What A Difference A Democratic Congress Makes

While it is often said that Congress never does anything, President Biden, VP Harris and the Democratic-led 117th Congress enacted over 150 bills, including 13 pieces of historic legislation, despite a 50-50 Senate and an obstructive GOP. Equally critical, the Senate has confirmed a record breaking 84 of the most diverse, qualified federal judges and the first Black woman Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson.  Here are some of the most significant and historic bills passed with a summary of key provisions.

 

Widely praised by economists, climate action advocates and scientists, and advocates for senior citizens, the Inflation Reduction Act will reduce inflation by investing in clean energy, reducing prescription drug and healthcare costs, reducing the deficit, and requiring billion dollar corporations to pay their fair share of taxes – just like the rest of us do.

 

Key Points:

  • Achieves goal of 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
  • Cuts household energy costs by an average of $500 per year.
  • Lowers Medicare prescription drug costs.
  • Caps out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 a year for Medicare recipients.
  • Extends Affordable Care Act coverage for 13M Americans.
  • Saves Affordable Care Act recipients $800/year.
  • 15% minimum tax on billion dollar corporations.
  • Creates 9M clean energy jobs.
  • Taxes will not go up on anyone making less than $400,000/year – 98.2% of American households make less than $400,000.

More Details:

 

Investment in Climate Action.

    • Is the single largest investment in climate change action ever and the single biggest investment ever made in climate change in the world. IRA’s $369B investment in funding for clean energy and climate action will reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 (below 2005 levels). These investments will reduce US dependence on oil and significantly lower energy costs for consumers.
    • Gave the EPA back its ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions after SCOTUS’ WV vs. EPA decision in June 2022. By adding an amendment to the Clean Air Act into Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act that defines CO2 as an air pollutant, Dems did an amazing end-run around SCOTUS’ horrendous decision.
    • Creates 9M clean energy jobs. It is estimated by economists at the Univ. of Massachusetts and BlueGreen Alliance that the IRA will generate 9M high-paying jobs over the next 10 years with close to 1M in “clean manufacturing” (e.g. wind turbines, retooling factories and producing electric vehicles), nearly doubling the current 13M+ U.S. manufacturing jobs.
    • Establishes incentives for companies producing clean energy projects in “energy communities” such as West Virginia.
    • Provides tax credits to incentivize consumers and companies away from fossil fuels (oil, coal) toward clean energy. Transportation and electricity generation are two of the heaviest polluting components of the economy. IRA provides financial incentives to buy electric cars, electric HVAC systems, and other forms of cleaner technology, reducing emissions. Incentives for companies will also encourage manufacturing with clean energy technology. These tax breaks will reduce the consumer costs of solar, wind, batteries, cars, heat pumps, and other clean technology.
        • Ex: For electric cars, consumers would receive a tax credit of $7,500 per new vehicle and $4K for a used vehicle until 2032, (this may vary depending on where the batteries were manufactured and income limits).
        • Ex: IRA also provides a $9B home energy rebate program for retrofits and electrifying home appliances; $1K will be used to make public housing more energy-efficient.
    • Sets and enforces methane limits on oil and gas companies. Methane is 86X more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon over a 20-year period, and it is emitted in oil and gas production. If these companies emit above the methane limits, penalty fees will be imposed. A royalty fee will also be imposed on all methane extracted from public lands.
    • Prioritizes environmental justice. IRA will fund $60B in clean energy and emissions reductions specifically for low-income and disadvantaged communities. Community groups, governments, and tribes can also qualify for $3B in block grants for EJ programs (e.g. cleaning up abandoned mines, monitoring air quality, and improving extreme weather resilience). IRA also has $3B to restore and reconnect communities that are divided by highways.
    • Reduces industrial pollution by incentivizing energy efficiency at industrial sites to reduce their fossil fuel footprint.
    • And so much more! This is an excellent summary on the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate change actions. And if anyone thinks that the IRA is not significant and substantive, they need to read this. 

Reduces Medicare Rx Drugs and Healthcare Costs.

