10/04/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

The For the People Act is now The Freedom to Vote Act. Support for this bill is crucial for the survival of American democracy. The majority of Americans want to know that their vote counts. But when the minority can manipulate where people vote through redrawing election maps our voices can be silenced.
Contact our senators:
Senator Braun: email– https://www.braun.senate.gov/contact-mike    phone–(202) 224-4814
Senator Young: Email–https://www.young.senate.gov/contact/email-todd    phone–(202) 224-5623

The Democratic Party in Northwest Indiana held a Solidarity Soiree bringing together three blue and purple counties in NW Indiana in enthusiasm and solidarity with the party and what we can accomplish together. Members of Indivisible NWI were in attendance, engaging with party leaders in our grassroots support of progressive agendas. Several speakers were inspirational and hopeful, outlining what can and should be done and how, none more so than Indiana Democratic Chair Mike Schmuhl. He outlined five areas of focus to build the Democratic Party in Indiana to create more representation at local and state levels. These areas include

  • building a year-round organizing effort and energizing the party on the local level 
  • creating a war room in party headquarters in Indianapolis in order to hold Republican office holders on the state and federal level accountable on a daily basis
  • employing the best technology available to make the party more competitive
  • improving candidate recruitment
  • improved messaging with democrats leading with the message, forcing republicans to respond.

Not only is 2022 just around the corner, but democracy itself stands on the brink, requiring action at every level of government. For the first time in a long time, progressive changes are possible, but not without work. If you’re ready to jump into action and volunteer with Indivisible NWI, email our president, Kim Eldridge at kimeldridgeevents@gmail.com

The truth matters

The debt ceiling:
“The U.S. is again facing a reckoning on the size of the national debt, which is approaching its legal limit. Without an increase in the debt ceiling, the country will not be able to borrow money to cover its bills. That would affect Social Security recipients, veterans and the people, banks and foreign nations that hold U.S. Treasury bonds.” Republicans are refusing to raise the debt limit even though it was raised on a bipartisan basis three times during the previous administration. They blame democratic spending for the size of the debt. Republican “finger-pointing ignores how the debt got as big as it is. Thanks to spending for wars, crises and mandatory government programs, along with a series of tax cuts, the debt continued expanding throughout the post-World War II period, regardless of which party controlled the White House or Congress.” Under Trump the debt grew $7.8 trillion. In fact, since WW II, just over 60% of the growth in the debt took place under Republican presidents, and about 40% under Democratic presidents. (Politifact)

The big lie continues
Cyber Ninjas’ audit in Arizona 2020 votes showed Biden had 45,469 more votes than Trump in Maricopa, roughly in line with the official results certified in November 2020. According to the report issued by Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired to conduct the review, Biden’s margin of victory was 360 votes larger than the county’s official canvass showed. Trump claimed at a Georgia rally that he “won on the Arizona forensic audit yesterday at a level that you wouldn’t believe.” “Trump’s statement is “complete nonsense,” said Benny White, a Republican and longtime volunteer data analyst for the state Republican Party.” (Politifact)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 5305: Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act
GovTrack.us: This bill “provides continuing FY2022 appropriations to federal agencies through the earlier of December 3, 2021, or the enactment of the applicable appropriations act.
It is known as a continuing resolution (CR) and prevents a government shutdown that would otherwise occur if the FY2022 appropriations bills have not been enacted when FY2022 begins on October 1, 2021. The CR funds most programs and activities at the FY2021 levels with several exceptions that provide funding flexibility and additional appropriations for various programs.
In addition, the bill provides supplemental appropriations to several federal agencies for activities related to natural disasters and the evacuees from Afghanistan.”
This bill passed the Senate with changes. Senator Young voted yea and Senator Braun voted nay. View the vote. The House then voted to accept the changes, 254-175. Representatives Mrvan and Carson voted yea; all other Indiana reps voted nay.
Causes: This bill includes a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 3rd, giving Congress nine weeks to negotiate funding for the rest of fiscal year 2022. It will also fund disaster relief and resettlement of Afghan evacuees. Per Republicans’ request, the bipartisan bill does not contain an extension of the debt limit, so that issue will linger with a looming deadline of October 18th.

