12/12/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

It isn’t only new voter suppression laws that threaten our democracy. Trump and his loyalists are working at local and state levels to install officials who embrace the big lie and who will ensure only republican candidates win, no matter what the votes say. If republicans win the House in 2022, McCarthy will be Speaker. If Biden wins in 2024, McCarthy can accept a state’s alternate slate of electors, again overriding the will and votes of the people. Read more at The Guardian.
Republicans are counting on complacency mixed with lies to win in 2022. Last week McConnell announced there would be no policy or legislative agenda for republicans to run on. (Axios)
It’s up to all of us to spread the word that our democracy is truly at stake and to get involved at every level of government to keep that from happening.

Democrats are working to improve the lives of all Americans:
Already passed:
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

And will soon pass:
Build Back Better Act

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 truth matters

Last week the Senate passed a convoluted measure to allow the debt limit to be increased without any republican support and without using reconciliation. Republicans hope to blame democrats for the resultant increase in the debt limit when they themselves increased it three times under Trump. Republicans skewer the truth by blaming democrats for a burgeoning national debt. Under President Biden the national debt has decreased substantially. Revenues are up because of the improving economy under Biden that has “seen corporate profits rise and millions of people going back to work, which boosts individual tax payments.” (ABC News)


Passed the House and Senate, President next

S. 610: Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill makes several budgetary, technical, and procedural changes, particularly in relation to Medicare and increasing the debt limit.”

  • It continues to exempt Medicare from sequestration until March 31, 2022. (Sequestration is a process of automatic, usually across-the-board spending reductions under which budgetary resources are permanently cancelled to enforce specific budget policy goals.)
  • It establishes expedited Senate procedures for considering legislation to increase the debt limit. The procedures limit debate, waive points of order, and prohibit amendments. The procedures may only be used once and expire after January 16, 2022.
  • It temporarily extends other provisions under Medicare.

Passed the House 222-212 On Dec. 7 despite having had bipartisan support in the Senate. Representatives Mrvan and Carson voted yea; all other Indiana reps voted nay. View the vote.

Passed the Senate, goes to the House next

S.J.Res. 29: A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to “COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing; Emergency Temporary Standard”.
GovTrack.us: “This joint resolution nullifies a Department of Labor emergency temporary standard for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in employment settings.
Under the standard issued on November 5, 2021, employers with 100 or more employees must require their onsite employees to either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.” The vote was 52-48 with Senators Braun (who wrote the resolution) and Young voting yea. View the vote.

S. 2629: Better Cybercrime Metrics Act
Govtrack.us: “A bill to establish cybercrime reporting mechanisms, and for other purposes.”
The bill was passed in a vote in the Senate. It goes to the House next. The vote was by Unanimous Consent so no record of individual votes was made.

Passed the House

S. 1605 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022
Causes: This bill “would authorize a total of $768.2 billion in defense funding for fiscal year 2022, including $740 billion in discretionary defense spending, along with $28.2 billion for nuclear defense activities by the Dept. of Energy. It is purely an authorization bill that wouldn’t provide actual funding, which would be approved through the regular appropriations process. A breakdown of how the various provisions in the NDAA would impact troops, military families, equipment, the Dept. of Defense, U.S. allies and partners, and other aspects of U.S. defense policy can be found” at Causes. Passed 363-70.

Passed the House, goes to the Senate next

H.R. 5314: Protecting Our Democracy Act
Causes: This bill “would enact governmental reforms related to presidential abuses of power; checks and balances, accountability, and transparency; and foreign interference in elections. Read details at GovTrack. Passed along party lines with one republican vote. 220-208. View the vote.

Passed the House under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Goes to the Senate next.

H.R. 4996: Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021
Vote was 364-60. View the vote.

H.R. 4616: Adjustable Interest Rate (LIBOR) Act of 2021
Vote was 415-9. View the vote.

H.R. 5290: To extend authorization for livestock mandatory reporting.
The vote was 418-9. View the vote.

H.R. 5609: Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021
The vote was 411-13. View the vote.

H.R. 4489: National Forest Restoration and Remediation Act
The vote was 385-42. View the vote.

H.R. 5608: Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act
The vote was 393-33. View the vote.

H.R. 1155: Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
The vote was 428-1. View the vote.

H.R. 3537: Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act
The vote was 423-3. View the vote.

H.R. 5487: SHINE for Autumn Act of 2021
The vote was 408-18. View the vote.

H.R. 5561: Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2021
The vote was 410-17. View the vote.

H.R. 5551: Improving the Health of Children Act
The vote was 405-20. View the vote.

H.R. 1667: Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
The vote was 392-36. View the vote.

H.R. 4555: Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act of 2021
The vote was 369-58. View the vote.

H.R. 5119: To amend title VI of the Social Security Act to extend the coverage of Coronavirus Relief Fund payments to Tribal Governments.
The vote was 386-41. View the vote.

H.R. 2355: Opioid Prescription Verification Act of 2021
The vote was 410-15. View the vote.

H.R. 2364: Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act
The vote was 411-14. View the vote.

H.R. 3743: Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration Act
The vote was 374-52. View the vote.

H.R. 3894: CARING for Social Determinants Act of 2021
The vote was 378-48. View the vote.

Passed the House by Voice Vote so no individual record of votes was taken. Goes to the Senate next.

H.R. 5545: To extend certain expiring provisions of law relating to benefits provided under Department of Veterans Affairs educational assistance programs during COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes.”

