So far, 2021 has provided a painfully stark contrast between what motivates Democratic and Republican lawmakers. On the one hand, Democratic-controlled legislatures are working hard to pass laws aimed at improving the health, dignity, and quality of life of all Americans. Republicans, however, remain hellbent on pursuing legislative action fueled by bigotry and misogyny.
After taking control of both chambers of Congress last month, Democrats have wasted no time pursuing a relief package of a scale that Republicans refused to entertain. On Friday, the House unveiled a 591-page $1.9 trillion bill known as the “American Rescue Plan” (ARP) that would stimulate the economy while offering urgently needed help.
The ARP, which could pass in the House as early as this week, includes additional stimulus payments, enhanced and extended unemployment benefits, nutrition and housing assistance, state and local government funding, and support for vaccine research and distribution. As Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth warned, “Without this relief package, conditions will spiral further out of control and families will suffer needlessly.”
The Democratic-controlled New York Senate just passed a bill aimed at ensuring equal application of the law. If enacted, the “No Citizen is Above the Law Act” will pause the statute of limitations for four years to make up for the time Donald Trump enjoyed presidential immunity. This will help ensure Trump can’t magically escape accountability for his crimes by running out the clock with New York prosecutors.
In stark contrast with Democrats, Republican lawmakers are barreling ahead with their trademark insanity, advancing a record amount of legislation making it harder to vote. A whopping 106 new bills in 28 states threaten to limit mail-in voting access, add voter ID requirements, and make voter rolls more elusive, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice. Compared to only 35 such bills in 15 states a year ago, this fervor is “grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities.”
When they’re not acting on racist impulses, Republican lawmakers can be found devising new ways to demoralize and disenfranchise women. After a Tennessee resident complained that fathers don’t have a say when it comes to abortion, Republican state senators introduced a barbaric bill this week that lets judges stop women from seeking abortions if the alleged father wants otherwise.
Anyone claiming to be the biological father merely has to sign a “voluntary acknowledgement of paternity,” and, of course, there is no need for the pregnant woman’s signature. This law carries no exceptions, which means rapists and incestuous fathers would have more rights over a pregnant woman’s body than the woman herself.
The only thing grand these days about the Grand Old Party is the appallingly breathtaking extent of the medieval mindset and depraved ideals that drive these off-the-rails lawmakers. Thankfully, Democrats made important strides in recent elections, and Americans are already reaping the benefits. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the good fight is far from over.