State & Federal Political Recap

President Biden Calls for Additional Spending Increases in First Address to Congress
In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Biden last week outlined a domestic agenda that calls for $1.8 trillion in new spending on education and social services.  This increase in spending would be in addition to his proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal and the already enacted $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill.  His “American Families Plan” includes proposals to waive the first two years of tuition costs for community colleges; provide workers with 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; invest in universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds; extend the newly enhanced child tax credit for an additional four years; and provide additional funding for child care assistance; among other goals.  A more detailed overview of the proposal can be found here. The day after the president’s speech, his administration embarked on a “Getting America Back on Track” tour – with officials attempting to solidify support for the president’s initiatives via public events in various states.


Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation Will Decrease Following U.S. Census Results
The Commonwealth will lose one congressional seat – going from its current 18 member delegation to 17 – as a result of stagnating population growth, according to U.S. Census Bureau officials.  Based on data compiled by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the state has lost at least one congressional seat the past nine consecutive counts.  It has been more than a century since Pennsylvania gained seats in Congress – a distinction that last took place in 1910 when Pennsylvania’s delegation grew by four seats to a total of 36 representatives in the U.S. House.  With the current delegation evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, the re-drawing of the state’s congressional maps is expected to be contentious.


Biden Administration to Restrict Travel from India
As India experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Biden has announced plans to restrict travel from the country starting tomorrow, Tuesday, May 4.  In a statement released last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the decision was made based on the advice of officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  “The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India,” the statement said.  There are exemptions to the policy – including American citizens and lawful permanent residents.  In those instances, the individual will have to test negative prior to leaving India and then quarantine if they have not yet been vaccinated.  Additional information on the new policy can be found in this CNN article.


Real ID Deadline Extended Until 2023
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the enforcement start date of Real ID to May 3, 2023.  Enforcement was originally scheduled to begin Oct. 1, 2021.  Officials within the department cited “circumstances resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic” as the reason for the deadline extension.  Once the requirements go into effect, a government-issued Real ID will be required to fly commercial flights or enter a federal building.  Several forms of identification qualify as a Real ID – including U.S. passports and passport cards and permanent resident cards.  Pennsylvania residents can also obtain a Real ID-compliant state driver’s license. More information on the deadline extension and obtaining a Real ID can be found in this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article.


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