Student Forum Newsletter
Changes to Longstanding Traditions Signal Shakeups for 2024 Presidential Elections: IN APRIL, both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC) initiated changes to longstanding party traditions, signaling shakeups to come for the 2024 presidential elections. On April 13, the Democratic National Committee voted to stop giving Iowa and New Hampshire the automatic privilege of going first in holding presidential nominating contests in the primary process.
Congress Steps into Spring with New Legislation: Biden Signs Spending Bill into Law that Dedicates Billions to Ukraine Aid but Falls Short of Climate Support. ON MARCH 15, President Joe Biden signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, a 2,741-page spending bill that will fund the federal government through September and provide $13.6 billion in fresh aid to Ukraine as the country fights back against Russia’s invasion. The spending package, known as the omnibus, will provide funding through fiscal year 2021, which started in October. Lawmakers have been negotiating over the legislation for months and have passed three stopgap funding bills to keep the government running in the meantime.
ON JAN. 27, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced he would retire, giving President Joe Biden an opportunity to nominate a new jurist to the country’s highest court. In a letter to Biden, the justice said his resignation would take effect at the end of the current term, usually in late June or early July. Since Justice Breyer announced he would retire, court watchers have identified a shortlist of potential contenders for the seat—particularly based on Biden’s promise to name a Black woman to the nation’s highest court. At press time, Ketanji Brown Jackson, J. Michelle Childs and Leondra Kruger have been named as three possible nominees.
ON JAN. 19, Senate Democrats failed to weaken the chamber rules on the filibuster to pass voting reform, due to opposition from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), the two Democrat senators who have stymied the party’s progress in passing multiple bills in Congress. The Senate rejected an effort to reinstate what’s known as the “talking filibuster” that would have specifically allowed the elections legislation to pass by a simple majority vote. Democrats Manchin and Sinema joined all 50 Senate Republicans to block the change.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Passes House, Heads to Biden: ON NOV. 5, the House passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill—formally known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or H.R.3684—which funds a five-year reauthorization of critical federal highway, transit, and safety programs. Passed by the Senate in August, the bill was signed by President Biden on Nov. 15.
CONGRESS is considering a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package which would make community college tuition-free for two years. Those in favor argue everyone should have the opportunity to go to college and cost should never be a barrier to earning a degree. Those against this legislation argue that realistically free tuition sounds great, but the money has to come from somewhere.
Pelosi Sets End-of-October Deadline for Infrastructure Bill Vote as Democrat Discussions Stall: In the first days of October, two huge infrastructure and spending bills central to President Biden’s domestic agenda were caught in limbo as congressional Democrats tried to reach a compromise within their own party. Democratic progressives are pushing to raise the debt ceiling with massive spending bills that cover a broad array of social programs and climate change initiatives. Meanwhile, more moderate Democrats such as Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema say we can’t afford these programs. During an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told Coates that younger Americans are looking for solutions to climate change and are not concerned about the cost.
Cubans Call for Communism’s End: On JULY 11, Cuban citizens took to the streets for the first time in more than six decades to protest against deteriorating living conditions and the lack of basic goods and services, including medical attention amid increasing numbers of coronavirus infections. The protests began in the western city of San Antonio de los Baños, later spreading to more than 40 cities and towns including the capital Havana. Thousands of people, many of them young, called for an end to the 62-year-old communist regime. Videos depict thousands of Cubans protesting food and COVID vaccine shortages in a rare show of dissent.
President Biden Releases Infrastructure Plan: ON MARCH 31, President Joe Biden called for a $2 trillion investment in the nation’s roads, waterways, airports, electric grid and broadband by releasing his American Jobs Plan. The proposal provides funding for infrastructure, clean energy, innovation and R&D (research and development), manufacturing and workplace support, and the caregiving economy. The $2 trillion investment is sweeping, covering everything from climate change to workforce development, and would amount to an investment of about 1 percent of the GDP per year over eight years, according to a fact sheet on the plan. The price tag could make passage difficult in Congress, especially in the 50-50 Senate.
All ‘Ayes’ on the Senate, Part II: Sen. Joe Manchin Signals Willingness to Reform Filibuster: On March 7, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) indicated he is open to reforming the filibuster to allow more opportunities for Democrats to pass legislation through the Senate along party lines and without relying on Republican support. Manchin, who wields significant power in the evenly divided Senate as a moderate willing to work across party lines, said he believes the filibuster should be made more “painful” to dissuade the minority from using it frequently. With the Senate evenly split 50-50, pressure among Democrats to eliminate the filibuster has been building. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have said they are against efforts to get rid of the filibuster.