Highlights from the Week
1. On January 19, 2023, the United States reached its debt ceiling, which is the limit on government spending that lawmakers already agreed to. Periodically, Congress must raise the limit on the amount of money it can borrow, or the government must default on its debt. This is the first time in United States history that the U.S. government has hit the debt ceiling without raising it, raising questions about what could happen to the economy. As of now, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has stated that the Treasury Department can continue paying its bills until June, when the department will not have enough money to cover things like bond payments, government workers’ salaries, social security payments, and by which point Congress must act. Please click here for a statement from Secretary Yellen, here for statements from Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California, here for House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, and here for Leaders Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
2. January 20, 2023 was the 50th Anniversary of the decision in Roe v. Wade, where the Supreme Court ruled that the right to an abortion was a fundamental constitutional right. This year was the first since the right to an abortion was overturned by the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Please click here to see a statement from President Joe Biden, here from House Minority Whip Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, here from Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota, and here from House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York.
3. On January 21, 2023, eleven people died in a mass shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, after a day-long Lunar New Year event. Two days later, seven more people died in another shooting in Half Moon Bay, California, after a gunman opened fire at two farms in the area. This has renewed calls from federal and state officials for the government to act in ways that could prevent future shootings. Please click to see statements from both of California’s senators, Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla. Additionally, senators have just introduced an assault weapons ban, please click here to see the press release from Dianne Feinstein.
By the Elections Research team: Nick, Zachary, Courtney, Seth, and Caleb
Biographies: Want to learn more about officials who have been sworn in at the federal level? You can see the full list of officials here:
New Senator: On January 23, 2023, the U.S. Senate swore in a new member, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska. He is replacing retiring Senator Ben Sasse, who stepped down from the post to take the presidency of the University of Florida. Ricketts, the former Governor of Nebraska, was appointed by current Governor Jim Pillen to the post and sworn in to his term by Vice President Kamala Harris. He is eligible to run in a special election in November 2024 to fill out the remaining two years of Sasse’s term, and will serve in this role until at least January 2025. Please click here to read more about his biography.
Want to learn more about officials who have been sworn in at the state level? You can see the full list of officials here:
By the Officials Research team: Noah, Johanan, Neal, Thomas, Bibi, Craig, and Israel
Public Statements: 257 statements were added this week. See highlights from the week for notable statements.
States: 13 new votes were added.
Minnesota’s House passed HF 37 which seeks to prohibit hair discrimination in schools, jobs, or anywhere else based on natural occurring hairstyles. This bill seeks to prohibit hair discrimination based on hair texture or hair style such as braids, locs, or twists often associated with an individual’s race. This bill also seeks to amend Minnesota Statutes 2022 to specify that the definition of race includes inclusive traits associated with race such as braids, locs, or twists.
West Virginia’s Senate passed SB 130 which seeks to prohibit teaching the topic known as “critical race theory” (CRT) in public schools. Click here to view the full highlights and bill text.
Wyoming’s Senate passed SF 103 which seeks to limit the teaching of Critical Race Theory in K-12 public schools. This bill requires school instruction to be consistent with principles of individual freedom. This bill also prohibits instruction teaching that: one is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of race or sex and teaching that one bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
Federal Legislation: 2 new votes
Special Interest Groups:
This year to date, the SIGS team has entered 3 ratings and 220 endorsements for candidates.