Senate Republicans vote against disaster aid

Senate Republicans vote against disaster aid

Republicans in the U.S. Senate, voting along party lines, blocked a bill on Monday that would prevent a government shutdown, increase the nation’s borrowing limit and provide $28 billion in emergency aid for natural disasters like Hurricane Ida. The sticking point is the refusal of GOP senators, including Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, to allow America to pay for spending that Congress has already authorized — a move that economists warn could lead to catastrophic economic consequences. The Advocate’s Mark Ballard reports: 

Democratic senators wanted a bill that would fund the federal government, cover disaster funding, and to increase the debt ceiling, which would allow for borrowing to cover the expenditures. The Republicans pressed a similar measure – sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. – but didn’t include a debt ceiling provision.

Louisiana Public Service commissioner Foster Campbell, writing in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, notes that the debt ceiling debate caused Louisiana’s House Republicans to also vote against disaster relief for their hurricane-stricken constituents. 

Following orders from party leaders, all five voted “no” to the disaster relief. Incredibly, many of their constituents in Ida’s path still suffer in uninhabitable homes without electricity and running water. 

Dual enrollment lacks momentum
Louisiana high school students who would rather train for a job than attend a four-year university have numerous options available, as the state has invested time and resources into expanding dual enrollment programs in recent years. But too few students are taking advantage of these opportunities, according to education leaders who spoke at a Monday panel discussion about career and technical education. The Advocate’s Charles Lussier was there:   

This fall, the (East Baton Rouge Parish) school system launched Pathways to Bright Futures, with a pilot program at Glen Oaks High. (Ben) Necaise (of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System) said Pathways is a more structured approach to dual enrollment. Rather than students enrolling in dual enrollment courses “a la carte,” high school students starting in ninth grade take a sequence of dual enrollment courses with BRCC that aims to give them a shot at earning an associate’s degree while still in high school or soon after.

One way the rich get richer 
While bipartisanship seems dead when it comes to raising the debt ceiling, members of both parties are working to help America’s richest families stay rich. That’s because of an intense and effective lobbying effort to protect “stepped up basis,” an obscure tax rule that allows families with vast fortunes to pass down millions or billions of dollars to their heirs while avoiding capital gains taxes for decades. Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein of the New York Times explains how policies – and lobbying efforts –  like these widen the wealth gap between America’s super rich and everybody else. 

According to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies, the 27 richest American dynastic families have seen their wealth grow by a combined 1,007 percent since 1983, while the typical family has seen its wealth increase only by 93 percent over nearly the same period. This divergence has only become more pronounced with the onset of the pandemic: Since March 2020, the median growth in the net worth of the top 10 families was 25 percent. The divergence isn’t just the natural product of the free market. It’s the result of fastidious lobbying that creates powerful dynasties with the cash to create a skewed debate.

New state social studies standards released 
A committee of the state’s top education board last week released new social studies standards for Louisiana schools. The new standards became a flashpoint during last spring’s legislative session, as House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Ray Garofalo introduced legislation that sought to ban the teaching of systemic racism or sexism. But as the Illuminator’s JC Canicosa explains, the new standards still don’t satisfy everyone. 

Rep. Barbara Freiberg, R-Baton Rouge, endorsed the proposed social studies standards. “There has been compromising on both sides to where now people feel comfortable,” said Freiberg, who is White.  But Rep. Tammy Phelps, D-Shreveport, said she isn’t satisfied with the social studies proposal. She believes the new standards don’t fully address African-American history or the contributions of people of color to Louisiana and the United States. “It’s still very vague when I believe we should be specific when talking about history,” said Phelps, who is Black. 

Happening today
Racism Dismantling the System: Anti-AAPI Racism and its Effects. Join us and the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs TODAY at 3:30 p.m. for a discussion over the multitude of systemic and institutionalized racism inflicted on APPI communities. Tune in via LBP’s Facebook live stream.

Number of the Day
$70 – Estimated weekly savings from child-care costs for a Louisiana family at 135% of the state’s median income under President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Plan. (Source: Center for American Progress