Meet the woman who took the case for free federal IDs to Congress
Plus: The latest on student loan debt cancelation and why Sen. Sinema thinks President Biden is wrong for supporting exceptions to the filibuster.
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FIRST THINGS FIRST
You ever been on the phone and could hear the person on the other end’s smile?
That was me this afternoon with Kat Calvin, CEO of Project ID Action Fund, an organization that helps people get the photo-issued IDs that they need for homes, jobs, food, medical care and more.
Her joy was justified: Earlier this month Democratic Reps. Sean Casten of Illinois and Cori Bush of Missouri introduced the IDs for Inclusive Democracy Act, a bill Calvin helped craft — a full year ahead of her self-imposed deadline.
The legislation would create a federal photo identification card that is free, optional for the American public, and available at locations outside of the Department of Motor Vehicles, including libraries and post offices, where you can already get a passport. It would save Americans between $50 and $90 DMV IDs also create a task force of appropriate stakeholders that will create this federal photo identification card through the Social Security Administration.
“This is not a thing that is unfeasible that’s even breaking that much new ground,” Calvin told me. “It’s just taking this process and putting it into places that are easier to access, particularly for folks in rural areas, for folks who don’t have transportation, so that we’re not asking folks to travel to a DMV and go through that process. So for me, that’s the thing that I’m most excited about.”
Millions of American adults who do not have an ID are unable to get a job, sign a lease or purchase a home, open a bank account or access benefits and services from federal agencies like the Veterans Affairs Department or programs like WIC and SNAP. In 35 states, you need a valid photo ID to vote — a barrier that excludes people from participating in one of the fundamental functions of our democracy.
“I introduced this legislation because it is unconscionable that there are 21 million Americans who cannot access the basic necessities to take care of themselves in our society, like getting a job, opening a bank account or visiting urgent care,” Rep. Casten said in a statement to Supercreator. “The IDs for Inclusive Democracy Act creates no-cost federal photo IDs and gives folks that important first step to provide for themselves.”
Calvin said the process happened pretty quickly: Her first conversation with Rep. Casten’s office was early summer, late spring.
“They were just really enthusiastic,” she said. “It was just a rare case where we had all the info, they had the energy and the will to do it. And before we knew it, legislative staff had written the bill and then I was in Washington as it was being introduced in September.”
Calvin told me she hopes the bill inspires a debate about what it means to participate in our democracy.
“A lot of folks, they only think about voting. And they think if you give someone the ability to vote, then regardless of what their life looks like, then they’re going to vote. And that’s actually not true.”
The less safe and secure you are, the less likely you’re going to vote. But when people have access to photo IDs, the pursue jobs which opens paths to all forms of democracy like paying taxes, volunteering and, yes, voting.
Now that the bill is introduced, Calvin and the bill’s sponsors are now focused on moving it through the House Oversight Committee. She’s also hard at work getting a senator to sponsor their own version of the bill that can move through a similar process that’s already started in the House.
“And then it’s just years and years and years and years of however long it takes of working on getting the right number of each chamber to agree to vote for the bill so that we can then take it to the floor and get a vote.”
You can visit IDforID.org to read more about the bill and see if your congressperson is a sponsor.
“If they are, get in touch and say thank you,” Calvin said. If not, there’s a page for advocacy where you can find call scripts and ways to get in touch with your members along with social media links so you can tweet and invite your community to support the cause.
Calvin told me the bill also represents what’s possible when you realize the government belongs to you and that you can shape it the way you want to.
“You need to do that inside the system as well as outside. As much as you want to change things from outside and by rebelling or protesting or all the things that are really important, at the end of the day, laws are made by Congress,” she said. “And you have to change the system whether it’s Congress, your city council or the state legislature, there’s so many different places.”
TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden this morning returned to the White House from Wilmington, Delaware and welcomed the Atlanta Braves to celebrate their 2021 World Series championship. The president this afternoon spoke at the third meeting of the White House Competition Council.
Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Tokyo this morning and participated in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan to discuss a range of regional and global issues. The vice president also participated in a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Kishida at the Akasaka Palace.
The rest of Biden’s week:
Tuesday: The president will speak at an event focused on lowering health care costs and protecting and strengthening Medicare and Social Security.
Wednesday: The president and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will speak at a celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He will also speak at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health and participate in a Democratic Governors Association reception.
Thursday: President Biden will host the first ever US-Pacific Island Country Summit and participate in a family photo with Pacific Island Leaders. He will also host a dinner with the leaders.
Friday: The president and first lady will host separate receptions to celebrate the Jewish New Year and Hispanic Heritage Month.
Saturday: President Biden and Vice President Harris will speak at the 2022 Phoenix Awards Dinner.
The House is out.
The Senate is out.
Sinema calls Biden’s filibuster opposition “wrong”
Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on Monday knocked President Joe Biden for his support of eliminating the filibuster — the 60-vote Senate threshold required to advance most major legislation — to secure voting rights and reproductive justice.
What she said: “[The filibuster] has become politicized intensely in recent years. Our last president wanted to eliminate it every couple of days. Our current president talks about it on Twitter all the time. They’re both wrong. They’re both wrong. Because if we were to get into that moment of wanting just what you want, the reversal that would come in a year or two years would not only be bad for the American body, it’d be bad for businesses, be bad for state and local governments and be bad for us as Americans to think that we should always feed our short-term desires rather than thinking about the long term.”
