PEG 12th Congressional District Newsletter 300

Thursday, January 19, 2023

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This is PEG's 300th newsletter issue...

and we are just beginning!

Clip from 300 movie meant to symbolize the 300th PEG Newsletter

Three significant bills for equality and fairness pass in 2022

Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act of 2022

On July 20, 2022, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the bill, which revises the process of casting and counting electoral votes for presidential elections as well as provisions related to the presidential transition process. The bill was signed by the President on December 23, 2022.

The experience of January 6, 2021 demonstrated that the Electoral Count Act of 1887 left much room for interpretation. The changes with the new law are significant. The new law:

  1. clarifies that the role of the Vice – President in presiding over the session opening the electoral ballots as simply a “ministerial” role.
  2. raises the threshold for Congress to object and debate whether to accept a slate of electors from a state from one member of congress to a one-fifth vote from both houses.
  3. streamlines the submission of electors to Congress from each state by recognizing the state’s governor as the only one who can submit the certificate of ascertainment of a state’s electors and no other state official unless that official is otherwise identified in the state’s law or constitution 
  4. provides for quicker judicial review by prioritizing suits from candidates who may want to challenge a certification of electors with a direct and quicker appeal to the Supreme Court. 
  5. strikes from the statutes a law that allowed states to declare a “failed election.”

This article explains the Electoral College as well as the changes to the Act..

The vote: Senate (12/22/22) 68 – 29: House (12/23/22) 225-201. Ballotpedia provides the voter specifics.


Pregnancy Persons Fairness Act

After more than a decade’s worth of attempts, Congress finally passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) in December 2022 as part of the $1.7 trillion government funding bill which takes effect on June 27, 2023.

PWFA expressly requires employers with at least 15 employees to treat qualified employees with pregnancy-related restrictions precisely as they treat qualified employees with disabilities, providing reasonable accommodations unless doing so would pose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.

Whether the PWFA represents a change from the status quo will vary by state. Since 2000, when Congress declined to pass additional protections for pregnant employees, more than thirty states have passed protections that exceed the federal requirements under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) passed in 1978.

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act

​The “PUMP Act, passed in December 2022, closes some loopholes in the original 2010 law and goes into effect on April 28, 2023. The law applies to employers of ALL sizes and requires a reasonable amount of break time and a clean, private space for lactating workers to express milk for up to one year following the birth of the employee’s child. The pumping space cannot be a bathroom.

The law expands the legal right to receive pumping breaks and private space to nearly nine million more workers, including teachers, registered nurses, farmworkers, and many others and clarifies that pumping time counts as time worked when calculating minimum wage and overtime if an employee is not completely relieved from their work duties during the pumping break.


Saturday, January 21. Senator Jeff Irwin Coffee Hour

Plug into what’s happening in the legislature and in our communities and talk about the issues that most affect you! To receive zoom details please fill out this form by 5:00 PM on 1/20/22: 11 am

A weekly MUST - Zoom Wednesdays - America At A Crossroads

Zoom the virtual conversation series with the country’s most renowned names in political analysis, journalism, and politics - America At A Crossroads. Guests include Minxin Pei, Larry Diamond, Russian Amb. Michael McFaul, Rep Adam Schiff, and David Brooks, among others. 8-9 pm ET

Sunday, January 29. Conversations with Deepak Piru

Whether you are interested in winning elections, supporting people who are or wanting to get elected officials to do your bidding, you will want to hear Chuck interview Deepak Piru. Learn how artificial intelligence is being used to influence you for good or for evil. Also, you will meet a fascinating man who resigned from his executive positions in Silicon Valley to work pro bono helping progressive causes and candidates win with leading edge technologies. 7:30 pm

Things to do

Sign the Petition TODAY! Stop Appointment of an Anti-Masker as Ottawa County Health Officer! ACTION ITEM: Sign the petition to Elizabeth Hertel, Director of MDHHS, to state your opposition to the appointment of Nate Kelly as Administrative Health Officer of the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. He advocates against widely accepted and scientifically sound COVID-19 mitigations and medical practices. Action Network is looking for 500 more signatures. For more info and to sign the petition, click here.

Call Your Senators (find yours here)

Hi, I'm a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is ______.

I understand Republicans in the House just passed a bill that would defund the IRS. I want the Senator to vehemently oppose it when it comes to the floor there. The IRS has been starved of funding because rich tax cheats like Donald Trump and Elon Musk have avoided paying their fair share. It’s unacceptable. Also, this bill would add 114 billion to the deficit. No way. Please make sure this bill dies on the Senate floor. Thanks.

Being truthful about the state of our nation and world does not equal losing hope. Hope sees truth and still believes in better. That which dismisses or does not seek truth, but grins, saying "It will be okay," is naïveté, not hope. -- Bernice King

From Chop Wood Carry Water

Things to read, watch, and listen to

National Debt FAQ's

What is the national debt?

The national debt (31.38T) is the total amount of outstanding borrowing by the US Government accumulated over the nation’s history. The US has carried debt since its inception. Debts incurred during the American Revolution amounted to $75, primarily borrowed for domestic investors and the French Government for war materials. For a full explanation of the national debt, click US Treasury.  


What is the “debt ceiling?”