    • For the first time ever, Medicare will be able to negotiate lower Rx drug costs – a huge savings for 46M senior citizens and millions of people with disabilities with Medicare.
    • Medicare Rx drugs will be capped at $2,000 per year. The IRA caps seniors’ out of pocket spending for prescription drugs at $2K per year – no matter what their drug bills would otherwise be.
    • Reduced healthcare costs by $800 per year. 13M Americans, covered under the Affordable Care Act, will see their health insurance premiums reduced by $800.

Lowers the deficit by $102B to over $300B per Congressional Budget Office.

 

Corporations will finally pay their fair share of taxes.

    • 55 of the Fortune 500 paid no federal income taxes in 2020 – even though they made $40B in profits. The IRA will end that by requiring corporations with $1B in profits to pay a minimum 15% corporate tax. A 1% excise tax on corporations’ stock buybacks will also bring additional revenue (more revenue than the carried interest loophole which did not make the final Senate cut.)

Will everyday Americans pay more taxes like the Republicans keep saying? No.

    • Anyone making less than $400K will not pay more taxes. Note: 98.2% of American households make less than $400K. Some Americans may also pay less in taxes due to the tax credits available under the IRA.
    • Households making less than $100K will actually pay less through 2025. Due to an extension of subsidies for Affordable Care Act premiums, costs will go down for middle income households. After 2025, taxes for middle- and low-income households will remain the same.
    • IRA also provides some tax incentives for electric cars and home-energy efficiency which can also lower taxes.
    • Taxpayers earning at least $500K may see their taxes go up by about 1% next year if they own stocks due to indirect tax increases tied to the corporate-tax hikes.

President Biden, VP Harris and Democrats passed one of the largest economic rescue plans in history to help the Americans recover from the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and it worked. 2021 had record economic growth and we continue to see wages up and unemployment at all-time lows in 2022. However, ARP did not just bring immediate relief, it also delivered long-term solutions to bread-and-butter concerns and systemic inequities by providing economic relief, reduced healthcare costs, reduced childcare costs, reduced child poverty, reduced housing costs, expanded postpartum healthcare coverage, and protected pensions in danger of failing. In fact, states continue to use the ARP funding to launch new programs to their constituents. (You may even hear Republicans taking credit for these programs despite the fact that every Republican voted against ARP.)

 

Key Points:

  • When our economy was crashing and Americans were struggling, the American Rescue Plan provided immediate financial relief with $1400 relief checks, hazard pay and bonuses to frontline workers, extended unemployment benefits, mortgage/rent/housing assistance and child care tax credit increases.
  • Protected workers’ pension plans, including vulnerable union pension plans, from failing through the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021.
  • Gave billions for COVID relief assistance to state and local governments.
  • Made Covid vaccines free.
  • Reduced health insurance premiums and increased access to healthcare coverage.
  • Invested billions in small businesses and essential workers impacted by COVID.
  • Increased childcare tax credits and made them fully refundable.
  • Invested $120B for safe return back to school.
  • Expanded postpartum care from 60 days to 12 months.
  • Long-Term Impact ARP:
      • Household cash exceeded debt for the first time in 30 years per Deutsche Bank in 2022.
      • The US now has the highest healthcare insurance coverage rate in history – 92% of Americans are insured.
      • ARP delivered payments to more than 85% of all Americans – including an additional 19+ million payments to Social Security beneficiaries and 320K payments to veterans who would not have received these benefits under normal tax filing requirements.
      • ARP promoted not just a historical recovery, but a more equitable one. 2021 saw the fastest decline ever of unemployed Black workers and the largest calendar-year drop on record for Hispanic unemployment.
      • Created the first nationwide summer supplemental nutrition program — feeding an estimated 30 million children. And to address children’s mental health needs, ARP funds are being used to hire more social workers and counselors in schools.
      • Families of four enrolled through the Affordable Care Act marketplace saved an average of $2,400, and 14.5M Americans saw a reduction in their premiums.
      • Expansion of postpartum care from 60 days to 12 months remains in effect. To date, over 250K people have gained coverage through these Medicaid postpartum extensions.
      • Low-income families saw significant gains in income: Take-home pay increased significantly, savings account balances were 2x larger than pre-COVID and the most job opportunities in 30 years.

More Details:

 

  • Delivered immediate financial relief to help Americans get back on their feet through $1400 relief checks, extended unemployment benefits, mortgage/rent/housing assistance and child care tax credit increases.
      • Provided direct payments of $1400 to individuals.
      • Extended unemployment payments and made 10K non-taxable.
      • Provided $46B in financial assistance to people behind on rent, mortgages and utility bills, as well emergency housing and funding for tribal and rural housing improvements.
      • Provided food and nutritional assistance which reduced food insecurity by 43% in 2021.
      • Increased SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits which reduced child poverty by 50%.
      • Increased and expanded Child Tax Credit by raising benefits from $2K to $3,600 for children under 6 and $3K for children under 18; reducing income requirements to provide for more families; and making it fully tax-refundable.
      • Increased funding for childcare and Head Start programs.
  • Protected workers’ pension plans, including vulnerable union pension plans, from failing through the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021. The Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 was another permanent change under ARP which provides financial assistance to struggling pension plans through 2051, protects 2-3M workers from pension cuts, guarantees pension for 30 years and applies to 200+ multi-employer pension plans that faced insolvency. This was particularly impactful for union pension plans.
  • Provided billions to state and local governments in COVID relief assistance for local communities and schools. This funding went to “red states” as well despite their own GOP representatives and senators voting against it while now taking credit for it.
  • Provided free COVID vaccines. 223M+ Americans received free COVID-19 vaccinations and widespread testing which helped get Americans back to work, school and life
  • Decreased healthcare costs and increased access. ARP reduced healthcare premiums and co-pays and as a result, more Americans enrolled in healthcare plans. Specifically:
  • Under ARP, individuals saved an average of $800 per year on annual premiums. It also reduced 14.5M American families Affordable Care Act (ACA) premiums and allowed families of four to save an average of $200 per month, totaling $2,400 per family per year.
      • 4 out of 5 consumers could find quality health care coverage for under $10 a month.
          • Invested in businesses and workers. Billions were and continue to be invested in small business, farms, vital industries, restaurants and hospitality; $350B to states and tribal land local relief efforts; $30.5 billion boost to public transit to maintain services.
  • Ensured more affordable childcare. Increased the Child Tax Credit and made them fully refundable.
  • Hazard pay for COVID frontline workers. Provided hazard pay and bonuses for more than 740K workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
  • Enabled a safe return back to school. $120B invested in K-12 schools for safe reopening. $40B for higher-ed and half was allocated solely for student financial aid. Before ARP, only 46% of schools were open in-person. After: 99% of schools opened safely.
  • Increased postpartum care from 60 days to 12 months. Under the ARP, states can now offer pregnancy-related Medicaid and CHIP coverage for 12 months postpartum up from 60 days.
  • Long-Term Impact ARP:
      • Household cash exceeded debt for the first time in 30 years per Deutsche Bank in 2022.
      • The US now has the highest healthcare insurance coverage rate in history – 92% of Americans are insured.
      • ARP delivered payments to more than 85% of all Americans – including an additional 19+ million payments to Social Security beneficiaries and 320K payments to veterans who would not have received these benefits under normal tax filing requirements.
      • ARP promoted not just a historical recovery, but a more equitable one. 2021 saw the fastest decline ever of unemployed Black workers and the largest calendar-year drop on record for Hispanic unemployment.
      • Created the first nationwide summer supplemental nutrition program — feeding an estimated 30 million children. And to address children’s mental health needs, ARP funds are being used to hire more social workers and counselors in schools.
      • Families saved $2400 on healthcare insurance. Families of four enrolled through the Affordable Care Act marketplace saved an average of $2,400, and 14.5M Americans saw a reduction in their premiums.
      • Expansion of postpartum care from 60 days to 12 months remains in effect. To date, over 250K people have gained coverage through these Medicaid postpartum extensions.
      • Low-income families saw significant gains in income: Take-home pay increased significantly, savings account balances were 2x larger than pre-COVID and the most job opportunities in 30 years.