No matter which party controls the Senate after the November midterms, neither is expected to win a big enough majority to be able to pass any significant bills without support from the other side.
Senate Democrats hope to add two more seats to their majority to bypass the filibuster and pass bills to restore and expand voting rights and enshrine federal protections to abortion care, two priorities Senate Republicans have opposed. (Attempts last year to remove the filibuster and pass voting rights were blocked by Sens. Sinema and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.)
Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes of Wisconsin have committed to voting to eliminate the filibuster during their campaigns to flip their state’s seats from Republican control.
A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Counterpoint: Critics of the filibuster say the mechanism allows senators representing small states to block bills with broad public support from passing and enables senators to avoid their governing responsibilities.
Sinema would go further if she could: She added that she would also restore the 60-vote threshold for the areas in which it has been eliminated already, including Supreme Court confirmations.
“Not everyone likes that. Because it would make it harder. It would make it harder for us to confirm judges and it would make it harder to confirm executive appointments in each administration,” she said. “But I believe if we did restore it, we would actually see more of that middle ground in all parts of our governance, which is what I believe our forefathers intended.”
Next on Sinema’s legislative wish list: Sinema mentioned immigration reform as the next priority she’d like to push across the finish line and said she intends to work with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to solve the US’s broken system.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been stymied by political edges on both ends of the spectrum: One party that demands only border walls and security and another party that wants amnesty for millions of people,” she said. “The reality is that we have to address our security needs and our workforce needs. And I hope to be able to partner with my friend John and deliver something in the next for months or a couple years.”
Sinema delivered her remarks at the McConnell Center, an endowed institution created in 1991 by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and the University of Louisville.
McConnell praised Sinema, who’s up for reelection in 2024, as the most-effective first-term senator he’s seen in his time in politics.
“As you can tell, I have a very high opinion of the senator from Arizona,” McConnell said during his introduction of Sinema. “But the biggest compliment to her is she protects the institution of the Senate.”
A spokesperson for Sinema did not respond to a request for details on how the talk came together.
See also: Sinema’s full talk
Biden to host the Macrons this December
The White House announced President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will host President Emmanuel Macron and Bridget Macron of France for a state visit on December 1, the first of the Biden administration.
“We deeply value our relationship with France, our oldest ally, with our bilateral relations founded on shared democratic values, economic ties, and defense and security cooperation,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday told reporters. “We work closely with with France on the full range of global challenges, including the war in Ukraine. It is for these reasons that the president and first lady thought it was important to welcome this close and valued partner to the White House for their first state visit.”
President Biden and Macron have had multiple conversations over the president’s first 19 months in office and met most recently last week at the United States General Assembly in New York.
For his first state dinner in November 2009, former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh of India and his wife Gursharan Kaur.
Former President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted the Macrons in April 2018 for his administration’s first state dinner.
Jean-Pierre said that the pandemic has delayed many of the in-person events a president traditionally hosts at the White House.
WH says student debt update is imminent
The White House will have an update on the application and next steps for student loan debt cancelation soon, Jean-Pierre said during her daily press briefing.
The administration has said that borrowers should submit their application to the Education Department by November 15 to have their debt canceled before the payment pause expires at the end of the year.
“There’s always a lot of noise around the student debt relief,” Jean-Pierre said. And the bottom line is this is going to give some breathing room to many Americans This is going to be an important step forward in giving people an opportunity to save some money and put money down on a house to start their family.”
Last month President Biden announced a plan to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt for borrowers earning up to $125,000. The federal government will also cancel up to an additional $10,000 in federal loan debt for recipients of Pell Grants, which help undergraduate students from low-income households pay for college.
The plan will cost $400 billion, according to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office released on Monday. The CBO said 45 percent of income-eligible borrowers will have their entire outstanding debt canceled.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said in a statement that they disagree with some of the CBO’s assumptions that underlie the analysis but that the policy demonstrates how the federal government can invest in working people over wealthy corporations.
“In contrast to President Trump and Republicans who gave giant corporations $2 billion in tax breaks, President Biden delivered transformative middle class relief by canceling student debt for working people who need it most.”
WH centers Native Americans in Braves nickname debate
After President Biden hosted the Atlanta Braves this afternoon to celebrate their 2021 World Series championship, the topic of the baseball team’s controversial nickname came up during the daily press briefing.
“We believe that it’s important to have this conversation,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “And Native American and indigenous voices, they should be at the center of this conversation.”
Some Atlanta fans called on the team to change its name and end the “tomahawk chop,” a cheer in which they mimic a Native American war chant while making a hammering motion with their arms, during the 2020 season of solidarity after the murder of George Floyd.
“We will always be the Atlanta Braves,” the team ownership wrote in a letter to season ticket holders. (The NFL’s Washington Commanders changed its name earlier this year; Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Guardians did the same in 2021.)
Jean-Pierre added that Biden and the administration believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
“You hear that often from this president. The same is true here. And we should listen to Native Americans and indigenous people who are the most impacted by this.
Thanks for reading the newsletter! Forgive me for excluding reading recommendations today. I spent most of the day reporting and didn’t get around to my reading list today. I’ll try to do better tomorrow! Send me tips, comments and questions — or say hi: firstname.lastname@example.org.