Hello and welcome back to DC Memo. You can find me this week, along with all the other political reporters here, wondering when we are going to reach an agreement on budget and infrastructure bills. We’re tired of writing about these things, but that’s show business, honey. Here’s what’s more available this week: a Facebook whistleblower, a challenger to Rep. Betty McCollum, and a federal push for classified-choice voting, for state and local elections.
Infrastructure, in the words of MN representatives
At the risk of continuing to flood DC Memo readers with budget and infrastructure news, lawmakers are still arguing over how it will all play out. the New York Times has been in all of this coverage, but at MinnPost we found it remarkable that your saturday story featured Minnesota representatives Ilhan Omar and Dean Phillips to represent the progressive and moderate takes, respectively, of the two bills. (If you’ve been reading MinnPost, you know we did this in august.)
the Times He maintains that President Joe Biden has “nurtured the fragile peace between the center and the rebellious left of his party by convincing both sides that he is their ally.” In fact, Biden has struggled to pass his priority infrastructure bill even though Democrats have control of the White House, the House of Representatives. and the Senate (barely). This is mainly due to a split between progressive Democrats like Omar and moderate Democrats like Phillips.
the Times The story quoted Phillips as saying that delaying the infrastructure bill (progressives want to delay it until they can get a vote on reconciliation) is not “the fast, linear path that most of us would aspire to.” Phillips acknowledged last Friday that Biden’s chances of serving as a bridge between progressives and moderates had “sadly diminished” after what he called the president’s “nothing burger” from a visit to the Capitol. I love the choice of words here, Dean.
On the other hand, Omar, a whip of the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters that progressive blockers were the ones “trying to make sure the president succeeds.”
“If we pass the infrastructure bill alone, we are not even achieving 10 percent of its agenda,” Omar said.
If you’re thinking this sounds like the same story we’ve been hearing for months, you’re not wrong. This same dispute of progressives against moderates has been going on for several months, and the self-imposed voting deadline of September 27 came and went without a vote. We will probably keep hearing all of this for a while.
Face to face on Facebook
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been at the center of much of the Facebook news this week when she led a Senate hearing on Tuesday, where she and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation heard from a Facebook whistleblower.
The complainant, who recently revealed his identity, is Frances Haugen, former product manager of Facebook. At the Senate hearing, he testified and answered questions from senators from both parties, largely about the company’s damaging effects on young users.
At Facebook, Haugen studied how the company’s algorithm amplified misinformation and was exploited by foreign antagonists. She told Congress that Facebook time and time again chose to maximize its growth rather than implement safeguards across its various platforms.
“You have said that privacy legislation is not enough, I completely agree with you,” Klobuchar told Haugen. “But I think you know, we haven’t done anything to update our privacy laws in this country, our federal privacy laws. Any. Zilch, in any important way. Why? Because there are lobbyists in every corner of this building who have been hired by the tech industry. “
A bit surprising conclusion from this audience: Republicans and Democrats are actually united in regulating Facebook.
During the hearing, Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas addressed Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and said they should put aside their partisan differences to address a common goal: to control Facebook.
On such regulation, Blumenthal said: “Our differences are very small.” Moran responded that he shares that opinion.
Haugen urged lawmakers to investigate the algorithms that drive top sources on Facebook and Instagram, which reward engagement, which in turn helps sensational content, such as posts that display hate or misinformation, travel and reach. millions of people.
“We have done nothing when it comes to making the algorithms more transparent, enabling the university research that you referred to,” Klobuchar said. “Why? Because Facebook and the other tech companies are spending a lot of money in this city and people are listening to them.”
McCollum has a challenger
Minnesota’s fourth district representative Betty McCollum, the current longest-serving member of Congress in the state, faces a primary rival in the 2022 midterm elections. Amane Badhasso, who works for the St. Paul’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity announced that he will run against McCollum.
According to Badhasso website, fled violence in Ethiopia as a child, became a refugee in Kenya and made her way to Minnesota at the age of 13, arriving through a refugee resettlement program.
“For too long, too many members of the Fourth Congress have been left behind,” Badhasso said in a press release. “The fight to pass overdue funding for America’s crumbling infrastructure and the best rebuilding agenda to support working families this week demonstrates the need for bold leadership in Congress. … From my work in the community as an organizer, I know that our neighbors need a transformative vision to ensure that we all prosper. I promise to be a fierce advocate to ensure that no one in our district is left behind. “
McCollum has held the Fourth District since 2001, and prior to that she was a member of the Minnesota House beginning in 1993. She has a lot of power in Congress as chair of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.
Phillips is a pro option (rated)
Third District Representative Dean Phillips joined Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Angus King (I-Maine) in reintroduce the Voter Choice Act adopt a classified-choice voting model for elections, also known as an “instant second round.” The Voter Choice Act provides $ 40 million in federal grants to cover up to 50 percent of the cost for state and local governments that choose to adopt classification voting.
Classified Election Voting It allows voters to rank candidates in a race, essentially voting for multiple candidates in order of preference rather than simply voting for the first choice of one. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the first-choice votes, a new counting process is triggered. The candidate who did the worst is eliminated and the second-choice elections of that candidate’s voters are redistributed.
Research has shown that ranking voting helps women and candidates of color.
“Our democracy is at a crossroads. In the midst of historic division and partisan bitterness, we must take significant steps to improve our electoral system from scratch, ”Phillips said in a statement announcing the bill. “That is why, as cities, states and even political parties, both red and blue, have recognized, we need a vote in order of preference. RCV is simple, it empowers voters and rewards candidates who expand their support beyond their base. The Voter Choice Act provides financial resources and technical assistance to communities seeking to adopt RCV without imposing a mandate on communities that are not yet ready for change.
What i am reading
- “Who is the bad friend of art?New York Times Magazine. I feel compelled to recommend this story because it has been the entirety of The Discourse on Twitter and other social media all week. This wild ride includes a woman who donates her kidney to a stranger, a friend who steals her story, a lawsuit, and subpoenas from group chat transcripts (worst nightmare scenario, in my opinion). I won’t spoil the plot any more, but I implore you to read this extremely strange and well-written piece.
- “What already counts as scientific writing?“The Atlantic. Once again, I tell you to read a story by Ed Yong in The Atlantic. This is an introspective article by the wonderful science writer on how the concept of scientific writing has changed almost fundamentally during the pandemic. When almost every aspect of daily life now revolve around COVID-19 and its butterfly effect in our lives, isn’t it all science writing?
- “Your group of friends should look like the cast of a twentysomething drama (and other myths about millennial friendship),Catapult. I may be biased as a 20-something Millennial, but this column seemed to be talking about my own friendships in a way that was familiar to me, but not consciously thought about before. The idea of ”transitional friendship”, that some friends grow up with you, in a way, is something I have experienced as I almost have to reconnect with friends I made as a child, now well into adulthood. There is something very comforting about friends who understand where you come from and how that influences who you are today.
That’s all from me this week. Thank you for reading. As always, feel free to send questions, comments, or stories about the joy of catching up with old friends at firstname.lastname@example.org follow me on Twitter at @byashleyhackett.