H.R. 5293: Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2021

Last week in Congress

Congress and the Build Back Better agenda

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Saturday set Oct. 31 as the new target for the lower chamber to pass the Senate’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. That’s the day when the 30-day reauthorization of federal highway programs, which Congress just voted to temporarily extend, expires.” Speaker Pelosi said the vote should be well before the end of October. (The Week)

“This critical week ended with neither a bipartisan infrastructure bill nor Biden’s American Jobs and Families Plan. It was a setback, but hopefully a temporary one. The media coverage of the whole thing was breathless but also wholly incorrect in its illustration of what happened and who was responsible.” The media labeled the progressives the ones who caused the setback, going so far as to compare them to the Tea Party. It was, however, those very progressives who worked and are working to save Biden’s agenda, while the moderates of the party seem to be the ones holding it back. (The Message Box)

Passed the House and Senate and goes to the President next

H.R.5434 – To provide an extension of Federal-aid highway, highway safety, and transit programs, and for other purposes.
Causes: “This bill would extend the authorization of a number of federal programs related to surface transportation that expired on October 1, 2021, through October 31st. The lapse in the authorization of the programs, which are largely under the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) and include all federal-aid highway programs, has resulted in about 3,700 DOT workers being temporarily furloughed.”
Passed 365-51 in the House with all Indiana reps voting yea except for Baird. Rep. Hollingsworth didn’t vote. View the vote.

H.R. 2278: To designate the September 11th National Memorial Trail Route, and for other purposes.
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 848: Consider Teachers Act of 2021

S. 1917: K-12 Cybersecurity Act of 2021

Passed the House and goes to the Senate next

H.R. 4250 War Crimes Rewards Expansion Act
Causes: This bill “would clarify that the State Dept. is authorized to use its War Crimes Rewards Program (WCRP) to obtain information leading to the arrest or conviction of individuals suspected of committing war crimes who haven’t been charged by an international tribunal.” Passed 412-9. All Indiana representatives voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 3533: To establish occupational series for Federal positions in software development, software engineering, data science, and data management, and for other purposes.
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 416 – 9.

H.R. 1693: EQUAL Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “The EQUAL (Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law) Act would eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine entirely
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 361 – 66.” All Indiana reps voted yea except for Representatives Walorski, Baird and Pence. View the vote.

H.R. 4250: War Crimes Rewards Expansion Act
GovTrack.us: “To amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to provide for rewards for the arrest or conviction of certain foreign nationals who have committed genocide or war crimes, and for other purposes.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 412 – 9. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 1228: Libya Stabilization Act
GovTrack.us: “To advance a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Libya and support the people of Libya.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 386 – 35. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 4686: Cambodia Democracy Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To promote free and fair elections, political freedoms, and human rights in Cambodia, and for other purposes.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 403 – 17 with all Indiana reps voting yea. View the vote.

H.R. 1154: Great Dismal Swamp National Heritage Area Act
GovTrack.us: “To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to assess the suitability and feasibility of designating certain land as the Great Dismal Swamp National Heritage Area, and for other purposes.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 391 – 36. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 2617: Performance Enhancement Reform Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill revises provisions regarding agency reporting of performance goals.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 414 – 10. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 3599: Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill establishes a rotational cyber workforce program under which certain federal employees may be detailed among rotational cyber workforce positions at other agencies.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 410 – 15. All Indiana reps vote yea except for Pence who didn’t vote. View the vote.

H.R. 4426: Homeland Security for Children Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review and incorporate into DHS policy feedback from organizations representing the needs of children.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote so no individual record of votes was taken.

