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Are there any policies, issues congressional Republicans and Democrats could work together on?

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/policies-issues-congressional-republicans-democrats-could-work-together

Next year, Washington will be governed by a divided Congress, as Republicans have retaken the House of Representatives, and Democrats retained control of the Senate after the Nov. 8 midterm elections

The “red wave” anticipated by some in the GOP failed to materialize as Democrats were able to capture important wins in swing state races that determined the fate of the Senate despite President Biden’s low approval ratings. Regardless, the majorities in both chambers will be slim for each party, making it difficult for bipartisan issues and legislation to see the light of day in the 118th Congress.

In the current political climate, Republican and Democratic leaders have shown little interest in working across the aisle and often prioritize hyper-partisan issues. The political center has fewer advocates than in prior years, and the deadlock in Washington is reflected in the low approval of Congress. 

In September, the 117th Congress had a disapproval rating of 75% from Americans over the age of 18, according to a Gallup poll. Congress has the lowest approval ratings compared to any other branch of government, including the Judicial Branch after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

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Despite the hyper-partisanship that is likely to follow in the new Congress, there are some issues in which Republicans and Democrats have common ground and are widely supported by the majority of American voters. 

Recently, there was a bipartisan push to codify same-sex marriage before the likely Republican House majority takes over next year. On Wednesday, The Senate voted 62 to 37 to cement same-sex marriage protections into law, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats across the aisle for the bill.  

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer encouraged bipartisanship on the issue, telling colleagues on the Senate floor before the vote that “if both parties can come together, today could be truly one of the highlights of the year for this body.” The cooperation seen on Wednesday between both parties could potentially transfer over into the next Congress, as most of the Republican senators who helped Democrats break the 60-vote threshold will remain in office next year. 

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Moreover, there are other issues brought up in the last Congress that still has widespread support of Americans and agreement from both parties. For instance, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of Congress members owning stock while serving in office came to attention following a controversy involving former Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler. 

Calls to ban members from trading stock came from both the left and right, as polls showed the issue was overwhelmingly popular with most voters. Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez both co-sponsored the Ban Conflict Trading Act last year, introduced by Illinois Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi. The bill would prohibit members of Congress, as well as senior office staff, from trading stocks. 

The issue was even endorsed by former President Trump on Tuesday night during his presidential announcement at Mar-a-Lago. With support from progressive Democrats and various members of the Republican Party, politicians could potentially pass a bill addressing this issue in the next Congress. 

Providing aid to Ukraine is another issue that has largely had bipartisan support in the House and Senate from both parties. In May, following Russia’s invasion, the House approved an aid package to Ukraine of $40 billion by a vote of 368-57. The Biden administration requested in November that Congress provides another aid package to the war-torn country of $37.7 billion.

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Support for Ukraine is popular among voters, and continued aid packages will likely be approved by Congress. However, shortly before the midterm elections, the Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said a GOP majority would try to decrease the amount of support going to Ukraine. Regardless, the issue still remains a probably bipartisan issue with support from both parties and is popular with Americans. 

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/policies-issues-congressional-republicans-democrats-could-work-together

Politics

West Virginia House passes bill expanding advocate’s authority

West Virginia’s House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill Wednesday to expand the authority of the state foster care advocate to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect.

Before the 100-member House voted in unison in favor, Deputy House Speaker Republican Matthew Rohrbach said the bill is “really going to help to make this system accountable, which I think is something that everybody in here wants.”

Foster Care Ombudsman Pamela Woodman-Kaehler’s office is located within the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Inspector General. But she works independently as an advocate for foster children and parents, investigating complaints and collecting data about the state’s foster care system.

Her position was created in 2019 when the number of children under state foster care had swelled to about 6,900, up more than 60% from 2015, as the state continued to be ravaged by the national opioid crisis.

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She is a former child protective services worker in Harrison County and was the state coordinator for a federally-mandated review panel of the state’s Bureau of Children and Families.

The bill advanced to the Senate Wednesday specifies that Woodman-Kaehler’s office has the authority to investigate deaths, abuse and neglect involving children in the juvenile justice system.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The bill also would protect the identities of people providing confidential information during investigations, prohibiting the ombudsman and her staff from being required to disclose information about investigations or identify informants in judicial or administrative proceedings. It makes all memoranda, work product, notes and case files developed and maintained as part of an official investigation confidential, and not subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion.

