Student Forum Newsletter
McCarthy Wins House Speaker Election, Finally
ON JAN. 7, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) officially secured the House speaker’s gavel, elected on the 15th ballot with 216 votes, after four days of unsuccessful votes and some last-minute drama. Elected representatives were finally sworn in as members of the 118th Congress, and the House got to work.
McCarthy had been in tense negotiations for days with a small but critical group of far-right conservative lawmakers who made extended demands for concessions that would essentially make it easier to depose a speaker and weaken the powers of the speaker’s office to drive the legislative agenda and assign committee posts.
2022 Midterm Elections: Red Wave Turns into Mix of Red and Blue; Dems Keep Senate; Control of House a Toss-Up at Press Time
DAYS AFTER AMERICANS voted in the Nov. 8th U.S. midterm elections, votes were still being tallied and control of Congress hung in the balance. Both sides waited on pins and needles for the results of races in states such as Arizona and Nevada to be announced.
However, on Sat., Nov. 12, the Fox News Decision Desk projected that Democrats will maintain power in the Senate, thanks to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) being declared the winner in her race against Republican Adam Laxalt in Nevada.
Cortez Masto received 48.77% or 487,829 votes while Laxalt received 48.11% or 481,273 votes. That’s a difference of only 6,556 votes. Lesson learned? Every vote counts!
What Are the Midterm Elections and Why Are They Important?
ON NOV. 8, during the 2022 midterm elections, control of Congress will be in the balance. President Joe Biden won’t be on the ballot, but many of the people elected to Congress in state and local offices will. And they will have a big impact on what he can get done for the remainder of his first term. The big question on everybody’s minds is: As a result of the midterm elections, which party will control the U.S. House and Senate?
Inflation Reduction Act Signed Into Law, but Will It Reduce Inflation?
ON AUG. 16, President Joe Biden signed into into law H.R.5376 or the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” which passed in the Senate earlier in August. The legislation is an ambitious measure that aims to lower prescription drug prices, tackle climate change, reduce the deficit and impose a 15-percent minimum tax on large corporations. The Congressional Budget Office said the Inflation Reduction Act will have “a negligible effect” on inflation in 2022, and in 2023 it would reduce inflation by 0.1%. Biden was joined by Democratic leaders including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), whose support was crucial to passage of the act along party lines. Biden said that the legislation is “one of the most significant laws in our history.”
Congress Passes Bipartisan Legislation on Gun Safety: ON JUNE 25, President Joe Biden signed into law the ”Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” the first major gun safety legislation passed by Congress in nearly 30 years. The signing came just over a month after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 children and two adults. Sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the bipartisan legislation includes incentives for states to pass so-called red flag laws that allow groups to petition courts to remove weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.
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.