With the passage of the SCA (the first gun control bill signed into law in 30 years), Democrats and the Biden-Harris Administration have taken a multi-prong approach to increase public safety and reduce violent crime in the US by increasing funding for crime prevention and crime intervention; hiring more crisis responders, social workers and police; holding police accountable; and passing sensible gun laws to protect our children and vulnerable Americans.

 

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.

More Details:

 

  • The first gun control bill passed in 30 years!
  • Requires background checks. Buyers under 21 must pass a background check before purchasing a firearm.
  • Disarms domestic abusers. SCA closes the “boyfriend loophole” so if someone is convicted of assault against a dating partner, they cannot buy a gun.
  • Supports state red flag laws. These laws allow police, family members or even doctors to petition a court to take away someone’s firearms for up to a year if they feel that person is a threat to themselves or others.
  • Funds youth mental health services. Provides historic funding to address the youth mental health crisis and community violence intervention programs. Here’s a great summary from Sen. Patty Murray.
  • Funds anti-violence prevention and community violence intervention programs. SCA provides critical funding for anti-violence programs to work directly with people most likely to commit or become victims of gun crimes. These investments include:
      • Helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter society by lifting nearly all restrictions on eligibility and access to vital federal benefits and programs that people need to get back on their feet after leaving incarceration.
      • Referring individuals charged with only drug possession into mandatory treatment and harm reduction services instead of incarceration.
      • Increasing mental health and substance use disorder services, including by training existing professionals to become certified in cognitive behavioral therapy (which helps people improve their response to stress and reduce impulsivity), trauma-informed therapy, and other evidence-based treatments effective at addressing mental health problems, disruptive behaviors, and exposure to or risk of violence.
      • Providing housing and other social services to individuals who are homeless.
      • Increasing job training, employment, housing, and other stabilizing services and opportunities for people returning home from jail and prison.
  • Cracks down on gun trafficking. Establishes the first ever federal laws against interstate gun trafficking and straw purchasing to stop the flow of illegal guns into cities.
  • Provides school safety funding. SCA funds school violence prevention efforts, training, and the implementation of safety measures at primary and secondary schools.
  • Provides funding for accountability programs for police, and training and hiring police. In addition to the $10B in funding given for public safety and policing with the American Rescue Plan (ARP), SCA provides more funding for accountability of police, and training and hiring police. (Note: Dems are not defunding the police and in fact, Republicans have voted 2x against additional funding for police when every Republican voted against ARP and the majority against SCA. )
  • Increase public safety and reduce mass incarceration by establishing the Accelerating Justice System Reform program. With nearly 2M people incarcerated, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, spending $182B to lock up nearly 1% of our adult population. Yet, it is estimated that 40% of the prison population presents no public safety threat. The Accelerating Justice System Reform program provides cities and states with funding to reduce incarceration rates and improve public safety. Such efforts include: identifying non-violent situations that would be better served by a public health response than police; repealing mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes; expanding access to mental health and substance abuse disorder services; hiring more crisis responders, violence interrupters, and social workers; and increasing access to job training, education, housing, and other supportive services that prevent crime and advance equity.

President Biden, VP Harris 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.

More Details:

  • Creates good paying union and manufacturing jobs in the clean energy sector. IIJA will create millions of jobs over the next decade in clean energy technology. The majority of new jobs will be subject to federal rules mandating higher wages and supporting local unions.
  • Provides more highway lanes to reduce traffic and better roads with fewer potholes which reduces car repairs and car accidents. Many US highways, major roads and bridges are in poor condition. IIJA will renew all roads/highways repair programs for 5 years and invest an additional $110B to repair our roads and bridges. It will also make the single largest investment in repairing and reconstructing our nation’s bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system. IIJA also includes the first ever Safe Streets and Roads for All program to support projects to reduce traffic fatalities.
  • Replaces lead pipes and improves water systems for cleaner tap water. IIJA invests $55B to expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers across the US, and will invest in water infrastructure and eliminate lead pipes, including in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities.
  • Improves public transportation and adds bike lanes to keep cyclists safe.
    • IIJA provides an $89.9B investment for public transit over the next 5 years — the largest federal investment in public transit in history. This funding will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand public transit options, replace thousands of deficient transit vehicles, including buses, with clean, zero emission vehicles, and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities.
    • IIJA also includes a 60% increase in transportation alternatives and provides funding for bicycling and walking, as well as first ever requirements for states to address bicycling and walking safety.
    • IIJA is the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak’s creation 50 years ago and will create safe, efficient, and climate-friendly alternatives for moving people and freight.
    • IIJA funds the Reconnecting Communities program which addresses historical inequities in transportation, including rejoining communities divided by highways.
  • Expands high-speed internet for home and work for all Americans. More than 30M Americans have subpar internet access which reduces economic, educational and health outcomes. IIJA will invest $65B to ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet.
  • Lowers high-speed internet for 40% of American households. To help lower internet service prices up to $30 a month for 40% of households, the FCC launched the Affordable Connectivity Program (http://getinternet.gov) which has already signed up over 13M new homes for lower internet bills. It also provides a $100 discount on the purchase of an electronic device.
  • Dismantle the legacy of racial discrimination in city planning. IIJA provides funding to rejoin neighborhoods separated by highways, improve unreliable and/or fragmented public transportation systems, and provide internet service to marginalized and rural communities.
  • Build a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers. IIJA will invest $7.5B to build a national network of EV chargers in the US and provide funding for EV chargers along highway corridors and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop.
  • Upgrade our power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy. Power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70B per year. IIJA’s $65B investment is the largest investment in clean energy transmission and grid in our history. It will upgrade our power infrastructure, by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewables and clean energy, while lowering costs.
  • Make our infrastructure resilient against the impacts of climate change, cyber-attacks, and extreme weather events. In 2020, the US experienced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses costing nearly $100B. By investing $50B to boost environmental resiliency and water reserves against droughts, heat, floods and wildfire in addition to a major investment in weatherization, IIJA makes our communities safer and our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks. The legislation is the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.
  • Increases US manufacturing. IIJA requires that projects funded by IIJA must be made with material purchased and produced in the U.S.
  • Clean up Superfund and brownfield pollution sites. IIJA will invest $21B to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned oil and gas wells. These projects will remediate environmental harms, address the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities, create good-paying union jobs, and advance long overdue environmental justice This will especially benefit communities of color as 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, a higher percentage than for Americans overall.

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. (Contrast: 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.
More Details:
 
  • Provides healthcare benefits to more than 5M vets with diseases caused by toxic exposures while in the military.
  • Increases coverage for diseases associated with toxic exposure. 23 toxic exposure illnesses will be added to the VA’s list of covered conditions. This significantly reduces the amount of paperwork and need for medical exams that veterans diagnosed with one of these conditions must complete before being granted access to health care and disability compensation, thereby speeding up delivery of the benefits they have earned. This list includes 11 respiratory related conditions, along with several forms of cancer, including reproductive cancers, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and brain cancers.
  • Provides death benefits for survivors of veterans. Survivors of veterans who died due to one of the conditions associated with military toxic exposure may now also be eligible for benefits.
  • Expands health screenings for veterans. Veterans can receive high-quality health care screenings and services related to potential toxic exposures.
  • Extends enrollment periods for VA healthcare. For post-9/11 combat veterans, the bill extends the period of time they have to enroll in VA health care from 5 years to 10 years post-discharge. For those combat veterans who do not fall within that window, the bill also creates a 1 year open enrollment period.
  • Implements a new evaluation process for determining veteran’s exposure and hard-to-prove diseases. The PACT Act codifies the VA’s new process for evaluating and determining presumption of exposure and service connection for various chronic conditions when evidence of a military environmental exposure and related health risks are hard to prove on an individual basis. This new process has already expanded the care for veterans.
  • Funds health research for toxic exposure. The VA will conduct new studies of veterans who served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War and analyses of post-9/11 veterans’ health trends.
  • Invests in upgrades to veteran hospitals. The bill also invests in VA health care facilities by authorizing 31 major medical health clinics and research facilities in 19 states