In a statute passed in 1917 the U.S. Treasury was authorized to borrow money to pay the government’s bills that have become due and pay for future investments. Once the debt ceiling is reached, the federal government cannot increase the amount of outstanding debt, losing the ability to pay bills and fund programs and services.

What are the “extraordinary measures” that Treasury Secretary Yellen can employ to avoid reaching the debt ceiling is reached?

The Treasury Department can prioritize payments in ways that offer it more wiggle room for a limited amount of time, thus extending the time before it breaches the debt ceiling. Sec’y Yellen has indicated that by early June the extraordinary measures will likely run out. (-Washington Post)

What happens if the debt ceiling is reached and the US doesn’t pay interest on its debts?

Last year, Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi predicted that a default “would wipe out as many as 6 million jobs and erase $15 trillion in household wealth.” (-Washington Monthly)


What are the Republicans planning to do?

The Republican plan was part of a private deal to elect Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House. According to the Washington Post, the GOP proposal would call on the Biden administration to prioritize payments and make only the most critical federal payments. It could, for example, fund Social Security, Medicare, the military and veterans benefits – but leave out “Medicaid, food safety inspections, border control and air traffic control, to name just a handful of thousands of programs.” This plan would be exceedingly controversial. Check out this short video below!

What’s a discharge petition?

The process, known as a discharge petition, is a rarely used parliamentary procedure that requires 218 signatures, regardless of party—a majority of the House—to dislodge a bill from committee and move it to the floor. According to the WSJ, Democrats and some centrist Republicans are in early, informal conversations about using this tactic to potentially circumvent efforts by House GOP leadership and the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus to block a debt-ceiling increase. It is rarely successful.

What’s the 14th amendment got to do with it?

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment was passed to prevent a partisan majority from defaulting on the national debt. Section 4 provides that “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.” Advocates of executive power have argued that the executive branch can and should move in when Congress can’t or won’t handle an emergency. However, there could be a “constitutional conundrum” as to whether the President has authority here. – Washington Monthly


Robert Hubbell suggests that “the arguments in favor of Biden continuing to pay previous debts incurred by the US are not free from doubt but have the most logical force of the possible outcomes.” For a convincing explanation of the legal theory that the President can pay existing debts even if the “debt ceiling” is exceeded, see Neil H. Buchanan in Verdict, The Worst Sequel of 2021: “Debt Ceiling Zombies Attack!”

Conversations with Chuck Newman took on anti-semitism in a fun way

Here's the link to the recording of Chuck's "funniest show ever"

It starts with some serious and fascinating topics and then gets to the outrageous antics of New Orleans' Krewe du Jieux. Also here is a slide show that we didn't have time to view on the show that you will likely enjoy. Please feel free to share the link and slides.

Link to show:

Link to slideshow:

Here are a few way to help keep your elected officials on their toes

And last but not least: do not forget to attend the coffee hours and town halls from your local officials.

January 22, 2023 we offer New Year greetings and solidarity to the 1.5 billion people across the globe who observe the lunar calendar. Seems like a perfect time to share a couple of reminders of the impact the Asian-American population has had and continues to have on these United States.

As far as Asian-Americans in political office goes, the list is relatively short. Michigan, however, is making progress in this area. In fact, newly elected Shri Thanedar (D-13) of Michigan (shown left) is just one of two members of Congress of Asian descent.

On the Chinese New Year: Consciousness of Danger

When former President Trump insisted on calling Covid “the Chinese virus” from the start of the pandemic, it released a wave of violence and threats to Asian-Americans. According to NPR, “Hate crimes against Asian Americans, ranging from verbal abuse to violent attacks, increased in several cities in 2020 from 2019.” NPR also notes that “a recent survey found that nearly 80% of Asian Americans don't feel respected and say they are discriminated against by their fellow Americans.

Writes US Representative Grace Meng in her newsletter, “Hearing stories consistently from around the world where people are being harassed and assaulted really reminds me that often times we are, as a community, still viewed as outsiders.”

The disrespect and prejudice experienced by Asians is often a disregarded story. According to Lea Askarinam and National Journal writing in The Atlantic, Asians are often considered the model minority as they enter the corporate and professional world in large numbers. However, a close scrutiny reveals another truth: They’re employed but not necessarily promoted up the ranks to leadership.

Representative Meng admits in her newsletter that she’d assumed that prejudice and violence was part of her parents’ generation. Presently, she’s aware “they are now something we have to deal with.”

Artwork from artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s New York-based project “I Still Believe in Our City.” Shared in Chicago Sun Times

Write us at if you would like help create our weekly newsletter OR if you would like to be a guest contributor! It’s fun and no ongoing commitment is required.


A special thanks to our newsletter contributors: Ellen Halter, Leslie McGraw, Leslie Kamil, Lisa Kamil, Richard Gaeth, Bette Cotzin, Bernie Banet, Linda Bennett, Kayla Conrad, and Chuck Newman for their contributions and help preparing our newsletters. PEG is a (somewhat) non-partisan volunteer organization whose mission is to assure that our government will treat all Americans with equality and acceptance. PEG's work is primarily done by recruiting, educating and nurturing supporters for worthy organizations, actions and events that reflect our beliefs.  To subscribe to this free weekly newsletter, go to our sign up form by clicking here.

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