Rosh Hashanah is a time of reflection and celebration of the past year and the year to come. For many Ashkenazi Jews, it is traditional to dip a slice of apple in honey to celebrate the sweetness of the past year and express our hopes for a sweet and fruitful new year. As we reflect on 5782, we celebrate the legislative victories from this past year.
Last year, Congress passed the bipartisan infrastructure framework, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, into law. The law made watershed investments in American transportation and infrastructure by expediting our transition to electric vehicles (EVs), creating a network of EV charging stations across the U.S. (especially in rural areas), modernizing bus and train systems with clean, zero-emission equivalents, and ensuring access to clean water and air, especially in communities disproportionately impacted by legacy pollution and racist redlining policy.
After allowing it to lapse in 2018, Congress finally reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. While we are disappointed the VAWA reauthorization failed to close the "boyfriend loophole" to ensure that dating partners would be prohibited from owning a gun if convicted of domestic violence, the bill includes important enhancements to VAWA that respond to the growing needs of diverse populations, promote survivors' economic security and access to safe housing, invest in gender-based violence prevention programs, increase access to safety and justice for Native American survivors, and improve services for survivors.
In the aftermath of several horrific shootings, including the Buffalo and Uvalde mass shootings, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The Act partially closed the boyfriend loophole, made investments in school security resources and mental health services, encouraged states to adopt and strengthen their own extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws, enhanced background checks of under-21s buying firearms, and funded community violence intervention programs.
In August, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a transformational bill to address climate change and rising health insurance costs. Intended to reduce fossil fuel emissions by approximately 40 percent by 2030, the Inflation Reduction Act represents the most significant investment in clean energy, climate change mitigation, and environmental justice in U.S. history. The bill also lowers insurance premiums and health care costs for 13 million middle- and low-income people covered by the Affordable Care Act. Members of the RAC staff were honored to represent the Reform Movement at a White House event celebrating the bill.
Even though it's just the start of 5783, there are still a few months left of 2022. We urge Congress to start 5783 and end 2022, and the 117 th Congress, sweetly by passing the following legislation, amongst others, by the end of the year.
- To ensure everyone has the right to marry who they love, regardless of race or sexual orientation, the Senate must pass the Respect for Marriage Act. The House passed this vital legislation in July and now it is up to the Senate to codify the fundamental right of marriage equality.
- To require employers to provide reasonable, temporary accommodations to pregnant workers so that they can remain in the workforce throughout their pregnancies, the Senate must pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
- To address the ongoing wounds of enslavement and more than four centuries of entrenched racial oppression, Congress must pass H.R. 40/S. 40 to create a Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.
- And to ensure every American has a say in the policies that impact our lives, and the elected officials who are supposed to represent us, federal legislation must be passed to protect and expand access to the ballot box. Although reforms to the electoral college and presidential transition are important, this cannot be in place of true voter protections.