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.
More Details:
  • Provides good-paying, union jobs. By investing and growing the semiconductor industry, the CHIPS Act will create over 100K good paying union jobs by requiring Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates for facilities built with CHIPS funding. The CHIPS Act also requires recipients to demonstrate significant worker and community investments, including opportunities for small businesses and disadvantaged communities, ensuring semiconductor incentives support equitable economic growth and development.
  • Rebuilds US microchip industry. The US invented the semiconductor, but now only produces about 12% of the world’s supply. Because of this, the US relies on Asia for 75% of global production. The CHIPS Act will unlock hundreds of billions more in private sector semiconductor investment across the country, including production essential to national defense and critical sectors.
  • Strengthens the supply chain. US independence will be critical in reducing supply chain issues for such a critical component in so many consumer products. By developing and manufacturing chips in the US, the US will significantly improve its supply chain.
  • Lowers cost on consumer goods. By manufacturing such an essential component for everything from cars to dishwashers to computers to cell phones to pacemakers in the US and by improving supply chain issues, Americans will pay less for tens of thousands of consumer goods.
  • Increases national security. An essential component of high-tech weaponry and secure communication systems, semiconductors are critical to America’s defense systems. Having to rely on foreign manufacturers means that any disruption in the supply chain could severely impact the US’ ability to maintain secure critical infrastructure and advanced defense systems.
  • Invest in scientific advancement, and expand job and educational opportunities across the US. In the mid-1960s, at the peak of the race to the moon, the US government invested 2% of the GDP in research and development. By 2020, that number had fallen to less than 1%. Economic growth and prosperity over the last 40 years has become concentrated in just a handful of urban areas.
      • The CHIPS Act will expand opportunities in science and technology across the country by establishing a technology, innovation, and partnerships directorate at the National Science Foundation.
      • It will also reauthorize and expand research at the Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to sustain US leadership in the sciences and engineering.
      • CHIPS Act will invest in regional innovation and technology hubs across the country, bringing together state and local governments, institutes of higher education, labor unions, businesses, and community-based organizations to create regional partnerships to develop technology, innovation, and manufacturing sectors.
      • To ensure more people from all backgrounds and all regions and communities around the country, especially people from under-served, and under-resourced communities, can benefit from and participate in STEM education and training opportunities, the CHIPS Act authorizes new and expanded investments in STEM education and training from K-12 to community college, undergraduate and graduate education.

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. T
  • Strengthens six-days a week mail delivery requirement.
  • Integrates Medicare and reduces costs.
More Details:
 
  • Ends the crippling retiree health benefit pre-funding mandate. After years of lobbying by postal workers and advocates, the passage of the PSRA dropped a mandate that forced the agency to cover its health care costs years in advance which had essentially bankrupted it, slowed service, limited hours of operation and severely reduced staffing.
  • Ensures financial stability. The PSRA eliminated $107B of USPS debt.
  • Increases services offered and revenues. Similar to the passport services USPS provides, the PSRA allows the USPS to work with State, Local, and Tribal governments to provide public services which will bring additional revenue.
  • Improves efficiency and transparency. The PSRA requires USPS to set up a public “dashboard” on its website with weekly performance data. Such information will allow the public and the union to determine specific areas across the country in need of additional improvements, such as hiring more employees or improving transportation routes.
  • Strengthens six-days a week mail delivery requirement. Although USPS has delivered mail six days a week for many years, it has always been required to renew this annually in the appropriations process which undermined stability and planning. The Act establishes six days of delivery as a statutory mandate and no longer requires yearly renewals.
  • Integrates Medicare and reduces costs. The PSRA requires future USPS retirees to enroll in Medicare which will save USPS approximately $22.6B over 10 years.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 the following:

  • 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 20TH, 2022