11/15/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Your Indivisible NWI Steering Committee wants to be sure we are concentrating on the issues that matter to you and we want to give you every opportunity to get involved with Indivisible NWI. Please fill out this survey so that we can focus our planning for the rest of this year and into the important mid-term election year of 2022. Click here for the survey.

The For the People Act is now The Freedom to Vote Act. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act updates and restores critical voting rights stripped by recent Supreme Court decisions. Passage of these bills is crucial for the survival of American democracy. The majority of Americans want to know that their vote counts. But when the minority can enact laws that restrict voting access, our voices can be silenced. Another vote on one or both of these bills is expected this week in the Senate. So far Republicans have used the filibuster to prevent these bills from even being debated.
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

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

Republicans are blaming the Infrastructure Bill and the Biden Administration for rising prices. The reasons behind the current inflation are complex and almost entirely the result of the pandemic and our country’s strong economic recovery. It is true that a lot of money was poured into the economy through pandemic relief bills—under both administrations. Yet without these bills millions of Americans would have suffered greatly and our economy would now be sputtering instead of thriving. Current inflation is a global problem right now—not limited to the United States. Demand for goods has been soaring as our economy has improved, but the supply has fallen woefully behind—because during the pandemic production was severely curtailed. The Infrastructure Bill that will be signed into law on Monday will help solve many of the supply chain and productivity issues that are behind inflation. (CNN)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 1899: Ensuring Compliance Against Drug Diversion Act of 2021

S. 1064: RENACER Act


Passed the House and the Senate, President next (See details in the last post.)

H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
Last Action: On motion that the House agree to the Senate amendment Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 228 – 206.

In the House (See details in the last post.)

H.Res. 774: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 5376) to provide for reconciliation pursuant to title II of S. Con. Res. 14; and for other purposes.
Last Action: On agreeing to the resolution Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 221 – 213

This week in Congress

Congress returns from its recess for the week of Veterans Day with the House likely to vote on the Build Back Better Act. That vote hinges on receiving a full fiscal analysis of the proposal by the Congressional Budget Office. The House is also scheduled to vote for several bills under the fast-track “suspension of the rules” process, which requires a two-thirds majority for passage. Many of the suspension bills are related to veterans programs. The Senate will take up its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2022. They will likely amend that act to include the Senate passed United States Innovation and Competition Act, SB 1260. Read a summary of SB1260 from GovTrack.) The Senate may also bring to the floor a vote for one or both of the election reform bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. They will also continue with confirmation hearings and votes. Read more about the week ahead, including committee hearings at Causes.

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

In other news

“In early September, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 20, a new social media law targeting what Gov. Abbott called “a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.” In late September, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) sued Texas in federal court, arguing that HB 20 “violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
Under HB 20… “a social media platform may not censor a user, a user’s expression, or a user’s ability to receive the expression of another person based on . . . the viewpoint of the user or another person.”  “The law is set to take effect on December 2, 2021…To take a particularly stark example of the First Amendment problems posed by HB 20, consider the issue of racist speech. A social media company clearly should have the right to block or remove racist and other hateful posts. That right shouldn’t be undermined by handing the authors of those posts legal support allowing them to claim that their posts merely express a “viewpoint” and thus must under Texas law be allowed on the platform.” (Brookings)

“The jurors who will decide Kyle Rittenhouse’s fate will be allowed to consider lesser charges if they opt to acquit him on some of the original counts prosecutors brought, the judge said Friday during a contentious hearing in which both sides could claim partial victory.” The jury will begin deliberating on Monday. (Associated Press) The judge dismissed a lesser weapons charge Rittenhouse faced. (USA Today)

 In the past week, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted a video showing a character with his face killing a figure with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s face. Several of the 13 House Republicans who backed a bipartisan infrastructure bill said they faced threats after their vote. In one profanity-laced voicemail, a caller labeled Rep. Fred Upton a “traitor” and wished death for the Michigan Republican, his family and staff. The response from Republican leaders? Silence. (Associated Press)

“President Joe Biden on Friday chose Dr. Robert Califf, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner and prominent medical researcher, to again lead the powerful regulatory agency.” (Associated Press)

“President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping will hold their much-anticipated virtual summit on Monday evening as the two sides look to dial back tensions after a rough start to the U.S.-China relationship since Biden took office earlier this year.” (Associated Press)

“Law enforcement has taken little action as backers of Donald Trump aim stark threats at election officials. Reuters tracked down nine of the harassers. Most were unrepentant.” (Reuters)

“The federal government announced a large hike in Medicare premiums Friday night, blaming the pandemic but also what it called uncertainty over how much it may have to be forced to pay for a pricey and controversial new Alzheimer’s drug. The 14.5% increase in Part B premiums will take monthly payments for those in the lowest income bracket from $148.50 a month this year to $170.10 in 2022.” (CNN)

“Sen. Patrick Leahy, the influential Vermont Democrat and Senate’s president pro tempore, announced Monday that he will retire from the Senate after this term in Congress.” (USA Today)

“Beto O’Rourke is running for governor, challenging Republican Greg Abbott in a clash of two of Texas’ biggest politicians.” (Texas Tribune)

The US and China surprised the COP26 climate summit on Wednesday when representatives of the countries announced an agreement to ramp up their climate ambitions, just days before the end of the conference in Glasgow. (CNN)

“After two years of preparation and 13 days of tough talks, negotiators at the U.N. climate meeting in Glasgow” made some progress but fell short. “The annual Conference of the Parties, just held for the 26th time, is all about getting countries to gradually ratchet up their measures to defuse global warming.
The focus of the Glasgow talks was not to forge a new treaty but to finalize the one agreed to in Paris six years ago and to build on it by further curbing greenhouse gas emissions, bending the temperature curve closer to levels that don’t threaten human civilization.” Read a brief summary of the final agreement at the Associated Press and CNN.

The courts
“A judge on Wednesday approved a $626 million deal to settle lawsuits filed by Flint residents who found their tap water contaminated by lead following disastrous decisions to switch the city’s water source and a failure to swiftly acknowledge the problem.” (Associated Press)

“A federal appeals court Friday called a Biden administration rule requiring large companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees “staggeringly overbroad” and ordered that its implementation remain blocked in a divisive case likely bound for the Supreme Court.” (USA Today)

“Universities that adopted COVID-19 vaccine mandates this fall have seen widespread compliance even though many schools made it easy to get out of the shots by granting exemptions to nearly any student who requested one.” (Associated Press)

The Pentagon said it would respond to Oklahoma’s Republican governor after the state’s National Guard indicated it would thwart a Defense Department mandate that troops be vaccinated against Covid-19. (CNN)

“Lawmakers in 24 states have tried to restrict how topics like racism, sexism, and American history are being taught in American schools this year, an analysis by the free expression group PEN America shows… In a new report published Monday, PEN America details the “educational gag orders” that lawmakers have introduced in nearly half of states across the nation to ban the teaching of [Critical Race Theory]… From January to September, a total of 54 bills concerning K-12 schools, higher education institutions and state agencies were introduced, the report says. Eleven of those bills have become laws in nine states…” (CNN)

“Despite promises to focus on the growing racial and income divide among the nation’s students, new fall testing data show academic gaps have worsened, falling heaviest on some of the most vulnerable children.” (The 74)

January 6
“The [January 6] committee is demanding testimony from half a dozen denizens of Trump World, including people who met with Trump personally as he tried to deny the election results. On Monday, they subpoenaed John Eastman, Michael Flynn and former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik; as well as campaign staffers Jason Miller, Bill Stepien and Angela McCallum…Investigators are commanding the six witnesses to provide documents by Nov. 23 — two days before Thanksgiving — and appear for testimony between Nov. 30 and Dec. 13, according to letters accompanying the subpoenas. ” (Politico)

“The House committee investigating the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol announced on Tuesday a new batch of 10 subpoenas to former White House officials under President Donald Trump, as the panel charges ahead in seeking testimony and documents from witnesses relevant to its probe….Tuesday’s recipients are being asked to turn over documents to the committee on November 23, and depositions are scheduled throughout December.” (CNN)

“A federal appeals court on Thursday temporarily blocked the release of White House records sought by a U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, granting — for now — a request from former President Donald Trump.” (Associated Press)

“Steve Bannon, former President Donald Trump’s political strategist, surrendered to federal authorities Monday following his indictment on contempt charges for defying a House subpoena seeking documents and testimony as part of an escalating congressional inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.” (USA Today)

“The much-anticipated virtual summit between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will take place on Monday evening, the White House confirmed. The summit presents the biggest opportunity yet to reset the increasingly fraught bilateral relationship.” (Politico)


U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland, is proud to have helped deliver an estimated $8.8 billion in federal funds to Indiana for road and bridge repair, broadband internet expansion and other needed infrastructure improvements.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

The just-passed infrastructure bill will send nearly $9 billion to Indiana over the next decade.  (WIBC)

Senator Mike Braun’s 2018 campaign for Senate is being accused of having about $8.5 million in prohibited loans, including $1.5 million from Braun’s former company, said documents from the Federal Election Commission.  (WIBC)

As the process of redistricting moves down from the state to the local level in Indiana, the same claims of gerrymandering for political gain and a lack of transparency and public involvement are cropping up in communities around the state.  (The Statehouse File)

The federal government has awarded Indiana nearly $5.6 million in state tourism grant allocations.  (WFIU)

Indianapolis is facing an equity crisis for residents of color at all levels of education and economic opportunities, according to a new analysis released Tuesday.  (WFYI)

Gov. Eric Holcomb said discussions are well underway to potentially cut taxes in the upcoming legislative session.  (WFIU)

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