H.R. 4094: One-Stop Pilot Program Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To conduct a pilot program at foreign last point of departure airports to permit passengers and their accessible property to continue on additional flights or flight segments originating in the United States without additional security re-screening, and for other purposes.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.

H.R. 4682: UAS Act
GovTrack.us: “To prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security from operating or procuring certain foreign-made unmanned aircraft systems, and for other purposes.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.

H.R. 4363: DHS Contract Reporting Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill establishes a daily public reporting requirement for covered contract awards of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
DHS must post, maintain, and update on a publicly available website a daily report of all covered contract awards, except for such awards relating to classified products, programs, or services.” On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.

In the Senate

H.R. 5305: Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act
Causes: :Senate Republicans on Monday voted to block Democrats’ bill to avoid a government shutdown later this week, provide disaster relief, and suspend the debt limit through mid-December 2022…:
Majority Leader Schumer said on Monday“… if Republicans vote no…the Republican Party will solidify itself as the party of default―the party of default. They will endanger every single American in this country―including those who rely on Social Security, Medicare benefits; they will hurt small businesses, pensioners, and our veterans.” 
“The U.S. could suffer a “catastrophic” financial crisis and another recession if Congress fails to address the federal government’s debt limit by Oct. 18, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned lawmakers today.” (WBEZ)
The vote was strictly along party lines, except for Majority Leader Schumer who voted nay.
(Sometimes a party leader will vote on the winning side, even if it is against his or her position, to have the right to call for a new vote under a motion to reconsider.)
View the vote.
A paired down bill that did not extend the debt ceiling was later passed. See above.

Passed the Senate, goes to the House next

S. 558: FLOODS Act
GovTrack.us: “A bill to establish a national integrated flood information system within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and for other purposes.
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.”

S. 1037: Manufacturing.gov Act
GovTrack.us: “A bill to provide for the establishment of a section of the website of the Department of Commerce that shall serve as the primary hub for information relating to Federal manufacturing programs, and for other purposes.”
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 2923: A bill to improve the Fishery Resource Disaster Relief program of the National Marine Fisheries Service, and for other purposes.
Introduced in the Senate, read twice, considered, read the third time, and passed without amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 2923: A bill to improve the Fishery Resource Disaster Relief program of the National Marine Fisheries Service, and for other purposes.
Introduced in the Senate, read twice, considered, read the third time, and passed without amendment by Voice Vote.

The week ahead in Congress

“Democrats in Congress are continuing negotiations on their reconciliation spending bill and its connection to the bipartisan infrastructure bill off the floor this week, with the Senate in session to consider nominations and the House on recess.” The House adjourned until Oct. 19, although some business will take place and they may be called back sooner if needed. Read more about the week ahead at Causes

To find and contact your Members of Congress:  https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials 

In other news

“Thousands of protesters marched in hundreds of rallies across the United States on Saturday, demonstrating against a new Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks and warning that Roe v. Wade is under threat from the Supreme Court.” (The Week)

Read Five takeaways from the Senate’s hearing on Afghanistan from The Hill.

“A study published Thursday in a medical journal estimated a federal database failed to count more than 50% of deaths attributable to police violence over nearly 40 years.” (CNN)


On Friday the U.S. exceeded 700,000 coronavirus deaths. (Reuters)

“COVID-19 long-haulers and advocates are stepping up their calls for state and federal officials to take action and dedicate funding to those who have endured the mysterious condition that stems from the coronavirus.” A recent study said that “37 percent had at least one long-term symptom three to six months after infection, suggesting millions nationwide could have long COVID-19.” “The grassroots, nonpartisan group COVID Survivors for Change launched a week of action on Friday…” (The Hill)

“COVID-19 is the leading killer of police officers, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks the deaths of cops.” (WBEZ)

Meanwhile, vaccine mandates in the U.S. appear to have cleared another major test. Thousands of health care workers in New York rushed to get shots ahead of a Monday deadline, preventing the state from suffering a shortage of workers in hospitals and nursing homes. [New York Times]

