Friday’s Five Fast Facts about Federal Priorities: What’s Been Happening in Washington, DC, this Week | February 10, 2023

Jeff Garis |

The big news this week was President Biden’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. The president used the speech to highlight the policy accomplishments of the last two years and outline his goals for the future, calling on senators and representatives to “finish the job.” Here are five policy priorities that were in the spotlight during the address.


#1 Made In America


After President Biden detailed the investments that are being made via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, he announced new standards requiring that all construction materials for these projects be made in America. “On my watch, American roads, bridges, and highways will be made with American products.”


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#2 Lowering Prescription Costs


The president highlighted provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act to lower prescription drug prices for people enrolled in Medicare, particularly the $35/month cap on the cost of insulin. “But there are millions of other Americans who are not on Medicare,” Biden said, “Let’s finish the job this time. Let’s cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for every American who needs it … some members here are threatening to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act. Make no mistake, if you try to do anything to raise the cost of prescription drugs, I will veto it.”


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#3 Billionaire Minimum Income Tax


President Biden noted that the new investments enacted during the last two years are funded “by finally making the wealthiest and the biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share.” He called on Congress to “finish the job. Reward work, not just wealth. Pass my proposal for a billionaire minimum tax.” The Billionaire Minimum Income Tax was cosponsored in the previous Congress by five Pennsylvania representatives: Brendan Boyle, Madeleine Dean, Dwight Evans, Mary Gay Scanlon, and Susan Wild.


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#4 Default Crisis


The president observed that nearly one-quarter of the entire national debt was added by the Trump administration, yet Congress lifted the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or the threat of a default crisis. “They paid America’s bills to prevent economic disaster for our country. Tonight, I’m asking this Congress to follow suit. Let us commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned. Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage unless I agree to their economic plans.”


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#5 Social Security and Medicare


President Biden’s message on this was clear and direct: “Social Security and Medicare are a lifeline for millions of seniors. Americans have been paying into them with every single paycheck since they started working. So tonight, let’s all agree to stand up for seniors. Stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security. We will not cut Medicare. Those benefits belong to the American people. They earned them. If anyone tries to cut Social Security, I will stop them. And if anyone tries to cut Medicare, I will stop them. I will not allow them to be taken away. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.” MAGA House Republicans protested loudly in response, as their “revised” strategy for cutting these successful and widely popular programs is to deny that they want to slash them, and then rebrand the cuts as eliminating “waste, fraud, & abuse” and promoting “efficiency.”


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Jeff Garis is PBPC’s Federal Campaigns and Program director, and he coordinates The 99% Pennsylvania campaign, advocating for federal policies that benefit all Pennsylvanians.