5 min read

What got done this week

Wake Up To Politics: What Washington did this week
What got done this week

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Friday, September 16, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 53 days away. Election Day 2024 is 781 days away.

Happy Friday! As always, here at Wake Up To Politics, I like to take Friday morning to round up what actually got done in Washington in the past week — giving you an idea of what issues your elected leaders are spending their time on and what progress they’ve managed to make.

You’ll note that almost every piece of legislation mentioned below was approved by bipartisan support. And while they may not all carry sweeping consequences, they will each have some level of real-world impact. So I think it’s important that you know about them.

If you agree — and if you notice you haven’t seen much reporting on most of these bills in other news outlets — then I’d love if you could help support Wake Up To Politics by forwarding this email to a friend and encouraging them to sign up. If this email was forwarded to you, subscribe here:

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Week in review: What your leaders in Washington got done this week

Notes: As always, if you want to read a piece of legislation, click “bill” to see the measure’s text. If you want to see how each member of Congress voted, click the vote tally; in general, bills with more than 221 votes in the House or more than 50 votes in the Senate got bipartisan support.

Sent to the president’s desk

➞ 🏥 New VA facilities: The Senate unanimously passed a bill authorizing $3.4 billion to build a list of major new Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities across the country. The House previously passed the bill 402-2 in May.

➞ 💰 Human trafficking aid: The House unanimously passed a bill re-authorizing the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund, which adds an additional $5,000 fine to most human trafficking sentences and gives it to programs aiding trafficking victims. The Senate previously passed the bill unanimously in August.

➞ 💡 Lightbulbs: The House voted 347-78 to pass a bill requiring that all federal buildings be equipped with the longest-lasting and most energy-efficient lighting systems available, to limit taxpayer costs as well as government energy usage. The Senate previously passed the bill unanimously in March.

➞ 🐶🌪️ Pets in disasters: The House voted 397-29 to pass a bill setting up a FEMA working group to establish guidance ensuring that a community’s pets are considered when drawing up disaster preparedness plans. The Senate previously passed the bill unanimously in August.

Approved by one chamber of Congress

➞ 📈 Census: The House voted 220-208 to pass a bill prohibiting any question from being added to the census if it hasn’t been approved by Congress, a response to the Trump-era citizenship question on the 2020 census.

➞ 🗣️ Whistleblowers: The House voted 221-203 to pass a bill strengthening protections for federal whistleblowers. Specifically, it would clarify that no federal employee — the president included — can interfere or retaliate against a whistleblower sharing information with Congress.

➞ 🏢 Federal workers: The House voted 225-204 to pass a bill preventing presidents from recategorizing federal employees, as former President Trump attempted to do with his Schedule F executive order that sought to make it easier to fire federal workers.

➞ 🚧 Drones and infrastructure: The House voted 308-110 to pass a bill creating a program allowing drones to inspect and repair critical infrastructure projects.

➞ ✈️🦠 Planes and pandemics: The House voted 293-133 to pass a bill instructing federal agencies to come up with a plan for how to deal with air travel during a future disease outbreak.

➞ 🪖 Veterans: The House voted 397-29 to pass a package of veterans legislation, including a bill permanently authorizing Covid-era flexibilities that allow VA educational benefits to go to veterans in remote learning programs, a bill increasing certain VA benefits to adjust for the increased cost of living, a bill making it easier for veterans to apply for VA benefits, and a bill improving the VA process for identifying survivors of deceased veterans.

➞ 👨‍⚕️📠 Medicare Advantage: The House voted unanimously to pass a bill to make it easier for seniors with Medicare Advantage plans to obtain authorization for medical procedures and tests. Such authorizations often still require faxing documents; this measure would set up an electronic process and require HHS to establish a process allowing “real-time decisions” for services that are routinely approved.
➞ 🧑‍⚖️ Judges: The Senate confirmed four federal circuit court judges by votes of 46-40, 47-50, 52-47, and 53-44, bringing President Biden’s total of confirmed federal judges to 82, the fastest pace of any recent president.

Executive actions

Cryptocurrency: The White House released the U.S. government’s first-ever framework for cryptocurrency, including calls for new regulations, the addition of 150 federal prosecutors to investigate cryptocurrency crimes, and setting into motion a process to consider a federal digital currency.

💊 Biotechnology: President Biden signed an executive order and announced new government funding to bolster America’s investments in the biotechnology sector, partly to boost his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative.

➞ 💲 Foreign investment: President Biden signed an executive order to increase the government’s power to block foreign investments based on national security risks, a move widely seen as targeting China.

➞ 💸 Foreign aid: The Biden administration sent $600 million in new military aid to Ukraine and $756 million in humanitarian assistance to the Syrians.

(Photo by Harold Mendoza)

What else you should know

Trump probe: “A federal judge appointed a special master to review documents the FBI seized from former President Donald Trump's Florida estate while denying the Justice Department continued access to roughly 100 classified documents for use in its criminal investigation.” NBC News

Migration: “Republican governors are escalating their partisan tactic of sending migrants to Democratic strongholds without advance warning, including a wealthy summer enclave in Massachusetts and the home of Vice President Kamala Harris, to taunt leaders of immigrant-friendly ‘sanctuary’ cities and stoke opposition to Biden administration border policies.” Associated Press

Same-sex marriage: “A bipartisan group of senators trying to pass same-sex marriage protection legislation on Thursday pushed a vote until after the election, a move they say increases their chances of success but avoids forcing the GOP on record before the midterms.” Politico

Today at a glance

All times Eastern. Click on an event’s time to watch it.

President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (9:30 am) and meet with Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa (2:15 pm).

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold her daily press briefing (1 pm).

The Senate is out until Monday.

The House is out until Monday.

The Supreme Court is out until September 28.

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe