“There will come a time when we will all be gone,” Harry Reid wrote in 2008, “and the institutions that we now serve will be run by men and women not yet living, and those institutions will either function well because we’ve taken care with them, or they will be in disarray and someone else’s problem to solve.”
Reid, the former Democratic Senate leader who died Dec. 28 at 82, lies in state in the Capitol today—a Capitol once again seized by debate over its functioning as an institution and its ability to solve the people’s problems. On Tuesday, President Biden, another Senate institutionalist, went to Georgia to demand the body suspend its 60-vote threshold in order to pass voting-rights legislation.
Source: Harry Reid Paved the Way for Dems to Kill the Filibuster | Time
After a largely self-financed campaign that promised “universal basic income” from the government of $1,000 a month to people making $75,000 or less, Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick won a special election Tuesday to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings in Florida’s 20th District.
A home health care company executive, she will be the first Haitian-American Democrat in Congress.
Source: Florida Democrat wins special election after promising $1,000 checks – Roll Call
The annual defense policy bill signed into law last month authorized billions of dollars for a vast array of Pentagon programs. It also did something else: It granted a South Carolina-based Native American tribe permission to open a casino in North Carolina.
The unusual provision was shepherded by an even more unlikely ally — Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer.
Each year since 1961, Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act, a vast piece of legislation that authorized $768 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal 2022.
The measure’s size and consistent enactment has also turned it into a catchall for lawmakers’ legislative priorities that might not otherwise get a vote. And some of those priorities stray far afield from national security matters.
Source: The strange case of the casino, the Senate leader and the defense bill
Congress will soon decide whether to agree to a Biden administration proposal to cut spending on Defense Department programs that detect and counter diseases, even as COVID-19’s U.S. death toll exceeds 800,000 people.
The Pentagon, under both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, has asked Congress to scale back funding for the Biological Threat Reduction Program, despite successes that include funding a lab in Thailand that in January 2020 first detected the coronavirus outside of China.
Source: Congress is weighing cuts to the Pentagon disease-fighting budget – Roll Call
A fundamental question in American politics is how someone can convince some of their neighbors and a whole lot of strangers to vote for them.
So whenever we sat down for our “Take Five” Q&A series this year with a member of Congress who had eked out a narrow win or flipped a seat, we included some version of that basic inquiry in the interviews.
The answers were often predictable — you need a great candidate (“y’know, like me,” implied) — and sometimes surprising, but we wondered: Were they any good?
Source: Members of Congress play campaign pundit all the time. But are they any good at it? – Roll Call
The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Texas charging that the state engaged in “vote dilution” by drawing its redistricting maps in a way that minimizes the voting strength of the state’s Black and Latino population.
Following completion of the 2020 census, states have moved to redraw their congressional district lines, with Texas gaining two seats as a result of increased population shifts. Republican lawmakers in Texas drew up new maps for the Legislature, which is controlled by the GOP, as well as the state’s congressional delegation. If the new maps do disempower Black and Latino voters, as the suit claims, the state may have violated dilution rules under Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA).
Source: What Is ‘Vote Dilution’? Justice Dept. Says Texas’ Redistricting Suppresses Minority Votes
Industry representatives are accusing Republicans and Democrats of attempting to intimidate social media companies ahead of next year’s midterm elections.
That comes as a brief period of bipartisan momentum behind legislative efforts to regulate companies like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter appears to have passed, with Republicans and Democrats reverting to partisan differences and bickering.
Source: Partisan bickering could doom efforts to regulate social media companies
The Biden administration on Monday launched its first effort to block a new congressional map under the Voting Rights Act, with a Justice Department lawsuit that accuses Texas of diluting the power of minority voters.
The DOJ challenge adds to a crush of litigation the state faces in advance of its March primary, one of the first scheduled elections for maps redrawn after the 2020 census. The state already faces half a dozen lawsuits over the congressional plan, with allegations that include challenges to the legality of the special session used to draw the map and arguments that the redrawn lines dilute the power of growing minority communities.
Source: Justice Department challenges new Texas congressional map – Roll Call
Lawmakers delayed the release of compromise defense policy legislation Monday amid ongoing negotiations over whether to attach language that would raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act stalled in the Senate last week amid a dispute over the handling of amendments. Unable to move the bill, Senate leaders opted to scrap votes on it and instead write a compromise version of the measure with House lawmakers.
Source: Defense bill delayed as controversial provisions jettisoned – Roll Call
House and Senate negotiators will soon go to conference in an effort to send bipartisan legislation aimed at advancing U.S. competitiveness in science and technology to President Joe Biden’s desk, Democratic leaders announced late Wednesday.
But it’s unclear exactly which pieces of legislation each body will bring to the conference.
Source: House, Senate will go to conference on R&D proposals – Roll Call