Woodman-Kaehler told a House Health and Human Resources Committee meeting that the bill would help build trust between her and people reporting abuse and neglect, and encourage more people to come forward with information during sensitive investigations.

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“This frees up the ombudsman to give them much more control,” Rohrbach said Wednesday.

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Politics

Indiana Gov. Holcomb’s public health expansion passes legislative panel

The Indiana governor’s proposal for a broad expansion of county-level public health programs won its first endorsement from state legislators on Wednesday.

The state Senate’s health committee voted 12-0 in support of a bill laying out the responsibilities that local health departments would have if county officials accept a major increase in state funding being sought by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, several medical organizations and business groups urged lawmakers to support the plan, pointing to Indiana’s poor national rankings in areas such as smoking, obesity and life expectancy.

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The governor’s plan would direct $100 million in the next state budget year and $200 million in the following year toward boosting Indiana’s county public health department funding from its 45th-place national ranking. The state now directs about $7 million a year to county health departments, which are primarily funded by local taxes.

While county officials would have the option of accepting the money and expanding services, some opponents with grievances over government-ordered COVID-19 precautions told the committee they feared the plan would result in the state health department gaining more authority.

The bill approved by the committee would establish “core public health services” to be provide by county departments. Those would include access to required childhood vaccinations, emergency preparedness, restaurant and sewage system inspections, communicable disease prevention and smoking cessation programs.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state's public health infrastructure

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state’s public health infrastructure
(AP Photo /Tom Davies)

A commission appointed by Holcomb found that all but about six of Indiana’s 92 counties are spending less than half the national median per person on public health efforts.

“Where you live in Indiana currently determines whether your local health department can provide you the full range of public health services,” Box told the committee.

Leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature have generally supported Holcomb’s proposal but have not committed to granting his full funding request. Lawmakers might not make that decision until a new state budget plan is completed in April.

Statewide organizations representing county officials told the committee Wednesday they believed local leaders would keep control by deciding whether to opt into the expansion program or maintain state funding levels.

Some county leaders, however, said they believed the expansion would eventually lead to state control of local health departments.

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“I would prefer the state to provide grants on a topic-by-topic basis with local control on whether to accept the grant or not and how we handle that guidance, not mandates, from the state after the COVID destructive mandates,” said Brad Rogers, a Republican county commissioner from northern Indiana’s Elkhart County.

Senators cited concerns about long-term health problems across the state, while plan opponents who spoke focused on issues such as complaints over federal approval of COVID-19 vaccines and Holcomb’s executive orders early in the pandemic for business closures and a face mask mandate. One opponent argued the plan would lead to what he called more government “tyranny.”

Similar grievances were aired to Indiana lawmakers as they debated a proposal last year that failed to win passage aiming to severely limit the COVID-19 vaccine requirements that businesses could impose on employees.

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“We have high infant mortality rates,” Republican Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville said as she voted in favor of the health plan Wednesday. “We have high obesity, lots of health issues in the state that need to be addressed.”

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Politics

President Biden’s physical delayed due to travel schedule, White House says

President Biden will receive a physical examination on Feb. 16 after weeks of delays that a spokesperson attributed to a “busy and evolving travel schedule in recent weeks.”

Biden, the oldest president in history, is expected to announce his bid for re-election in the coming weeks. He would be 86-years-old by the end of his second term.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced a series of questions on Biden’s physical in the new year and promised a shared report by the end of January.

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President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.

President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.
(Screenshot/Twitter)

“He will have one before the — by the time the end of this month is out,” Jean-Pierre said in January. “We will share the information. We will have more to share about that before the month is over.”

This followed a promise from Biden himself in November to have a physical conducted by the end of December.

“I’ve gotten my — I will get — part of my physical is already done, and I’ll be getting it before the end of the year,” Biden said.

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The White House said President Biden's delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.

The White House said President Biden’s delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.
(Getty Images)

While the White House said the delay is due to his travel schedule in January, Biden spent time at his Delaware properties every weekend that month — 13 days in total. Other travel included Mexico for a summit, then trips to Kentucky, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, California and New York to tout his policy agenda.

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President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.

President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.
(Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Speculations on Biden‘s health follow the delayed physical, consistent mental gaffes and an eight-hour stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in January as first lady Jill Biden had two cancerous skin lesions removed. The president’s last physical was reported in November 2021 and detailed his prescriptions for high blood pressure and blood thinner treatments.

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