H.R. 5746: NASA Enhanced Use Leasing Extension Act of 2021

H.R. 1193: Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy Act

The week ahead in Congress

Lawmakers return to the Capitol this week for what may be their last work week of 2021, with both chambers planning to vote on legislation to raise the federal debt limit and Senate Democrats hoping to lock down a deal amongst themselves on the Build Back Better Act. Read details at Causes.

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

In other news

Weekly claims for unemployment benefits dropped to its lowest level since 1969, the Labor Department reported Thursday. (CNN)

“The Biden administration on Monday announced that the U.S. will undertake a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in light of China’s genocide and crimes against humanity targeting Uyghur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region. The Beijing Olympics begin on February 4, 2022…

A diplomatic boycott allows U.S. athletes to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games but aims to deny China the propaganda opportunity of U.S. dignitaries attending the games in Beijing amid the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing genocide and persecution of the Uyghurs.” (Causes

“Former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) launched a challenge to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Monday, setting up a primary fight between two Republican titans in one of the most competitive political battlegrounds of the 2022 election cycle.” (The Hill)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday signed off on booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds for emergency use. Final approval from the CDC came shortly after. (NBC News)

“The federal government has spent most of the $4.5 trillion in Covid relief funds that Congress has approved. But there are still hundreds of billions of dollars left to dole out, and it could take years to do so.” (CNBC)

The Biden administration issued a proposal allows the roughly 150 million people with private health insurance to get reimbursed for the at-home tests. For people without private insurance, the administration says it will be distributing 50 million tests to sites like health centers and rural clinics.(The Hill)

“All private sector employers in New York City will now be required to implement a Covid-19 vaccine mandate by Dec. 27, the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced Monday. Public sector workers were already subject to vaccine mandates.” (CNN

“People living in counties that voted for former President Trump in the last presidential election are nearly three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who live in counties that voted for President Biden, according to an analysis conducted by NPR.” (The Hill)

January 6
“On Dec. 9, 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals court said that the Congressional committee investigating the Capitol attack should have access to a trove of evidence that Trump is attempting to shield from the panel…The battle is likely headed to the Supreme Court.” (The Conversation)

Gun Control
At long last a state is working to pass gun control using the same method of enforcement as the Texas abortion law to avoid court challenges. California’s assault weapons ban was recently struck down in court, although it remains in force as the state appeals.
California Governor Newsom said “he has directed his staff to work with the state’s Legislature and its Democratic attorney general to pass a law that would let private citizens sue to enforce California’s ban on assault weapons. Newsom said people who sue could win up to $10,000 per violation plus other costs and attorneys fees against “anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon” in California.” (Associated Press)

Voting Rights
“The Justice Department has sued to block Texas’ updated congressional and state House maps, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday, alleging that the districts redrawn after the 2020 census disenfranchise minorities in violation of the Voting Rights Act.” (Politico)

Women’s Rights
“The Supreme Court left in place Friday a Texas abortion law that bars the procedure after around six weeks of pregnancy, but the justices said that abortion providers had the right to challenge the law in federal court.” (CNN)  Read more about the ruling at Causes.

A new Texas law went into effect last week that completely bans the use of abortion pills after seven weeks of pregnancy. Several red states are already cracking down on the pills, including Indiana which bans the pills after 10 weeks. More are planning to enact such legislation.


In his annual end of the year interview, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb says he has no problem if lawmakers started the process of putting a plan in place to legalize marijuana.  (Indy Politics)

Oil giant BP agreed Thursday to pay a $512,450 penalty and reduce soot emissions from its Whiting refinery in Indiana under an agreement with regulators and activists who accused the company of violating an earlier deal. (Indiana Public Media)

The spread of COVID-19 currently is uncontrolled across nearly the entire northern third of the state, and the rest of Indiana’s counties appear likely to earn the red classification in the weeks ahead, according to the Indiana Department of Health.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Hospitals across Indiana are once again delaying elective surgeries and procedures, and some warn they are operating near full capacity due to the latest COVID-19 surge.  (IBJ)

An Indiana senator [Senator Braun] heading a congressional fight against President Joe Biden’s proposed federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates said Wednesday he was against state-level efforts to block businesses from imposing their own workplace vaccination requirements.  (AP Indiana)

“It appears that Indiana Republicans are Marxist ideologues who are determined to push Critical Race Theory down the throats of unsuspecting Hoosier schoolchildren.” (At least according to Todd Rokita and his 54 page manifesto.) “He says Hoosier schoolhouses are awash in dangerous ideologies, such as teaching that human slavery was wrong.” And yet republicans have been in control of Indiana since 2005, but it has taken until now to focus attention on the ‘wrongs’ in the Indiana’s educational curriculum.  (John Krull,  The Statehouse File)

Indiana schools are slated to get a surge of nearly $3 billion in federal coronavirus relief over the next three years. The money is meant to help them safely operate and make up for the instruction students missed out on. But months after the stimulus began flowing, public information on how local districts are spending it is inconsistent and often hard to find.  (WFYI)

The chairmen of the Lake County Democratic and Republican parties worked together over the past few weeks to come up with an agreed commissioners’ map and a nearly finalized council map that will likely be finalized soon by the election commission’s two Republican and two Democratic members. More differences surfaced between parties over the county council map, but a compromise is expected. (NWI Times)

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