Pfizer and BioNTech today announced they submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration showing “favorable” safety outcomes for a two-dose vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The companies plan to submit a formal request for emergency-use authorization of the vaccine for that age range “in the coming weeks.” [NPR]

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday released its recommendations for celebrating the upcoming holiday season safely amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic. The agency is urging people to avoid large indoor gatherings, and instead wants people to celebrate only with members of a household.” (The Week)


“The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit put on hold Thursday a lower court order that would have forced the Biden administration to stop expelling migrant families with children at the border under a public health authority linked to the pandemic…The public health authority, known as Title 42, was invoked at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and has been criticized by immigrant advocates, attorneys and health experts who argue it has no health basis and puts migrants in harm’s way.” (CNN)

“The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday released guidelines about who is to be prioritized for immigration enforcement, following up on a set of interim guidance released early in the Biden administration.” (CNN)

“The Biden administration…renewed efforts to shield hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the United States as young children from deportation…The administration proposed a rule that attempts to satisfy concerns of a federal judge in Houston who ruled in July that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was illegal, largely because the Obama administration bypassed procedural requirements when it took effect in 2012. The new rule mirrors the Obama-era initiative, recreating the 2012 policy and seeking to put it on firmer ground by going through the federal regulatory process.” (Associated Press)

“Migrants arrested by Texas in border crackdown are being imprisoned for weeks without legal help or formal charges.” (Texas Tribune)


State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, is resigning her seat in the Indiana Senate on Nov. 1, approximately one year before her current four-year term expires.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Researchers, policy experts to discuss Indiana wetland outlook during virtual forum | IER …Indiana Environmental Reporter
Purdue University’s Center for the Environment, the White River Alliance and the Hoosier Environmental Council will host the Indiana Wetlands Forum online …

Democrats energize voters, discuss plan for 2022 election in ‘solidarity soiree’ – Chicago Tribune
Chief of Staff to Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Highland, Mark Lopez, spoke during the Democratic Solidarity Soiree at Portage Parks Pavilion on Thursday, .

Hoosiers should expect a change in their food stamp benefits as October begins – with most getting an increase.  (WFIU)

Gov. Eric Holcomb and governors in four other states signed an agreement on Thursday to set up an electric vehicle charging network across the Midwest. Among other things, the partnership hopes to “futureproof” interstate commerce, grow jobs related to the electric vehicle industry, and improve public health.  (WFYI)

The Biden Administration says the government could default on its bills if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, but Sen. Mike Braun isn’t persuaded.   (WFIU)

These were the most common violent crimes in Indiana last year | WANE 15
The FBI said Indiana’s statistics were based on data received from 205 of the 334 law enforcement agencies in the state.

State launches Indiana Connectivity Program – WOWO 1190 AM | 107.5 FM
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Crouch said broadband providers typically determine the areas to which they wanted to provide connections

On what was technically their last day of session, Indiana lawmakers approved new legislative maps which Republicans say met all the necessary state and federal legal requirements and Democrats say were gerrymander in order for the GOP to keep its super-majorities in the House and Senate. (IndyPolitics)

Republicans brush off critics, approve Indiana redistricting – WOWO 1190 AM | 107.5 FM
The Indiana Senate and House both saw near-party line votes in favor of the redistricting plan. The Senate voted 36-12 and the House 64-25, advancing the plan to Governor Holcomb for his signature.

Gov. Eric Holcomb renewed the state’s public health emergency order once again on Thursday.  (Indy Star)

The Indiana National Guard is fanning out to overstressed hospitals across the state to help with patient care and general help, as the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Indiana climbed this week above 15,000.  (IBJ)

Franciscan Health, one of the largest Catholic-based hospital systems in the Midwest, is stepping up its vaccination mandate for employees, telling them they must get their first dose by Oct. 15 and their second dose by Nov. 15, or submit to weekly testing.  (IBJ)

To find and contact your Indiana legislators: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/