First up, more virus relief may be coming.
Senate parliamentarian: An unelected and nonpartisan person who interprets the chamber rules. The position is currently filled by Elizabeth MacDonough.
Biden’s $1.9 trillion virus relief bill passed through the House on Saturday and heads to the Senate this week. Here's what you need to know:
- The bill is big. Many economists have criticized the size of the bill, fearing that it will result in inflation, but Biden is hoping to learn from past stimulus bills and push the country towards full employment. About $420 billion of the bill is dedicated to a package of $1,400-per-person checks for most households. Other expenses include expansion of both jobless benefits ($240 billion) and tax credits for parents and low-income workers ($130 billion). Housing assistance receives $40 billion and health insurance subsidies get $65 billion. The other half of the bill is directed towards aiding state and local governments, specifically money for schools and coronavirus vaccines.
- The bill has proven to be popular among voters, even those who voted for Trump in the past election. Despite the bill being one of the most popular bills in decades, Republican lawmakers are firm in their opposition of it. No House Republicans voted to pass the bill, and a similar fate is expected in the Senate as many Republicans are arguing that the bill is too large for a receding pandemic.
- The bill originally contained a provision to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, but the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the provision violated budgetary rules.
- The bill will need unanimous Democrat support and Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote if it wants to pass through the Senate, which is expected to vote on the bill before March 14 when benefits from the last stimulus begin to expire.
Now, what's next for the Equality Act.
The filibuster is when debate is prolonged on a bill to prevent it from coming to a vote. The filibuster can be ended and a vote can ensue by cloture, which is a rule that requires 60 votes, or a ⅗ majority to end the filibuster. The filibuster only applies to the Senate.
- The Equality Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. These protections apply to public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system.
- The Equality Act was first introduced in 2019 and though it passed the House, it was blocked in the Senate, then under Republican control.
- The act still has to pass the Senate, which may be difficult considering it would need 60 votes to break the filibuster.
- The act’s passage in the House comes on the heels of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County which ruled that the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII “on the basis of sex” clause applies to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment.
- The Biden administration’s recent executive orders have cemented the Bostock decision and expanded it to other areas where discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited, like housing, health care and education.
- The passage of the Equality Act in the House was called “a major milestone for equality and ensuring everyone is treated equally under the law¨ by the Human Rights Campaign.
As warming weather and waning snowdrifts signal the start of spring in Chicago, the growing season is quickly approaching. Along with native flora and home gardens, however, Chicagoland’s many invasive plants are also set to rear their ugly buds. Amid more controversy over our nation’s immigration policies, here are some lousy leaves you should look to deport from ecosystems near you.
Buckthorn is an understory shrub that grows up to 20 feet tall. Its oblong leaves and light bark, along with dark berries, make it easy to identify. Buckthorn can grow and spread rapidly,outcompeting native plants. Its rapid growth and dense foliage can also prevent sunlight from reaching the forest floor. Like many weeds that spread quickly, buckthorn grow shallow root systems and smaller plants can be removed by hand or shovel without too much hassle.
Another mid-level shrub, honeysuckle grows to around 10 feet tall and is easily distinguished by its viny branches covered in long, fragrant flowers. Like buckthorn, honeysuckle grows quickly and creates a thick canopy, preventing sunlight from reaching plants on the ground. It also forms relatively shallow root systems and can be removed with moderate ease. Larger buckthorn and honeysuckle can be cut low in the trunk and sprayed with a chemical herbicide if removal is too challenging.
Garlic mustard grows to around knee height in shaded areas, and is spotted by the small clusters of white flowers atop its scalloped leaves. Garlic mustard releases chemicals into the soil that suppresses the growth of native plants to facilitate its spread. Fortunately, its small size and shallow roots provide about as much resistance to removal as a tissue, and it doesn’t normally require more than a few fingers to dislodge.
More common invasive plants can be found here.
After removing invasives from your own yard, replacing them with native plants can help build a stable ecosystem and prevent invasive repopulation. The Dupage Forest Preserve hosts an annual native plant sale, which opens March 15, and there are many other vendors around Chicago. If you want to expand the fight against invasives beyond your own yard, the Forest Preserve also hosts volunteer removal events on a regular basis. Don’t leaf invasives alone until it's too late!
Vietnamese Spring Rolls: Gỏi cuốn, commonly referred to as Vietnamese spring rolls, are the perfect fresh, easy, and tasty meal. The dish originated from China, and typically consists of an array of thinly sliced vegetables and a protein of choice, wrapped in Bánh tráng (rice paper), and dipped in sauce. The best part of these delicious rolls is how customizable they are, they can truly be created from whatever produce you have in your fridge! Here is a recipe for a very colorful (and scrumptious) roll.
-8 rice paper wrappers
Vegetables (select as many or as few as you please):
-1 carrot (peeled and thinly sliced in matchsticks)
-1 yellow bell pepper (thinly sliced in matchsticks)
-1 cucumber (peeled and thinly sliced in matchsticks)
-¼ head of purple cabbage (sliced thinly)
Protein (we used edamame)
-1 cup of edamame (heated from frozen or fresh)
-Other common protein sources include pork slices, shrimp, tofu, or eggs
-4 oz rice noodles boiled for five minutes and rinsed with cold water
-3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
-½ cup mango thinly sliced
-1 avocado thinly sliced
-Once vegetables are peeled and chopped, and protein has been cooked, fill a large bowl with warm water. Quickly dip one piece of rice paper into the warm water to soften, make sure to soak the entirety of the paper but do not leave it in for more than 5 seconds. Place wet paper onto a plate and smooth into a circle. Begin to place vegetables onto the roll vertically, and slightly to the left of the center. If using herbs, avocado, fruit or noodles, place them on top of the vegetables. Make sure not to overfill, leaving approximately 2 inches uncovered on each side. Fold the left side of the wrap over the vegetables and then fold the top and bottom sides of the wrap on top. Place protein on the remaining right side of the wrap and tightly fold over the vegetable portion. Repeat steps until the desired amount of spring rolls is achieved.
Serve with sauce of your choice: hoisin, soy, fish, or peanut sauce are all common dipping sauces.