An overview of current national issues.
BY ADELAIDE PETRAS ’24
National politics constantly circulate in the media, allowing the average citizen to catch glimpses of various issues without truly understanding them. It is necessary to be informed of what is happening in the country, yet most people don’t have the time to do in-depth research. Whether people are aware or not, the country is brimming with issues regarding everything from its inner workings to human rights. Here follows an overview of a few of the most prominent current political affairs.
THE HOUSE SPEAKERSHIP
California Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected House speaker (Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives) on Jan. 7. McCarthy was elected after 14 unsuccessful rounds of voting, the longest contest in over a century. The lengthy process highlights divisions within the Republican Party, with some moderate party members holding out against the more conservative McCarthy. McCarthy demonstrated his right-wing position by expressing gratitude toward former President Donald Trump. This statement won over some conservatives but caused moderates to fear for the party’s future. McCarthy and his allies have made plans to cut spending and provide members more opportunities to propose amendments on the House floor, among other actions.
The Biden Administration announced a new immigration measure that seeks to reduce illegal immigration. The policy allows the United States to turn away asylum seekers from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti if they cross the U.S.-Mexico border without official authorization. Some are regarding President Joe Biden’s border crackdown as xenophobic and unfair to poor and working-class immigrants. As an attempt to mitigate this, Biden announced that he would allow up to 30,000 immigrants from these countries to legally enter the U.S., but this is still widely criticized, as legal migration requires purchasing a plane ticket, passing a background check and acquiring paperwork. Already, since the regulation’s implementation, hundreds of migrants have been forced to return to Cuba and Haiti.
Roe v. Wade, the court case guaranteeing the right to an abortion, was overturned in June of 2022 by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Since then, there has been outrage from the pro-choice side manifesting as protests and attempts to change legislation. California has enacted a mandate that college student health centers must carry abortion pills, and other Democratic states plan to follow suit. New York’s legislature passed an amendment that would codify the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution, but the final decision is left to voters. Maine, Minnesota and Illinois have also passed various laws to protect abortion patients and doctors. Additionally, the Supreme Court conducted an eight-month-long investigation with a goal of identifying who leaked the Dobbs decision draft before the official decision was released. The results were inconclusive.
The committee regarding the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has concluded that former President Trump was responsible for the insurrection because he perpetuated the idea that the 2020 Presidential election was unfairly decided. The committee’s report claims that there is evidence to accuse Trump of crimes such as obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiring to injure an officer, aiding an insurrection and seditious conspiracy (which is a similar but lesser offense to treason). Other members of the Trump Administration were labeled as participants
in the conspiracies of the supposedly stolen election. Six officers have been suspended from the U.S. Capitol Police for their acting out of the department’s Rules of Conduct on Jan. 6. 29 additional officers are under investigation. Several rioters have been identified, including 18-year-old Bruno Cua. Some view Cua’s involvement as a symbol of the consequences of misinformation, as young people are easily impressionable. Additionally, the cost of repairing damaged from the riots has surpassed $30 million and is still rising.