions of dollars of non-taxpayer funding for essential and lifesaving services to crime victims around the country, including survivors of gender-based violence.

 

Omnibus Reconciliation Bill (2022)

The omnibus or reconciliation bill is a tax and spending bill that funds domestic and defense programs and only requires a simple majority to pass (i.e. no filibuster issue). Generally, Congress can only consider 2 reconciliation bills in a fiscal year and the reconciliation process has only been used 22 times in 42 years. Given the obstructive GOP and filibuster issue, Democrats have used the reconciliation process strategically to accomplish legislative goals blocked by Republicans.

 

Key Points:

    • Reauthorized the GOP-forced expiration of the Violence Against Women Act.
    • Raised the maximum Pell Grant.
    • Expanded childcare.
    • Funded building more affordable housing.
    • Launched President Biden’s cancer initiative.
    • Increased active duty military service members’ salary.
    • Increased domestic spending by $46B.
    • Provided more COVID relief.
    • Provided aid to Ukraine.
    • Established new job opportunity programs for veterans.
    • Provided additional funding for climate change action.
    • Allocated funding to homeland security for natural disasters.
    • Funded job training programs targeting increased diversity (e.g. in nursing).
    • Funded various education initiatives to increase diversity and racial equity.

LAST UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2022